American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
May 10th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Teen fights prescription addiction

In March, we gave you a frightening look inside an 18-year-old's battle with a dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs that nearly ended her life. Today, our Kiran Chetry goes back to visit Melissa to see whether or not she's serious about getting clean. Tomorrow on American Morning, Melissa takes us inside her new world of sobriety. We'll show you the challenges she faces – old habits and old friendships that could pull her back into addiction.

By Kiran Chetry, CNN

(CNN) – We first met 18-year-old Melissa a month ago. She’s a self-described addict of prescription drugs.

“My mother's prescribed Xanax. … I began taking them as well, and um, it was just kind of like an immediate comfort from them,” she says.

Melissa and her best friend, who didn't want us to use her name, told us snorting crushed up pills was a daily habit.

“I wouldn't really say that I'm addicted, like I've been on and off.”

Melissa's cousin Adam, now sober, says he overdosed 15 times before getting clean.

“It's just like, you need it, and you don't want to do anything else and you don't care about anything else and you spend every last penny you have on it, just to have that feeling and for me that was immediate,” he says.

All three of them say they started abusing drugs when they were just 13. Fast forward five years, Melissa's been in an out of rehab three times, is a high school drop out and has a criminal record. She told us she was well aware of her losing battle with pills, yet continued to abuse.

"I most certainly am an addict, like, ‘Hi, my name's Melissa and I am an addict and I am an alcoholic.’ Like I know that I am, like, I really do just make excuses. I need to clean my room, but I have no ambition. I'll take an Aderrall, yep, my room needs to be clean, that's why I took it. Yep, that's why. Just dumb excuses, dumb reasons, telling myself it's ok, it's not okay.”

After having that self realization, where does she take the next step, what's next?

“Honestly, from here like I don't know where everything's gonna go, but I want to try, I want to try really, really hard to stop making excuses for why I do these things because its not getting me anywhere.”

Two hours after we finished our interview, Melissa and her friend were snorting Adderall in their car.

“Prescription pills suck. They suck, they suck. I am currently high on them and sit here and say they suck. It's not worth it, it's not worth it,” Melissa says.

But even that wasn't her lowest. She would hit rock bottom in two days.

“I went over to a friend's house and I thought I was having a good time and I ended up trying to commit suicide. I felt really lonely, and I guess a lot of times when you're using drugs that's how you end up feeling.

"I don't remember calling an ambulance or how it got to me, but I went to the hospital. I was in intensive care for four days. They told me I was fifteen minutes away from death."

It wasn't until her fifth day in the hospital that Melissa saw through her addiction...

"I've been in rehab and it wasn't enough for me. It didn't strike me as that serious. But being 15 minutes away from death, that was my bottom. That's as low as I can get. And it’s made me realize what I need to do."

Filed under: Addicted... • Drugs
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. hawaii bob

    aloha KAREN, how can u NOT B addicted 2 1 drug or another in this country? DRUGS R being SHOVED down the throat of the public CONSTANTLY on tv. oh thats rite THOSE R "legal" drugs. ANYTHING for $$$$$ dangerous or not so. half a dozen disclaimers 4 every 1 advertised. welcome 2 CORPORATE AMERICA. HUMANS R VERY "civilized". just really LOOK how we treat ourselves. war PROFITEERING VERY "civilized" aloha hb

    May 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  2. am

    i agree with some of the comments that this woman is not serious about recovery, she seems more interested in talking about herself on camera. also, how much tax-payer money went towards sending her to rehabs she wasn't serious about and keeping her there for weeks, perhaps months only for her to come out and start using again? she had better pull herself together.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  3. BobP

    A great story, Kiran!!
    Being in recovery I think it's important to show the struggles of addiction and the problems facing teens. My only comment is I would have edited the segment a little differently. Here you are talking to a past suicidal teen, and one scene shows her sitting on a wall with the horizon in the distance... it looks like she is going to jump!!

    May 11, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  4. jay

    What happened to the parental warning or something before that video? I couldn't even watch it because I couldn't get past the fact that my kids can click on something on the homepage of CNN and see a girl snorting lines. Something I think I've only seen a couple times in my life in movies.

    not that there is anything wrong with that point of view, but at the same time... to lots of folks this isn't anything new or out of the movies.
    but I have a feeling CNN's producers are about as knowledgeable as the Linda who commented here – which must explain the attempt to make such a nonstory interesting.

    Anyway either you want to only know Linda's America or you want to see the true spread, CNN misses again – lands in a muddy pile of mediocrity

    May 11, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  5. jay

    Another benzo head.
    This story was pretty lacking, lack of details to fill in for lack of real story here or what?

