Megan Webbley, a mother of four, died at a treatment center in New Hampshire.

By Jason Duaine Hahn
October 15, 2019

A father from Vermont wrote an impassioned obituary for his daughter who died after a years-long battle with opioid addiction and used the moment to call for more paths toward rehabilitation for those hoping to recover from substance abuse.

Edwin Webbley’s 31-year-old daughter, Megan Webbley, was at a New Hampshire rehabilitation clinic seeking help for opioid addiction when she passed away unexpectedly on September 29, he explained in an obituary published on October 7.

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“Specifically, she died of an overdose, finally losing her battle with addiction,” Webbley wrote on the Seven Days website. “She was in Manchester, N.H., seeking treatment for her addiction. We have no clear picture of what went wrong.”

Megan was a mother of four children who were “collectively the light of her dark life.”

“Though shadowed by opiate addiction, Megan enjoyed a big smile and an infectious laugh,” he said. “She loved all kinds of music, dancing and doing her makeup. Empathetic in the extreme, she was the underdog’s biggest advocate. And against all circumstances, when she could be, she was a loving, gentle and doting mother.”

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Megan struggled with opioid addiction since falling from a cliff and landing face-first into rocks in 2005. Doctors believed Megan had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and prescribed her “liberal doses of opiates,” Webbley claims.

“They suspected a TBI, but when they prescribed her liberal doses of opiates, she lost control of her life,” he said of the powerful medications. “She would be in and out of rehab – and jail – for the next 14 years.”

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die in the United States every day after overdosing on opioids, which can range from prescription pain medications, heroin to fentanyl. The organization found that 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up misusing them.

Webbley called on Vermont’s Department for Children and Families to readjust the way they approach parents who are struggling with addiction.

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“To editorialize, I am hoping that the Department for Children and Families rethinks its mission to be the punisher of addicted mothers, the separator of families and the arbiter of children’s futures, and instead embrace a mission of enhanced rehabilitation,” he wrote. “We, as a state, are overwhelmed by addiction. We have almost nowhere to turn. I encourage enhanced funding for treatment in general and using DCF as a gateway for mothers with addiction to get help.”

“Because, as one would guess, once a mother is separated from her children, desperation sets in, even with the brightest and most determined of mothers,” Webbley continued. “Megan Angelina Webbley was that bright and determined mother… with a fatal disease and a dearth of treatment options.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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