SPECIAL REPORT: Opioid Crisis

I had no idea the toll pain pills, a gateway drug to heroin, has on thousands in the CSRA.

It can happen to anyone.

Opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate, and for some, it starts with an injury– a doctor prescribes a months worth of pain pills, like percocet.

Well, Ken Wilson, Director of Stepping Stones Recovery in Augusta, told me that simple “short-term” prescriptions can dramatically turn into a lifestyle– where one physically craves the drug… just to fulfill day-to-day routines.

“The addiction is to a change of feeling,” Wilson told me.

I asked him, “What is the rage of pain pills? Why, according to the CDC, are opioids (pain pills and heroin) the main driver of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. right now?”

Wilson explained, “The feeling one gets from opioid use is just tremendous tranquility: Relaxaltion. Pain goes away, depression goes away, and you just dont have a care in the world.”

But, I learned, there’s a steep downfall. Once that initial pain goes away, the reason opioids were prescribed in the first place, doctors stop writing prescriptions. But for many, the addiction to that “serenity” feeling remains.

“The urge to take these pills is similar to an extreme hunger. If you can imagine how hungry you  are at five minutes to 12, and you know at 12 noon you get to eat. You can multiply that 5 or 10 times, and that’s the drug hunger in the mind from opioid addiction,” Wilson explained.

For those who are trapped in the opioid crisis, there are treatments, more than doctor visits, to bring you out of the addiction. I learned support groups are crucial.

Wilson told me recovery is long-term: The brain heals very slowly. Responses come back over the course 12 to 18 months, usually.

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