This is the seventh edition of an ongoing series of real stories about addiction from ClickOnDetroit's readers.
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My son is 29 years old and is addicted to prescription drugs.
About nine years ago he accidentally fell and damaged his ankle at work. An opioid drug was prescribed for the pain. He has since overdosed many times. Often we were able catch it early enough to avoid the hospital. But in four different incidents he went to the emergency room to pump out his stomach.
He will do about anything to get this drug. He once purposely slammed his hand in the car door to get an opioid prescribed. His most severe overdose has just occurred. A previously unknown doctor prescribed 120 Percocet. He was staying at a friend's house. They left for work the next morning, noticed he was still sleeping on the couch but knew he had to go to work later. Upon returning that afternoon, they found him in a drug induced coma. He had taken 41 pills. He had a blood clot in his left arm from laying on it so long.
We found him on life support at the emergency room. The doctors indicated he had respiratory depression (very low oxygen level) for an unknown period. His liver, kidney and lungs were damaged. The doctors advised us to consider removing him from life support. We could not do that! All his wonderful childhood memories came flooding back, and it was impossible to let him go. He was transferred to see a liver specialist at a hospital in Detroit. At the ICU he was on the respirator (breathing life support) for 28 days.
We were totally transparent with all the medical staff and doctors with his drug addiction history. At the ICU he received opioids intravenously and other pain relief drugs by injection or pill. While my wife and I were not with our son in the ICU 24/7, we were there every day for several hours. We did not notice him agitated or in agony from pain. But he was "out of it," sleeping and sedated most of the time.
Upon being released from the hospital he was transferred to a nursing home to regain strength. There, he was given Norco (hydrocodone-acetaminophen), until we objected. The physician's assistant was advised about his drug abuse history.
We pray that the doctors know what they are doing; that the medications are not harmful to his liver nor enabling his continuing drug addiction. He has nerve damage causing foot drop, and he may never walk right again. A sharp pain in his foot continues which is very difficult to live with.
Getting opioids for pain relief seems to be the generally accepted standard medical procedure for anybody. Pain pills help most people through a very difficult period in becoming well. Unfortunately, a few people like my son are predisposed to becoming addicted.
- Dave Bartkowiak Jr. -- firstname.lastname@example.org