Sarah Ziegenhorn was ambitious in doing what she could to help her community in Iowa City towards addiction recovery while she was in medical school. She started a romance with Andrew Beeler who believed in her advocacy works based on personal experience. Because of the obstacles surrounding a person’s parole while in recovery, Beeler lost his life to overdose which led his girlfriend to open her eyes to how the parole system treats addiction recovery.

What Were Ziegenhorn and Beeler’s Efforts Towards Addiction Recovery?

Ziegenhorn founded a small nonprofit called the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition to distribute naloxone and other free supplies to drug users to keep them safe from overdoses. Beeler served as a harm reduction services coordinator for the nonprofit. Ziegenhorn saved Beeler twice when he was still using heroin. Being in and out of prison for drug-related crimes, Beeler was afraid his next slip would lead to him being sent back to jail. 

What Led to Beeler’s Drug Use Growing Worse?

Beeler fell on the ice and dislocated his shoulder. His doctors would not prescribe him opioids because of his drug history. This caused him to use heroin regularly. Beeler knew to keep naloxone on hand, test the drugs first, and not be alone when using. After discussing with Ziegenhorn about having a baby, he knew he had to stop heroin. He was using FDA-approved medication for opioid addiction. Unfortunately, since he was still on parole, his parole officer would test him for opioids and buprenorphine. Beeler was scared that if he was tested positive, he would be landed back in jail even if they only found buprenorphine in his system. Beeler stopped using the medication and died of an overdose a few days later because he was afraid to go into treatment while he was on parole.

How Does the Parole System Handle Relapse?

It is hard to say if Beeler would have been sent back to prison if he admitted he was receiving treatment. Ken Kolthoff who oversees the parole system that supervised Beeler believes he and his colleagues would not punish someone seeking treatment. The department does not have any rules prohibiting any form of medication for opioid addiction as long as it is prescribed by a doctor. If more parole systems openly communicated with people about the rules surrounding addiction recovery while on parole, more people would not be afraid to get help.

At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.