As opioids flooded tribal lands across the U.S., overdose deaths skyrocketed

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Zach Williams and his wife, Laurie, help their twin daughters with homework after dinner in Ada, Okla. A Native American pharmacist for the Chickasaw Nation, he is in recovery after a long addiction to opioids.

ADA, Okla. — Zach Williams checked himself into a hotel room, sat down on the edge of the bed and waited. Chills soon racked his body, and he started to shiver. He couldn’t keep food down. He was drenched in sweat.

For two days in 2018, the 37-year-old Native American pharmacist for the Chickasaw Nation pushed through the wrenching symptoms of opioid withdrawal, determined to go cold turkey. 

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