Part One: Opioid Addiction Emerges Among New Mothers


When expecting mother Kari Zink was about to give birth to her second child, what she wasn’t expecting was that the pills she was prescribed to relieve her pain, would almost ruin her life.

Zink gave birth to her second son via caesarean section and to manager her discomfort she was given opioids.

“It just hurts. It hurts to move, it hurts to turn, it hurts to lift your legs, I mean it’s painful,” said Zink.

Dr. James W. Gorman, a partner with Parkhill Clinic, described having a C-section as a major surgery. “A caesarean section involves not only disrupting the skin and separating the muscles, but also manipulating the internal organs and putting them all back together.”

The procedure is complex and Dr. Gorman said he commonly prescribes his patients some form of pain relief. “I want them to feel good enough to be engaged with the baby, but at the same time, if they take too much of it or if they happen to become dependent on it, it can ruin their life.”

That’s what almost happened to Zink.

Her prescription almost took over her life.

Zink attributes her loss of control to the drugs, to the loss of her brother. The day after she gave birth, her brother was driving while high on pills and was killed in a crash. “He fell asleep at the wheel because he had so much [drugs] in his system,” Zink said.

This caused Zink to use the opioids to numb her physical and mental pain. “I remember going through the funeral, and all of that, and just not being in the right frame of mind at all and I went through that bottle pretty quick.”

The mourning mother called her doctor and asked for a refill, not realizing she had become reliant on the medicine. “In my head I was telling me you need these, you need these, you need these.”

Dr. Gorman said Zink is not the first woman, with no history of drug use, to fall victim to the drugs they were prescribed after birth.

He said, “data shows that about one out of every 300 women who have not taken prescription narcotics before will become addicted with their very first prescription.”

Once Zink realized the pills were consuming her, she acted. “I filled my prescription, I took maybe one or two and said I don’t need these and so I flushed them.”

In a matter of two weeks Zink almost became completely addicted to the pills. Now, years later, Zink refuses to take any mind-altering drugs.

“My children deserved better, my husband deserved better, my brother deserved better,” said Zink.

What happens when a new mother can’t make the same choice Zink did to overcome addiction? Tune in to KNWA News at 10 on Wednesday, February 26, to meet a young woman who lost custody of her child

because she became addicted to the medication she was prescribed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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