BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - We've all heard about the opioid epidemic and the efforts of law enforcement to crack down on abuse.
However, there's another side of the debate that often gets overlooked: the thousands of people who depend on controlled narcotics to remedy their chronic pain. Dottie Lyons is one of those people.
Lyons can barely walk these days. The medicine that helps is getting harder to get. "My pain is horrendous. On the lower dosage of medicine, it maybe takes it from a 10 to a 5 or 6 if I'm lucky. It just hurts to move," she said.
She was badly hurt in an offshore accident years ago. She explained, "I've got metal plates and screws holding my spine together."
Her son Marc Hurley, helps as much as he can. He sees the change. "Before she got cut back on her pain medication, she could do a lot more for herself. She was more self-sufficient. She could drive, she could walk," Hurley said.
Dottie knows about the opioid crises but has not become an addict. She stated, "When I hear about this epidemic and I'm in this pain constantly, I just am very careful with how I do take the medicine."
Getting her medicines has become so difficult at times for Dottie, she now resorts to the practice called pill splitting. She cuts her dosages in half to make them last longer.
Marc says visiting the doctor these days is a challenge. "Just about every physician you talk to these days, they're scared. They have every right to be. They're scared to prescribe more because they don't want the DEA to go put them in jail," Marc noted.
This is not the life that Dottie wanted. She said, "I don't want to take meds, but I don't want to be in pain either."
When Marc sees that pain, he hurts too. He stated, "People that don't abuse these drugs are the ones that suffer the most."
For those in the medical profession, Dottie has a message. "They've got to wake up. They can't make people suffer like this all the time," she said.