Prescription drug abuse is a silent killer in America. The threat lurks in thousands of homes across the country, claiming more lives than car accidents or gun violence- yet so many remain oblivious. We make assumptions about the safety of medications; we brush off missing pills as a miscalculation. Even when prescription drug abuse is happening right in front of our faces we don’t act or speak up.
There are consequences to miseducation and inaction. Addiction festers and grows, digging in it’s claws and dragging one down a path that only has two endings: death or sobriety. For some, the path is long and arduous- going on for years or even decades.
To those who have lived with a lifetime of addiction, know this: there is always hope for recovery.
My struggle with prescription drug abuse started 14 years ago after a high school football accident. I tore a ligament in my knee and got laid up for a while and pumped full of the good stuff. It took almost a full year for me to heal properly but even after I didn’t need the drugs anymore I kept taking them. I was 17 and whenever I would stop taking the pills (Oxy) I got super sick- like the worst flu I ever had- so in my young and dumb logic, I just had to keep taking the pills. I felt good when I was taking them anyway, so it was the perfect excuse to keep going anyway.
It got to the point where I had to keep taking more and more just to feel alright. I would steal either the pills or money to get more of them. I can’t lie, I was tempted a few times to [try heroin] but it terrified me so I never did. I did try all sorts of pill mixtures, though. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was taking, I just tossed em in and waited to see what happened. Even back then I knew I would either die or get super high and most days I didn’t care which one it was.
The first time I really tried to get clean I was 20. I did it for a girlfriend. Needless to say that fell through. When we broke up it was almost a relief because then I could go back to my one true love. I OD’d at 22 but my best friend found me and saved my life. That scared me straight for a while, but I would just fall off the horse again and again. I was so convinced this was how I was supposed to go out- I just wasn’t built for living sober.
I remember this one moment that I like to think is when everything changed: I was busted for drug possession, sitting in the back of a cop car pissed off at the world and myself for f*cking up again. The guy who was going to take me in, officer Barton leaned into the window, looked me in my eye and said, “aren’t you done yet?” I just remember nodding and crying and being a mess.
I don’t know if he ever really believed me, but that for me was it. I went to court and begged for another shot at rehab. The judge had never seen me before but she had my record. She was hesitant but in the end she gave me that chance in August 2011. This time I did it right: no rolling my eyes or falling asleep in group sessions, no fighting with my case manager. I did the work and I am honestly proud of myself for once. That’s five years and four months as of today (submitted December 12th, 2016).
I can still distinctly remember those nights where I was convinced my life was just popping pills, getting high, and waiting for the end. Now I’ve got purpose and drive and a future. I’m working on a business degree and I’ve got a decent job and a roof over my head. I swore I would be dead before I ever saw 30, much less 31. There are miracles out there after all.