Mystery in the Medicine Chest: The Danger of Leftover Pills
This story is part of a special, "Opioids in Indiana: There Is Hope", which will air Sept. 3, on 93 WIBC
FRANKLIN, Ind.--Many of the young people addicted to opioids in Indiana ended up on pills or heroin because they found pills and decided to experiment. They may have been hooked before they realized it, and then getting off of opioids proved too tough.
Back in the day and now
"I remember the day when people would go into their parents' liquor cabinet and pour out some vodka, and then put water back in it. Now what they're doing is finding these very potent opiates in the medicine cabinets," said Shannon Schumacher, who helps oversee residential treatment centers in Evansville, Winchester and Indianapolis with Volunteers for America.
She said often the pills come from prescriptions after surgeries that are not taken all the way.
"By the time they finish the bottle, they (the teenagers) are physiologically addicted to these things."
Ashley, from Franklin, is in recovery. She found pills when she was 14.
"I was living with my mom and she's had a lot of medical issues and many surgeries. I just didn't feel comfortable in my skin and I just started to experiment, just to see what it was all about and what she had," said Ashley. "I got introduced to morphine, hydrocodone, percoset and a variety of other things."
Ashley didn't realize that she had developed an addiction. Then, she started stealing to get the pills she needed.
"I was stealing them from people in my family that had the prescriptions," she said. "By the time there was no question about whether or not it was me doing it, I was up to eight a day, with a variety of other things."
When the pills run out
Ashley didn't graduate to heroin, but Schumacher said a lot of young people do.
"When they can't get the pills anymore, heroin is pretty cheap and pretty easy to find," she said. "It's the same high. It's cheaper. And, often times by the time they are very addicted, they're not even getting high anymore. They're just trying not to go through the terrible withdrawal."
Ashley got help and was able to get off the various substances to which she was addicted. But, the withdrawals for people who are addicted to pills and heroin can be excrutiating. When you hear about pill drop off programs, they are meant to stop the mystery in the medicine cabinet, and experimentation that leads to addiction.