Because of 18 years of abusing pain medicine, she has a lot of legitimate health problems. She’s messed up her organs, her brain is like mush, she looks a lot older than she is. She’d taken so many pills for so long that when she got off them, her body essentially shut down. It’s almost like we’re living with a child now.
“Casey” says her mother started taking pain medicine in the late 1980s after Casey’s father received them to recover from serious hip and knee replacement surgery. Her father — a farmer “too tough” for pills — never knew his wife took the pills and never knew she’d gone back to get refills in his name several times.
He did give in to medication a few years later after another surgery, and this time he noticed pills were missing.
Casey’s parents’ marriage fell apart. Her mother continued to abuse opioids — receiving them easily for a myriad of her own health problems, some of them Casey says were made up. When she couldn’t get her medication, she turned to marijuana, ultimately failing a drug test and losing her job.
Casey, her sister and their families staged an intervention for their mother about six years ago. “She had to get help, or we were cutting her out of our lives,” Casey says. “We didn’t know what else to do.” Her mother now lives with Casey’s family.
“It’s almost like we’re living with a child now.”
Casey had her own surgery three years ago, and her doctor prescribed opioids for her treatment. Despite weeks of immense pain, she wouldn’t take them. She couldn’t shake the damage the pills had on her mother.
She was afraid.
“My husband would say, ‘You’re not your mother. You’re not going to be dependant,’” she says. “In my mind, though, if I gave in and took them, I’d be like her. How do I know I wouldn’t? I’d never put my kids through what she put us through.”