Tonko launches major push on Opioid epidemic

January 25, 2018 02:41 PM

ALBANY - "I noticed that I began to take the painkillers not just for the physical pain but for the emotional pain," Brendan Norton said.

Brendan Norton was 23 years old when a fall down a flight of stairs resulted in a severed artery and broken tibia.  After 19 surgeries and months of rehabilitation, Norton developed an addiction to painkillers.

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"Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, whatever they gave me," he described.

He had plans to go to dental school but the recovery process was a slow one, his pain hitting between a seven and 10 depending on the day. 

"The pills never ran out," Norton said. "It was just a phone call away and a $5 copay."  

Norton tells NewsChannel 13 he was taking up to 20 pills at the height of his addiction.

His mother and friends were clueless for seven years until one day.

"I had just got a refill on my prescription and my wife found a nearly empty bottle after three days and she said either get help or get out," he recalled.

"As he told me it's easy to have happen," Rep. Paul Tonko said, "and that's a frightening thought."

Tonko is on a mission this next week to get the attention of President Trump who declared the opioid crisis a "public health emergency" late last year.

"Instead there's nothing that's happened," Tonko said. "There's been rhetoric and he proposed an excess of 90 percent cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy."

The congressman will attend the State of the Union on Tuesday and he's bringing Norton with him. They're hoping to hear a message of inspiration and one of action.

In the meantime, Norton has found a new lease on life working at the Prevention Council in Saratoga.

"If I can just help one person a day or one person at all, if doing this interview helps one person, it was worth me kind of outing myself and sharing my story," he said.



Karen Tararache

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