Recovering opioid addict opens up about recovery

(Source: WNEM)

Critics say a law not only hurts the fight against the nation's opioid epidemic, but it allows it to flourish.

That law was highlighted in a '60 Minutes' report on Sunday. It makes it harder for drug enforcement officers to block suspicious packages of highly addictive opioids that can flood the black market.

There is now a push in Congress to repeal that law.

According to the CDC, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Nearly 2,000 of those deaths were in Michigan.

It is estimated two-thirds of all drug deaths are related to opioids.

"You can feel better in a moment's time and that plays with your mind," said Danny Erikson, recovering opioid addict.

Erikson's tumultuous journey started innocently enough. In 2007 he had a pain in his back. He said his doctor introduced him to vicodin.

"Never explained it to me. Any risks or rewards, but just knew I was in pain," Erikson said.

In just a few months, Erikson was hooked. He even broke into the home of a family friend in search of pain killers.

"That's how desperate it can make a person. Had I not been able to do that, I might have went to those street drugs. I don't know. I praise the Lord I was arrested," Erikson said.

Court ordered rehab assigned him to something call RU Recovery. It is a private program.

Erikson has been clean for three years.

The '60 Minutes' report documented how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was allegedly handcuffed by Congress during the peak of the opioid crisis. The DEA was essentially stripped of its power to stop doctors from flooding the market with addictive drugs.

Erikson said he used to go doctor shopping, easily piling up prescription medicine.

"Knew what I had to say and how to get it and was never really looked at twice," Erikson said.

Meanwhile, administrators with the program said it's important for the government to do what it can to end the epidemic that has affected so many people.

"There needs to be a check and balance with our doctors," said Pastor Scott Cowling, with RU Recovery.

Cowling has helped people fight addiction for 16 years. He believes lawmakers need to find a way to reduce the amount of opioids doctors give out.

"They're priming the pump to get people addicted and I believe the legislation is fairly loose on that," Cowling said.

As for Erikson, he has earned every day for being clean. He said he still gets urges for vicodin, but he insists he is a changed man. He vows to never go back to that dark place.

He wants others to know if you're in pain and you have to take opioids, make sure you have a support system before it's too late.

"I wish I could go back and tell my family and friends about what's happening. Because I didn't know what was coming. And if I could've involved them I may not have had to go through all this," Erikson said.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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