ONLY ON 13: A local man beats his addiction to prescription drugs

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(WEAU)-- It’s a statistic that may surprise you. The Centers for Disease Control says the number of people who die from prescription drugs is so high; it surpasses those who die in car accidents.

A fact you don’t have to tell 28 year old Ethan Bakalars.

"The first time I did Oxycontin, I was at a party in high school, I was a senior; it was floating around because a buddy of mine had busted up his knee in football and the doctors has prescribed them," said Bakalars.

Bakalars has been sober for almost one year but his story of recovery wasn't an easy one.

"I overdosed on January 31st of last year," Bakalars.

Ethan says his use of what he considered a 'party drug' and a drug he could legally get at the pharmacy had quickly spun out of control.

"It became a necessity and a need to function and it wasn't just a handful of pills, I began to crush up the pills and snorting."

And when the prescription's weren't enough Ethan says he turned to heroin.

"Doing drugs wasn't just something that was a part of my life it was it centered around," said Bakalars

L.E Phillips Libertas Treatment Center Director Tom Fuchs says opiate addictions are a growing problem in Western Wisconsin.

"Approximately 30 to 40 percent of people who come in here started with a legitimate issue and then ultimately they became addicted,” said Fuchs.

For Ethan it was years before he realized he was hooked, but he says he knew what to say to get the prescriptions.

"It’s like hey this is coming from a guy in white coat."

Now as a Project Director for Soft Landing Transition Services, Ethan helps other addicts stay sober.

"It isn't that I don't get to do drugs it’s that I don't need to anymore."