Thursday, August 03, 2017


By Christy Hendricks, Leader staff writer

Jane is around 30 years old, married, has kids and has a decent job. She’s been taking prescription opiates since she was 24. A few days ago, Jane had a scare.

“The other night, I was sitting in my room. I had taken three or four hydrocodones around 4 or 5ish. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go to sleep. I decided to take some Nyquil. I took 60 milliliters instead of 30. Those were still in my system on top of the 60 milliliters of Nyquil,” she said. 

“I was laying down and my heart starting skipping a beat. About every six breaths I would take, it would just skip. Then it was every two breaths. I mentioned something to my husband, and he said, ‘Oh, it was probably the pills you took earlier.’ But he didn’t know I took Nyquil on top of them. He fell asleep, and I was laying there scared thinking ‘Is my heart about to stop? Am I going to have to tell him I need to go to the hospital? But if I go to the hospital, and they find it in my system, and that it’s not prescribed to me, I’m gonna lose my job. If I didn’t lose my job, then I would lose the respect of the people I work with.’ Which is really important to me. I’m laying there and now it’s every breath I take my heart is skipping a beat. The Nyquil has started to kick in. I’m fighting my sleep because I’m trying to make sure I’m taking nice deep, long breaths, in through my nose out through my mouth. And I fell asleep. Luckily, I woke up the next day.”

Jane has been abusing prescription painkillers for about seven years.

“Going behind my husband’s back is the one thing I feel the worst about,” Jane says of her addiction to prescription opiates. “We tell each other everything.”

Jane didn’t always like taking prescription opioids.

“When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a toothache. I was 19. I was taking over the counter painkillers and my doctor ended up prescribing me hydrocodone, because evidently you can take hydrocodone but not aspirin when you’re pregnant,” she said. “I was so whacked out of my head, I swore I’d never take it again. I took it and lay down. The whole room was spinning. I was in no pain, but the whole room was spinning. I’d smoked pot before, but this was a completely different high.”

Jane says her boyfriend and roommate decided they were going to split up the pills. She also gave them the prescription she got after she had the baby.

“Then I had my second child, and I had real horrible cramps with her,” Jane says. “I took the Percocet because it was the only thing that numbed the pain down. I would split a pill in half. After I had her, I got the prescription. I went through that faster than I should have.

“My doctor said ‘I’m’ going to write you another one, but don’t over do it on them.’ He prescribed me hydrocodone because he felt I was abusing the Percocet. I wasn’t abusing them at the time, I was in so much pain. When I started taking the hydrocodone I got headaches. I’m pretty sure I got them because I was so used to taking the Percocet, and I was still splitting the hydrocodone. I’m pretty sure my body was needing something I wasn’t giving it enough of.”

The doctor wrote Jane three more prescriptions after the birth of her second child. “Halfway through the last prescription I realized I had a problem. I wasn’t taking them because I was in pain after having a baby. I was in pain because my body was coming down off them,” she said. Jane flushed the pills down a toilet “It probably took about a week to come off them.”

Not long after, Jane’s sister-in-law brought opiates back into her life. “I didn’t think that taking a couple of them to get high at the time would bring me to the point where I’m at now – feeling like I’m dependent on them. I would go over to her house, behind my husband’s back.”

Jane’s husband is supportive of her, but he doesn’t know the extent of her problem.

“If I came to him right now and told him I had a problem, I wouldn’t get them anymore. I would have to keep everything behind his back. Does he know that I buy 20 oxycodones from my mother a month? Yes. Does he know that I go to one person’s house whenever I ask him? Yes. Does he know if I have a couple extra dollars that I go and get them? No. Does he know that she loans them to me? No. Does he know that my mother gives me extras when I go to her? No,” she said.

“He thinks it’s controlled,” she continued. “I do have a back problem. It hurts constantly. My teeth hurt sometimes. Sometimes I might over exaggerate to him, because I know what he’ll tell me to do – he’ll tell me to get more. If he knew how much I intake a month, he would probably soil himself.”

In the beginning, Jane would spend around $50 a month on pills. “Now, I probably spend $400, close to $500 a month. My husband probably knows about $150, maybe $200 of it. My checks, he knows how much I make, minus $50 of it. Sometimes I go over to my person’s house and I’ll ask her if I can hold out (paying) until the next week, and she’s cool with it. Going to the store and buying a candy bar and a coke, that’s $5 right there. It’s not that hard to misplace the money or say I spent money on something else. If I stopped, I’d have to hide that money. I’d probably become rich.”

Despite knowing her husband would support her getting sober, there are other obstacles in her way. She buys pills from an elderly woman. “She has a prescription, but she only takes one a day. So she sells the rest. She’s on a fixed income, and she uses the money from the pills she sells for things she needs,” Jane said. “She’s old and needs someone to hang out with. I wouldn’t be able to go over there because I know she’d give them to me without me asking.”

Jane’s other source of pills is her mother. “I could go to rehab for two years and be completely clean, but that’s two years of my kids life I would miss out on, and they’re little. It would also mean that I couldn’t talk to my mom anymore.”

Read more about Jane in Saturday's Leader.