Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Narcotic pain relievers like Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin are popular and very available to teens. If these drugs get in the wrong hands, they can be addictive and even deadly. Here?s how it can happen ? to anyone.
Dedra Butler was a mother of two and a nurse, but she was practicing something behind her doctor?s back.
"I decided to use his DEA number and start calling in my own pills,? she said.
But that?s not where it began for Dedra.
Like many, it was during those experimental teenage years when she picked up her first alcoholic drink. At age 15, Dedra said, something clicked.
?Wow! It took me away. It fixed what was going on,? she said.
From there, she said, it became, ?I want more, I want more, I want more.? And then it became, ?I can?t stop, I can?t stop, I can?t stop.?
It quickly escalated into drugs. Her drug of choice was marijuana, then pills, usually painkillers, and Valium
"Alcohol was the one I put with everything,? she said.
Dedra was hooked.
?I would say probably by my mid-20s, it was a full-blown addiction.?
Or was it?
"I'm a nurse. I knew what was wrong with me. I have bipolar depression. Nah, nah, nah. Look, a little pot here, some pills here, some alcohol here, and I suffered from addiction, which I was in denial,? she said.
Dedra is not alone. Drug counselors are seeing it more in America?s teens.
"In fact, behind marijuana, prescription drug abuse or over-the-counter drug abuse is the second most used or abused substance in teenagers right now, in 12th graders,? said Shanna Neff, a drug counselor at Creekside Counseling in Idaho Falls. ?This is very common. We see it a lot.?
Bonneville County Sheriff Paul Wilde was investigating a case of a young teen involved with prescription drugs the very day KIDK interviewed him.
"Oxycontin is a very powerful painkiller... But Hydrocodone is probably the most common. Youth will save up their money and go buy a pill,? he said.
Availability has increased over the years. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 1991, there were 5 million prescriptions written for stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, medications to control ADHD. In 2010, there were 45 million prescriptions for youth.
"In an 18-year span of time, there were 40 million more prescriptions written per year for psycho-stimulants in children,? said Neff.
For Dedra, the problem worsened throughout the years, at times even with her young daughter in the other room.
"I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew I was probably going to go to jail. I knew that I was going to lose my job, probably lose my kids, lose my nursing license. I was going to be exposed, but I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. And I did not know how to stop doing drugs,? she said.
Staring at federal prison and at the depths of taking her own life, Dedra turned herself in.
"I didn't have any courage that day. I mean how can someone say I had courage to turn myself in when that was the day I was killing myself? I was ending my life. I already had my mind made up. I'm done. I have enough pills and liquor downstairs. As a nurse, I know what this is going to do. This will shut down,? she said.
But then she reached a turning point.
"Yeah, I believe it to be a higher power spiritual event and I believe that will all my heart and soul because I stood on the end of my bed and I literally just wept for my kids because why couldn't I stop? Why can't I stop doing this?? she asked herself. ?Why do I have to go downstairs one more time and count the pills? I just did it, day in and day out.?