MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A former registered paramedic is sharing his story of drug addiction to West Virginians.

Dustin Hazlewood, of Stewart, Va., was addicted to alcohol and opioids while working as a paramedic. He said he supported his addiction by using drugs that he had the ability to order for patients instead of buying it off the street.

“Drug addicts and alcoholics don’t just live in tents under bridges. They’re doctors, lawyers, nurses. I was the director of an EMS agency at the peak of my addiction,” said Hazlewood, the the keynote speaker of the 2017 West Virginia EMS Conference in Morgantown.

“I went from, over a period of six months, to shooting up maybe 2-3 times a week anywhere from 8-10 times a day with dosages of medication that should’ve killed me,” he said.

Hazlewood spoke to West Virginia first responders Thursday at the Lakeview Resort about ways to prevent, detect and address addiction.

“I talked to them about the importance of random drug testing. Everybody reserves the right to test, but not many people actually do it. I talked to them about what behaviors to look for in their employers and their providers,” he said.

Educating the public is key, Hazlewood said, along with finding ways to get access to treatment and lobbying to make grants more available to send people to rehab.

“Rehab is extremely expensive. Not a lot of people can afford to go, so get the states involved, get the federal government involved to help get the monies available will help a great deal,” he said.

Hazlewood is the founder of an organization called You’re Worth More. It’s an organization created to assist recovering drug addicts and provide EMS education on the topics of addiction and diversion.

He said he knows and understands how big the drug problem is in West Virginia. He’s hoping his organization can help people in the Mountain State get to a healthier place.

“When I went to rehab, I was in rehab with a lot of people from West Virginia that said ‘I’m scared to go home. I don’t want to go back home because my brother uses, my mom uses, my dad uses.'” he said. “So we’re doing pretty much anything and everything we can do to give back to the health care and EMS community.”

For more information about You’re Worth More, CLICK HERE.

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