John Daley -
Colorado Public Radio/Kaiser Health News
Seven years ago, Robert Kerley, who makes his living as a truck driver, was loading drywall when a gust of wind knocked him off the trailer. Kerley fell 14 feet and hurt his back.
For pain, a series of doctors prescribed him a variety of opioids: Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin.
In less than a year, the 45-year-old from Federal Heights, Colo., said he was hooked. “I spent most of my time high, laying on the couch, not doing nothing, falling asleep everywhere,” he said.
Kerley lost weight. He lost his job. His relationships with his wife and kids suffered. He remembers when he hit rock bottom: One night hanging out in a friend’s basement, he drank three beers, and the alcohol reacted with an opioid.
“I was taking so much morphine that I [experienced] respiratory arrest,” Kerley said. “I stopped breathing.”