Tag: withdrawal

Did Maintenance Drugs Save Me From Heroin?

Did Maintenance Drugs Save Me From Heroin?

I wonder often if maintenance drugs saved me from heroin addiction.  My story is a little different from most of the stories I have heard.  I guess all of our stories are different when it comes down to it but here is a little of mine.  Fifteen years of my twenty-year addiction to opiates was spent on either Methadone or Suboxone.

 

On my first trip to the Methadone Clinic in Southern Indiana, I traded a Loratab habit for Methadone.  That’s the equivalent of trading a monkey on your back for King Kong.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  When I got to the clinic no one told me that I would be addicted to this as well but if I am being truthful it wouldn’t have mattered if they had beat it into me.  There was no way I wanted to continue hunting pills and I wanted to feel secure knowing I wasn’t breaking the law. The main thing though is that I did not want to be sick.  I was scared to death of it.  Makes no sense that someone terrified of a Loratab withdraws would start Methadone.  The withdraw is ten times harder easy.  There was no way for me to know this at the time.  I soon found out though.

 

During that Fifteen years I relapsed several times, and each time I went out I moved up to the next level opiate.  So after Loratabs, I went to Percocet.  My relapses always happen because I would try to ween myself off of Methadone as fast as possible.  The stigma that came along with the clinic was painful.  I didn’t want to be a slave to anything.  I was doomed to fail every time though.

 

So this is what my relapses looked like.  This is the order of opiates I used.  Each time you see a new drug that means a relapse.

  1. Loratabs
  2. Methadone
  3. Percocet
  4. Methadone
  5. Oxy’s
  6. Methadone
  7. Opana
  8. Methadone
  9. Suboxone

Xanax was part of the mix the entire way except for the last few months of suboxone. That was only because my source was no longer able to get ahold of them any longer.

My family hated the idea of Methadone or Suboxone.  As far as they are concerned I was still using just the same as if I were taking the pills.  So I always hid the fact that I was on any maintenance drugs so I was still hiding and full of shame.  There was no room for recovery when I couldn’t own the path that I was on.

In the end, I ended up being very resentful of the clinic.  They mislead me to believe that Suboxone was not addictive.  They swore that I would be able to just walk off of it whenever I was ready. As we all know now that is the farthest thing from the truth.  To be fair I was told this when Suboxone first came out.  Who knows maybe they honestly didn’t know. After I was on it for some time the Clinic told me that they were wrong and that I would have to ween down to come off of the drug.

 

I didn’t take the time to really think about what the clinic did for me because I was so focused on the drawbacks.  As you see from the list above I never made to heroin. If it were not for the clinic I would have for sure.  A few of the times I ended up back at the clinic it was because I was having trouble finding the drug that I wanted. What if someone had offered me heroin?  I would have taken it.   Probably after the Opana is when I would have eventually run into heroin.  There were numerous times when I was just taking pills that I was afraid to go to sleep.  I was mixing the Xanax with as many pills as I could get my hands on.  Heroin would have killed me for sure.

 

The clinic allowed me to have years where I wasn’t moving in the circles of drug dealers or people buying on the streets.  I may not have been in recovery but I wasn’t engaging in illegal activities and I was living my life.  On Suboxone, I never felt high.  I just didn’t feel sick.  The clinic offered me counseling one a week which I took seriously.  That ended up helping me in many ways too.  If nothing else just for someone to talk to.  Holding down a job was easy because I never had to call off so I could hunt down my daily fix. Being a functioning member of society was possible on the maintenance drugs.

 

What made me hate Methadone and Suboxone the most though was the withdraw.  All I kept telling myself was what the hell was I thinking?  I couldn’t handle a few days of this crap that is why I started the clinic.  Now I was having to face months of it.  Where I went wrong was how quickly I weened off.  I have since had several friends that followed the clinics recommended detox and they claim to have felt little to no withdraw.  My biggest advice is this if you are thinking of starting maintenance drugs.

  1. If you are only taking Loratab don’t go to the clinic.  Sit down and deal with the few days of being a little sick.
  2. If you start the clinic don’t go higher than fifty and for suboxone don’t take more than 8.  The higher you go the longer it will take to ween down and the more likely it will be that you decide to leave.
  3. When you do decide to leave follow the clinic’s recommendations for lowering your dose.

If you love someone suffering from addiction and they have decided to take Methadone or Suboxone please don’t judge them.  The worst thing you can do is to make them feel as though they have to hide things from you.  As long as they are taking this medication they more than likely won’t be taking heroin…which means they will live.  If we die we cannot recover.  Please remember that.

