How pain pills took a Mormon mom to the depths of opioid addiction and back again

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  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 18, 2017 10:42 a.m.

    Sixtyplus wrote: "I had a client who was pulled over in France by the police. The police confiscated their drugs and gave them a card to see about free detox therapy. No arrest no crime."

    Sure, this works great if you live in a country where political and religious leaders have vision, but here we have the war on drugs.

  • Strider303 American Fork, UT
    Sept. 4, 2017 11:51 a.m.

    There appear to be many facets to this diamond of addiction. I am reminded of the poem of the six blind men of Indostan who went to see the elephant.

    I suggest there is much to be learned and to be done. As a citizen I ask for enforcement of the law against distribution, so there is a sense of order and consequence for illegal activity.

    Much of the mental and emotional component addiction comes from our family and society make-up and interaction. We need to change our focus to a more personal charitable approach to each other and do it through positive actions.

    We have sown the east wind and are reaping a whirlwind harvest. I do not believe there will be an instant, cheap, painless cure.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 4, 2017 1:56 a.m.

    Re Jonathan

    So you say medical pot is less addictive and almost as effective as opioids?

    So what is your point? It isn't about avoiding addiction, quality of life or the risk of loss of life of an opioid overdose.

    It's about obeying the law. Now if you disagree with the law you can petition Congress to change the law. But in the mean time put up with the pain or accept the risk of addiction or loss of life by using opioids.

    Remember, the law is the law.

  • brotherJonathan SLC, UT
    Sept. 1, 2017 12:45 p.m.

    Heather Gray-
    I went to chiropractor_2 times a week & it felt better for a few hours.
    When I hurt my back at Idaho Youth Ranch_
    I continued to work

    I ended up not being able to get out of bed one day.
    Sharp constant pain_ went to a real doctor_ who ordered a
    MRI & the doctor said_ the chiropractic adjustments,
    did harm.
    I did 7 months of physical therapy_ & was told by my specialist, in California_
    that I needed 6-7 vertebrae fusion surgery_ which was approved by Idaho State Work Comp.Insurance.
    I sent the same MRI to other experts _ who said no way_ I need surgery but not fusion_
    which would probably have me on narcotics the rest of my life

    While in California _ I had prescriptions for Opiates & Soma_
    But I knew Medical Pot_ did almost as well & didn't leave me all doped up & addicted to drugs.
    That's right pot doesn't have the addictive power over the mind that opiates do

    Once we stop trying to control citizen choices_
    being unconstitutional violation of equality_Reality_
    We will see Marijuana is just another drug like alcohol & is much safer for adults
    to use & Sometimes kids

    Read my other post & see if you are blinded by instinct or
    able to see good logic vs. Status Quo?

  • Aria55 Draper, UT
    Sept. 1, 2017 11:21 a.m.

    The one thing that stands out above all in this story is that Whitney was not able to get clean until she felt the motivation to from within herself. And even she could not will that into being. Unfortunately, there are not easy answers to addiction and the only real lasting solutions come from the addicts hitting rock bottom and wanting recovery more than the quick relief of the addiction, whatever that might be.

  • brotherJonathan SLC, UT
    Sept. 1, 2017 9:53 a.m.

    "What Do You Need"
    The truth of addiction_
    If those who are addicted_could continue to buy drugs from pharmacies_
    Drug Dealers would be out of business_ selling black market commodities_
    of unknown purity, quantity & pharmacy expertise.

    Our Drug Monopoly law_causes criminal enterprise_ &
    turns a personal problem (just like alcoholism) into crimes_
    where the only victim is_ Constitutional Law & citizen rights of self-determination.

    Maybe you disagree?
    Under Constitutional Law_ our highest principle is_
    No Law May Violate Citizen Equality.
    This the filed legal proof_ "Controlled Substance Acts"- violate equality.

    1-doctors aren't under oath of office (Constitutional Oath to uphold citizen equality or be impartial in all their duties) having power of Public Office

    2-Doctors sell Government Use Permits- Like the ATF - & are only private business venture

    3-Doctors being private citizens- not under oath_get to keep the Gov. Permit fees, which are temporary causing strong monopoly powers with pharmacies- blocking free markets rules of pricing, sales & distribution to all citizens with equality

    Conclusion-denial of rights based on Drug Prohibition with PreScription Clause.

  • Heather Gray Boise, ID
    Sept. 1, 2017 9:41 a.m.

    The one common theme most of these people's stories have is that they began their dependency because of back and neck pain. Their pain was very real and they needed a solution so they were given pills. The first line of defense should have been a non- pharmaceutical, non surgical solution, chiropractic. By choosing chiropractic first, patients are able to return to work faster and pay significantly less (4-10 times faster and 4-10 times less money depending on what study you look at). Besides better results, chiropractic patients are not left with the lifetime dependency issues.

