For 50 years, Toby Nigh has had what he describes as the perfect life. He had a good job, a happy family, and if you had asked him, he would have told you he was really lucky.
“Everything always seemed to work for me,” the Kirksville, Missouri man said.
Then her perfect life fell apart in 2018.
One day at work, he took a 30-pound machine and blew the L4-L5 disc into his back. One surgery led to an infection, which required another surgery and then another. He remained weak and in pain.
He battled persistent infections for a year and a half, and in the midst of it all, he lost the job he had had all his life. The pain, trauma and anger were too much to bear. He found relief in methamphetamines.
“I wanted to bury the pain – the physical pain, the mental pain,” he told CT. “I made a very bad decision.”
Things got worse for Nigh in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit America. He was at high risk of contracting the virus, and contracting it, due to his history of infections and the long-term effects of treatment.
“So when the pandemic hit, I think, if I get it, I die,” Nigh said. “I went into my basement, and locked myself in, and my addiction just got stronger and stronger.”
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nigh wasn’t the only one who responded that way.
A few months into the pandemic, more than 40,000 Americans reported new or increased substance use. It seems people have turned to drugs to cope.
This number is probably low. At the end of the year, the country recorded a record 91,799 drug overdose deaths, compared to 70,630 in 2019. In 2021, more than 100,000 died from a…
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