    May 11, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  6. Anonymous

    It seems as though the real problem lies in her own internal issues. Yes she is addicted to perscription drugs however Melissa needs to get psychological counseling down the road once she's clean. She would really benefit from some one on one & group therapy so her real problems can be resolved.

    May 10, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  7. Lizzie

    Okay, she may say that after being fifteen minutes away from death she learned her lesson, but this is not a unique story. And that's not a unique excuse. After her first interview she was snorting Adderall and partying three days later, that kind of makes it seem like she's not too serious. My sister went through this same disease and was minutes away from death multiple times and said the same things as Melissa, but she didn't. She died. Addiction is a very serious thing and people need to treat it as such. If a person has the right mind to admit they're addicted, he/she need to stop themselves immediately or check into a hospital, or it's clear he/she is okay with risking their life. An addict has to take extreme measures to get clean if they truly want it. Otherwise death will be the outcome.

    May 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  8. tudees

    addicted fruits do not just sprout from somewhere- the source is just as bad.

    Bad children can only come from very bad parents- take an example from Michael Douglas, eh?

    May 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  9. Mother of a Presciption Addict

    Is she close enough to her bottom?

    Let me tell you what it is like to visit my daughter in a nursing home she was even closer to death when I signed papers to take her off life support after her overdose. That hurt more then anything I have had to do in regards to my children.

    She is in a wheel chair unable to walk her hands are frozen! Her mind is perfect! She still refuses to say "I am an addict!" She still gets her pills that she has to have to function! She says she has to have the pills.

    It sucks! I can tell you what it means to be responsible for a 38 year old addict daughter! What bottom?

    You will stop one of three ways! You die! You go to Jail! You get in to a Recovery Program!

    This has no bottom. You just love her as she is because we all deserved to be loved not matter what we are. I love her because she is a human being with her own choices.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Michael in Houston

    Have dealt with addicts up close and from a distance for many years. I dont think this teenager is interested in recovery as much as she is interested in being on camera for her addiction.

    Nothing about her demeanor suggests she is trying to do anything but be on camera and show her rebel side.

    Not interesting whatsoever

    May 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  11. Charloette

    My daughter went down this path, and I can only imagine the horror of her family and friends. I am one of the lucky ones, that my daughter has been clean and sober for 3 years...however, it took thousands of dollars. I think every parent needs to go to their medicine chest and clean it out...and people need to be more careful in prescribing Ritalin and Aderole.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  12. D.

    Why are you wasting good time on these worthless human
    beings? If they want to kill themselves, the whole world does
    not need to see or know about it!!

    Lets try to keep it on those young women & men who are
    during something positive in there lives to becoming productive
    assests to our society!!!

    May 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Jennifer

    This photo is disgusting and objectionable. I am sad for CNN. Ask yourselves – What is news and what is exploitation? I am.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  14. hobo

    I feel like there is another side of this story that their not telling, Yes Precription drug abuse is on the rise, but I also feel like it's the parents fault for not doing their part.

    Oh my son/daugheter can't concentrate? well let's put him on adderall or riddling?

    Oh he is upset and has panic attacks? Why let's put him on xanex!

    I think the problem is parents don't want to deal with their kids anymore and just get them pills and what not to cope with whatever issues they have.

    There is NO need to give kids as young as 13 prescription drugs.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  15. slozomby

    "Melissa's cousin Adam, now sober, says he overdosed 15 times before getting clean."

    and child protective services didnt remove the child from the houshold. its obvious the parents didnt give a rats ass about either of these kids.

    to abuse xanax to the point of repeated OD will make a huge dent in the prescription. that mom was too stoned to realize this is the problem.

    "I don't remember calling an ambulance or how it got to me, but I went to the hospital. I was in intensive care for four days."

    May 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Becky

    Where's the parents??

    May 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  17. Andy

    This is the real epidemic of our nation. Prescription drug abuse. This problem will ruin us. It affects young and old, rich and poor, across all walks of life. I know abusers who are accountants, doctors, unemployed and homeless, living with parents, from teenagers to retirees.

    This is the only country I'm aware of that allows opioid pain killers to be prescribed by GPs. Instead of pointing fingers at those caught up in a vicious cycle of addiction, we should recognise it as a disease that can be treated and aggressively do so.

    Funding treatment centers and councilors, giving doctors the knowledge they need to treat this disease, is the only way we'll beat it.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  18. Chris

    Are we suppose to feel sorry for her? Are we suppose to applaud her now that she has seen the light? Yeah right! I couldn't careless simply because my interpretation of this article is that the prescription drug abuse began as a recreational event for this young girl. All I care about is how to prevent my children from turning out as Melissa did. I don't have solutions for this kind of behavior; what I do have is anger because of the pain this girl put her parents through. I don't ever want to go through this with my own children, but if it happens, I won't look for pity for them from others, rather, I will be spending my time asking where I went wrong...blaming myself for what has happened to them. When do these young children take any responsibility? I don't want to blame myself for the rest of my life and have that kind of feeling destroy everything inside of me until my own death.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  19. TiredoftheStupidity!

