ABINGTON, Pa. — Erin Bergner, a Penn State Abington junior, is motivated, to say the least: She carries extra courses so she can graduate early, works in a faculty research lab, and holds down another part-time job. And all the while she is managing her recovery from opioid addiction and telling her story on ShareYourOpioidStory.com to help reduce stigma and support others in the grip of addiction.
“My hope is to help just one individual. I want people to know they have support,” she said. “It’s traumatic emotionally, and I don’t want anyone to think that they have to go through it by themselves.”
Here is her story, which she shares in greater detail on ShareYourOpiodStory.com.
After suffering abuse at a young age, Bergner developed an eating disorder and began to self-harm. She didn’t talk about her distress because of the stigma associated with mental health issues where she grew up, and she turned to marijuana as an escape.
“By tenth grade, I was using heavier substances like opioid pills and benzodiazepines. I was eventually introduced to heroin. I began using heroin more and more as it was easier and cheaper to get than opioid pills,” the Schreyer Honors Scholar said. “My senior year, my parents found out and sent me to rehab.”