Cleveland, OH


Listen to Drew's story in the People of Substance Podcast:

After the amputation of his arm, Drew spent over 30 days in the hospital hooked up to an IV with pain meds. When he got home, withdrawal hit.

“I lost my arm five years ago. I lost my leg going on two years ago. I had gout real bad. Gout is real painful. Imma speed up a little bit. What happened is when I lost my arm, they go to the hospital—I don’t take pain pills, for the simple reason I’m about to tell you. I mentor a lot of people. Over 50 percent of the people I mentor, they were addicted to pain pills. And everybody’s story is the same. At the time, I didn’t know what they were talking about. I was in the hospital once for 35 days. When I’m in the hospital, when I get to the point—see I don’t take pain meds like on my own. When I get to the point where I’m in a lot of pain, I pass out.

“So in the hospital, they were giving me pain meds through an IV. What happened was: I got pain meds for 33 straight days around the clock. What happened was, you get them and you go to sleep. You’re in pain, you get them, you go to sleep. When I got home on the 36th day, my stomach was, you know, turning. I was sweating, and my chest was just jumping. So what happened was I called the hospital back, and they told me, “Come in.” I went in. They told me I was suffering from withdrawals. Scared the hell out of me. It’s the worst feeling that you could possibly feel. And what I learned was: hospitals and doctors will give you the pain meds—Imma word it wrong. It’s the less they have to do for you. What they do—it numbs you, to the point where you’re gonna go to sleep, you high, you going to sleep. What do they have to do for you then? And then they send—when they can’t get you no more pills, pain management come in. Pain management will talk to you like you’re stupid, like it’s your fault that you did this. 50 percent of people who do this, they didn’t do this to themselves. Before they get injured or hurt or get ill, they didn’t know what a pain med was. You know what I mean?

“Like one of my buddies, one of my best friends, we grew up since third grade. He got a bad stomach condition. He’s addicted to Percocets right now. Doctor was just feeding them to him. That doctor retired. Now this new doctor don’t want to give him Percocets no more. Now what will he do, you know? Doctors give them to you to pacify you. When doctors’ hands are tied, they can’t give you any more. That’s not the patient’s fault, you know what I mean? When I was suffering from withdrawals after that, I never felt nothing like it. It’s the most terrible feeling you could ever feel. So imagine what somebody feel who’s going through that everyday on an everyday basis. It’s sick. And it’s sick how hospitals can get you going and wipe their hands of you. Like it’s your fault. And I don’t think it’s right.

“So what I’m doing now—I’m in the process of opening up a center for amputees. I’ve been from here to Indiana. The story is the same all over. Some people addicted to them, some people in denial, some people just stop taking them, you know? The goal is to make you feel better without taking pills. You know what I mean? I refuse to take them. And I know a couple guys I mentor, they’re worse off now than they was before they lost their limbs. Because they’re addicted to pain pills. And it’s a bad feeling. And to get it under control, you have to get doctors under control first. And that’s hard, because not all doctors, some doctors don’t think they human. They can do no wrong. Well I learned doctors are people just like me and you. Everybody from a painter to a lawyer to a landscaper, everybody—it’s just your job. Everybody have bad days. Doctors are no different.

"That’s it, in a nutshell. It’s bad, but I don’t like the fact of how the patients or a person outside of a doctor who they’re giving the pills to, how it’s their fault. It’s not always their fault. You play the hand you dealt when they keep giving you the pills. Fortunately, I didn’t like pain pills. I was able to just—when I got out of the hospital, I just stopped taking them. But the feeling that comes over you when your body—something is different when you calling for it up here, mentally. But when your body calling for it? That’s a different animal. My body was—I was sweating, and my chest was just jumping. And you feel terrible. That’s your body calling for it. How many people would succumb to that feeling, you know what I mean? And when you going through that feeling, a doctor is nowhere to be found. And the next doctor gonna look at you like you an addict, or you just playing a game to get these pills, when you didn’t do this to yourself, you know what I mean?”

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