Former Drug Addict Deanna McFarlin on Why America’s Churches Need to Help the Two Million Opioid Addict
I was a slave to opioids that ruined my entire life. It started when I was 30 and my doctor prescribed me hydrocodone, a generic compound opioid of Vicodin and Tylenol, after a car accident revealed during an X-ray that I had a congenital defect in my lower back called spina bifida occulta. The crash aggravated that disc, causing debilitating pain.
Initially, I took just one tablet at night before bed. My prescription said that I could take up to two tablets a day as needed. Within three months, I was consuming two hydrocodone tablets, three times a day. When the opioids coursed through my veins, I felt invincible. They not only made my double shifts bearable as a geriatric charge nurse – responsible for 30 patients and nurse’s aides – but they helped me cope with my job’s stress between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.
Within a year and a half, I’m ashamed to admit, I was ingesting six hydrocodone tablets, four times a day! I became increasingly erratic, rude, and short-tempered as I experienced manic mood swings.
But it got worse. I began stealing!
When my doctor’s monthly prescription ran out in four days, I resorted to breaking the Seventh Commandment. I stole opioids from the nursing home where I was employed, claiming that I had given the patients their drugs when in fact I had pocketed them. Plus, I also stole hydrocodone tablets which were on the verge of expiration. When the pharmacy, came to retrieve them to safely destroy them, I lied, claiming I didn’t know where they had disappeared to. All told, I had stolen 500 hydrocodone tablets.
It didn’t end there.
I was so enslaved to my opioid addiction that I even stole $800 from my beloved father by cashing checks and buying the pills on the street for $5 a pill. My life became a vicious cycle of stealing, using, and acting erratically. The payoff was no longer there. I was pathetic. In fact, I became so disgusted with myself that I contemplated suicide several times.