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Longboat resident shares her road to recovery from opioid addiction

Deborah Miller's memoir challenges the stigma of addiction stereotypes and gives hope to those struggling.

Deborah Miller with her book "One Little Pill"
Deborah Miller with her book "One Little Pill"
Photo by Petra Rivera
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No one ever guessed that the daughter of a loving middle-to-upper-class family from Avon, Connecticut, would be a drug addict. That is what people have often told Longboater Deborah Miller. 

She wasn’t the typical picture of a person who had opioid addiction. But after years of heartbreak, crimes and distanced relationships, she was brought to the lowest part of her life because of her addiction.

In October 2024, Miller, 55, will hit 20 years of sobriety. To celebrate, she accomplished one of her lifelong dreams of releasing her first memoir “One Little Pill.” 

After talking to a fellow author about her story, she was inspired that it would help people on their journeys to recovery. Miller started writing her memoir in 2023 and released it at the end of April.

“Every book I read about recovery was written by celebrities who had their drug dealers and the money to go to rehab,” said Miller. “I felt so alone. I just wondered were there any housewives that were struggling with this that I could relate to?”

In her book, Miller shares that her addiction started in her first marriage. With her husband, she would recreationally take painkillers to get over hangovers or stress. She describes in her book the feeling of relief from the drugs as a “sweet rush of euphoria.”

As Miller got deeper into her marriage, her husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started self-medicating. To deal with his inconsistent moods and mental health, she took the same painkillers he was taking without his knowledge.

That's where her addiction started. She got divorced from her husband in 2003 and became her son’s primary caregiver. But even then, Miller said she would do anything to get pills including crimes like stealing prescription pads. After getting fired from her job and being arrested multiple times, she hit rock bottom and decided to put an end to this lifestyle. 

Courtesy image

"One Little Pill" doesn’t just cover her struggle with addiction but her road to recovery. In the book, Miller goes over the 12 steps she learned in her rehabilitation program and how she approached them in her life. She describes how she used these in times she was tempted to relapse such as when her son was diagnosed with bone cancer. 

Miller also shares how the process led her to find her faith, which she also leaned on in times of temptation. 

Miller moved to Longboat Key in 2020 to be closer to her parents. Her son lives in Sarasota and has been cancer-free for 10 years now.

Along with her book, she loves to give back through different nonprofits such as Impact 100 SRQ, which empowers women to enact positive change in their communities. She also sponsors recovering addicts through the Salvation Army.

After years of struggles, Miller has gotten the fruit of her journey through the people she has helped with her memoir’s message. She didn’t expect to get such positive feedback. 

With 46.8 million Americans battling a substance use disorder in the past year, she found that many people could connect to her story whether themselves or through a loved one. Readers have said to Miller that her book has helped break their stigma of talking about addiction and the stereotypes that are built from it. 

“If you were to walk into an AA meeting here in Sarasota and didn't know what it was, you would never know it was an AA meeting,” said Miller. “We've got professionals and people from every walks of life. ... It's just regular, hard-working human beings that are struggling with this disease.”

Miller hopes that her story will be able to inspire those struggling with addictions such as hers and normalize the conversation about how it is taking over the lives of everyday people.



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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