INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Irsay hasn’t hidden the fact he’s struggled with addiction to prescription painkillers over the years.
Drug counselors say it’s a prime example that addiction doesn’t discriminate. The power of owning an NFL team and plenty of money are no match when it comes to the grips of addiction.
“It can begin to take control of their whole life,” said Annie Novoteny.
Novoteny has seen it every day for 20 years as a drug counselor. She’s also the Men’s Program Coordinator at Tara Treatment Center in Franklin.
She says for many people who walk through the doors of the Tara Treatment Center, their addictions started in the medicine cabinet.
“People oftentimes think a drug abuser is somebody on a street corner, somebody with a needle in their arm,” said Novoteny. “That’s usually the first perception of a drug addict, when actually a drug addict is anyone who has access to the medications.”
“I think people would think that because of his status and his money that it would be easier for him to be able to get his life together, that maybe he doesn’t have the same problems other people believe they have that are related to their use of drugs, like family, finances, legal, things like that, but it’s not that easy to just quit.”
According to the Indiana Attorney General, more Hoosiers abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined, and someone dies from a prescription drug overdose every 25 minutes.
Novoteny says, if you know someone personally struggling, or publicly, don’t give up on them.
“I believe there’s always hope that a person can get clean even if they have had a period of recovery, which means abstinence from all drugs, and a change in their lifestyle from an addictive lifestyle to a positive recovery-based lifestyle. There is always hope the person can get their life back together and get back on track and get into recovery again.”