  • dotGone Puyallup, WA
    Aug. 31, 2017 6:41 p.m.

    Well, this is a gripping article. I feel like my hair is standing on end. How scary. Thank you to Whitney for having the courage to share this story. And kudos to her parents.... I don't know that I could go that distance; it's really putting your own life on the try to save a loved one...with no assurances of success. Terrifying, but thought provoking.

  • Andy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 4:40 p.m.

    I feel for the parents. Just remember that every person on "the block" is someone's kid. Sometimes that is easy to forget. Thanks for the perspective.

  • Sixtyplus Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 4:16 p.m.

    I recently retired after 25 years working in a detox therapy unit. I probably worked with between 4 and 5 thousand clients during that time. Their stories matched the article
    almost word for word. The decision to make addiction a felony way back to the war on drugs, drove the users and dealers underground. Before smart phones all the dealers had digital pagers. They used these to hook up with customers.
    I had a client who was pulled over in France by the police. The police confiscated their
    drugs and gave them a card to see about free detox therapy.
    No arrest no crime. This was happening in almost all of Europe more than 20 years ago.
    The USA waited 20 years to long to help people instead of filling jails.

  • Foxtrot Mountain View, CA
    Aug. 31, 2017 3:25 p.m.

    Lets be honest her, this article is to showcase a person who is addicted to drugs, but Whitney has been making terrible decisions her entire life. The drugs were only one part of it, and assuming not even the worst part of it as i cannot imagine how she sometime she paid for drugs.

    I am not a fan of Utahn's naming a "thing" and then letting that thing explain poor decisions. Sure there are mistakes, as I have made my share of them. But drugs did not do the destruction of Whitney's life, she did. Plain and simple.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 3:13 p.m.

    This was an excellent and informative, if heart-wrenching read. Thank you for writing and publishing this article.

    Will you please now do a similar article on the many lives improved through the responsible use of opioids?

    A neighbor had terminal bone cancer. Oral morphine allowed her to lead a full life right up to the end. She spoke of those who would express concerns about her getting addicted. "I'm certainly dependent on it. But in a few weeks I'll be dead and because of the morphine I'm able to have quality time with my family, friends, and church members."

    I have family dealing with serious, chronic pain. The careful use of opioids allows them to function and lead productive lives when they would otherwise be disabled, unable to work or play.

    I personally have strong evidence of being at high risk of addiction. But 2 or 3 times in my life I've needed opioids following medical procedures. I was very careful. They allowed rest and healing and a return to full function.

    Tylenol is very dangerous for overdose. Aspirin very hard on the stomach. Some pain they don't cut. There is a place for opioid use. Let's not have people suffering needlessly.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    Aug. 31, 2017 1:46 p.m.


    I have seen first-hand the destruction of pornography. Lies, deception, lost jobs, shoplifting, stealing, broken covenants, adultery, prostitutes, divorce, frayed relationships, etc... Lots of similarities in my eyes when you look at the line of broken families and relationships it leaves in its wake. However, certainly drug addiction is more dangerous to the user when it comes to their personal health and safety.

    Way to go Whitney! Thanks for sharing your message of hope to those that are still stuck in that addiction cycle that has taken so many....too early.

  • wasatchcascade Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 31, 2017 1:16 p.m.

    Watch out folk. When "pills" (Oxy...) became too expensive and difficult to obtain, less expensive heroin stepped onto the stage, in much greater prominence. And many innocent, ignorant and naÏve folk tried their hand and entered a dark alley. Many have died from heart and/or respiratory failure and others becoming addicted as their "inner brain" is transformed in a manner that many don't understand. It's an epidemic across the nation and has been "knocking down" many and costs of rehab prohibitive to most - and in states without extensive Medicaid programs, "most" don't have the means for "programs" and continue to slip physically and often economically and then criminally. I've been involved with a number of individuals and families in the past 5 years. The Utah/SLC Institute for Addiction Study has two excellent DVD's - Pleasure Unwoven, personal journey of addiction; and Memo to Self, Protecting Sobriety with science and safety. Both are narrated by MD Kevin McCauley (who became addicted to drugs; not heroin) - they are a most excellent presentation and educational tool, to any interested in the subject.

  • Rubydo Provo, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 12:49 p.m.

    As the opiod problem has been taking root for many years our very own Utah politicians were too busy last year proclaiming pornography to be a public health crisis while a record amount of people are still dying from drug overdoses.

  • thesob Goleta, CA
    Aug. 31, 2017 11:57 a.m.

    I'm actually concerned about the other end of the spectrum. A few years ago, I had a serious medical condition and was perscribed opioids. Ibuprofin wouldn't even touch the pain I had. I finished up my prescription and that was the end of my opioid use.
    With all the press on opioid abuse, my fear is that doctors will become too gun shy on perscribing these drugs. Don't punish the innocent because of the guilty.

