American Morning

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April 5th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Addicted... Hollywood's prescription drug problem

Editor's Note: Prescription drug abuse has grabbed headlines with the high-profile deaths of celebrities like Corey Haim, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, and Michael Jackson. In our original series “Addicted…” we examine how users get their fix and how deadly it can sometimes be. Tomorrow on American Morning, our Kiran Chetry talks to two current prescription drug abusers to get an up close and personal look at how easy it is to start a habit and how hard it is to break it.


Filed under: Addicted... • Drugs
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Rose

    I just had a hysterectomy and another related surgery and took one of those oxycodone pills and it was too strong. I had side effects, so I took 3 Motrin over-the-counter pills instead and was fine. The people who take these pills are probably already taking pain pills recreationally. As soon as people knew I had these pills, I started getting requests for the pills I did not use. Luckily I got rid of them on DAY 1 in anticipation of this situation. I could honestly say I got rid of them.

    April 7, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  2. Gayle

    CNN is very hypocrticial – you go on about all the drug abuse, then make your viewers listen to endless ads about erectile dysfunction and how viagra or cialis can solve all your problems! What is CNN condoning teaching the very youngsters you are touting should be helped? Why don't you clean up your own house first! I no longer watch you in the mornings as I used to, as I find these endless ads offensive. You have enough money, why don't you have your ad department show a bit more conscience in how they behave.

    April 7, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  3. Paul Krokus Jr.

    I am a 34 year old male who used to be a RN. I was in the Navy and was a victim of dental malpractice which led to a severe bone infection of my jaw. They failed to complete a root canal for a year and a half. In the end I had 6 strains of Stapholococcus Bacteria and a Fungus in the left side of my jaw which led to removal of between 3 and 4 inches of my jaw bone to be replaced with a titanium bar that stretches from my chin to my ear. That bar was placed improperly and was allowed to grate against the live, nerve innervated bone of my chin, for over a year before I was able to get a reconstruction of my jaw done at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. If it wasn't for them I'd still be in more severe pain than I am presently. Because of my age and being so young I can't find a doctor willing to treat me with the pain medications that I need. To reconstruct the defect in my jaw it required a moderate amount of bone to be removed from the left side of my pelvis to be ground up and mixed with a glue used to form a synthetic jaw bone with a cadaver graft as well. The point is, I haven't been able to walk without limping or the use of a cane since the reconstriction surgery in 2005 and literally can feel my pulse rate in my pelvis at the hight of my pain daily. I in no way bear ill will against the doctors ant Ruby Memorial, but do have issues with the Navy for their failure to step up properly and medically disable me for the injuries they have inflicted on me.

    April 7, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  4. Molly

    There certainly IS a "drug" in between Tylenol and Oxycontin; it's called marijuana. With no possibility of overdose and minimal side effects, marijuana was identified in the 70's by the Schaeffer Commission as "the safest drug known to mankind." If marijuana were legalized for adults' personal use, and regulated and allowed for medical use, there would be fewer people going after doctors for these dangerous painkillers, and more people choosing the safer alternative of cannabis.

    April 7, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  5. Liz Brown

    Prescription drug abuse is such a huge problem, and most people are unaware for the dangers. Doctor shopping has become a sport, and we need to educate more people on the warning signs and risks. For example, the user may find that taking the pill covers up day-to-day pain and it becomes easier to take pills than deal with what's going on in reality. If you have questions about drug addictions, you can speak to an Addiction Specialist calling Journey Healing Centers free 24-hour hotline: 1-866-744-5119

    April 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  6. Elle

    The potential for addiction to opiates and other substances that induce a perceived pleasurable response is a given. But we can't forget that medications such as opiates save untold numbers from the ghastly suffering of cancer, post-surgical pain, and intractable pain. There seems to be a backlash emerging now against pain medication in general just because people can abuse it.

    Addiction is an ancient condition, arising predictably, and should never be positioned as a moral lapse. Making addicted people feel guilty and subhuman only intensifies their self-identificaiton as addicts, drives self-loathing; and encourages feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

    I wish that a clear-headed societal approach to addiction could replace our current moral opprobrium and criminalization. A down-to-earth, pragmatic, and humane attitude would ratchet down the hysteria and familial turmoil that feed addiction.

    For instance, punishing addicts through deprivation, triggering cold turkey withdrawal is terribly counter-productive. Many see the suffering and dangers of withdrawal as "serving them right" or "teaching them a lesson." In reality, the terror of such suffering only drives addicts to extreme measures to prevent or delay it.

    When somebody becomes an addict, whether through recreational use or as a consequence of prolonged treatment for pain or anxiety, we should reinforce their self-worth rather than tearing it down. We should offer them hope and a desirable future path rather than negativity, horror stories, and threats. We should get relapsers back on track quickly and without fuss, just as with somebody who falls off a diet or smokes again. If that means allowing supervised use of the substance to avert withdrawal or criminal drug-seeking, then so be it.

