Kanawha County, WV mom needs medicine to deal with chronic pain - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Kanawha County, WV mom needs medicine to deal with chronic pain

Posted: Updated:
Chrisetta King says medication helps her deal with chronic pain. Chrisetta King says medication helps her deal with chronic pain.
CHARLESTON, WV -

Kanawha County, WV mother Chrisetta King lives with chronic pain. She has Degenerative Disc Disease and Spinal Stenosis. She said both conditions cause severe pain.

"I turned down medicine every time I went," King said, regarding her initial visits to a pain clinic. "I got to the point that I could no longer stand up."

Even with the help of pain medicine King can't do the things she used to be able to do with her family.

"Every time I go and get my prescription filled I get the stares from people behind the counter and it upsets me," she said.

A new prescription pain killer is set to show up in area pharmacies in a matter of weeks.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Zohydro in October 2013 for patients in pain severe enough to require daily around the clock, long term treatment that wasn't being addressed by other drugs.

According to information from the FDA, the drug is an extended release, long acting medication that presents a greater risk for overdose and death.

Some critics are asking the FDA to change their position and reverse the decision.

The FDA said the drug's benefits out weigh the risks. Patients using Zohydro would be receiving 10 to 50 milligram doses, up to 10 times the typical Hydrocodone dose prescribed now.

King said she made a conscious decision not to let herself become dependent on pills.

"I take my medicine the way it is prescribed to me," she said. "Sometimes I don't take everything that is prescribed to me."

Doug Green grew up in West Virginia. He attended Marshall University and played team sports. He describes his childhood as one based in good values. But somewhere along the line an addiction to prescription sleeping pills took over his life.  

"I went from a guy who was in pharmaceutical sales and making six figures, to the next thing you know trying to survive," Green said.

He found himself homeless and turned to the Union Mission in Charleston, WV for help. Through the organization's Foundations Recovery Program he was able to get clean and rebuild his life. He said at one point he was taking up to 30 Ambien every day. He said he worked the system and persuaded several doctors to provide him with enough prescriptions to sustain his habit.

"If it is out there people have it and people who struggle with addiction know how to get it," Green said.

He is now the director of the Foundations program. He mentors other men who are struggling with addiction. He said of the 24 men currently in the program, 90 percent are battling an addiction to prescription pain medication.

"It is an epidemic," he said about the drug problem in West Virginia. "It is beyond all proportion. It is a scary thing."

While Green and King both have vastly different perspectives on the use of prescription drugs, they had a similar answer when asked to weigh in on Zohydro.

They said the drug itself is not the problem. "Anything that exists in the wrong hands can be deadly," King said. "There are so many abusers, that the people who legitimately need it get frowned upon."

Green said while there are many factors that lead people to addiction, ultimately each individual can decide whether or not to abuse pain medication.

"Doctors do need to be more responsible in what they do. The FDA definitely needs to be more responsible in what they do. The pharmaceutical manufacturers need to be more responsible in what they do," he said. "At the end of the day it is up to the person taking it. It is their decision. If there is something new that comes out, they are going to find a way to get it. I promise you I would have. It could be deadly."

King said she won't be able to take Zohydro because she is allergic to the main ingredient in the medication. She is hoping the treatment plan she is on now will allow her to continue to enjoy some quality of life.