Pubdate: Thu, 29 Sep 2005
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Section: Lifestyle & Arts
Copyright: 2005 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


Editor's Note: Jonathan B. lives in the Los Angeles area and found 
"Finding a Fix" online.

We of Pills Anonymous are men and women who no longer want to use 
prescription drugs to provide an illusion of pleasure or to 
overmedicate a perceived problem with pain or anxiety, with stress or 
exhaustion - with living life. We have hurt others and ourselves long 
enough; we now seek recovery and healing for our loved ones and ourselves.

We have found our way to this fellowship by many paths, only to find 
a common road on which we can proceed, one day at a time. Many of us 
have participated in other 12-step programs, often quite actively, 
and yet found ourselves still unable to function without the use and 
abuse of prescription drugs.

Some of us have come to our first Pills Anonymous meetings bewildered 
when, despite no past history of addiction, our use of 
physician-prescribed medication has spiraled out of control, 
undermining our sanity and wreaking havoc on our lives. And while 
some of us started off abusing prescription drugs as just another 
form of "recreation," many did at some time have legitimate, medical 
reasons for needing such prescriptions.

Although we have subjected ourselves to substances every bit as 
powerful as street drugs, our "dealers" - sometimes knowingly, often 
unwittingly - were physicians and pharmacists, so we usually had to 
commit few, if any, crimes to obtain our "fix." Insurance companies 
often paid for at least part of our abuse.

Our illegitimate activities were usually limited to acts which 
illustrate our astounding capability for deceit, such as getting 
prescriptions from multiple doctors simultaneously, stealing 
medications from our friends' and family's medicine cabinets, and 
occasionally forging prescriptions. We memorized the contents of the 
Physicians' Desk Reference so that we could precisely describe 
symptoms that elicited the prescription we craved.

And above all, we hid our pills and our conniving not only from those 
who know us but, by denial and delusion, from ourselves.

Our conclusion? We are not like other people.

Prescription drug addiction is a disease which affects our body, our 
mind and our spirit in such a way that taking a single pill often 
results in an irresistible urge to take more, many more. And it can 
affect anyone - from Betty Ford to Rush Limbaugh to Eminem to me - a 
50-plus businessman and father whose clients and friends had no idea 
until I admitted it seven years ago.

It is probably worth taking a moment, right up front, and explaining 
what we mean by "prescription drug addiction." In my "home group" of 
Pills Anonymous, we have agreed that a defining characteristic of our 
addiction is the complete inability to withdraw from the prescription 
drug for any length of time, if at all, without the assistance of 
medical professionals and/or a 12-step program.

Our use usually escalates to dangerously high levels, although that 
level can vary tremendously from person to person.

I know people who have consumed 10 Vicodin a day, and others 100 a 
day. While drug use often increases beyond what a physician has 
recommended - which is when many of us start "scamming" doctors - the 
fact that a medical professional has sanctioned one's current level 
of usage does not mean you're not addicted.

The primary prescription drugs that bring us to Pills Anonymous fall 
into two categories: those prescribed for pain (Vicodin, Norco, 
Oxycontin) and those prescribed for anxiety/stress (Xanax, Valium, 
Ativan). The muscle relaxant Soma has been abused by many of us, and 
I personally think it is more dangerous and addictive than Vicodin. 
We're also now starting to see younger members who have found their 
use of Adderal - a form of "upper" that helps them focus on whatever 
they're doing - spiraling out of control.

And an assortment of other drugs that our members realize are killing 
them - physically, emotionally and spiritually.

While the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and 
other 12-step programs are generally open and friendly to us, and 
become a part of our recovery, we have launched our own meetings in 
various parts of the country.

Just as an essential reason behind the success of AA is "one drunk 
talking to another," there is nothing quite like "one pillhead 
talking to another" when it comes to recovery from this particular addiction.

The first Pills Anonymous Web site was launched on Oct. 11, 1998. Its 
online location has changed, but it still exists and thrives at At that site, anyone can download a calendar 
with information on the 38 PA meetings now available in the United 
States, mostly located in clusters in the West and Midwest, but you 
can find meetings in Manhattan and Anchorage! There is not yet any 
central, official PA organization, though most of us have a dream 
that this may be possible some day. Individual PA meetings are 
established by those willing to get them going, and materials are 
also available at the PA site. There are online meetings, although it 
is not a substitute for a "live" meeting.

It is an important and safe gateway for those with our addiction and 
family members of addicts are welcome to collect information and ask 
questions there as well. You'll also find that we recommend they 
attend Al-anon.

Last, there is also a new blog written by one pillhead - me - who 
wants to share with health care professionals and other caregivers 
what they didn't learn in any school to date. To give them the 
'inside scoop" on prescription drug addiction so they can help us, 
and not enable us. It's located at, and I 
welcome you there and will answer any inquiries directed to And, if you're addicted or think you might be, join us in-person or 
online. The only thing you have to lose is your misery.
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MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman