Prescription drug experimentation can start out innocently enough for teens; however, many of these drugs are highly addictive and can fast become gateway drugs to street drugs with horrific consequences. Mom and blogger Katie Allison Granju has been chronicling her grief after her son Henry's death, which resulted from circumstances of a severe drug addiction that began with opiate painkillers. Dad Brad DeHaven also shares experiences surrounding his son Brandon's drug addiction, which started with Vicodin, in his book Defining Moments.
While Brad did end up risking his own life going undercover for Brandon, the outcome of their experience is much brighter than Katie's heartbreaking loss of her son. Brandon is sober, and Brad is dedicated to sharing what he learned about prescription drug abuse and addiction. With Brandon's permission, he even placed a video of Brandon's withdrawal from Oxycontin on his website. Talk about an educational eye opener!
In a recent interview on Capital Public Radio, Brandon DeHaven talks candidly about the first time he took Vicodin for a broken arm in elementary school (elementary school!). While he didn't immediately start using the drug after that injury, he says he got a "taste for it," and it was enough that he knew it made "everything okay." Yep, that's exactly what it feels like when a drug addict gets that first taste. I can speak as a recovering alcoholic that my first taste of alcohol made me feel the same.
Brandon's father Brad grew up with addicts -- his father was an alcoholic and his brother a cocaine addict who ended up in prison -- so when he found himself the parent of an addict, he thought he could handle the problem inside his only family. Brad and his wife helped Brandon detox at home and hoped they could relieve him of the horrifying physical addiction and keep him clean.
[See the video of Brandon's oxycontin withdrawal.]
It was only a matter of time before Brandon moved out and was using again, which proved to Brad what every loved one of an addict eventually figures out -- that drug addiction is way way way bigger than love or any family bond. It's so big, it can swallow the addict's heart and soul and drive him toward his drug of choice at any cost.
Brandon was using, dealing, and involved in other criminal activity for the sake of his habit, and he eventually got busted and sent to prison. While his father seemed to want to go the "tough love" route with Brandon, his fear for his son's demise in prison led him to do something very desperate and bold. Without police support or condonation, he went rogue, infiltrated a most-wanted drug dealer, and formed his very own sting operation, which worked out positively in the end and counted toward his son's plea deal and got him out of prison and into drug rehab.
This may seem like this is an extreme case of prescription drug addiction; however, more than likely, this is a pretty average case in many ways, while Henry Granju's case, on the other hand, shows the worst outcome for this kind of addiction -- death. Of course, the big message in both cases is that prescription drugs, which are very often found sitting in the medicine cabinet in your bathroom or in the homes of our kids' friends' parents, can kill and yet, they're oftentimes the easiest pickings for teens to get their hands on.
Brad DeHaven says one of the biggest lessons he learned is how very dangerous and deadly these drugs are that can be commonly found in many average households. He says:
It may be as simple as having a couple of beers and throwing down a couple of Valium with it, and a lot of kids start that way. But it lowers their inhibitions and before they know it they're snorting a Vicodin or snorting an Oxycontin and before you know it you're buying heroin in the worst part of town just to feed your habit.
Lock up your medications, parents. Opiates are essentially heroin in synthetic form.
Do you take precautions with your prescription drugs?
Image via RxDrugAddict.com