As we try to curb the deadly opioid epidemic across the country, many of the 50 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain say they can't get the medications they need.

In a 2012 national health interview study, it showed that 11.2% of adults report having daily pain. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention encouraged doctors to consider tapering patients off high doses.

But, it's harder to wean off strong opioids when patients are living with chronic pain. It's something the family of one of our WRCB employees knows first-hand.

Charles McKinney was in a car wreck on August 28, 2001. He said pain is something he lives with on a daily basis. "My back pain never goes away, the pain medication I took, all it ever did was dull it,” said McKinney.

His wreck led to 11 back surgeries in just 19 years. He said, “by the time It was all said and done, I was taking nearly 400 milligrams of Oxycontin a day.”

McKinney’s daily dosage affected his health and family. “I missed so much with my children because I was out of it,” said McKinney. He said the withdrawals were too extreme to put the pill bottle away at the time. “When you don’t have it, your body craves it. And, it makes the pain that much worse when you don’t have it,” said McKinney.

Even though he's still living with chronic pain, he knows opioids aren't the answer. “Being on opioids ruins your life,” said McKinney. He has one simple message for lawmakers, “find something else that works.”

And while Charles McKinney was able to stop taking opioids. It’s not that easy for Christy Wells-Reece, who is living with Lupus, Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.

For that story, click here.