Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Photo by Kelly Krajewski
He was a typical high school  kid. One filled with a promising high school baseball. One who always kept his grades up. One who never knew his life would be changed forever just by a simple bottle of medicine.
“I just started out of peer pressure,” recovering addict Aaron Emerson says. “My addiction was really bad and I felt awful for doing it.”
Linda Vail, an Ingham County health officer, has seen many cases of prescription drug abuse in many different areas around the state. She says that all people are affected by this epidemic whether they take the pills or not.
“There’s no group that I have seen that hasn’t been touched by this {prescription drug abuse},” Vail says. “I’ve even seen athletes who take lots of painkillers or adderall to relieve pain and to focus on games or training.”  
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Senior Assistant for Policy and Planning Elizabeth Hertel says that prescription drug abuse numbers have dramatically increased over the past six years.
“The numbers have skyrocketed since 2009,” Hertel says. “The largest age group of abusers is from the age group of 18-25 which is a very bad thing.”
In the case of Emerson, he started because he had an empty feeling in life. He felt trapped and alone so he turned to prescription drugs.
“I was lost in my life and I felt like I just needed something,” Emerson says. “What’s even worse is that my prescription drug abuse turned into a heroin addiction.”
Emerson was a high school baseball player who was going to make the varsity team as a sophomore. But just one bottle, one pill, would flip his life upside down. He became heavily involved in abusing medication. Painkillers, adderall and many other prescription drugs.
“Once they found out, {that I did prescription drugs}, they kicked me right off the team,” Emerson says. “I couldn’t believe it, it felt like my life was over.”
According to city of Mason police chief John Stressman, he sees prescription drug abuse as an epidemic he wants to see cease rapidly.
“People who use prescription drugs use it as recreation and don’t think much of it,” Stressman says. “Then they turn to heroin and then it’s not recreation, it’s a legal problem at that point.”
For Emerson, being removed from the baseball team crushed him immensely but he still continued to abuse medication.
“Once I started, I just couldn’t stop,” he says. “The cravings you get, you just can’t even describe it.”
Once Emerson spent his time in jail, he wanted to go into rehab and change.
"Going into rehab was probably the best decision of my life," Emerson says. "It was scary at first but I know that it was the right thing to do."
Although Emerson had a very checkered past, he could have never imagined his life where it would be right now.
"I know it was for the better but it was difficult at first to change my life," Emerson says. "But I have no regrets when it came to that, I changed my life and I'm happy about that.

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