John lost his job, his relationship and is in financial ruin and living with his sister.


PARMA -- After five weeks of being clean, 56-year-old John, whose name we are withholding, is still dealing with the tremors of Xanax withdrawal. He started taking the medication more than a decade ago but quickly built a tolerance and needed more than his doctor would prescribe him.

"I finally found a site on the Internet where I could get them, and that's when I started taking six to eight per day," John says.

According to a USA Today investigation of prescription drug data, one in four adults over 50 are taking a psychoactive drug -- either a narcotic or an anxiety drug like Xanax. Between 2007 and 2011, there was a 46 percent jump among this population seeking substance abuse treatment. With the opiate epidemic, those numbers are projected to be even higher.

"I know now I wish I'd never would have taken them in my life," John says.

John lost his job, his relationship and is in financial ruin. He's now living with his sister, who hopes people start questioning their doctors.

'When they get prescribed something they think 'Oh it's OK. I've got a prescription. My doctor gave it to me. It must be fine,' You have to be more involved in your own care," John's sister Patty Puskac says.

John adds: "They just give it out like it's candy. They hand you a prescription, and you're all happy until you realize you're addicted and it's too late."

As a patient John also takes responsibility.

"I'm sure the pharmacist asked me if I had any questions about this drug and I'm sure I said no, had I said yes, what are the consequences maybe I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you," John says.

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