  • ARBCobra Layton, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 11:40 a.m.

    This article made me nauseated. As if Mormons are exempt from this??!! She was a heroin addict and here so called husband didn't help. Why do we never have articles on how opioids help people with chronic pain? I would love to be interviewed for this. There are two different types of addiction - mental and physical. I admit that I am addicted physically - and "BIG DEAL". This woman became mentally addicted - two completely different types of addiction!

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    Aug. 31, 2017 11:04 a.m.

    Pain killer addiction can happen to anybody. A good friend of mine who was a successful medical professional hurt his back and was prescribed Oxycotin or one of those pain killers. He became addicted and went away to rehab. He seems to be doing fine, but he was pretty messed up. I feel for the parents of this young lady. They have lived a nightmare. Hopefully that nightmare has ended.

  • Floyd Johnson Broken Arrow, OK
    Aug. 31, 2017 10:55 a.m.

    Get rid of your pills when you are done with them! Your pharmacy will destroy them for you. That bottle of old Percocet (I'll keep these extras in case I need them sometime) may be the thing that starts your teenager on a road to addiction.

    Tekakaromatagi - Doctors will often send you home with a prescription for opiods after medical procedures which will cause acute pain. Setting a bone, tooth extraction, minor surgery, child birth,.... The idea is that you go home, take a pill to reduce the pain and get some sleep while your body recovers. Your urologist doesn't want to get a midnight call from a short tempered ER doctor upset that you were told you would only need ibuprofen following your vasectomy, so they will give Norco to every patient even though only one in three will actually need it. You should always ask, "do I have to take these?" The answer will often be, "I don't care if you fill the prescription or not. I won't be around to write a prescription six hours from now, and I don't want you to go to the ER for pain management." Using narcotics to treat chronic pain (like back pain) is where lots of people become addicted.

  • mominthetrenches South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 10:54 a.m.

    Wow! Thank you for running this piece to explain how easily a downfall into pain addiction meds can be and what the drug world is like for those are addicted. My heart goes out to all involved, who have helped Whitney. I wish her well...this is very brave of their family to share such a personal experience that might make them vulnerable to judgement from others. To me, this is very real and I appreciate knowing what others go through that I might be more empathetic as well as informed, since I do believe this can happen to anyone.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 10:21 a.m.

    Tekakaromatagi, I think it depends. I'm terrified of most drugs so even when I have been prescribed opiods in the past I usually don't fill my prescription, rather just choosing to tough it out or getting by on some ibuprofin. That said I have taken them a few times (kidney stones) and never felt the urge to continue their use or felt that I was addicted to them. It may just be that I am not inclined towards addiction like some people. I think only you and your doctor can decide on the best course of action for you, that said I sure wish we had some better less addictive options (medical marijuana) for getting us through some of these injuries when we are in a lot of pain.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 9:32 a.m.

    Why don't we stop pretending porn is an addiction like opioids are? Let's help these people.
    Also, medical marijuana is a big step in helping people addicted to opioids.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Aug. 31, 2017 9:18 a.m.

    Dumb question. If I fall down the stairs and hurt my back, and I am in incredible pain, can I just tough it out and skip the Oxycontin knowing what the Oxycontin could lead me to?

    Lots and lots of Tylenol, ibuprofen, but nothing that is addictive?

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 8:42 a.m.

    Incredible article. Insightful. Eye opening - even after having seen opioid addiction up relatively close in the past.

  • John Brown 1000 Laketown, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 8:38 a.m.

    Thanks, DN, for this article. Made me cry. Thanks for the longer pieces you've been doing. They're great. Keep it up.

  • DavidMiller Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 7:49 a.m.

    Good for Whitney and her family for fighting through this. After multiple tries at getting clean it would be easy for either her or her family to just give up and say "not going to try again."

    As Patrick Adams indicated in the article, the solutions to these kind of problems are incredibly challenging and when people (addicts, families, communities) confront them for the first time they almost universally underestimate what they're up against.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Aug. 31, 2017 7:45 a.m.

    Great article, It shows opioid addiction crosses socioeconomic lines. Saving the ones who want to be saved will take time, patience and money.

  • ConradGurch Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 31, 2017 7:35 a.m.

    When will we wake up! Its not about the little people who are sick, its about keeping the rich, rich! If big pharma can't release its new pill the politicians don't get paid. We are nothing but rats hitting the feeder bar. The FDA is a big fat JOKE!

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 31, 2017 12:24 a.m.

    It can happen to anyone including Mormons. Some people can take pain pills after an accident or surgery and never have a problem. Others can take very few and have a problem. Some have more of a propensity for addiction and others don't. Good for her for fighting to regain her life.