TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pamela Taggart of Tucson always seemed to have her life and career in order and on track. She spent 25 years working for Alaska Airlines, until one day, her world came tumbling down.
"To admit I had a problem was just absolutely humiliating," said Taggart. "I was having surgery. I would stay on the pills much longer than I should have. I would take more than I should have."
Taggart became addicted to painkillers after having a series of surgeries. She said at one point, she would 'doctor shop' and simply hop from doctor to doctor just to get prescription pills.
"If I couldn't get painkillers, I was binge drinking," she recalls. "I ended up stealing and forging prescriptions."
Abuse and addiction to opioids is a serious and challenging national public health problem, according to the Arizona Department of Health and Services.
According to their injury prevention page on the AZDHS website, rates of adult prescription drug misuse in Arizona are alarmingly high, with 50% of adults reporting misuse in the past 12 months and 13% reporting misuse in the past 30 days.
"I had several doctors confront me that they thought I was having a problem," said Taggart, who now works as an employment specialist at Hope, Inc.
They're a peer and family run behavioral health and substance abuse intake and coordination of care agency.
You can read more about Hope, Inc. here.
Taggart was able to find recover through a long-term residential treatment program through the Gospel Rescue Mission, and she owes a lot of that help to her brother, a local pastor.
"He welcomed her in, but it didn't last," said her testimony on the Gospel Rescue Mission's website. "When she was arrested for forging a prescription, her brother realized she needed more help than he could provide. In an act of tough love, he d ropped Pam off at our women's shelter."
As she continues to help those in need find employment, Taggart said she's committed to making sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.
"I'm an addict," said Taggart. "I'll always be an addict and I just have to protect myself against doing anything that going to jeopardize my recovery. If you are just starting out in recovery, don't let what you've done in your past define your future, because there is a future."
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