A Tragedy About Rx Drug Addiction in One Act

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HONESDALE -- Students in Wayne County caught a play Wednesday morning. It wasn't a comedy or musical but a tragedy about the opiate epidemic destroying lives, especially here in Pennsylvania.

It's a scene from a play about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, but it could be the real deal anywhere in America these days.

"It felt better than having no pain at all," said the character Justin after taking painkillers prescribed for an injury. "I felt really relaxed."

The actors from Saltworks Theatre Company on stage at Honesdale High School portrayed the all-too-common way opiate users get hooked in a play called "Off Script."

"It's kind of alarming how that's what will happen if you take these things that are good at first then it just hits you and really bad," said seventh grader Amaya Yarrish.

The seventh graders watched as the characters fell victim to the highly addictive painkillers, pills at first then the cheaper, deadly drug heroin.

"I thought it was really cool because it was so real," said seventh grader Ivy Brinkerhoff.

The acting group from Pittsburgh travels to schools warning kids of the trap they could fall into if they become addicted. The way Saltworks sees it: prevention is the key.

"Hopefully, if we get to them before the drugs do, then they'll never have to see themselves in those situations," said actor Jordon Phillips.

The message in this tragedy on stage: there's always someone who is willing to talk about your troubles and it's not a shame to ask for help.

"That needs to happen beginning at home and we have that opportunity to continue that conversation at school through education, being proactive and preventative in these situations," said guidance counselor Amy Gries.

"When you're addicted, you have a disease," said the actors ending the play. "And your recovery starts with three words: I NEED HELP."


  • tell the truth

    I applaud the efforts of the kids 1000% the efforts of the message not so much! How are you going to in good conscience address opiates that shouldn’t be prescribed to kid ANYWAY, unless they’re very sick or have severe injury and NOT address the kiddie meth, tranqs, and plethora of AD-s prescribed? How about addressing the issues that the AD-s prescribed have side effects that include thoughts of suicide? How about addressing the issues that ADHD drugs can cause loss of appetite, interfere with brain development, mess up your teeth, and cause aggression?

    • El Ma

      Parents have had their children “diagnosed” with ADD/ADHD for the past 30 years. Ritalin took the place of managing a child’s development. A kid that was curious, rambunctious, and creative was labeled as a “problem,” and quickly medicated to “help them focus.” What most of those kids needed were greater challenges, a clear understanding of boundaries, and parental supervision/guidance, NOT a drug that ruined their brain chemistry!

  • laura

    i would applaud them if they weren’t perpetuating a lie.most users don’t try heroin because they started on prescription pills. they start because a friend or loved one introduces them to it

    • El Ma

      Contemporary views on addiction issues irritate me because they don’t work to alter the fact that addictions exist.

      Although I truly and deeply despise Big Pharma, the blame for the “opioid crisis” lies upon the shoulders of the idiot doctors that prescribed them like M&M’s, and the addicts, themselves.

      As a culture and society, we are behooved to begin calling things as they are, rather than attempting to assign labels and excuses for every aberrant behavior under the sun. Addicts are addicts. They aren’t heroes or “unwitting” participants. YES, the addiction becomes first and foremost, but there comes a point where it’s glaringly obvious that selling a family members’ diamond set that was stolen isn’t just a “mistake.” It’s a deliberate act to fuel a need that can absolutely be managed when it’s called what it is: ugly, deceitful, destructive, and most unpleasant.

      • Boone

        Doctors wouldn’t prescribe the pills if people didn’t beg! See it works both ways! 10 years ago the pressure was on doctors to “comfort their patients more” and to fill their needs! This is what happens when the countries people are mind controlled and become wusses! Man bun? Piercings? Get my point yet? My father came back from WWll and got a job and married and raised a family and today we have emotional issues and transition issues and all these diagnoses and a thing called SSI that steals the working man blind!

    • A2B2C

      I agree with you to a degree but am always amazed and concerned at how easily doctors prescribe addictive pain killers to adults and junior/senior high kids for relatively minor aches and pains. Does that wisdom teeth extraction or a non-invasive outpatient surgery really require them? If doctors prescribe them so easily, people tend to think there shouldn’t be any problem. Too many kids start raiding the medicine cabinet in the home and there’s likely a supply in there!

      • El Ma

        A2B2C, the additional thing where prescribed medications lies is that patients don’t have to fill the prescriptions. I know dozens and dozens of people who actually get these vicodin prescriptions filled, NEVER use them, and leave them in their medicine cabinets……….”just in case.” Of what? A compound fracture sustained in their bathrooms?

        Some of the kids “get it,” but it’s more a matter of calling addiction the nasty, selfish, and self-absorbed thing that it is. An active addict is not trustworthy, honest, moral, or ethical, regardless of the focus of their addiction. Sadly, there are people who are addicted to Rx medications that honestly believe that they are just fine since the drugs were prescribed.

    • recovered

      you are so wrong. in my experience it is 100 times more likely to start with prescription opioids. Most people know the dangers of heroin so they wouldn’t go directly to that. it definitely almost always starts with prescription pain killers, and i’ve met A LOT of addicts. source: recovered addict.

      • laura

        no i’m not. doctors are afraid to prescribe. these prescriptions are now tracked. we started treating heroin addicts not as criminals but as diseased and no longer lock them up. that was when we saw the rise in heroin deaths. not because all of a sudden everyone was being prescribed pain meds. they get hooked by going to a party or taking someone they know to get it and then get introduced to it. it’s people they know not doctors. i’ve also met a lot of addicts and the only 1 i met that started with pills stayed with pills. the ones on heroin started with heroin. your story kind of smacks of bs to me after having seen and lost so many friends to it and having heard the common story of how they started

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