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Category Archives: Rx Stories
If you live on the West Coast, take note that the second annual ENOUGH! Rally is set to be held on March 24, 2014 on the south steps of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to the rally’s website, the goal of the event is to educate the public and to advocate for legislation and other action that can make a difference in curbing the prescription drug epidemic.
More details, according to the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, which is organizing the event:
Pick up free educational materials at information tables and learn about the prevention and substance abuse treatment efforts organizations and treatment centers from around the state are engaged in. Stop by our legislation table to learn about prescription drug-related legislation being introduced during this legislative session and how to voice your support for it.
Multiple organizations will be on hand to provide free prescription drug related educational materials and information about the work they’re doing to make a difference in the area of prevention. Guest speakers include state legislators and advocacy groups who are sponsoring key legislation, representatives from several prevention and substance abuse treatment facilities and parents and others who have been personally impacted by this epidemic. A special dedication ceremony will be held for those lost to or otherwise impacted by prescription drug abuse/misuse.
Prescription drug addiction activists across the nation are planning a rally to urge federal agencies to take action to prevent new cases of opioid addiction, prevent more overdose deaths and ensure access to effective treatment for millions who have become addicted.
The rally, called “Fed Up! Rally for a Federal Response to the Opioid Epidemic,” will be held Oct. 1 from noon to 2 p.m. at Capitol Hill (Upper Senate Park) in Washington, D.C., according to organizers.
Activists say addiction and overdose deaths due to narcotic painkillers and heroin
are one of the nation’s most urgent public health problems, and that the epidemic has placed a tremendous strain on the nation’s health care system, businesses, and local and state governments. Federal agencies, meanwhile, have been too slow and ineffective in responding to the problem, they say.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please consider attending a rally being held this Monday, March 11 in Sacramento by the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and other organizations and individuals throughout California. The rally will aim to educate the public about the dangers of abusing and misusing prescription drugs and to raise awareness about what actions need to be taken in California to manage the state’s prescription drug abuse crisis.
More information about the rally can be found here.
In addition, NCAPDA is sponsoring an event on Sunday, March 10 in Concord, Calif. that includes a showing of “Behind the Orange Curtain” and a panel presentation of experts in the area of prescription drug abuse. More info about that event can be found here.
Abby Beaulieu, 26, has a great life: she lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. with her husband and four-year-old son. But just six years ago, she was hopelessly addicted to OxyContin. Now, she’s on a mission to spread the word about the dangers of prescription drug addiction. Through her blog, My Life. My Story., she aims to break down the stigma surrounding painkiller addiction and show that it really can happen to anyone. Oxy Watchdog caught up with Beaulieu to learn more about her story and what she hopes to accomplish with her blog.
Watchdog: Tell us about the path that led you to OxyContin. When and how did you fall into your addiction?
AB: My father is an alcoholic, and at age 11 my parents got a divorce. At age 13, my father was alone dealing with his addiction, and I felt the need to go be with him. I get serious anxiety when I feel somebody is feeling lonely, or is lonely. I thought that if I was with him and he wasn’t alone, he would not drink. That was not the case. At 13, I became the adult, while he was the child, picking up beer cans and liquor bottles, not going to school for fear what I would come home to, helping him detox when his binges were over. At 16, I met a guy who was abusive in every aspect. He was over 21, so I started enabling my father and buying him alcohol because in return he would write me a check for over $300, not knowing he was fueling my addiction as well: I had started smoking pot at 12.
Prior to meeting my boyfriend, he had been a serious car accident and broke both of his feet. His doctors had him on pain pills for a year and a half and cut him off rather than weaning him off, so he was deeply addicted. A couple days after we met, he introduced me to Roxicodone and I snorted my first pill. The next pill I snorted was OxyContin. When I first started using Oxy I was doing two 40-milligram pills a day, which gradually lead to me shooting about three 80-mg pills a day. After not feeling the effects the way I wanted to, I started shooting them up because the high was better. My using was so much deeper than the addiction: it was the everyday pain that numbed me from feeling, numbed me from worrying about my father and the betrayal I put my mother through. My father (with whom I have no communication today) was clueless to the fact that I was using, even though I weighed 85 pounds soaking wet, until the day I called him to give me a ride to rehab. He did not take me.
Earlier this week, pharmacy interest groups defeated an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act that aimed to change the classification of hydrocodone-containing pain relief products from Schedule III to Schedule II, putting hydrocodone painkillers into the same category as OxyContin and Percocet. Hydrocodone is the most-prescribed prescription drug in the U.S., with 131.2 million prescriptions written in 2010 alone. The provision had been accepted as an amendment to the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, but it was cut from the final bill that reconciled the Senate and House provisions after the Generic Pharmaceutical Association objected to it, claiming it would restrict access and increase prices to the painkillers.
Today, Oxy Watchdog caught up with the amendment’s author, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who said the bipartisan measure was defeated due to the efforts of high-powered and well-funded lobbyists representing groups that have a huge financial stake in keeping these pills as accessible as possible. But he vowed to continue the fight against prescription drug abuse, and said he planned to re-introduce the amendment in the future.
Watchdog: Tell us more about the reasons you decided to introduce this measure. What’s the landscape like in West Virginia regarding prescription drug abuse?
