Mom speaks out after cheerleader daughter's overdose death

The mother of a former cheerleader who died of an overdose shortly after returning home from rehab wants to see the way insurers cover in-patient therapy and addiction treatment changed. Julie Oziah-Gideon, whose 20-year-old daughter Samantha Huntley died on Sept. 3, said her daughter was in and out of several treatment centers, but managed to relapse in between each 30-day during her two-year battle to get clean, News-Leader.com reported.

“This generation needs more than a 30-day treatment,” she said. “They need a least 90 to 100 days, inpatient. I did everything in my power and beyond to help her, to try to get her treatment.”

Oziah-Gideon said her daughter’s trouble with heroin began after she broke her back in a drunk-driving accident at age 16. She was prescribed painkillers, and then approached her mother when she was 18 and admitted to using heroin, the news outlet reported. The pair, from Missouri, arrived at CoxHealth’s Center for Addiction in search of help, but were told it would be a week before Huntley could be seen.

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“I was ranting, ‘Can she die from this? Am I supposed to give her more drugs?’” she told the news outlet. “Luckily there was a doctor there and he overheard us. He could see the desperation.”

Oziah-Gideon said her daughter was revived using Narcan three times during her addiction, and that her last stint in rehab was a 30-day stay at Amethyst Recovery Center in Florida. However, after the 30 days, a counselor called to say insurance would no longer pay for treatment and Samantha was sent home, News-Leader.com reported.

Huntley returned home on Aug. 31, and was found dead by Oziah-Gideon days later with a needle in her lap.

“It takes more than 20 to 30 days to restructure the brain,” she said. It’s just throwing them back out to relapse.”

Opioids, including heroin and fentanyl, killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, with nearly half of all overdose deaths involving a prescription opioid.