At least 48 million people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, that's according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
After finally kicking a six-year addiction to painkillers "Brenda" -- who asked that her last name not be used -- is so afraid to use them again she says she went through two surgeries without pain medicine.
“I’m so adamant that I don't want the stuff in my system because I have a fear
of what my reaction will be,” says Brenda.
But the stigma associated with addiction is why you don't see her face. She's a nurse, been clean and sober for 4 years now. Still, her employer was concerned about what her patients might think.
It started with a prescription for pain pills to treat migraines, but there were pressures at home and stress at work - within a year she says she was writing her own prescriptions on pads she had taken from the surgeons she worked for. She was up to 15 to 20 pills a
day and she didn't seek help because she says she was ashamed.
“I'm a middle class medical professional; I am not supposed to be a drug addict.”
Pain killers and sedatives are among the most commonly abused drugs and experts say there are subtle signs that someone may be hooked.
“Are they isolating themselves more, do they have a new circle of acquaintances,
Are they not as connected with family and friends as they've been,” says Charles Curie of SAMSHA.
But Curie says treatment works and recovery is real.
“Many people do not understand that if you receive treatment for addiction,
you're committed to recovery, you can have a life of hope.”
Brenda spent 5 weeks in methadone detox and now attends four 12-step meetings a week. She says it has definitely saved her life.
If you or a loved one is interested in getting more information or seeking a treatment program, you can call Rockford’s Rosecrance at 391-1000.