Family speaks out on prescription drug addiction

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - In many homes, you can find prescription drugs that are left over from a surgery or health issue that are no longer being used. Police and state leaders say if you think it's okay to simply leave it there, you're wrong.

Kurt and Chucki Bradburry of Little Rock know that all too well. They're speaking out for the first time about their son Cameron's devastating addiction to both prescription and illegal drugs. It was a problem that started when he was just 12-years-old.

"He used a lot of drugs, but nothing very serious until we were on a trip and I had a bottle of prescription drugs in my purse - Hydrocodone, prescribed for some really bad headaches - and he found them and he took them and that was his, 'ah ha' moment. He loved them."

For years, Kurt and Chucki dealt with their middle son's drug abuse head on.

"Cameron smoked marijuana. We drug tested him all the time and he told us that, 'I'm not gonna stop this. I'm gonna keep it up,' and we said, 'No, you have to stop it.' We grounded him, took things away from him. We tried very hard."

They paid for numerous stints in some of the best rehab facilities in the nation. Cameron continued to relapse until at age 24, when he was set to enter rehab yet again, he took his own life.

Chucki was the one who found her son after he shot himself. She also found stories he'd written dealing with his heartbreaking life of addiction.

"As painful as it was to read it, it was the most revealing information from Cameron's soul that we could possibly have. It was almost like a letter and we saw and heard and felt the suffering that he went through. That's when we found the information about when he started using prescription drugs, about how he felt lost about his struggle to be normal after he became sober and what it felt like and it was not a pretty picture. It was very miserable. We hope that no one else has to go through this. We know that's not possible but we're gonna do our darndest to try to prevent this from happening to other people."

The Bradburys are working hard to encourage parents to talk to their children to recognize the warning signs.

"That's what our Cameron said to us very early like fifth or sixth grade: 'I don't feel comfortable in my skin,' and he sought something to help him feel more comfortable," said Chucki. "So I just would say to parents listen. Look and don't be in denial. It's your child's life that you're talking about."

In 2010, Arkansas was one of the leading states in drug abuse. Studies show the problem for many starts as early as sixth grade, much like in Cameron's case, and affects teens from all backgrounds.

The Bradburys helped produce a public service announcement promoting the National Drug Take-Back program set for Saturday. Chucki said her family is forever changed but their fight to save other kids helps keeps Cameron's memory alive.

"I think Cameron is right here with us, encouraging this. There is no doubt that he would be happy to know that we've done a little something to prevent other kids from having the same future he had."

You can drop off any unused prescription drugs safely and securely Saturday at several locations across the state between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Click here for a complete list of drop-off locations.