Former addict: 'Availability of prescription pills fueled the addiction'

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - "The harder it is to find; the less people are going to use," said former prescription pill addict Bryan Licsko.

Years ago, Licsko was given a prescription for pain meds following a car crash, but when that supply ran out, he needed more.

"Once that prescription ran out I didn't have it anymore, just started going out in the community and asking friends and I had them instantly and it kept me fueled for a long time," Licsko said. "You'll get to a point where you think you've got it licked and you can do it again and you'll be fine, and you'll go down that dark road and it gets even worse the next time.  It's really hard to kick."

That's why events designed to take back prescription drugs are happening more frequently across North Carolina.  On Tuesday, one such event was held at the Harris-Teeter in the Stonecrest Shopping Center in south Charlotte.

It's one attempt to turn back a deadly tide.

"The opioid epidemic is the gravest public health issue we have in North Carolina.  We've lost about 13,000 people to an opioid addiction since 1999, we lose about 4 every day," said NC Attorney General Josh Stein. "There's one thing everybody in North Carolina can do to fight his epidemic: get these highly addictive pills out of your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of them."

The point of Operation Medicine Drop is to allow people to safely dispose of unused medications before they fall into the wrong hands.

"To use it in a way that you would keep it in a cabinet so that your son, daughter, wife, husband, or neighbor got into trouble, that's illegal. You don't own this medicine, it is controlled by the federal government to be used in a specific way," said Dr. Stephen Wyatt, medical director for addiction medicine at Atrium Healthcare.

For Bryan Licsko, availability wasn't a problem, and with that, came the addiction.

"People have these prescriptions in their medicine cabinets, they're not thinking about it, all of a sudden a teenager or somebody who is already an addict comes and finds them and you're just feeding that addiction," Licsko added.

These events happen all over NC, but there are many places like local police departments where there are Operation Medicine Drop containers where prescription pills may be dropped off anytime.  Once collected, those pills are destroyed.

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