Kim, a recovering addict said, "My liver started shutting down. My kidneys started shutting down. I was dying."
Kim nearly died from painkillers prescribed after a car accident. At first, she only needed one or two pills. "My tolerance started growing and I started taking 2 at a time or 3 at a time. Over time, it grew to the fact that I was taking, at the end, 15 at a time."
Addiction is a chronic disease. According to Michael Campbell, President of St. Joseph Institute - a drug and alcohol treatment program tucked away in the mountains of Central PA, "Something in the brain changes to prevent a person from making wise choices."
Since 1990, there has been a ten-fold increase in the use of narcotic painkillers.
A recent study found that from 1990 to 2006, fatal overdoses from these drugs increased seven-fold.
Cambell says, "Every 25 minutes in this country someone dies of a drug overdose and most of those drugs are prescription medications."
He's treated an increasing number of young people who started getting high for fun. "All too often there's a feeling that this is fun tit's experimentation. They don't realize the potential danger they're getting themselves into."
Campbell adds, "The chances of you becoming addicted are so much greater if you begin using drugs and alcohol when you're under 25."
Kim remembers, "I knew that I needed to stop. I knew I did, but I couldn't bring myself to do it."
St. Joseph's 30-day program is aimed at getting to the root causes; at what's really driving the addiction.
"Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, perhaps there's been trauma in their life, " says Campbell.
Changing *behaviors is critical. "Helping people learn to live differently becomes a very important part of whole puzzle of managing addiction."
Campbell promotes the NA and AA's "12 steps to recovery" -- and finding a sponsor who's been there before.
"I think the most important thing about addiction recovery is it is not something you can do on your own. You need help you need support."
Family support --not enabling --is also key.
"The sooner you address addiction, the better it's going to be for everyone."
Next Tuesday night at 5, WTAJ's Carolyn Donaldson continues our look at addiction especially among young people -- right in Central PA.