30-year-old Bethany Hallam sits on a Zoom call, laughing about her inner lip tattoo and her love of smuggling food and drinks into Pittsburgh Pirates Games. On the surface, she is a loud, funny, and strong lifelong Yinzer. However, this is not all there is to her. To put it frankly, as Hallam herself would, she is in long-term recovery for substance abuse disorder and is the Democratic Allegheny County Councilperson At Large. Not the typical combo, but nothing about Hallam or her story is typical.
Hallam's story begins with a torn ACL in high school, for which she was prescribed painkillers. The daughter of a pharmacist, Hallam was not one to abuse her prescription. However, after 18 months on painkillers, she was suddenly cut off. She complained to a friend at school that she felt ill, who informed her she was withdrawing and offered her an easy solution: another pill.
And so it began for Hallam. She graduated from North Hills High School in 2008, before attending Duquesne as a Public Relations and Spanish major with the dream of one day working for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But for Hallam, attending college was like living a double life. She was working to graduate, while also trying to keep funding her drug habit. In her junior year, she sent a friend to go retrieve some painkillers for her and they returned with heroin. And she took it, starting a more difficult chapter of her life. Somehow, she still managed to graduate, and instead of working for the Pirates, she found herself living in her car, shooting up multiple times a day.