Studies are now showing the number of overdose deaths from prescription opiates outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine in this country.
In our area, counselors in the Lehigh Valley say prescription drug addictions are a challenging issue that the community needs to talk about.
"Susan," who is a recovering addict from the Lehigh Valley area, says she would do anything for her drug of choice.
"You doctor shop, you alter prescriptions, you do things that could have grave consequences on your family, careers and you don't care," she explains.
Duane Sprow, also a recovering addict from the Allentown area, has been fighting his addiction for years. He says he was recently released from prison and is staying with a friend because he has nowhere else to go.
"I've lost everything I had. I lost two houses. I lost my wife. I had a good job. I don't have a job any longer. I was homeless," says Duane.
But now he is trying to turn his life around.
At the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Allentown, counselors work to save addicts. They say we all should get education about our medications.
"I think it's just important to get information, ask your doctor, just keep asking your doctor about what these medications are, what the side effects of them are," says CADA counselor Vanja Lukic.
Lawmakers are trying to create legislation aimed at drug monitoring while many addicts say they are now finding it's easier and less expensive to get heroin on the streets than prescription drugs.
It is the path Duane took but now he is hoping the worst is over.
"It's not something to be ashamed of. It's an addiction . It's something people need to be able to understand and the more understanding, the more helpful it will be and the less stigma there will be against it," he says.
"I think it's important to keep educating people and to let people know it's okay to ask for help for this problem that you're having or this addiction that you're having because it's life changing and life altering," says another CADA counselor, Lauren Gass.
Susan says she still needs help.
"It's very hard. It's a constant struggle. I think it'll be hard until the day I die."
Allentown, PA 18102
- Berks Patrick Manwiller | 69 News