MESA COUNTY, Colo.
Prescription painkiller abuse is plaguing the nation, especially in our home state of Colorado. A federal report reveals Colorado has the second highest rate of prescription painkiller abuse in America.
Authorities in Mesa County say the issue is prevalent in our region. Pills prescribed from a doctor are easily finding their way onto the streets.
Prescription painkillers are taking people down dangerous roads, and many can't find their way back.
Melissa Lockhart, who's been struggling with addiction for several years, said, "It will ruin your life. It will take your husband, it will take your children, it will take everything in your life. I know, it happened to me."
Lockhart was first prescribed pain medication due to injury, but now feels pain in an entirely different way.
"My kids my husband I lost because of my pain pill addiction," she said.
Dr. Marc Breen, an emergency physician at Community Hospital, said, "Any of these medications are very similar compounds to, you know, say heroin."
Jim Schrant, resident agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration of Western Colorado, said, "Young adults, early 20s and then late teens we're seeing an increasing popularity of prescription drug abuse. We're seeing a clear upswing in the number of overdose, deaths and overdose visits to emergency rooms throughout Colorado and especially Western Colorado."
Lockhart said, "In the schools, you know, my oldest son is 14 and they're selling pills like crazy up there."
"We're seeing teens engaging in these pharmaceutical parties, where what they'll do is, teenagers will show up, they'll throw what they have in a big bowl and then they share what's inside the bowl, be it xanax, oxycodone, lortab, vicodin, percocet," Schrant said.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is working to curb the problem by holding doctors accountable.
"Unfortunately there are some people in the medical profession that tend to exploit the system and have been over-prescribing," said Schrant.
"You see the same patterns of abuse, whether it is in the inner-city of Chicago or whether it's on the streets of Grand Junction," said Dr. Breen.
"Everybody gets hurt, please get help. Because you don't want to be like me, losing everything in life because it's not worth it for just one pill," Lockhart said.
Just because they come from a doctor, these prescription drugs are as lethal and addicting as the ones the don't.
Colorado was second to Oregon for highest prescription pain pill abuse. Washington, Idaho and Indiana also made the top five.
To view the full report, click here