HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – “They had taken me. Taken over my soul basically, and I was unable to function without them. The easy way out was heroin,” said Melissa O’Malley, who is five years in recovery.
O’Malley was a newlywed and mother in her 20s when she suffered an injury and was put on a prescription for painkillers. She said that’s when her life stopped. “Nobody told me when I went on these medications I was going to get addicted and have a really hard time coming off of them. I had to lose my children, my home my life. I had to be stopped by the cops.”
She was hooked for fifteen years, and briefly turned to heroin. She stays clean by helping other addicts and families regain control of their lives. It’s a journey familiar to millions across the country.
Anti-addiction groups Wednesday called on the head of the FDA to step down, claiming the agency’s policies on powerful medications like Zohydro have fueled the painkiller abuse epidemic. One western Mass. addiction specialist told 22News he does believe the medical community has driven the crisis for years.
According to Dr. Robert Roose, the Chief of Addiction Services at the Sisters of Providence, “It’s well recognized now that in the 90s there were shifts in how providers prescribed opiates for the treatment of pain. There were many studies over touting the success of treatments and under reporting the risks for addiction.”
Dr. Roose said there have been some positive steps in limiting access to opiates in the community. The FDA recently made the decision to reclassify hydrocodone products from a Class 3 to Class 2 substance, which will put it under tighter regulations.