    Our society is so harsh and angry these days, especially toward the poor, but now toward the middle class as well. We still prefer to punish, ostracize, and diminish. The medical condition of opiate addiction, for example, is nowhere near as downright damgerous as alcohol abuse, whose mortality is simply appalling. I hear a lot of hateful talk that addicts should be thrown to the wolves (until the speaker or someone in his family falls prey!).

    We also need to take doctors out of the cross-hairs. They are treating patients who present with pain. They can't attach polygraphs to them and become policing organizations. When people become addicted, they should have a clinic to go to where they can be managed and treated cost-effectively, without being cut off, driven into illegal behavior, or put at risk of poisoning themselves. That would cost much less to society than the law enforcement expenses and human toll we are currently paying.

    April 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Robert Dyson

    I have been on disability for 20 years due to failed back surgery. Having a doctor who is willing to work with my pain management team to provide relief for pain and spasms in the neck due to a car accident, and herniated discs in the neck which my morphine pump will not help is a blessing that can't be described. I have never once run out of pain medications early, and frankly, don't understand why people want to feel drugged out all of the time.

    Teenagers who get hooked on drugs are searching for something that drugs can't give them, and one or both parents don't, (LOVE). There is only one way that the trend will ever end. Yes, drug use, and abuse has been around since ages past, but the present problem began when the government began meddling in business that they should have stayed out of, and the few who were under conviction should have shut up about,. Things went south for America when she turned her back on God.

    The schools were initially started in order to teach our children the Bible. Any problem with the statement, go look it up before they change every bit of American history to suit the present governing body.

    Aside from that, we don't/can't discipline our children anymore for fear of being reported to authorities for abuse. I was reported for a swat on the rear end with my hand when my daughter sassed her mom in front of a store full of people. No discipline from, and by the parents, no discipline in the attitude and actions of the youth.

    Yes, doctors are to blame, but those who fake medical problems, particularly psychiatric problems to get drugged up are the real culprits. And then there are those who use illegal drugs and don't believe their kids know what is going on, but that's another story isn't it?

    April 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  8. jes333

    I am a former pill addict with 9 years clean. Presciption pills seems to be the easiest drug to gain access to, however the hardest to get clean from. I was taking up to 25 pills a day, ranging from Vicoden, Xanax and the hard stuff oxycotin. The detox was hell. The withdrawel was similar to kicking heroin; the flu like symptoms, the aches and pains and at times I began to hallucinate. I lost jobs, my apt., car and most of all the trust and respect from others. Since I have been clean, whenever I think about taking just one more, I realize that will eventually turn a back in to 25,if not more. My best days back when I was pill popping turned into a nightmare, compared to myworst days clean and sober. Any stressful situation, emotional or physical pain, I have managed to get through it clean. TODAY....LIFE IS TRULY GOOD.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  9. Lee Sabonis

    I would like to see the prescription drug commercials taken of the air.
    This may help reduce the problem somewhat. Every hour on TV there are several drug commercials and kids have been hearing these since they were babies, it has to have an effect on them .

    April 6, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  10. J A L

    In 2006 I ran a retail shop and had a 19 yo that was hired when she was 16. She started snorting oxicontin because her boyfriend was. She was so desperate to get it she would get severe flu symtoms when she went with out. She was a sweet blonde college freshman with a $500 purse trying to get drugs. At that time oxi was $ 180 a pill. She ended stealing $40k from my business. She was sent to rehab and I don't really know what has happened to her since then . I graduated in 85' and at that time there was not what was available now. I sold my house to keep my business but I am still renting and catching up. I can say I am not sure what I would do given the same choices.

    April 6, 2010 at 7:59 am |
  11. A. Smith, Oregon

    With Drug Stores on nearly all American city street corners, finding all the 'legal' drugs one wants is certainly not a problem.

    With all of the corrupt Medical Doctors practicing across America, finding a Medical Doctor in any town in America that is willing to write any prescription for a handful of cash is certainly not a problem either.

    This focus on 'Hollywood' is simply a spotlight on the wealthy who indulge themselves with whatever they can purchase or buy. It is nothing knew and has been historically around since before the Pharohs in Egypt.

    America's medical community and American Medical Associated Doctors (AMA MD's), are corrupt and simply pill pushers who are more Big Pharma frontmen and drug pushers than actual medical healers.

    April 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  12. Bryan

    Would you PLEASE, think about how all this sensationalism is effecting people that actually have a need for those prescription drugs?

    Every time you do this you make it much harder for someone in pain – and especially for those with a chronic pain condition to get the medicine they need!

    April 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm |