MANATEE, Fla. -- It began with sips of alcohol and hits of marijuana at 10.
When she turned 12, she was popping pills.
And by 14, Paige O’Brock was injecting herself with prescription drugs.
She was hooked.
“We started with snorting pills and I was doing a lot of Xanax,” said O’Brock, now 20. “I would black out a lot and would have no idea what I was doing. I remember bits and pieces, so what I do remember are a lot of the bad parts of what I did.”
That was then. This is now:
In June alone, O’Brock graduated from the Richard Milburn Academy, celebrated a year of sobriety and registered at State College of Florida with hopes of becoming a nurse.
She is being adopted by the woman who helped get her clean, Sabrina Crain-Sweeney, and will complete her probation this week.
“It’s different. I don’t know how to accept it yet,” O’Brock said. “I would never have thought it would happen. Of course, every day is going to be a battle. But I believe having the obsession to use has been lifted because I don’t think about it anymore. When problems arise, it doesn’t cross my mind.”
O’Brock’s journey is a mirror of the national prescription drug abuse epidemic. Although most people use prescriptions for their intended purpose, an estimated 20 percent of Americans use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A 2009 study found that 16 million Americans ages 12 and older took prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes at least once in the prior year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration.
O’Brock’s dependency on drugs could have easily made her a fatal statistic. Seven people die in Florida each day because of prescription drug overdoses, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“People are so blind to addiction that they have no clue,” she said.
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