Patient Blogs | Substance Abuse
Think Opioid Addiction Is Choosy? Think Again.
photo of reaching for prescription pill bottle

First of all, all you people out there who have chronic, debilitating pain and have no choice but to take opioids to function, my messages are not for you. You’re not addicted to opioids – you are dependent on the medicine. There’s a big difference. 

My messages are for the millions of people who have been prescribed opioids following surgery. 

It doesn’t matter what: an accident, a health problem that suddenly popped up, or even something as simple as a root canal. 

I’m talking to the people who were given opioids as a way to deal with short-term pain but were left on them long-term. People who didn’t have their prescriptions monitored or watched by their doctors and had no idea how long they needed to be on the drugs. 

People who became addicted as a result. Like me.

These people don’t need opioids long-term. While some may have chronic pain, the way I have, it’s manageable. 

I was prescribed opioids in 2010 after an intense spinal surgery. I needed to be on strong painkillers for a few months at most, but because I didn’t know what opioids were, my doctor didn’t monitor my prescription, and I was only 22 years old, I ended up addicted to medication for 2½ years. 

After getting clean, I struggled with chronic pain left over from the spinal surgery, but in my case, as long as I’ve kept up an exercise routine, it’s manageable. Something I personally don’t need opioids to manage. 

And I’m not alone. 

Yet here’s the thing: I was able to get clean, but not all people are. 

And that’s not because they’re junkies who live for their next high, or they’re being irresponsible by needing more medicine than they’re prescribed. 

It’s not because they have addictive tendencies and got a taste for opioids – it’s because opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. If the prescription is not carefully controlled, anyone can become addicted. 

Before you judge someone for being addicted to opioids, stop and think for a second. Have you ever been put on an addictive drug long-term? Have you ever had to try and figure out how to safely get off the medicine when no one seemed to care? 

Have you ever had your body become so addicted to a substance that it literally couldn’t function without it? 

Opioids are a huge problem for a reason. 

Kids in high school have received them for broken bones. And while they may need a strong painkiller initially, 3, 4, or 5 months later, some of them are still on them. And if a doctor isn’t prescribing responsibly, do you really think a 16- or 17-year-old kid can handle that on their own? 

Studies have proved that they can’t. The USDA gave this statement: “In 2020, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased 31% compared to 2019. Adults aged 35-44 experienced the highest rates of drug overdose deaths while young people aged 15-24 experienced the greatest percentage increase in deaths.

The National Center for Health Statistics shows this in their stats for how many died from an opioid-related overdose in 2021: A whopping 80,411. Of that amount, 16,706 involved prescription opioids. 

These stats may even involve someone you know. Stories have come out in recent years, heartbreaking tales of teenagers who were prescribed opioids following surgery. 

In some cases, the prescription led to addiction, then to seek out illegal drugs, and eventually, death. 

Yeah, sure, some people abuse opioids

Some seek them out, with no prescription, simply because they like the high they get from them. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the thousands of people suffering as a result of a prescription – something that was supposed to help them. 

Whether or not you know someone who has or has had a problem with opioids, prescription or otherwise, the fact remains that the danger these drugs present is real. 

So be cautious. Don’t let your loved ones figure out an opioid prescription on their own – help them. Be there with them every step of the way. 

Maybe they’ll have a great doctor who safely prescribes and monitors their prescription, maybe they won’t. But as long as you’re aware, you can step in and help them when they may not be able to help themselves. 




Photo Credit: Tetra Images via Getty Images



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Ashley Walker

Ashley Walker

Diagnosed since 2010

Ashley Walker is a former opioid addict. Her addiction came about as a result of an unmonitored prescription following an intensive spinal surgery. Walker has been clean since 2013. She now advocates for those living in silence by raising awareness, offering support, and sharing her story here, and through her blog, She spends her spare time teaching English in Japan through her website, A married mother to two, she lives near Denver, CO.

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