Former WWE Star Hoping to Spread Word on Dangers of Prescription Drugs
Now, it's being learned that this isn't just a wrestling problem as prescription drug abuse is become widespread in every walk of life in the United States.
Sean Morley -- better known as former WWE superstar Val Venis -- has decided to do something about it.
Morley has recently opened the website ScriptDanger.com where he hopes to educate people on the dangers of prescription drugs. He also wants to spread the word at speaking engagements to help warn people -- especially youth -- about this widespread abuse.
"It's an epidemic across America," explains Morley. "I couldn't stand by and not try to do anything so we decided to put a team together and we came up with ScriptDanger.com where we're looking into going to the universities, high schools, colleges, into corporations, small businesses, big businesses, sports teams and really push the message that these prescription drugs are not a game and they can not only ultimately destroy your life and your career, it can kill you."
Morley says he has seen what addition to prescription drugs to many of his friends, some of which have had problems for a long time. But what really grabbed him was when he dealt with his own addiction problems following reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2008.
His physician gave his a prescription for the throbbing pain that he dealt with for the next three months. But it didn't take long for his body to become addicted.
"For the first two months, I was taking one in the morning, one at noon and one at night and in the third month, I was taking two in the morning, two in the afternoon and two at night. It wouldn't kill the pain but it would kill it enough to make it bearable," Morley explains.
As bad as that was, he says the worst was yet to come.
"I remember waking up at the end of three months with zero pain. It was like something just flipped a switch. There was no more pain. There's more to the story than just that but generally I just stopped taking the pills all together. And it was a day and a half later, almost two days later, that I was ice cold, covered in sweat and zero energy. I felt like ripping my skin right off my body. It was horrible. My body just started going through these horrendous withdrawals just from three months of clinical use. That surprised me and I was completely taken back that three months of clinical use could have your body addicted that quickly."
Morley went through nearly two weeks of horrible withdrawals symptoms before he finally started to overcome them and not have any more cravings. But he nearly didn't make it without giving in to the pills.
"I want to say about a week into it, maybe a little less, the cravings for me to go back to my doctor and get a refill just so I could feel normal again were overwhelming. If it wasn't for my wife basically keeping me on track and forcing me to power my way through it, I'm sure I would have gone back to the doctor to get another prescription in order to just feel normal again."
He can count himself among the lucky ones, someone who was able to get through the rough times and kick the habit before it lingered any longer. But what scares him are those who decide to take a pill rather than fight through the withdrawal process.
"My body only became addicted with those withdrawals from clinical dosages from what many doctors would consider a short period of time of three months. So I can't imagine guys that have been taking 20, 30, 40 pain pills a day or more for years and years and years and the kind of withdrawals they may go through. It'd be absolutely horrendous. The idea of trying everything to stay away from falling into withdrawals is incredibly powerful for people that are already addicted."
Morley has done research on the subject and says an estimated 20 percent of Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Plus, there are more than 350,000 emergency room visits per year for abuse of narcotic painkillers.
More and more people have become addicted to drugs such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone with the number of people being treated for addiction of these pills and other similar ones grew by more than 300 percent between 1995 and 2005.
When it comes to his former employer, Morley says the WWE is doing the best it can legally with the Wellness Program it has in place.
"If your family doctor prescribes you pain meds, there's not much legally WWE can do about it. However, with the Wellness Program, they are monitoring the use of pain meds a lot tighter than they ever did before. So, I think it's a much healthier environment but the truth be told, no matter what the WWE does, if someone has a desire to abuse pain meds, they're going to do it regardless of what the Wellness Program states or not."
He is hoping that speaking with people and showing the website will help let people know just how dangerous prescription pain medications truly are and how serious of a problem this is. While education is necessary in hopes that people will not go down this avenue, Morley says the toughest part is trying to help those already with a problem.
"You have to understand the amount these drugs can put someone into denial that's already addicted. They never think anything bad is going to happen to them. It's the idea that you do not want to face the withdrawals. You can persuade someone and say there is life after addiction. You just have to power your way through it. You have to have people surrounding you who love you and care about you. You need to get into rehab. That's all fine and dandy until the withdrawals kick in."
"When the withdrawals kick in, everything changes. It's a devastating epidemic."