‘I feel like I almost lost a decade,’ The cost of prescription drug addiction

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STILLWATER, Okla -- The journey down life's dark, secret highway began in 1999.

Stacy Anderson was just 20-years-old and an OSU sophomore when her life took a turn. She was stopped in traffic when a preoccupied driver plowed into her Mazda MX-6 at 48 miles per hour.

"It was a four-car pile up. I was the first one hit; it totaled my car out. Almost immediately, I started having back pain," Anderson said.

Stacy was prescribed a potpourri of pain killers and muscle relaxers for agonizing back pain.

"Immediately, I liked them because they helped the pain," she said. "They gave me a euphoric feeling and I liked that."

Like so many others, Stacy began craving that euphoria.

"Doctors are their drug dealers. They're pushing them. Over a few years, it was a downward spiral of taking them more and more," Anderson said.

Stacy tried to escape the firm grip of addiction.

Her parents invested thousands of dollars in several unsuccessful stretches in drug rehab.

"They would give me a chance, then rehab, then court, then I would test positive on a drug test," she said.

She was eventually busted for prescription fraud and sentenced to five years in state prison at a cost of $92,335 to taxpayers.

"I feel like I almost lost a decade. A large part of my 20's were spent in a bad place," said this mother of three.

Her children would spend empty years visiting their mom behind bars.

"The cost of addiction, wow! Outside of the financial cost which is huge, astronomical, I can't even wrap my mind around it and try not to think about it. Lord knows what my family spent," Anderson said.

Money, time and relationships -- Stacy sacrificed everything for a bottle of pills and the peace that came with it.

"Until you live it, you don't know. You don't know. It wasn't for a lack of love for my kids. I was out of control," she remembered.

She's not alone. Every day in the U.S., 3,900 people begin abusing prescription painkillers.

Officials say $20 billion a year is spent on emergency room and inpatient care for opioid poisonings.

"A single hospital stay, for an overdose, $15,000 a person. Where treatment is available and it only costs about $2,000 a person," said Terri White, commissioner of The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

But the majority of people with an opioid addiction don't get treatment.

In Oklahoma, there is a waiting list 800 names long.

"I think it's a significant issue because they are highly addictive and we have a difficult time accessing substance abuse treatment centers in our state. It's very under funded," White said.

Stacy Anderson conquered her demons in prison. She has been clean and confident for 10 years.

She is on a new brighter journey today -- one of gratitude and grace.

"I can't imagine ever wanting to go down that road again. I fought too hard to get out of it. I thank God everyday that I have the strength to not use," Anderson said.

Information on recovery resources in Oklahoma


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