    Interesting that the video had NOT ONE parent in it....Sounds a little like the reason these idiots are doing what they're doing right now!

    May 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  20. Elizbeth Miller

    She should try Narconon Treatment Center. I was addicted to pain pills for 12 years and was able to take my life back into my own hands. I've been clean for 2 years now and expecting my first child soon. It truely saved my life.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  21. Alex

    The younger society today, for the most part, is very out of touch with reality. They look for escapes, knowing that the escape will only be temporary. Melissa knew what she was doing was wrong, "dumb excuses" and even admitted to not being addicted, but she sure looked and acted like she has a serious addiction problem.

    When she attemped suicide and was told she was "15 minutes from death" she was snapped back into a reality, but IMO she will continue doing the drugs in the future.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  22. mahdeealoo

    My daughter overdosed on OTC cold medicine 4 years ago. She had a 2% chance of surviving and a 1% chance of having any sort of a mind left. When she came out of her drug induced state over a month later, she said what was in her mind was this huge black empty hole. When she tried to think a thought, she said all she could see was this hole in her brain.

    Now, she is graduating with one of 3 degrees she will be earning in the next 2 1/2 years. Top of her class and loving life like none other. She does not touch drugs and realizes the contribution she can give to the rest of the world as a whole and complete human being.

    Her determination and perseverance and encouragement from family has been the answer to her success.

    There can be a life after drugs, but only if that is your choice.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  23. TJ White

    Teenagers today are just plain flat out stupid. I have a pair of brothers that are addicted to prescription drugs and not even going to jail will help them quit. Prescription drugs are a terrible thing and almost all doctors would rather write a prescription than deal with the real problem.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  24. James

    The real "dealers" in our world are the pharmaceutical companies and their friends in congress.

    We keep hearing about all these celebs that OD on prescription drugs (in the past year: Heath Ledger, MJ, DJ Am, Brittany Murphy, and before that Anna N. Smith, etc).

    How many regular folks out there die every year from the same thing?

    stop the hypocrisy!

    May 10, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  25. Linda

    What happened to the parental warning or something before that video? I couldn't even watch it because I couldn't get past the fact that my kids can click on something on the homepage of CNN and see a girl snorting lines. Something I think I've only seen a couple times in my life in movies.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  26. oxycotinisbetterthanadderall

    You cannot know your way out of addiction. An addict/alcoholic can at times use past experience to decide not to use again. I.E. "oh, last time I drank I had a blackout and crashed my car, got a dwi, and nearly killed a couple of people. maybe I shouldnt have this drink so that doesnt happen again." sometimes that works, but there will always come a time when the addict/alcoholic HAS NO MENTAL DEFENSE AGAINST THE FIRST DRINK/HIT/LINE. As in, all the past experiences, all the knowledge you could want about your drug of choice and youtr histroy with it will never be enough to stop you from using it again. Thats how someone can overdose 15 times and still take another hit, because there's a blank in your brain where nonaddicts wouldnt touch a stove after being burnt, we addicts have no choice but to drink/use if we continue to live our lives based on ourselves. Once you start living a life that is not based on your own self, your own desires, your own wants, then one can put down the drug and move forward. Selfishness is the root of all our problems. AA doesn't have a monopoly on getting sober, but it is where I, a pillhead, found help. If melissa doesn't look for help somewhere outside of herself and her using friends, she's boned.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  27. Josh

    Prescription drug abuse at 18 is the fault of the parent, not the drug. Poor parenting aside, I would blame the pharmaceutical companies for pumping millions into pushing drugs like xanax as a substitute for behavioral treatment. Low self esteem? Anxiety around people? Difficulty finding motivation? Lets fix it with DRUGS! Something is not right here....

    May 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  28. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Parents should be aware of popping pills in front of their children regardless of whether they are prescribed. And I don't understand how a parent wouldn't notice their pills are missing not unless they were too high themselves. I blame the parents because they neglect to protect their children and that's sad.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  29. Nakedpanda

    LOLSo what is the point of this story? It's just another loser snorting perscription drugs and who is to scared to go on the better stuff. If she would switch to coke she would have a lot better results.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  30. Interesting

    How could you have this article on the home page, with the picture of some one taking drugs. I have CNN as my home page and some times my daughters 8 and 7 see the home page.

    How stupid can CNN be in positioning sensational images on top.

    I have no problem with the article, but the image as the first image on your home page.

    You lost me as a person who will ever keep CNN as my home page.

    May 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm |