NORWICH, CT (WFSB) - A woman is sharing her story about drug addiction in hopes of savings lives.
Who this woman is may surprise you.
"I placed my trust in my physician and my pharmacist,” said Joanne Philbrick, Norwich Alderwoman.
A 75-year-old grandmother may not be the person you would think has a drug problem.
But Joanne Philbrick is open and honest about her addiction to opioids.
"I never once got high from the oxycodone. When I took the pills it would mean I could do things like vacuum,” said Philbrick.
She's also an alderwoman for the town of Norwich.
This week at a council meeting, she went public with her addiction.
It started when she fell and broke her femur.
Her doctor prescribed oxycodone for pain, 84 pills for one week.
Philbrick said she took only one or 2 a day, far less than the 12 per day prescribed.
“She said, ‘mom there's something wrong with you.’ I told her what medications I was taking and she said, ‘you're a drug addict.’ I said, ‘I am not an addict.’ She said, ‘you are taking drugs and you're addicted to them,’” said Philbrick.
Her daughter noticed she was having trouble with words and she was feeling sick.
“Went to the emergency room. The doctor asked what medications I was taking. I told him oxycodone for my femur and he said you are going through withdrawal,” Philbrick said.
An addict going through withdrawal, hard to believe and even more surprising.
“He went on to say the normal protocol is methadone, in-patient treatment. But he said unfortunately there are no beds for elderly people,” said Philbrick.
No place to go, she did it cold turkey at home.
Philbrick knew to cure her addiction she had to get rid of the pills.
She brought them to the Norwich Police Department because she was afraid she would take them.
Many police departments have containers where you can dispose of pills 24/7.
In 2015, 729 died of drug overdoses in CT, 90 percent of all overdoses are related to opioids.
That number has gone up every year.
Since this past November, 866 people have died with 150 tests pending.
Recovery has been hard for Philbrick.
She lost 40 pounds in just three weeks and she now needs a cane to get around but has a strong message.
“I hope it saves one person and stops them from being ashamed or embarrassed. For families to be supportive, for the pharmacies, they've created this problem,” Philbrick said.
She takes recovery one step at a time.