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Prescription Addiction: A Painful New Reality

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As profiled on The John Walsh Show

Rush Limbaugh’s recent admission that he was addicted to the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin thrust the rarely discussed issue of prescription drug addiction into the national spotlight. Prescription drug abuse is now the fastest growing type of drug abuse in the U.S. Today, we hear the gripping emotional struggles of addicts on the edge, who give us an inside look at their destructive behavior. We also hear from our guests terrified family members, who are afraid their loved ones will not survive these powerful addictions. As we learn today, the 9 million or so Americans currently struggling with prescription pill abuse do not fit the profile of your “typical” drug addict. In fact, many of them are people who on the surface appear to be productive members of society, but nevertheless find themselves breaking the law, conning their doctors, and destroying their families…all in a search for their next fix. First, we meet 19-year-old Andy and his mother, Susan. Andy is addicted to the prescription painkiller Dilaudid.
He has been taking the prescription medication since he was 15 years old and says he uses up to 5 times a day. Susan is desperate to help her son kick his habit and hopes to get through to him that unless he stops using, he will die. Out of desperation, Susan has started enabling Andy’s drug use by controlling the amount he takes so that he doesn’t overdose.
Andy and Susan join us via satellite from Toronto, Ontario in Canada to share their story, since Andy’s addiction prevented him from coming to our studio. Next, we meet Ryan, 21, a recovering addict who has been clean for 10 days after being in a detox program at the Waismann Institute. He says his addiction drove him to sell off his belongings and steal money from his parents…all in an attempt to keep up with his habit. Ryan’s father, Chuck, joins his son in the studio as Ryan speaks about his battle with addiction. Julie is an All-American mom who started taking the prescription painkillers Vicodin & Percocet, and ended up becoming so addicted that she started conning doctors into prescribing more. She shares her story and discusses how she almost got arrested for her habit.
Steven, Julie’s husband, has two reasons for coming to the show today. Besides his wife’s addiction, Steven’s 19-year-old son, Stevie, passed away from an OxyContin overdose in 2001. Steven speaks to teens all over the country about the dangers of prescription drug addiction, and he founded an organization called DAMMADD (Dads and Moms Against Drug Dealers) that offers rewards that lead to the arrest and conviction of drug dealers.
 
Next, we meet Bo Dietl, a former NYPD officer who is currently a private investigator. Bo shares the results of an experiment he conducted with his children – Dana, 13 and Beau, 9 – in which they were able to order drugs like Ritalin & Prozac over the Internet without a prescription! Beau joins his dad in the studio to talk about his role in the experiment. Finally, we talk with Dr. Andrea Pennington, the Medical Director of the Discovery Health Channel and an addiction specialist. She lends her expertise to the discussion to help us better understand prescription addiction.
Andy
Andy, 19, is a prescription painkiller addict. His drug of choice is Dilaudid, a strong narcotic frequently used to provide pain relief to cancer patients. He also admits to abusing OxyContin, another powerful painkiller. Andy started abusing prescription medications when he was just 15 years old and says he never thought that he could become an addict. He shares his shocking story of addiction with us today via satellite from Toronto, Ontario in Canada. We reveal to Andy and his mother, Susan, that we have arranged in-patient treatment for him at the highly regarded Waismann Institute, which has the highest success rate for opiate dependency treatment in the country.
Susan
Susan is Andy’s mother. She just found out about Andy’s addiction to prescription painkillers last year and says she is afraid Andy will die unless he stops using. Susan reluctantly admits that as a short-term solution, she enables Andy’s addiction by taking him to get his Dilaudid and controlling the amount he takes since she is afraid he might overdose if left to his own devices. She says she has tried everything she can think of to get Andy to stop using, to no avail, and she says she is desperate to find the right treatment for Andy’s addiction. She also joins us via satellite from Toronto, Ontario in Canada.
Andrea Pennington, M.D.
Dr. Pennington is the Medical Director for the Discovery Health Channel and is the founder of the Pennington Institute for Health & Wellness. She is an addiction specialist, and she lends her expertise and advice to today’s guests in the studio.
Ryan
Ryan, 21, is a recovering prescription painkiller addict. He recently went through a detox program at the Waismann Institute and has been clean for 10 days. Ryan says he pawned his own belongings and stole money from his parents to keep up with his $250 a day habit. He describes what it feels like to be on the drug, his lowest point, and the incident that made him turn his life around. Ryan also shares some advice for our guest, Andy.
Chuck
Chuck is Ryan’s father. He describes what he and his family went through in order to deal with his son’s powerful addiction to painkillers.
Julie & Steven
Julie, a typical American wife, and mother, says she was addicted to two prescription painkillers – Vicodin and Percocet. Julie says that her addiction became so severe that she would lie to doctors to get more painkillers, and even had her friends go “doctor shopping” to get her prescriptions. Julie says she almost got arrested for abusing painkillers after her husband, Steven, got the police involved. Julie is now in recovery, and she shares her story with us today. Unfortunately, their story doesn’t end there. Steven’s son (and Julie’s stepson), Stevie, overdosed on OxyContin and died in 2001. To ensure his son’s death wasn’t in vain, Steven founded an organization called DAMMADD (Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers), a group that offers cash rewards for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of drug dealers. Steven also speaks in schools and shares his personal story with students across the country in the hopes of preventing other young people from becoming addicts.
Bo Dietl
Bo is a former New York City police officer who now runs his own private investigation company. Bo enlisted his two children – Dana, 13, and Beau, 9 – to conduct an experiment to show just how easy it is for minors to buy prescription drugs over the Internet. He talks about the test he conducted and discusses the various dangerous implications the importation of prescription medicine via the Internet may have on our citizens. www.beaudietl.com
Beau
Beau, 9, is Bo’s son. He joins his father in the studio to tell us what happened when he tried to purchase prescription drugs over the Internet.

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