LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – It is a crisis that probably affects someone you know.
More and more people are addicted to opioids or pain pills.
It’s so bad, that on Thursday, President Donald Trump declared a nationwide public health emergency for opioid abuse.
The people who work at Community Counseling know the problem all too well.
Opioid abuse can result in addiction, long term treatment, even death.
It’s easy to get hooked, and in some cases, even easier to get the pills.
You may have an old bottle in your medicine cabinet.
Painkillers like lortab and hydrocodone fall into the class of opioids, joining even more dangerous drugs, like morphine and heroin.
Medication is easy to access and it’s not illegal.
“It’s not like I’m going out, buying marijuana, or buying cocaine, or buying meth. I’m going to the doctor. He writes me a prescription, it’s perfectly legal for me to get a prescription from a doctor, but however, I’m taking it and abusing that because now that my medical condition has cleared up, I want to feel better about myself,” says Columbus Police Assistant Chief Fred Shelton.
Shelton believes some doctors may be writing too many prescriptions for pain pills.
He says other doctors have strict rules.
“Some medical offices tell you we do not prescribe pain medication and there’s certain criteria that you have to meet to get the pain medication, so I think at least, I think in that respect we are taking some responsibility.”
Some people who become addicted to pain meds will doctor shop to get the prescription.
“The classic things when you look at signs of addiction is I use more than I intended, right? I find myself setting boundaries and then not being able to stick with them. The classic sign is, once I start I am unable to stop,” says Director of Alcohol and Drug Services for Community Counseling Services, Keenyn Wald.
These are other signs of addiction: changes in behavior and health, along with frequently thinking about the pill.
Wald says addiction is isolating.
“By not reaching out, there is a lack of support that they are going to find and so shame and guilt kill more people in addiction than drugs, right? An inability to reach out, seek help, and there is a lot of people out there that are working and living with this and doing well in recovery and managing their life.”
The emergency declaration means here in Mississippi and Alabama, the government can expand medical services in rural areas.
It’s a tough road to recovery. If you or a family member are fighting an addiction to pain medication and you want to share your story, let me know.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org