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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.

By Liz Welch
Wendy Liberman DavisDan Winters

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.

Read More About:Inspiration & Motivation

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