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Mother of fatal OD victim shares story in hopes of helping others

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kimberly Miller sat at a computer Wednesday, clicking through old photos of her daughter.

She wishes she could see Katie Miller’s smile in person, but addiction ripped it away.

“It took her from her babies,” Kimberly said, “It took her from the world.”

Katie-a daughter, sister and mother of two-died Monday night.

Katie spoke to 24-Hour News 8 last February from the Marion County Jail. She said treatment centers repeatedly turned her away because she didn’t have insurance.

“It kind of discouraged me to get help at all because, if it’s this hard, then why don’t I just go back to my hard life of using drugs instead of trying to get help?” Katie said last year. “It’s going to be hard either way.”

Katie’s worst fear — the fear of becoming a heroin addict — became a reality.

Kimberly is a recovering addict who now works with Mental Health America of Indiana.

“Before this disease got a hold of her, she had a career, went to college, was doing things right,” Kimberly said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 60 percent of heroin users don’t have insurance.

Kimberly said the Marion County Health Department eventually helped pay for part of Katie’s treatment, and Kimberly paid for part of it out of her own pocket. Katie was kicked out of the program last spring after 60 days.

Doctors say most addicts need at least 90 days of treatment.

“When you’re in active addiction, a lot of people don’t understand — insurance is the last thing on your mind,” Kimberly said.

“The only thing on your mind is the obsession that overrides all other thoughts: the next fix, hit, drink or whatever your illness is asking for,” Kimberly continued.

Katie was just 29 years old. Kimberly’s hope is that, someday, long-term treatment will be more accessible for someone like Katie. She said part of the problem is a stigma surrounding addiction.

“To anybody that’s struggling with somebody in active addiction: hate the disease and not the one suffering from it,” Kimberly said.

Centers that offer short-term treatment for free are often so crowded that they can provide just seven to ten days of treatment at a time. Private, in-patient rehab clinics cost about $500 per day.Family and friends are donating to a GoFundMe page to help provide for Katie’s kids and pay for Katie’s burial expenses.

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