Over Prescription of Painkillers Reignites Heroin Addiction for Double Amputee in Pompano Beach

Risse's walking prosthetics are battery powered, allowing her more mobility.

Risse’s walking prosthetics are battery powered, allowing her more mobility.

POMPANO BEACH – After enduring a traumatic train accident in 2007, 40-year-old Cheryl Risse relapsed into her heroin addiction after being over prescribed pain medication to treat her anxiety in Pompano Beach, Florida.

On July 5, 2007, a freight train severed 40-year-old Cheryl Risse’s legs while she was jogging by North Dixie Highway in Pompano Beach. Due to the accident, Risse began to experience sleep deprivation, night tremors, loss of appetite and depression. “I couldn’t even take a nap without remembering the impact. I was running in my sleep,” said Risse.


Cheryl Risse with her fiancé Kevin Hughes and her service dog, Joey.

Risse's has differrent prosthetic legs for running, swimming, exercising and walking.

Risse has different prosthetic legs for running, swimming, exercising, and walking.

Instead of receiving treatment for her emotional distress, Risse’s doctor gave her a referral to obtain anxiety and pain medication from a pain clinic, in which she was overprescribed Methadone and Xanax. Although Risse’s heroin addiction began at age 17, she had stopped using illicit drugs for a little over a year before the accident. Once prescribed the painkillers however, Risse relapsed and began to abuse painkillers.

“In this county when you have something like I have, you don’t have to bring an MRI to the doctor. I just showed up and they felt sorry for me. They gave me anything I wanted,” said Risse about the pain clinic.

According to an article featured in Tampa Bay Times, Florida was “once known as the pill mill capital of the nation.” “It’s quite clear that they’re being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit drug use. I strongly suspect that the overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of our current drug abuse problem,” said Dr. Joseph Mercola about painkillers.

Although Risse stated she was never a “pill popper,” Methadone and Xanax were a suitable replacement when she unable to buy heroin. In a recent article, Dr. Joseph Mercola states, “What many fail to realize is that opioid prescription painkillers are very similar to heroin. They’re also equally potent in their ability to cause addiction.”

“Pain clinics are worse than any drug dealer out there,” said Risse.

Risse was finally able to overcome her drug addiction after 2 years of psychotherapy. After her psychotherapist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, Risse states the mediation she now takes allows her to function normally. Risse will celebrate her 6th year of sobriety in January.