MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The numerous stories and reports about heroin and prescription drug abuse in our area are alarming, and are leading to reforms. Law enforcement is fighting the problem on the streets, and federal regulators are going after doctors. One Myrtle Beach woman says she's suffering as a result.
Katherine Keith suffers from chronic pain; she says while lawmakers are trying to fight the rise in drug overdoses, they are forgetting about people like her, who really need pain pills to live their daily lives.
Keith says her pain is constant and it often keeps her up at night. "I've had 38 surgeries since 2002 so if you do the math, that's at least two surgeries a year," explained Keith.
Keith says she suffers from a condition called Degenerative Disc Disease. "It's hereditary, it's where the joints and the disc, or the bones disintegrate," she said.
She relies heavily on her pain prescriptions to function on the daily
"I have been on some kind of Oxycontin since 2002," said Keith. "I have responsibilities here at home, I have a mother that I take care of who has Parkinson's, I have an autistic child, I have a household, a loving husband."
But with recent and tougher laws in place to crackdown on prescription drug abuse, Keith says she has been having a difficult time getting the pain medications she needs.
"Oh, well the government is cracking down on the doctors and they're getting scared because of all the crackdown heroin, opioid problems," said Keith.
With prescription drug abuse and heroin overdose on the rise in Horry County, and the entire country, state and federal lawmakers are looking at ways to curb the rising drug problem.
In fact, Keith says without explanation, her doctors suddenly lowered her pain pill dosage, "going from 8 pills a day to two."
Keith says she understands the serious problem of prescription drug abuse.
"I get why they're worried, I do, because they don't want the people that get the pills and sell them, they don't want them to get the pills and abuse them, I get that," Keith explained.
But, Keith also feels people who truly depend on the pain medication shouldn't have to suffer. She says there are ways to help monitor the prescriptions.
"Have them take urine tests every week, or when they come in for a visit, make sure they have some kind of history, don't give it to just any Joe that walks in," Keith said. "They're taking it to get high, I'm not high. I don't get high from it, it gets me functional, it takes the edge of the pain away."
Keith says there are others just like her suffering because of the drug problem, and she wants to raise awareness.
"There's a population out here that says 'Hi, don't forget about us,'" Keith said. "We're the ones that actually need it, we're the ones that have been on it, we need it so please don't crackdown so hard, where we getting duped."