A Maine woman might not have lost her battle with heroin addiction if the state’s governor had not vetoed Medicaid expansion, her ex-husband said in an unusual obituary.
Coleen Sheran Singer overdosed Christmas morning at 32, although her obituary was not published until this week by the Bangor Daily News.
The obituary notice, which was written by ex-husband Brent Singer, is among a growing number of death notices that directly address addiction as both a warning and to lend support to other families struggling with the loss of a loved one to heroin.
Singer admits his former wife made a series of choices that led directly to her fatal overdose, but he also said mental illness and addiction are too often ignored — particularly by Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage, reported the Portland Press Herald.
The Tea Party conservative LePage stopped legislation to expand MaineCare, subsidized health insurance for low-income residents, and Singer said his ex-wife likely would have been eligible for methadone treatment if the governor had not repeatedly thwarted health care reform.
“For readers without loved ones who are opiate addicts, you cannot imagine how powerful and difficult (the disease is),” the obituary read. “It is no stretch to say that but for LePage’s veto of Medicaid expansion, Coleen probably would not have shot the heroin that ended her life.”
Singer, an attorney in Bangor, was married briefly to Coleen in 2008, a couple of years into her recovery from drug addiction that began when she was a teenager.
As heroin addiction spreads, more Americans have begun to understand it as a public health crisis instead of a moral failing.
“This is part of a trend toward a greater degree of acceptance and destigmatization about issues pertaining to mental illness, including addiction,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.