 

Now What?

Hey guys, sorry I have been kinda absent lately. I have had a ton of stuff going on. I don’t know if you remember or not but a month or so ago I was asking for help finding treatment for my sister in law. Well, we waited and waited and after keeping her in my house for a week she ran off. She truly wanted help and we didn’t find any.
I can’t tell you how heartbreaking that was for me. I couldn’t believe that I spend up to 80 hours a week working tirelessly to help in this epidemic,  have amazing connections and yet  I couldn’t help her find treatment. She was off and running hard and there really wasn’t much hope of stopping her.

The worst part is that every once in a while she would message me and tell me how scared she was. That she didn’t want to live that way. About two weeks in my brother in law left treatment. He has been there for almost 9 months and they kicked him out because he got a dirty urine for Neurontin. I was so angry. Angry at him for taking it and angry at them for being so closed minded that they weren’t willing to give him another shot. They told him he could come back in two days. REALLY? I can’t even believe it as I write it.
He ended up calling his wife who is still in active addiction and the two of them met up with my sister in law. That was a real recipe for disaster. They were selling themselves, stealing, lying and cheating all over the place. A week into the binge my one and two-year-old niece and nephew were taken into custody and put into a foster home. Their parents didn’t bat an eye, they were going to ride this one till the wheels fell off. I don’t know if it was my mother in laws crying or my own guilt for not being able to help but let’s just say I took my computer and went into the basement and made it my personal mission to put the shit to an end.

A few days ago I set my sister in law that was looking for help before up to be picked up by the police and today I was finally able to get my brother in law into custody. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that I made posters of them and sent them to every police station, Walmart and Meijer ( there favorite boosting spots) chase and fifth third bank ( because I learned they had stolen checks from these banks) and every pawn shop within 100 miles of our City. I had their cell phones turned off so it would be harder to reach their dealers and hacked their facebooks and changed the passwords so they wouldn’t be able to reach dealers that way. Now that they are safe the only one that is still out there is my brother in laws wife. I hate this woman. She is the devil. No joke. I won’t even go into the why because it’s awful. The problem though is do I stop with the ones that are important to me?

First Day Out of Rehab

First, day out of rehab and my world has closed in on me,
Every corner has my parents jumping out,
If only they understood what this does,
I have to do the fighting not them,
For some reason, they think it’s their duty,
But this duty is pushing me to my edge,
Is this my recovery or their recovery,
Are they doing this out guilt or mercy,
Maybe it’s their way of keeping me sober,
The sad truth is they don’t have a clue,
Nothing is keeping me clean but me,
Do this, do that, that’s not going to work,
How do they know, they need to step back,
But I’m feeling like a rat in a cage,
A puppet on my parent’s strings,
If I try to break out and do my own thing,
Then little whispers float in the air,
You are going to relapse if you don’t listen,
Man it makes me mad,
Almost mad enough to throw my hands up,
I know they are worried about me,
But this has to be my recovery,
I must find my own way,
If I fall down then I have to figure out how to get up,
Without this being my recovery it means nothing at all,
I need space because this can’t continue,
Nothing healthy will come out of this, nothing.

Why My Kid?

This is the question that every parent of an addict desperately wants to know.  The answer to the question is that it didn’t have to be your kid, it just was.  It was the luck or unluck of genetics and circumstance.

Your child didn’t decide, you know what…I think I want to be an addict when I grow up instead of a doctor.  They didn’t sit in their bed and fantasize about being dope sick the way little girls dream about their weddings.  Not one addict I know had a set plan to steal from their families and destroying relationships the way a teenager plans for college.

It is a disease. Some people cannot use socially the way others can.  So maybe in high school or college, you tried coke or pills, but you didn’t do it every day after.  Someone with the disease of addiction cannot do that.  They might start their disease with something like Xanax or a pot only to graduate to pain meds, heroin or meth. They might do them all.

Parents need to remember that just because their child is an addict doesn’t mean they don’t love you and that you did something wrong.  It just means that your child can’t do it just once.  They didn’t get high alone that first time but more than likely the people they did it with didn’t all become addicts.  It really is like the unlucky lotto.

Maybe some of you have guilt because of your own addictions or for something else that happen when your child was growing up.  I will tell you that yes, your child may be hurt by some of this and could be using to numb feelings but if they weren’t genetically made up to have this disease they wouldn’t be an addict.

So the next time you start to ask yourself this question or why me if you are the addict.  Just remember that it isn’t because you are bad.  If you are the parent it most likely wouldn’t have mattered that you worked more than you wished you had or that you gave spankings for punishments.  If you are the addict, remember that you are not a bad person.  You just can’t use drugs or drink like others.  There is no way that you could have known that.

