Debra Jones didn't begin taking painkillers to get high.
Jones, 50, was trying to relieve chronic pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Yet after taking the painkiller Percocet safely for 10 years, the stay-at-home mother of three became addicted after a friend suggested that crushing her pills could bring faster relief. It worked. The rush of medication also gave her more energy. Over time, she began to rely on that energy boost to get through the day. She began taking six or seven pills a day instead of the three to four a day as prescribed.
"I wasn't trying to abuse it," says Jones, from Holly Springs, N.C., who has since recovered from her battle with addiction. "But after 10 years, I couldn't help what it did to my body or my brain. It was hard to work without it."
Addiction to prescription painkillers — which kill thousands of Americans a year — has become a largely unrecognized epidemic, experts say. In fact, prescription drugs cause most of the more than 26,000 fatal overdoses each year, says Leonard Paulozzi of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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