Written by Mackenzie Billotti, a CSUCI Service-Learning student.
For privacy purposes the name of my interviewee has been changed. The interview with David was conducted May 2nd, 2021 on Zoom. We discussed his background and history with prescription drug abuse.
David suffered from a rare spinal disease called Scheuermann’s Kyphosis. This is a condition that affects the upper part of the back and causes it to curve forward. It can be extremely painful and needs surgery in order to fix it.
David received a surgery when he was 17 years old that resulted in two titanium rods and twenty six titanium screws in his back. He was in recovery for 11 months.
Imagine what it would be like to be in constant pain every time you walked, sat down, or did daily activities.
The doctor prescribed him oxycodone and norcos, as well as therapy sessions. He had three refills and went through them quickly.
Eventually his prescription ran out, but that was not enough. He wanted more and did what he could to find it. He did not just look for the same medication anymore, but anything that was a similar level of pain reliever.
He continued using these drugs for the next year, not just for pain but for recreational purposes.
He tried to quit once on his own, but the withdrawals were too difficult to handle. He felt claustrophobic, had extreme sweating, heat flashes, mood swings, and weight loss. He went back to drugs.
But one time he took it too far, took three bars of Xanax and had smoked marijuana. He was unable to function properly so his friends put him into his car to sleep it off. The next thing he remembered was waking up in his own bed. His mother had found him asleep at a red light and brought him home. This was the first time his family found out he had a problem. He tried to play it off as alcohol use, so his parents sent him to therapy where he then admitted to his drug abuse problem.
Therapy was long and helped him cope with the symptoms of withdrawal. He ended up quitting cold turkey and never looked back. He is 22 years old today and has an understanding of how to handle his urges and police himself properly. He now knows how to say no because he knows where this addiction can lead.
Several people die each year from prescription drug overdose; David was lucky. This was his story.