The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.
In Lehigh County, drug and alcohol prevention experts say the prescription drug problem has been getting worse in the last few years.
How does it happen?
How do people become addicted to a prescription drug that is supposed to help them?
Forty-four-year-old Duane Sprow is a recovering addict from the Allentown area.
"It started out, I broke my arm and they gave me Percocet for the pain and I liked the feeling that it gave me," explains Duane.
Duane remembers how he wanted that feeling to continue. He soon began taking pills with his buddies at work.
"We'd take the pills, we'd feel invincible, the work would be easy but it got to the point where we needed the pills to work and we started scoring the pills not through doctors but on the streets of Philly ," he said.
Susan is also a recovering addict who lives in the Lehigh Valley. She says her addiction journey also started with one small pill.
"I think you take the medication because yeah, you have a legit problem but then you realize I can get so much more done when I take this medicine so I am going to take it a lot and it completely numbs all problems," she says.
At the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Allentown, counselors continue to work to help people addicted to prescription drugs. They say it happens over time as people slowly take more and more medication.
"They take maybe one more than they're prescribed just to avoid the feelings and avoid everything they're going through, then it turns into two and then three and I think it spirals from there," says CADA counselor Vanja Lukic.
Counselors say they see people of all ages who run into problems with prescription drugs, sometimes without even realizing what they are getting themselves into.
"A lot of people maybe don't do that on purpose or for any particular reason but it ends up being a problem because then they're taking more than what's recommended," says CADA counselor Lauren Gass.
Duane is hoping to turn his life around.
" I lost everything, went to prison. I was just recently released. It's a day to day struggle," he says.
If you have any questions or concerns about yourself or anyone in your family, experts say you should get professional help without delay.
The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse is located at 1031 W. Linden St. in Allentown.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Berks Chad Blimline/69 News