Monday , March 4 2024

It Used To Be Kern County’s Opioid Epicenter, But Oildale May Be Cleaning Up

This story is part of a series called In Recovery , about opioid addiction and treatment in the San Joaquin Valley. It was reported with the support of a 2018 Data Fellowship from the USC Center For Health Journalism . Charlie Huddleson has always been a religious man, but it was one church service in 2013 that cracked him open. “When I hit my knees on that altar, it felt like my whole life had come out my eyes,” he says. “It felt like I had cried away every pain, every heartache, and everything, and that’s the day that my life started changing.” Huddleson was 53 at the time, and in a court-ordered drug treatment program. He’d spent the previous four decades in and out of prison, battling heroin while watching the drug consume his friends, family, and an ex-wife. “There’s a great illness here,” he says. “It’s opiates.” He says he came across drugs after a broken childhood. “My father beat me so intensely when I was 6 years old he gave me brain damage, so they say,” he says. “My head
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