I never knew a drug addict—at least not one who admitted it to me. I didn't think it was possible for a Christian to be an addict. My theology, rooted in the belief that an upward trajectory of spiritual growth indicated true salvation, didn't allow for the downward spiral of addiction.

We usually associate drug abuse with hard, wild living, but the same drugs that take over the lives of celebrities could be abused by the nice dad who sits next to us at church. Addiction knows no boundaries of status, lifestyle, or even faith. I know that now, after watching my husband's slow descent into prescription drug addiction, more than a decade into treatment for debilitating migraines.

People like my husband never needed to seek a back alley fix or experiment with so-called street drugs. The medications dispensed by our local pharmacists and tucked away in medicine cabinets could be just as powerful and just as addictive.

Just think: The U.S. is the most medicated country in the world. In 2010, more than 210 million prescriptions were written for narcotics such as OxyContin/Oxycodone and Vicodin/Hydrocodone. An estimated 7 million Americans struggle with prescription drug addiction.

Not everyone who takes prescription narcotics becomes addicted, but in long-term and chronic pain management—migraines, back pain, surgery recovery—the lines get blurry as patients need more medications to ease the pain.

Add underlying anxiety, and pills can become a way to manage life, going from dependence to addiction. When a pill addict tries to stop, withdrawal kicks in: rebound headaches, flu-like symptoms—and worse—all easily mistaken for the original pain. You don't realize you are an ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.