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A Former Addict Attacks Opioid Crisis Using Telemedicine

Rene Wisely

Ann Arbor tech entrepreneur Lisa McLaughlin made her career dreams come true, but only after surviving a nightmare.

The University of Michigan graduate cofounded Workit Health, an addiction health care company that offers online treatment and telehealth medicine for opioid use disorder, illicit drugs, and other addictions, including alcohol, gambling, food, and sex.

“Addictions usually come in a merry bunch, so if you’re being treated for one, chances are you have another,” said McLaughlin, 39.

McLaughlin would know. She is a former addict who has been in recovery for 17 years.

She had her first taste of vodka at age 15 to quiet the social anxiety and teen angst that emerges when you run with the wrong crowd to every rave party, she said.

She spent the next seven years curating an opioid addiction. She indulged in heroin-laced ecstasy, mushrooms, acid, and ketamine, as well as cocaine, all washed down with alcohol. She nearly died. She turned blue once after passing out and had to be resuscitated, went temporarily blind for six hours, and had several run-ins with the law.

The final run-in saved her life. Court mandated Alcoholics Anonymous catapulted her recovery journey. Now she’s helping others get clean remotely using live video chats with doctors, therapists, and coaches, just as the opioid epidemic spreads. About 130 people die each day in the United States from opioids, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports.

McLaughlin’s success has caught the eye of Michigan’s business community, which is eager to keep its employees healthy and productive. The American Society of Addiction Medicine found opioids cost employers $10 billion in lost productivity and absenteeism.

“We work with some forward-thinking employers that offer their members our program completely anonymously. Helping others makes that powerlessness go away.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rene Wisely is a metro Detroit freelance writer.