|Recovering pill addict Stacy Pennington|
of Ashland is due to give birth next month.
(Courier-Journal photo by Matt Stone)
Stacy and James Pennington had to lose everything, including their children and home, before they were able to face their prescription drug abuse problem. Now in recovery at The Healing Place in Louisville, they spoke to The Courier-Journal's Laura Ungar of their downward spiral.
"It had gotten to the point where my prescription drugs were my everything. As long as I had them, I was OK," said James, 40, of Ashland. "Before, we had everything we could want. In the end, we were just feeding an addiction. We had lost everything."
Stacy Pennington said she took her first painkillers in 2002 after she cut her finger on a glass candle jar and needed two surgeries. "A year later, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, then severe endometriosis, and she required several more surgeries," Ungar reports. "Each of her 14 operations brought another prescription for pain pills."
James Pennington took prescription drugs for the first time at age 14 after he dislocated his shoulder. After he broke his shoulder in a motorcycle accident when he was 25, he got a 30-day supply for Percocet and, later, was prescribed more of the drug after a knee injury. "Pain medications became my drug of choice from there on out," he said.
Soon, he was traveling to "pill mills" in Florida to fuel his addiction, pills he sold and shared with his wife. When Stacy gave birth to their daughter, she was heavily addicted and eventually lost custody of her. James' older daughter was also taken from the home.
Before Stacy Pennington checked in to The Healing Place, she had sold her engagement ring, the Penningtons sold their home before they lost it, and they were spending $100 to $500 a day to feed their addiction. Now, Stacy is expecting another child and the couple is fighting for their sobriety. "It's a horrible journey. I had to absolutely lose everything. But I see that as a blessing," said James Pennington. "I'm so glad I'm on the other side today." (Read more)