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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Face of an addict ???


When I revealed my story publicly for the very first time, on May 6, 2014 I wanted to share my story but, remain anonymous. In the beginning of my journey I wanted this blog to be anonymous. It wasnt that I was ashamed, or embarrassed. I owned my life. I owned my story. It felt like an out of body experience. I felt like a bear coming from out of hibernation. 
I lived a deep and very dark secret for over 10 years. I was held captive in my own world. A prisoner inside my own life. How do you reveal a part of your life that you hid for so long ? Can you imagine hiding large green trash bags full of empty pill bottles in the back of your closet ???
The most complex thing about addiction is stereotyping.
A lot of people have said to me "Oh my goodness you don't look like you went through all of that".
"You don't look like you took all those pills".
"You are a former addict OMG !" "You don't look like the type". There are so many people living dangerously in the dark in denial. Crying out for help, but no one knows because they don't "look like" addicts.
What does the face of an addict look like ???


The Senior Citizen....  The profile of a senior citizen addicted to opiates is often different than that of a younger person. People don't expect it to be possible, because of the stereotype.
Many older adults are falling victim to abusing different painkillers. They become addicted to the medicine that was originally prescribed for pain relief. Seniors have many different types of ailments.
Older individuals have a different physiology than younger people, the drugs often take a greater toll on their bodies.
I have met older individuals who have been addicts their whole life. I'm talking since their youth. I met a woman who underwent gastric bypass surgery, and was prescribed a powerful painkiller. She became addicted to the same pain pill that relieved her pain and now 10 years later even after fully recovering from gastric bypass she still takes the painkillers.
There are many different faces of addiction. If you are 50 or older and have had an addiction to painkillers,  I'd love to hear your story. I am here to educate and raise awareness.



Teenagers.... Our youth are dying....
65% of young drug abusers choose painkillers. Overdosing has now become the number one killer among teens.
A big percentage of high school seniors report taking hydrocodone (the painkiller I abused).... (Vicoden, Lorcet, Lortab) BUT not by coincidence, many of their parents take it too ! There are many situations and circumstances behind people why and how a person becomes an addict.
The photo above is a man (Avi Israel).
His son had become addicted to painkillers that were prescribed to deal with his (Crohn's disease) - a chronic digestive disorder. His son shown on the picture above took his own life because of his addiction to Lorcet.
His story hit close to home with me because that was the exact pill that stole my hearing away. I was able to beat an 11 year addiction,  but some people aren't so lucky.


The Veteran.... I have heard many horror stories about veterans being addicted to opiates. Some of these stories broke my heart. I was literally in tears. I have read stories about soldiers on active duty and soldiers returned home from battle,  and veterans. Getting injured on the battlefield and then returning home for treatment at the VA hospitals.


We all know that soldiers suffer from so many things PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) Traumatic brain and body injuries, severe anxiety, and a lot of them wound up on a cocktail of painkillers supplied by the VA.
The most prominent story that stuck in my head about a 32 year old US Army Specialist. He was deployed out of Afghanistan. While recovering from his wounds his mental state deteriorated. He became addicted to painkillers. The Army sent him to a detox center at his VA hospital to get clean. But the VA hospital continued to give him narcotics.



After just 2 months they released him with a massive cocktail of drugs including 12 tablets of  the painkiller Oxycontin (Oxycodone)

After he left the hospital he went to a nearby motel. He picked up a 6 pack of beer and checked into his room. He has a few beers and decides he's hungry. He goes next door to the local Applebee's orders a plate of Nachos , another beer and then becomes very groggy.
He fell asleep at the Applebee's counter. The restaurant manager helped him back to his motel room. 
He stumbled down the hallway, fumbled with his room key and collapsed face down onto the carpeted floor. Motel guests stepped over him for an hour.
By the time the paramedics arrived they tried to revive him. But it was too late.
The state medical examiner concluded that in addition to the two beers he consumed 8 oxycodone pills, tranquilizers and muscle relaxants that the VA prescribed.

Moral of the story is, this is a worldwide epidemic.... Everyone knows someone that is addicted to some type of painkiller.  Doctors are so liberal prescribing these prescriptions it is so easy to pick up a pad and write these scripts for medications that might dull the pain temporarily but can have horrible, tragic, sometimes even fatal results.
If you don't believe me....
Just ask me.....
Losing my hearing from an 11 year addiction to Lorcet 10/650 was the worst thing that can possibly happen to anybody,  but I am still here for a reason. To tell a story that must be TOLD. All of these tragedies that we hear about, so many don't make it out alive.
I feel a responsibility to let people know what can happen if you abuse painkillers.
Hey on the bright side of things...
"Every tear waters a blessing"

      Interactive map : Painkiller distribution by the VA in the United States