An alarming new statistic shows more moms are becoming addicted to pain pills like hydrocodone and Oxycontin.
“People get instant results and the tendency is to think, ‘Well if one dose is good, then two doses is better,’” Recovery Resources Associate Director of Clinical Services Michael Richardson said.
What was once referred to as “mother’s little helper” in the 1960′s and 70′s has now turned into a prescription drug abuse epidemic.
The CDC says every day, 18 women die of a prescription drug overdose and overall death rates for women have risen 400% between 1999 and 2010.
Quincy mom Jennifer Sass is recovering from an addiction to pain pills that has consumed her life for the past nine years.
“I lost my job and then it turned into scrambling for money any way that I could, to get whatever I could get,” Sass said.
Sass said her addiction to pills started when her doctor prescribed hydrocodone for neck pain after a car crash.
“They started me out on a moderate and then they just kept building it up and building it up till I was just on ungodly amounts of painkillers,” Sass said.
At her worst, Sass said she was taking 10 hydrocodone pills a day. The habit was costing her $5,000 a year.
“Lying, cheating, stealing,” Sass said. “It’s hurt the relationship with my mom, my sister, my best friend.”
Sass said it was putting Andrew in a situation no child should have to deal with.
“Her stomach used to hurt almost every day and she always laid in bed all the time,” Andrew said.
Officials at Quincy’s Recovery Resources said they treat many moms like Sass.
“A person has been prescribed medication for a particular purpose and then for one reason or another it begins to take on a life of its own,” Richardson said.
Sass tried to quit on her own many times, but she said the withdrawal was too much.
“I couldn’t get out of bed,” Sass said. “I was shaking. I was vomiting. I felt like I was going to die. And to keep that feeling from coming on, you know you have to go get more.”
Everything changed earlier this year when Sass got help at Recovery Resources.
“I sat in my car after I just spent the last of my money on getting some and I didn’t even take one,” Sass said. “I just sat there and started bawling. What have I become? And I started looking at all the things I had done and realized I can not do this one more day.”
Sass is now 145 days clean and is focused on rebuilding relationships with people she hurt and becoming a role model for Andrew.
“Once you get clean, you can just be free of craziness and be free of the medicine,” Sass said. “It’s not going to control your life anymore; you are.”
Sass isn’t the only mom in recovery for a hydrocodone addiction. Pharmacists at Hy-Vee on Harrison Street in Quincy said they keep their shelves stocked with pills like hydrocodone because of the high demand. But the abuse of these drugs has gotten so bad, pharmacists said they have to monitor their customers’ prescriptions.
“A red flag for us is if a patient has five or six doctors that they’re getting their pain medicine from,” Manager Melissa Harbin said.
“If it weren’t for those pills I would have never ever considered doing any of the things that I had done to hurt the people that I love,” Sass said.
So how do you know if someone you love is addicted to pills? Richardson said to look for these warning signs:
- Excessive mood swings
- Saying they lost their medication
- Going to multiple doctors or pharmacies
- Distancing themselves from family members
- Giving up activities they used to enjoy
You can call a 24/7 drug abuse hotline: 1-800-943-0566.