One year after an opioid overdose video went viral

Nov. 11, 2017

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Just over a year ago, a bystander captured video of Ronald and Carla Hiers slumped on the ground after overdosing on heroin in Memphis, Tennessee.

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The disturbing footage shows people walking by as Carla struggles to lift her head off the pavement and Ronald appears frozen in a contorted backbend.

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It’s been a year since the video went viral on social media, and the full scope of the opioid epidemic in America is only now emerging.

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Although the Hierses survived, research shows that drug overdoses claimed 500,000 lives between 2000 and 2015.

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In September, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that opioids had “shaved 2.5 months off Americans’ life expectancy” by 2015.

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On Oct. 26, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. For those battling addiction, the fight continues every day.

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After the viral video forced them to confront a decadeslong battle with addiction, the Hierses are now working to turn their lives around.

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Although Ron and Carla, who are still married, talk on the phone and via social media, they haven’t been in the same room since their overdose.

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“I don’t want to go back to Memphis. A lot of bad memories, a lot of bad things happened there.”

— Carla Hiers

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Ron is working toward becoming a recovery counselor so he can help those fighting the same battle as him.

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Both Ron and Carla attend meetings regularly, and are striving to make amends with their children and loved ones. 

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