OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - In Mississippi, there are enough opioids in circulation for every man, woman, and child in the state to have a bottle of the narcotic painkillers.
Former Jackson County supervisor Frank Leach knows all too well how easy it is to become dependent on the drug.
After having a stroke in December of 2014, Leach became partially paralyzed on his right side. He took Oxycodone to control the pain.
"It gave me some pain relief and certainly it was sort of numbing to my system, even though my right side was already numb," said Leach.
After several months of taking the pills, something changed.
"I don't know if I was necessarily addicted, but I was certainly afraid not to have it. In my 30 day supply, if I'd get close to the end of it, I wanted to make sure that I could get through the weekend," Leach recalled.
Five weeks ago, he quit cold turkey, knowing his health was at stake.
"From what I read long term, it was not good for my body. So I began to think, golly, I need to get off of this," said Leach. "It's not a pleasant trip down the road to getting off of the pain medicine."
Before he quit, Leach's wife Cynthia noticed the negative change the drug had on her husband. Now, he says times are better for the couple.
"Discontinuing this Oxycodone has been positive for not only me, but our relationship as a whole," he said.
Leach believes the opioid epidemic across the country is real, and dangerous.
"From what I read, there certainly is. With the president appointing a commission recently, also with our governor looking at this thing for the state of Mississippi's residents."
By telling his story, Leach wants to help protect as many Mississippians as possible.
Leach advises anyone who feels they may be becoming addicted to narcotic painkillers to see their doctor right away to discuss the problem.