‘I’m at rock bottom,’ Oklahomans fighting the addiction of opioids

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It's early morning in Oklahoma City.

Travis Vernon is a man in crisis.

“I’m at rock bottom. I had the life anybody would dream for. Yet, here I am,” he says.

Travis Vernon is an addict.

Driven by his father, he went to The Recovery Center to detox.

“I hope he can stick with it,” Danny Vernon says. “I just hope he does."

Danny Vernon is scared for his son.

“The night before we brought him up here, he had a gun to his head,” Danny says.

Travis started using opioids about 13 years ago--at a time when opioid pain pills were overprescribed and under regulated.

Travis says, "You could give me Lortab 10 and I’d stay up 4-5 hours. And, then I turned to meth.”

Now he says he drinks a gallon of whiskey a day.

The Recovery Center's David Patterson says, “More and more, we're seeing middle class families, wealthy families, high school students, college students, who if you saw at walmart, you'd have no idea they're involved in this."

So many calls for help. Not enough beds.

Addicts call The Recovery Center every hour Monday through Friday until a bed opens up.

Travis Vernon says he hasn't been clean for five days straight since he was 14 years old..

Addiction expert Dr. Hal Vorse says genetics affect your chances of becoming an addict.

"Absolutely. Absolutely. We know that if an individual has a parent who is chemically dependent, they have about a 40-45 percent chance of becoming chemically dependent,” he says.

“If both parents had a problem with alcohol and drugs, then the chances are 85-90%," said Vorse.

Travis joins fellow addict Landon Garwood on this first day of detox.

Landon has been on hydrocodone, Lortabs, Vicodin. Heroin, and Methadone.

Landon says, "I loved it. I loved it."

Air national guardsman. Student. Employee.

Landon says," I'm 34 and I’m basically starting over every time I decide to quit."

On the second floor: detox.

Travis will be with a group of about 40 addicts, including 25 year-old Kacey Young. She was prescribed opiates during the delivery of her daughter.

Kacey Young says “I got hooked real quick. I loved the feeling. It was all about the feeling."

Addicted now seven years.

Kacey says, "I’m fighting to be sober for my kids. They're threatening to take them away."

Josh Bunch's addiction started with one Lortab.

"I mean I just felt like Superman, he says. “I just felt like I could conquer the world."

His addiction was funded by theft. He looked for high dollar receipts in parking lots.

If it's a good thing, like a Playstation, I'd go steal one. And then I'd return it with that receipt and get the money.'"

Dr. Hal. Vorse says, "Alot of people believe that people who become chemically dependent can stop if they have the willpower to do it. But that's not the case.”

Their brains are genetically distinct.

The pleasure center of the brain of the addict is wired differently.

A normal brain usually reacts to opiates with grogginess. In addicts, euphoria.

But no one is immune.

Alex McNeely, a Thrifty pharmacist, says "These drugs are innately addictive."

"It can happen to anyone. It can happen to someone who has a back surgery and they can't get off this medication and now they're addicted. It's just so destructive to people's lives,” she says.

Travis is in withdrawal on day two of detox. His body has craved opiates to alcohol.

"It’s kind of a shock to my body. Sleeping's not good. Stomach is tore up to pieces," he says.

His blood pressure is up.

Nurse Stacy Mcleod says, "One person is going to need more medication than another person.”

The medications prevent the complications of withdrawal.

Josh Bunch received good news earlier in the day. He's not HIV positive.

He was worried because he’s been sharing needles using drugs.

“Very worried,” Josh says. “Scared me to death."

This is his 16th time in detox.

Stacy Mcleod says, “We can detox anybody. But your brain plays a bit part in whether you stay detoxed."

Have many of those who go through treatment will be sober in a year?

“One out of a hundred will be sober for a year," Stacy says.

Sara Humpreys is one of the lucky ones. She’s been clean two years.

“I went to treatment 8 times," she says.

Now, she’s planning her wedding.

She became addicted to opiates when she had her wisdom teeth out.

Sara says, " I totaled three different cars. I spent a couple of months in the hospital at one point. I went to jail back to back."

She will always be a recovering addict, but it’s a milestone she treasures.

“My life isn't over. It's only just begun," she says.

Encouraging words for those just beginning their long journey back to sobriety..

Travis Vernon says, “I’m trying to make every right decision right now. I made plenty of wrong ones in the past to get me here. I sick of that life. There's got to be something better out there."

Click here for information about the non-profit detox facility, The Recovery Center.

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