Drug addiction is a disease that currently affects more than 20 million people in the U.S. each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as the epidemic continues, drug overdose deaths have tripled. Opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drug on the market. The most popular are Methadone, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Also alarming, what may begin as a simple prescription for pain, for one in four people, it becomes an addiction.
"Drug addicts...at one time you would imagine dark alleys and homeless individuals., today., moms, dads and even business professionals are just as likely to become addicted.
"Never did I identify with that, I am educated, I had a job, I didn't see myself as that, I am getting them from a doctor, I am not homeless but the end result is the same, my addiction is no different from any street addict out there," said Steph Anderson, Mom.
After several surgeries and then for about two years, Steph continued her addiction.
"It took away that pain but it created so much more chaos in my life that took me on a road that nearly destroyed my life, I lost everything, my home, job, car, I went to prison," continued Anderson.
Experts say drug addiction is a disease and not a choice for some individuals.
"People who are addicted are often misunderstood. They way our body is wired, our chemistry some of us are just more susceptible to addiction. said Heidi Kammmer-Hodge, Jackson Recovery Center.
Everyday more than one thousand people are treated in emergency rooms nationwide for opioid misuse.
"Individuals use the drug and they start to build up a tolerance and they need to use more to get the same affect," continued Kammmer-Hodge, Jackson Recovery Center.
Hodge says it can lead to illegal means to obtain the medication and without the proper help, quitting is not an option for some.
"When I would start withdrawing in my active addiction and quite frankly that is what led to the criminal activity of stealing pills to stop that withdrawal," continued Anderson.
Criminal activity that sent her to jail. She also admits to doctor and pharmacy shopping.
"They get the same prescription from different doctors and they go to different pharmacies and get them filled, in doing this they can accumulate a lot of controlled substances," said Bill Drilling, Drilling Pharmacy.
"There are a handful of patients that will doctor shop, but that website that the state has that tracks opioid use really helps, you can go on and see when they last had it and how many they last had," said Pharmacist Rob Rehal, Greenville Pharmacy.
Most states have or are in the process of establishing a PMP, Prescription Monitoring Program. The program tracks all prescriptions so doctors and pharmacists know exactly when a patient last had a prescription filled.
"The doctors are really specific when the patient can get it refilled, they make patients wait the full 30 days," continued Rehal.
An opioid overdose can take hours or just minutes to occur.
According to the CDC, in 2015, more than 50,000 people died from opioid overdose
"When I went to jail, I withdrew cold turkey, it was possibly the most, no, not possibly but the most miserable experience I have ever gone through, the physical pain of it is excruciating and it goes on for about 3-5 days and you don't feel as though you are going to live through it and you will do anything to prevent that, it's human nature, it's survival," continued Anderson.
And with prescription opiods becoming more and more difficult to purchase, an old illegal drug, heroin, is now becoming the drug of choice for some addicts. It's more powerful, less expensive and easier to get a hold of. According to some clinical therapists, depending on where you live a prescription opioid pill could sell for $40-$70 per pill, where in some areas you can get heroine for about 10 bucks.
"When we think about the potency of heroine in the 60's 70's and 80's the potency was between 3 and 12 percent, today the potency is between 50 and 80% pure. When you have a more pure heroine the addiction potential is higher and also the risk for overdose is greater. Heroine is often laced with many things, it is often laced with carphentenol which is 10,000 times greater than morphine and it is strong enough to knock out an elephant," continued Kammer-Hodge.
And addiction not only affects the individual but their loved ones as well.
Anderson adds, "It's what it did to my relationships, my sisters don't speak to me, I destroyed all the trust, I dragged everyone I loved through my hell."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to die from an overdose but the gap is closing as women are at a higher risk to becoming addicted than men.
"The crucial relationship between my sisters and son weigh on me and I pray everyday for their forgiveness and I have hope that they will one day come back to my life," continued Anderson.
Now I would like to mention that Steph Anderson is now 4 years clean and she is actually working at Jackson Recovery Center using her struggles and relapse to help others who are going through what she went through.
For the three Siouxland states, the latest numbers available from the Center for Disease Control latest numbers reports that up to 2015, the greatest increase in opioid deaths was in South Dakota, with Iowa coming in second. The increase in Nebraska is the lowest of the three Siouxland States.
Opioids work as a depressant that slows down the central nervous system and brain damage is a real possibility and it can happen from long term use as well as short term use.
Equally dangerous is kids getting a hold of the prescription drug in the home. According to the National Poison Center, Opioid poisonings in children 1-4 years old has increased by more than 200% in recent years.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, they can call the Jackson Recovery Center at (712) 234-2300 or visit their website at www.jacksonrecovery.com.
The national help hotline is (800) 662-4357.
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