Women Whose Story of Heroin Addiction Touched President Obama Has Died

Jessica Grubb was a politically active, intelligent and artistic girl, similar to so many other young women. However, she was also a struggling heroin addict for the better part of seven years, which her family shared with President Obama last October in West Virginia. Grubb died at just 30 years old earlier this month after receiving pain medications for a hip surgery she underwent.

In October, President Obama visited Charleston, West Virginia to address the opioid drug epidemic there. The Huffington Post reported that former state senator David Grubb, Jessica Grubb, shared their daughter’s story of addiction with the president (with her permission, of course). Sources close to the president later said that whenever he discussed the drug epidemic with lawmakers and advisors, he always drifted back to the story of Jessica Grubb. 

One governor told the Huffington Post, “[the President] got very emotional,” during a town hall moment with Grubb. “You’re in the deep-red [conservative] environment, but people are just opening their hearts on this. [The president] sort of was taken aback at how candid people were talking about this.” 


so, #CurrentSituation:at the hospital with a nasty infection (the same one I had last year) in my leg muscle. it looks...

Posted by Jessica Grubb on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Although Grubb had overdosed on heroin four times, she had been sober since August following a long-term rehab stint. However, she got an infection in her hip muscle going into her bone from running. This required surgery and an IV going into her arms. Mr. Grubb told the Huffington Post, “She’d been sober for six months, she was loving Ann Arbor, she had a tremendous support community there, and she said, ‘[Getting high is] the furthest thing from my mind. I’m not even thinking about that’…So we felt so good about everything” going into her surgery. 

Grubb was allegedly prescribed pain medications after the surgery without her parents’ knowledge—to be exact, fifty pills of oxycodone, a powerful opiate with heroin-like effects. “Jessica had that addict’s brain,” her father said. “I think it was just too much temptation for her to resist.” The doctor at the hospital reportedly did not know of or acknowledge Grubb’s opiate addiction history.

She overdosed on the oxycodone, passing away earlier this month. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that Mr. Grubb said, “She was doing so, so well…she was just a great personality and a person we’re really glad we got to know.”

According to the Daily Mail, tributes to Jessica poured in from people around the country who had heard her story and were pulling for her, including President Obama. “I am heartbroken by your daughter’s passing,” Obama wrote. “Through this extraordinarily difficult time, please know Michelle and I will continue holding you in our thoughts.”

The story of Jessica Grubb is so scary because it underlines the fact that anyone can become an addict. She came from a loving and supportive family, went to school, worked and ran nearly every day. Yet the opiate epidemic in West Virginia managed to creep into her life and end it. This is a tale that will hopefully continue to touch the President and those around our nation in order to bring about effective rehab and recovery for addicts everywhere.