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When you don’t know you have a problem

Why is it that when people refer to a drug addict, the only image that comes to mind is of someone slinking off in a corner (or a dark alley) to shoot up heroin or sniff cocaine? I am not judging addicts here; that’s not at all what this rant is about. I am very well aware that addiction is a disease and that there are many factors that may be responsible for causing someone to become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. My issue is with people who don’t believe that prescription drugs are dangerous and are equally capable of causing addiction.

So why am I ranting about this? I was talking with a friend of mine (let’s call her Christine – not her real name) the other night whose sister (let’s call her Angela- also not her real name) evidently is a huge fan of Xanax, the prescription sedative. My friend reports that her sister has been known to pop as many as three in one night. So I asked why. Is it because Angela suffers from extreme anxiety? Was she deployed to Afghanistan and returned with PTSD? Was she attacked viciously by a mugger? What could make a woman pop so many lethal pills in one night? It was rhetorical because I already know that she’s married to a great guy, she owns her own business and they have no serious stresses.

I was having extreme trouble with this whole conversation. I asked her if she realizes that Xanax is highly addictive. “Oh no, they’re not addictive. They can’t be. The doctor prescribed them. Why would the doctor do that if they were addictive? And anyway, Angela has things totally under control. She can quit anytime. She just chooses not to. Besides, it’s not like she’s some low life junkie! You’re making her sound like those people who need rehab to quit cocaine or heroin. My sister isn’t like that.”

I asked her if she knows how many people die from prescription drug overdose each year. I cited a Los Angeles Times article from 2009 that reported drug related deaths surpassed traffic fatalities. It said, and I am paraphrasing, that it isn’t cocaine and heroin that are causing the spike in drug related deaths. The article said that it’s OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma causing the fatalities. Everyone from teenagers who want a “heroin-like high” to middle aged working men and women who are prescribed pain pills for injuries, end up becoming addicted. It’s being called an epidemic. I asked her what she thinks killed Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, Elvis Presley, Heath Ledger and literally dozens more stars? It wasn’t heroin or an illegal drug. In every single case it was an overdose of prescription drugs.

My warnings fell on deaf ears. Christine wasn’t having any part of the conversation and still doesn’t believe that her sister has a problem. Let me ask you this, does taking three Xanax pills a night sound like a good idea? It sounds to me like Angela needs rehab and a serious dose of reality.


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!



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