Interview with Michele Zumwalt

We are hearing so much about prescription drug addiction in the media lately. Just how big is this problem?
It's massive! Prescription drug addiction has recently been called an epidemic in America by the Department of Health & Human Services. Americans are only 4% of the world’s population and yet we take 80% of all narcotic prescription medications. More people die every year from prescription drug overdoses than from car accidents. Every 19 minutes, someone dies from a prescription drug overdose and as a Law Enforcement Chaplain in Sacramento County, I know. I’ve done far too many death notifications and witnessed too many preventable deaths just in our county alone. Since 1999, the number of narcotic prescriptions in the US has quadrupled. That’s why I wrote the book, “Ruby Shoes: Surviving Prescription Drug Addiction,” to bring hope to a hopeless situation.
How did you become addicted to prescription drugs?
Like almost everyone who becomes addicted to prescription drugs, I was caught off guard by the addiction. Most people become addicted because of an injury or some type of chronic pain problem. I developed headaches in college and started on opiates to treat the pain. There’s nothing social about prescription addiction. No one goes to a bar to take some prescriptions. It’s all very benign and clinical. The doctors prescribed it, and so it’s safe, right? The problem is that prescriptions are taken at home alone and when we get in trouble with these powerful drugs, we are alone with the problem. I became addicted very quickly and struggled with this addiction for years. It almost killed me.
At what point did you know there was a problem with your prescription drug use?
There were several ominous warnings, but I can remember one time in the hospital when they were preparing to run an MRI. I had developed a fever, which I later learned was drug fever from chronic use of opiate medications. That day in the hospital, they gave me a heavy dose of Demerol on top of what they had already given me. I overdosed and had a grand mal seizure. When I awoke, the doctor said they would do the MRI the next day, but if there was nothing on the scan, they would have to consider that perhaps all these medications were the problem. At that point I said a prayer. I asked God to let them find something, anything, on the brain scan. As absurd as it sounds, I would rather have had six months to live with the drugs than to consider a life without them. By that point in the addiction, it was as if they were going to ask me to live in a world without oxygen. That day, deep in my heart I knew that I was in real trouble.
How did you finally break free from the addiction?
My family intervened and put me in a treatment facility in Orange County; but honestly, it took years for me to come to terms with this problem. I didn’t feel like I fit anywhere. I was angry and resentful. I spent many years in and out of recovery. In “Ruby Shoes” I tried to provide the reader details about this life and death struggle. I believe every prescription addict faces it before they finally surrender. My final surrender came when I almost died in the ICU at Mercy Folsom Hospital. God saved me, even from myself. Chapter Eight, “What a Gift – Those Ruby Shoes” describes the turning point for me. I needed to know how much God really loved me. In my most broken and sinful place, He loved me completely. Just like Dorothy from Oz, no one could save me. My family couldn’t do it for me. I had to surrender this problem myself. I had to find and wave my white flag.
What advice do you have for someone who realizes their use of prescription drugs is out of control?
The first word in the First Step is “We.” We can’t make it alone. Alone, is how we die. Together, is how we get better. Reach out and get help. Call any 12-Step support group, church, or hospital. You can even call me. My number is 916-439-7775 and my email is michele@zumwaltinc.com
How will reading "Ruby Shoes: Surviving Prescription Drug Addiction" help others who are struggling with addiction?
The “Wizard of Oz” is used as a metaphor to help readers relate to being lost in the strange world of addiction. That feeling of being trapped in another world with no way to get back home is the very essence of addiction. “Ruby Shoes” is my story about a devastating prescription addiction tornado, being lost in a foreign world, chasing brooms for fake saviors like, Oz, and finally remembering the precious Gift that takes us HOME. This book offers a personal account of the horrors of prescription addiction and a biblical, 12-Step, life application solution to the problem. “Ruby Shoes” takes the reader on a discovery journey that leads them to a much better place than where they began. My hope is that those tormented by prescription drug addiction would know that they do not have to suffer alone any longer. They don't have to die and become another sad statistic of prescription drug addiction. After reading "Ruby Shoes" they will know, if I can get better, anyone can.

Since my book launched a few months ago, I’ve been talking with people all across the country with similar stories of desperation. We don’t have to continue to die in record numbers from this problem. Together, we can find our way HOME to Him.
Did you have any concerns about telling such a personal story?
No. After so many years of working as a Law Enforcement Chaplain and seeing so many senseless deaths from prescription addiction, each year more than the last, I knew this story of hope needed to be told. The loss and devastation of so many lives gave me the courage I needed to trust God completely and not worry so much about what my husband calls, “the look good.” We just decided use this book to speak the truth, trust Him, and love and serve all His children.
Do you have a word of advice for new writers? Were there any surprises along the publication journey?
If you feel that your book is God-Inspired, never take “no” for an answer. For months after my manuscript was complete, I approached many agents and publishers. I heard nothing at all. So, we took the self-publishing leap of faith and I’m so glad we did! I was surprised that “Ruby Shoes” launched as the #1 Hot New Release on Amazon in all three categories. As I write these words, four months since the launch, “Ruby Shoes” is the #3 book on Amazon’s Best Seller list in the Christian Recovery and Counseling category and in the top 10 Best Seller books for Substance Abuse Recovery. The self-publishing world has opened the doors for every writer to reach his or her audience. If you have a passion for what you are doing and you love marketing, which I do, (it was my major in college) then you have the opportunity to write a Best Selling book!
Published 2016-02-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Ruby Shoes: Surviving Prescription Drug Addiction
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 42,870. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Addiction and recovery, Nonfiction » Inspiration » 12-step programs
Millions of people worldwide suffer from prescription drug addiction. “Ruby Shoes” is a true story about a devastating prescription addiction tornado, being lost in a strange world, and the precious gift that takes us HOME. This book offers a personal account of the horrors of prescription drug addiction and a biblical, 12-Step, life application solution to the problem.