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Monday, March 04, 2024

Joshua Lyon became addicted to prescription drugs when he was introduced to Vicodin as part of an assignment for Jane magazine.

The now defunct women's magazine published an investigative piece on the availability of prescriptions drugs online.

As part of the assignment, Lyon ordered a bottle of 90 Vicodin through the Internet. He first tried the pills just to experiment, but it wasn't long before he lost control of his recreational drug use. Vicodin, Valium and Xanax became his three best friends.

"Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict," written by Lyon, premiered on bookshelves Tuesday. The memoir tells Lyon's story of struggling with some of the most dangerous drugs on the streets.

What started as a journalistic assignment turned into horror novel as he learned just how easily he became addicted to the pills.

His gripping novel captivates the reader through every word as the author illustrates the horrific experience he went through while experimenting with painkillers.

As someone who has used drugs, what are your suggestions to raise awareness about drug use?

Fostering a community that is open to talking about this problem is very important. What finally worked for me was talking to my friends and not hiding my addiction. Having my friends monitor my situation was the best way to come about with my problem.

At what point did you know you needed to seek help?

I think I knew in the back of my head that saying "This would be my last pill," was really lying to myself. What really set in was when my best friend sent me a message about how she felt about my addiction. The concern in her language and how she was caring and not accusing really helped me. If you approach a person who has an addiction with hostiliy they won't listen nearly as much as they would if you came off as genuinely concerned.

The FDA wants to relabel Tylenol and put a ban on Vicodin and Percocet to decrease abuse of these medications. What is your view on this?

I think the ban is a huge mistake. They need to study people who are undergoing drug addictions and stop putting restrictions on the drugs.

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Either way people can get these drugs. I think this is in reaction to Michael Jackson's death, and the FDA needs to remember that there are still people who need the medications for health purposes.

If you are prescribed painkillers, how you can avoid become addicted and using using the pills recreationally?

Be in constant communication with your doctor. Read the labels and pay attention to the warning signs. Doctors will realize how often you are asking for refills and will pay close attention as to whether or not they think you are becoming addicted. If you need to go on painkillers, start with a low dosage.

What has been your biggest struggle?

Staying off of them. It is a huge obstacle to tell myself "life is better without them," when really I could take one pill and float back to a place free of feeling.

What are some signs that someone is struggling with an addiction?

Constricted pupils, memory loss and itching are the biggest signs. Also, people who are addicted to medications usually don't want to be social and prefer to be isolated.

People think that overusing painkillers is not as dangerous as drugs like heroine, so it may be easier to get addicted. What can you do to help a friend who is addicted to painkillers?

Interventions can be successful, but personally I've witnessed more failed interventions. The biggest failure with interventions is that people holding the intervention think they should give up. But future interventions can be successful as long as people remain persistent and willing to help the person who is addicted.

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