A True Account of Prescription Drug Abuse
Wendy Liberman Davis didn’t look the part. She had a great job. A loving husband. A happy life. But like an estimated 7.4 million women nationwide, she abused prescription medicine. Here is the startling true story of how she lost everything and began a long journey to get clean.
The pills usually put me in an excellent mood, but now and then they had the opposite effect. At moments I would be so irritable
that I would pick fights with Peter. Other times I would lose my inhibitions entirely. That’s the only explanation I have
for why, one night after Peter and I had been living together for about a year, I told the truth. “I think I have a pill problem,”
I announced. Peter looked at me, utterly confused, and said, “OK.” And that was it. Peter comes from a family of people who
don’t talk about their problems. So we never spoke of it again—and I continued to take pills, even though deep down I knew
it was wrong.
In retrospect, I wonder if the drugs are the reason that I didn’t want to have kids. Peter didn’t, either. And when he told me so early in our relationship, I was relieved. If we had wanted to get pregnant, I would have had to give up my pills.
Shortly after that conversation in 1998, we got married. I was more nervous than excited; I don’t like to be in the spotlight. I managed to get my hands on some Xanax and took one to calm my nerves. It worked. I put on a silk-organza dress, carried a bouquet of roses, and glided through the day.
The next few years were a blur of moves, new jobs for both me and Peter, and, yes, pills. Because it was linked to heart-valve complications, Fen-Phen was taken off the market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997. But in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I was able to find a “diet doctor” to give me an amphetamine that suppressed appetite, with no questions asked. Even after we moved four hours away, I would sometimes drive back to see that doctor to get refills. (I told Peter I was visiting friends.) And things were about to get worse.
In 2001, when I was 29, I had surgery to fix two ruptured disks in my spine. (I still don’t know what caused the injury.) After the operation, the surgeon handed me a prescription for Vicodin. Minutes after taking the first pill, I forgot about the four-inch incision in my neck and my newly fused vertebrae. Again there was the lighter-than-air feeling that I had experienced at 17. Soon I was taking one pill every two hours instead of every four to six hours as prescribed. I wanted to keep floating.
Once I started on Vicodin this time, I couldn’t stop. And the neck surgery gave me the perfect excuse. From that point on, I would march into a doctor’s office and say, “I had neck surgery and am in terrible pain.” I never asked for Vicodin by name; I would wait for the doctor to suggest it, then say, in a worried voice, “I don’t want to get addicted to pills!” Invariably, he would assure me that I would be fine and that this medication would make me feel better.