May 21, 2014 - Part 2 of a series on prescription drug abuse
Ever since Joe (not his real name) developed an addition to narcotic pain killers, his life has really gone downhill.
He does not go doctor shopping, like some prescription drug addicts, but he is among the five percent of people who can buy the pills off the street for $5 each.
"I was in debt before all this, but now it's really bad," he said. "I have borrowed money from practically everyone I know. I have sold things I love."
In addition to being broke and selling things, Joe's bills have suffered. Sometimes his electric gets shut off, or he does not have heat.
Besides the financial aspect of his drug abuse problem, another problem is that he has shut out all his family and friends.
"I used to like to go out and have fun, but now I would rather just lay around. Most of the time I'm broke anyways. I don't even like to answer the phone, or talk to anyone."
Joe said he most often hangs out with one person, his girlfriend, the one who first handed him the pill.
"We are both unhappy, especially with each other," he sighs. "We know this relationship is built on one thing- taking pills together. Neither of us can seem to escape so far. I hope someday I will. I don't know what to do."
Joe says the one bright spot in his life is his job. But despite excelling at it, he knows his problem interferes with his work in a variety of ways.
"I have a really bad day if I don't have any. I cannot even get out of bed,"he said.
Despite his financial troubles.Not many days go by where he does not find some way to get the pills.
He does almost anything he can to get the pills.
"I used to really be into fashion, and I always looked good," he sighs. "I also used to make sure I always had a tan and a nice haircut."
Looking at Joe, his hair is overgrown and he looks pale and sad.
"I would like to get help. I think about it, but I don't know if I should tell my bosses or what I should do," he says.
Joe's story and prescription drug abuse epidemic continues next week...
Signs of drug abuse
-Altered mood and perceptions; focus on detail; anxiety, panic., nausea.
-Change in behavior (used to go out with friends all the time, now prefers to stay home)
-Unpredictable behavior, emotional instability or violence
-Euphoria followed by depression, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, irritability or paranoia.
-Slurred speech, relaxed inhibitions, impaired short-term memory, hampered judgement, accelerated heartbeat and increased blood pressure
-Fatigue leading to exhaustion, aggressiveness, drowsiness, glazed eyes, alertness, talkitoivness, mood elevation and/or hyperactivity
-Change in appearance. A lack of caring about appearance. Used to look good all the time, and now does not care. Personality changes
– Info provided by Oakland County Sheriff's Office
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.