By Courtney Daniel
Carrie Howard died March 24, 2009. Carrie, the daughter of former Nebraska state Sen. Gwen Howard and sister of Sen. Sara Howard, is one of many lives lost to the opioid epidemic. While her story begins like many others–a severe car accident and a prescription for painkillers–her story ends a little differently. Carrie’s life, and untimely death, galvanized the Nebraska Legislature to tackle the opioid epidemic head on through a series of legislation spearheaded by her mother and sister.
“I didn’t know and I didn’t understand what addiction was at the time, but she clearly needed the drugs to function and eventually she needed them not because of the pain, but because there was a lot of pain associated with when she didn’t have them,” Sara said. “After that, it became years’ worth of struggle where she would get better and not be taking any medications, and then, for instance, she’d go to a dentist and they would do oral surgery and give a prescription for OxyContin or Vicodin and she would relapse back.”