When your doctor prescribes a medication, it's easy to assume it's safe. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled over the past decade. In fact, they now outnumber the deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.
Two-year-old Brynlee Bliek brings a smile to her mother, Haley's, face. She also helped her seek help for the most difficult thing she's dealt with in her life.
"I just felt like she could see all the pain and sadness that I had inside because the pain medication wasn't working anymore," Halee Bliek said.
Bliek's problem started in high school when she suffered a back injury and was placed on prescription painkillers.
"I was taking more to make the pain go away, and there would be days I would take it when I didn't necessarily need it," Bliek said.
Bliek's parents encouraged her to seek help after her 18th birthday. She was free from the addiction until after she had Brynlee.
"In October 2010 after my C-section, they did an MRI and found out my whole disc was gone in my back," Bliek said.
Bliek is not alone. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S.
"I see quite a few patients who, I think, are trying to get medication, who are maybe misusing it, using it to get high," Avera Pain Medicine Dr. Jonathan Stone said.
With an increase in prescription painkiller abuse across the nation, some doctors are paying extra attention to who they're prescribing the medication to.
"Now in South Dakota we have a prescription monitoring program where physicians and pharmacies can go online and run a search on our patient to see where they've been getting prescriptions filled, what pharmacies are filling them, and are there any other physicians filling them," Stone said.
Bliek says the added attention is needed. She's helping out by volunteering at TLC Tallgrass, the same place she got help earlier this year.
"I was depressed and life was not fun at that point," Bliek said.
Not only is she thankful she got help soon enough, she knows she's a better mother without her addiction.
"It's kind of crazy to see how bad it gets before how good it gets. I would have never imagined having this good of a life after going through all that," Bliek said.
Not only are there more people addicted to painkillers, but there are also more people taking the drugs overall. According to the CDC, the amount of prescription painkillers sold has quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.