Don’t beat yourself up, is the moral of this story.  If your child or loved one is the addict love them and do your best not to shame them.  If you are the addict, find some help.    The good news is that neither of you are alone and you will find that some of the best people on earth are recovering addicts, so you will be stepping into a fine crowd.

Junkie

“Junkie”

“Let’s just ban Narcan altogether,” I once heard someone say; “we should just let Darwin do his thing and let all the junkies die off.”

“Junkie.” What an ugly word that is. It brings to mind a dirty emaciated human being, maybe resembling Christian Bale from The Fighter a few years back. They might be wearing tattered Salvation Army clothes. Maybe they live in one of the countless tent cities that stud towns like Brockton and Lowell like pimples on a high school freshman. Worthless, disposable, leeching off our precious taxpayer dollars…a junkie.

This concept, above all others, pisses me off the most about the avalanche of cheap heroin flooding the Northeast. You cannot reduce a person to this level. Yes, actions have consequences. Yes, the only way for an addict to begin recovery is for themselves to be ready to tackle their habit.

And in my time working in a downtown ER in a city that has been in an opiate-induced chokehold for the last few years, I’ve met my fair share of unrepentant addicts. The ones who yell and scream because the Narcan ruined their high. The ones who try and hustle doctors into prescribing them a bottle of Percocet. I’ve even had one patient laugh in my face and tell me that he can OD as many times as he wants and we’ll just keep bringing him back for free.

And when I first started out, I was the most cynical jerk you’d ever meet. I’d rail on and on about how my time was being wasted “saving people from their own stupidity.” I’d grouse about how my less-equipped ER was “cleaning up after the riff-raff” as opposed the more state-of-the-art hospitals in the area. While they dealt with trauma patients and life or death situations, I was holding a basin under someone’s chin as the post-Narcan vomiting set in. They had all of the challenging cases while I was handling overdose after overdose, kowtowing to “those junkies.”

Then one night, a call came in from one of our paramedic trucks. They were bringing in a young man in his 20’s, a victim of a heroin overdose that a friend had found too late. When he passed through the ambulance bay doors he was unresponsive, had a breathing tube down his throat and surrounded swarm of EMTs and paramedics. His face was blue, his skin the color of your fingernails when you squeeze them. We set him up in our trauma bay and went to work transferring him onto a stretcher, hooking him up to our monitor and ventilator, and furiously pounding on this kid’s chest hoping against hope to see some blips on the heart monitor.

Then his father walked in.I’ve never seen more anguish and sadness in a person’s face before or since. I’ve been present for many deaths in the ER, and seeing the family is often the worst part. You do your best, cleaning the patient up, turning town the lights, bringing the family a box of tissues or offering them some water.

But none of that happened – we all were giving 110% trying to bring him back. I was performing CPR with my partner when he walked in, and I wish I’d never looked up. I watched him lay eyes on his son, with wires and tubes in every orifice and a faint trail of blood-tinged froth running up the ventilator hose. He ran over to the side of the bed, his face awash in tears, grabbing his little boy’s hand.

Amidst the clamor of ringing monitors, the puffing of the ventilator and the calls by the doctor to give doses of this or that drug, I heard the father quietly whispering to his son “Come on, ______. Just wake up please. You can do it.” I could tell he’d been preparing for this. I could see it in his eyes that what he had pictured this scenario a thousand times. And that’s what killed me the most.

This is what those would-be evolutionists are calling for. Having someone’s loved one die.

Even typing these words makes my eyes well up a little bit. I know that working in an environment so rife with sadness. I need to be able to detach and push through, and I certainly have. But I’ll be forever haunted by what I saw that night. Occasionally I dream about it, dropping right back into that trauma bay, every detail permanently scorched into my memory.

But there is an upside to all this – I will never call someone a “junkie. I’ll never write a person off because they made a bad choice in life.

“Junkie.” It’s this word that keeps people from seeking detox. “Junkie.” It’s this word that can make even the most compassionate and seasoned professional roll their eyes and mentally tune out. “Junkie.” It’s this word that keeps kids from confessing to their parents that they have a problem.

“Junkie.” This word kills people just as much as the needle itself.

So if you ever want to reduce someone’s kid, someone’s dad, someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend to “a worthless junkie,” you’d better say it out of earshot of me. Because if you don’t, you’re gonna have to deal with me. And I promise you I’ll go as easy on you as you go on them.

~ Anonymous ~