"At my lowest point, I did about $400 a day worth of drugs and I would go to bed at night and pray that I wouldn't wake up in the morning," said Fortunato.
Andrew Fortunato always introduces himself as a drug addict and he did so when he spoke in front of a packed room, Tuesday, as part of the Michigan Summit on Prescription Drug Abuse.
For Fortunato, who is now recovering, addiction started when he was given medication for a closed head injury.
"At my lowest point, I did about $400 a day worth of drugs and I would go to bed at night and pray that I wouldn't wake up in the morning," he said.
Fortunato has been sober for two years, but the problem of abusing prescription drugs continues to rise. Attorney General Bill Schuette led a panel that addressed what he calls an 'epidemic' in the U.S...Michigan being a particular hotbed.
"The whole purpose of this Summit here today is to get people together in a collaborative fashion and say, 'Okay, what are the next steps'," he said.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern Michigan district Barbara McQuade, who was on the panel, says abuse ranges from thanking drugs out of the medicine cabinet, to doctors over-prescribing medications and profiting from insurance companies.
"We have prosecuted doctors and pharmacists in Michigan, who are billing in the millions of dollars," she said.
Some of those cases are right here in Mid-Michigan.
"We've seen cases that are pretty significant in Lansing, in terms of the dollars and quantities involved," said Patrick Miles, U.S. Attorney for the Western Michigan district, including Lansing. "The marketplace is there; somewhat underground. We are seeing, in the community, quite a few overdose deaths."
All the more reason to tackle the issue as quickly as possible. The summit continues through Wednesday.