Former Drug Addict Deanna McFarlin on Why America’s Churches Need to Help the Two Million Opioid Addicts

I was a slave to opioids that ruined my entire life.  It started when I was 30 and my doctor prescribed me hydrocodone, a generic compound opioid of Vicodin and Tylenol, after a car accident revealed during an X-ray that I had a congenital defect in my lower back called spina bifida occulta.  The crash aggravated that disc, causing debilitating pain. 

Initially, I took just one tablet at night before bed.  My prescription said that I could take up to two tablets a day as needed.  Within three months, I was consuming two hydrocodone tablets, three times a day.  When the opioids coursed through my veins, I felt invincible. They not only made my double shifts bearable as a geriatric charge nurse – responsible for 30 patients and nurse’s aides – but they helped me cope with my job’s stress between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.

My raging opioid addiction led to criminal behavior

Within a year and a half, I’m ashamed to admit, I was ingesting six hydrocodone tablets, four times a day!  I became increasingly erratic, rude, and short-tempered as I experienced manic mood swings.

But it got worse.  I began stealing!

When my doctor’s monthly prescription ran out in four days, I resorted to breaking the Seventh Commandment.  I stole opioids from the nursing home where I was employed, claiming that I had given the patients their drugs when in fact I had pocketed them.  Plus, I also stole hydrocodone tablets which were on the verge of expiration. When the pharmacy, came to retrieve them to safely destroy them, I lied, claiming I didn’t know where they had disappeared to.  All told, I had stolen 500 hydrocodone tablets.

Courtesy of Survivors and Victims Empowered (S.A.V.E.)

It didn’t end there.

I was so enslaved to my opioid addiction that I even stole $800 from my beloved father by cashing checks and buying the pills on the street for $5 a pill. My life became a vicious cycle of stealing, using, and acting erratically. The payoff was no longer there. I was pathetic.  In fact, I became so disgusted with myself that I contemplated suicide several times.