Orange County, Calif. may seem like the perfect place to live, but it has a dirty little secret: it’s number two in the country for deaths by prescription drug overdoses. In May 2010, Laguna Niguel resident Natalie Costa was thrust full force into the epidemic when her daughter Brianne called her from her high school, frantic: her good friend, 17-year-old Mark Melkonian, had passed away after overdosing on the painkiller Opana. Costa, who owns a performing arts school, teamed up with director Brent Huff to produce “Behind the Orange Curtain,” a full-length feature documentary that delves into the tragic trend afflicting the affluent area, which has more rehab centers per capita than any other county in the nation. The film premieres at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival on May 2, and has been chosen by the Film Fund out of 400 films representing 50 countries as one of “five films to see.” Oxy Watchdog caught up with Costa ahead of the premiere for more details on the making of the documentary and the extent of the pill addiction epidemic in Orange County.
Watchdog: Tell us more about why you decided to make this documentary.
Like many young adults, Mason and Michaela of Marin County, Calif. saw their lives spin out of control after getting hooked on OxyContin in their teens. Today, Mason (now 24) and Michaela (now 23) are finally free from Oxy’s grip and are speaking out about the devastating effects of the prescription painkiller at high schools and youth leadership camps. Oxy Watchdog asked the pair – who met in recovery and have been dating since Aug. 2010 – to share more about how they got to where they are today, and their efforts to help prevent others from going down a similar path.
Watchdog: Tell us about how you grew up, and how your addiction progressed.
Mason: I played sports growing up, and I aspired to be a professional baseball player. I was picked to play on the varsity team as a freshman in high school, but after two games I got caught smoking weed and was kicked off the team. After that I began failing out of my classes and became lost. Eventually I was sent to a continuation high school, which was like a training ground for drug addicts. I met a girl who had a prescription for Darvocet and Percocet to treat her rheumatoid arthritis, and she was always taking these pills, so I started taking them too. After a few weeks I tried OxyContin, and after a month I couldn’t afford the Oxys anymore, so I started doing heroin. Soon I was shooting up to 4 or 5 grams of heroin a day and also doing cocaine and pills, as well as methadone.
The Rubins were once a typical suburban family in San Diego, Calif., but that existence was shattered when Sherrie and Mike’s then-23-year-old son Aaron overdosed on OxyContin on Oct. 5, 2005. Many Oxy overdose victims either die, or recover and continue to battle their addiction. But Aaron was thrust into a different kind of living hell. A loss of oxygen to his brain had brought him to the brink of death, and after suffering a series of heart attacks and strokes, doctors had nearly given up hope. Miraculously, Aaron survived. Now confined to a wheelchair, Aaron is 29 and can no longer walk or speak. He can only communicate using his fingers, using one for yes, and two for no. The Rubins are committed to spreading the word about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. They founded an organization, H.O.P.E Drug Awareness, Education and Treatment Inc., that provides support for families needing early intervention in overcoming addictions to prescription drugs and/or heroin. They also travel the country giving presentations to students and parents, using Aaron’s story as an example. Oxy Watchdog spoke with Mike (far right in picture) and Sherrie (third from left, next to Aaron, in wheelchair) about their journey.
Jodi Barber and Christine Brant (far right and far left in the picture) of Laguna Niguel, Calif. are the brains behind “Overtaken,” a short documentary educating young adults on the truth about prescription drug addiction and the often deadly consequences pills have. Oxy Watchdog caught up with the two moms just ahead of the film’s release on Sept. 22.
Watchdog: How did you get involved in the issue of prescription drug addiction?
JB: This mission started 20 months ago when my 19-year-old son Jarrod died on Jan. 8, 2010 after overdosing on prescription pills. He had a quarter of an Opana pill he had bought from a kid he knew, and he crushed it, melted it, and inhaled the fumes. He also had drugs in his system from his own doctor – Seroquel, Cymbalta, and Klonopin.
CB: The most deadly of those was the Opana, and many kids don’t understand that when you break them in half or crush them or split them between friends, it removes the time-release coating and it’s all dumped into your system at one time.
W: How common is prescription drug abuse in your community? How many deaths have there been, and who is dying?
Amy Nicole Graves of Nova Scotia, Canada lost her 21-year-old brother Josh to an accidental overdose of the prescription painkiller Dilaudid (hydromorphone) in March 2011. She has since become an outspoken activist against prescription drug addiction through her website “Get Prescription Drugs Off the Streets.” Oxy Watchdog asked Graves to share about her efforts to bring more education and awareness to the issue of pill abuse.
Watchdog: Tell us about your brother Josh and what happened to him.
Amy Graves: It’s interesting because growing up, Josh wasn’t the addict in my family, it was actually our other brother who struggled with an addiction to prescription drugs. At the time he died, Josh wasn’t having any problems in his life. He had just gotten a new car, he got a great job transfer [back to our home town], he was looking for a mortgage. He had only been home four weeks when he attended a party with dealer who had sold drugs to my other brother. Josh split a Dilaudid pill with him. He was already intoxicated, and because he wasn’t a regular user, he had no tolerance. The combination with alcohol slowed down his heart rate and he never woke up.