Almost 20 deaths blamed on RX pills in Shelby County - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Almost 20 deaths blamed on RX pills in Shelby County

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SHELBY COUNTY - AL -

One woman talked with ABC 33/40 reporter, Bryant Somerville, Friday. She did not want her identity used.

She could be your mother, your sister or your daughter.

Her name is not important, but her story is.

"All because I had an addiction problem that I couldn't overcome," she said.

For 20 years she's been addicted to pain pills. She remembers her breaking point.

"When I found myself at a dope house buying pain pills and it got raided," she said.

Her addiction started in the doctor's office. She says she had minor back pain.

"He prescribed it ongoing and told me to take them whether I hurt or not," she said. "Take four a day, because if you don't take them and you start hurting, they won't stop the pain."

A problem that only got worse.

"Four-a-day turned in to eight-a-day, 10-a-day, 20-a-day," she said.

In Shelby County prescription pill addiction continues to grow.

According to the Drug Enforcement Task Force there's been almost 200 cases this year involving pain pills.

Almost 20 people have died.

"It is high," Glenn Archibald said.

Archibald, with the Shelby County Treatment Center, says those numbers are unusual even though, here in the south, he says the most common drug abuse is with prescription drugs.

"It seems like there is an epidemic of opiate abuse prescription now more so than before, with deaths," Archibald said.

At his clinic, Oxycontin, Percocet and morphine are the most common. He blames the easy access to the drugs, saying more physicians are just handing it out.

"Once you start down that road, however small it starts, it gets to be a very, very big problem before you realize it," the former addict said.

The woman says the answer is education. She wants addicts to realize no matter how bad the addiction might be, there is always help.

"Most people that have a problem don't realize there is a cure out there that can get you back to normal, everyday life," she said.

Alabama is being proactive in the fight against prescription drug abuse. The state has a monitoring system that allows pharmacists to report every patient's information concerning opiates and controlled substances. It allows pharmacists to see if the patient is also getting meds from somewhere else.

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