Methadone: One pill that can kill

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methadone pillsby Dan Starks, 6 News

It has proven to be one of the deadliest drugs in the state, and its killing young people across North Carolina.

You may not even know just how strong it is, and that is a warning parents and teens should heed.

It was one phone call. A deadly pill and William Sigmon’s 19-year-old daughter, Linda, was gone.

"My ex-wife called me and told me I needed to go up to the hospital. I said why? She said its Linda. She was lying on the table. They tried to do CPR and shock her back and everything. She was already dead."

"My ex-wife called me and told me I needed to go up to the hospital. I said why? She said its Linda. She was lying on the table. They tried to do CPR and shock her back and everything. She was already dead."

It is difficult for Sigmon to talk about Linda’s death and the methadone that killed her. What happened to Linda Sigmon just three years ago is happening so much it is sparking a wake up call around the state.

In just two years the drug killed more kids under the age of 17 than all other drugs combined. In a third of these cases, the drug was stolen from a parent who had a prescription. Linda’s Dad says she got it from a friend who just left a drug treatment center.

"If you got to be given those pills to cure your addiction, it ain’t time for you to go home yet," Sigmon said.

When most people think of methadone they think of it as a treatment for heroin addiction, but more and more the drug is being prescribed for people with chronic and severe pain.

Dr. Michael Buehler with Carolinas Healthcare says methadone can be very effective for people who have a chronic disease that causes a lot of pain.

"It is not something you would use for someone who has a sprained ankle," he said.

The drug is cheaper and often can replace other pain relievers like OxyContin.

"If you are on methadone chronically you may take 100 milligrams a day, it may do what it needs to do for you. If you give that same dose to someone who’d never had it before, then that may make them stop breathing," said Buehler. "If you are a naïve user and you take one of these tablets, you may get more than you bargained for."

"I know there are kids out there dying every day from drunk driving, overdosing, everything else. But they wasn’t my kid," said Sigmon.

He now raises Linda’s five-year-old son Damian and four other kids.

"I’d rather have my kids grow up hating me, not liking me until they’re old enough to know why I do some things, than to go to a hospital and find one of them on a slab."

Tough words to hear from a father who can’t bring back what’s gone.

"Dear God, that’s a stupid way to die. It's just stupid."

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