WCBS 880 reporter Irene Cornell is doing an extended series on drug abuse, called Bad Medicine: When Painkillers Kill. The series will run through May 23. Be sure to check cbsnewyork.com for her pieces if you miss them on-air.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Highly addictive opiate based painkillers are with us because they do have legitimate uses.

But things can go very wrong, as Gregg Dworkin, now an ex-addict, found out, reported WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell On The Story

“I got on a motorcycle drunk, and had an accident, at about 110 miles an hour, hit a cement divider. I broke my leg in about 250 places, was in a coma for about two weeks, subsequently almost lost my leg,” he told Cornell. “I had to have about 25 surgeries, didn’t walk for about two years, was in a wheelchair for about a year. And after the process was done, I walked out of the hospital [as] an opiate junkie.”

At one point in his ten years as a full-blown addict to opiates, he was gulping down an astounding number of powerful prescription painkillers.

“Between the Oxycontin, the Percocet, and the Vicodin, I mean I was averaging anywhere between 30 and 60 pills a day,” Dworkin said.

Dworkin had to become an expert at doctor shopping to feed his drug habit.

“Just the fact that I could go to five different doctors in a couple of weeks with the exact same prescriptions, let one be paid by my insurance company, and pay cash for the rest, and just the fact that that could happen was just unbelievable to me,” he said.

Even then, Dworkin knew there was something that should be done about the problem of prescription painkiller abuse.

“In my mind, [I] thought that what a great idea would it be to invent some type of system that could link the pharmacies and the doctors together, so they’d be able to see that, and so much addiction could be avoided,” he said.

Lawmakers are still working on that, Cornell reported.

Finally, two overdoses got him into drug treatment at Daytop Village. He now works there, where he tries to help save the lives of others who have become addicts.

What measures do you think the government should take to tackle the problem of prescription painkiller abuse? Sound off in the comments section below.

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