Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, Britney Murphy and now, perhaps, Whitney Houston are just a few names on a very long list of prescription contributed celebrity deaths. We watch TMZ and E! delve into their short lives and untimely demise. We may post about it on Facebook, share our shock or sadness, but soon enough, it is a long forgotten tragedy until the next one arises.

What many of us may not consider is Joe, Shelly or Mike who also suffered the same exact consequences. People in our own families, our neighborhoods, and our communities are dead because of that little orange bottle labeled with a doctor’s name and instructions. Take two and call me in the morning has turned into…take 12 and if you still feel bad…maybe we’ll add another.

Let me preface this by saying that MOST doctors are responsible and I have had some pretty great physicians in the past decade. So, some individual situations have not been with my typical caregivers.

I have been prescribed oxycodone a number of times in my life. So has my husband. Each time, the script was never filled because Tylenol was sufficient. These medications, more powerful than most drugs on the “street,” are handed out like candy. And this isn’t just the case with painkillers. Psychiatric drugs are a HUGE push all over the country. And if one doesn’t work, they simply add another to it or raise the dose and before ya know it, a person with typical depression may be on a cocktail of medications which side effects are often worst than the original malady.

I was put on a very popular anti-depressant several years ago. It worked fairly well for a while, but then suddenly it had little effect on me – yet the negative reactions remained. My doctor (at the time) and I worked out a tapering schedule so that I could safely wean off of the medication. There is a commercial on TV for this very medication every hour. “How hard could this be,” I thought.  Well, it ended up being one of the most difficult periods in my entire life.

I felt I was withdrawing from heroine. And I came to learn later that the withdrawal is often quite similar. I was physically sick for a good four weeks. And I cannot even explain crap that was going through my mind. I honestly thought I was going insane. As the withdrawal ran its course (using the safest possible taper methods), I finally began to feel better. Once out of that hell, I had to wonder…what kind of poison had I been on??

Point being, this medication is thought of as pretty benign. But it was so powerful that it made me sick as a dog both physically and mentally and it even changed my eyesight!! Honestly. I had an eye exam a month before starting it and then again a month after. My prescription changed in two months to the point where I had to buy new glasses.

As horrible as this situation was for me, it is nothing compared to what some people go through with prescription medication. Both my uncle (who was in his 40s) and his son (who was in his 20s) died after ingesting commonly prescribed medications. On two separate occasions, their addictions led them to their demise. Xanax and oxycodone were players in these deaths. Both are very commonly prescribed and abused medications.

I realize completely that there has to be an element of personal responsibility. With any addiction or drug abuse, the person is choosing their actions…at first. But we must remember that addiction is a disease and these medications may have at one time been prescribed and their use started innocently. Some people are more prone to addiction and seem to need more to reap the benefits. And yes, there are many cases when these drugs were simply easily accessible and tried for recreational reasons.

When I was quitting smoking, it was amazing what a hold those cigarettes had on my body and mind. When I was quitting those antidepressants, I am sure starting them again would have taken away my pain. I have been very lucky (and grateful) that I have not been trapped in a cycle like my uncle or cousin or thousands of other Americans each year.

I once called my father’s doctor because I rarely believed what he told me after years of stories, fabrications and lies. I wanted to know his true condition and this was a time shortly before HIPPA laws were enacted.

“The only physician your father listens to or complies with is his pain doctor…the one who prescribes his meds.”

I was furious. He was furious I had called. And about one year later, he was dead. At the age of 46 he died from diabetic complications. There is no doubt in my mind that his addiction to prescription drugs contributed to his death.

“Do not ever touch these. They could kill a horse instantly,” he would warn me to make sure I stayed away from his stash. My father had the build of a linebacker. I can only imagine what they would have done to me.

Next week, please look for part two when I share with you some important facts, statistics and the role Big Pharma plays in this epidemic.

Original story HERE


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