Tag Archives: addiction

Warning: Danger Ahead

I made a commitment to a friend recently that I would give some early warning signs that a child may be heading in a direction conducive to drug use. Over the next few days I began to think back about what signs my parents could have picked up on had they been looking. When I say “had they been looking”, it is not without reason. At the time, my brother had a raging crack addiction that kept him in and out of prisons and rehabs. There was very little time for anyone to notice anything other than his all-consuming life. It was a life that eventually led to his becoming homeless, living in a homeless shelter, and then living on the streets. It finally occurred to me that I actually have two reservoirs with which to draw early warning signs- mine and my brother’s.

With me, the first signs were visible in my loss of life direction. I lost my full time job because I could no longer seem to get to work on time, and very soon after, quit going to school. School just didn’t matter anymore. Any discussion prompted by those that cared for me, was met with vague answers about what I was doing, and where my life was headed. I had always been a night person, but my night dwelling increased substantially. Alongside that were my new night dwelling friends. I was no longer interesting in hanging out with people whose lives had direction- I couldn’t relate. Instead, I began hanging around people that could get me what I needed- more drugs. I began viewing life as a constant party to the point that my father had to eventually kick me out. Another thing that is very hard for me to admit now is that I was selling drugs to support my habit. Thank goodness I was never caught and arrested, but lack of money/borrowing wasn’t an issue for me- in the beginning anyway.

My brother didn’t have the same entrepreneurial spirit as I, and his lack of cash and the lies he told to acquire money were much more obvious. I remember a time in his late teens when he had a checkbook that he took pride in keeping balanced. He had always been good with money, and always seemed to have it. Some years later, when drug finally rendered him homeless, my dad and I were dispatched to clean out an apartment he’d been evicted from. I remember finding his old checkbook (which I now wish I’d saved) and noting how it was a literal road map of his decent into addiction. The book began balanced and showed a fair amount of money in his account. As time (and addiction) pressed on, it was obvious the money was dwindling as well as his ability to keep the book in order. Even his handwriting became almost unreadable. Towards the end of the book, it was clear that checks were still being written to an account that could no longer cash them. Damn I could kick myself now for not saving that book, but I digress.

I will try to sum it up in a paragraph. First, there was a marked change in both our lives when drugs were taking over. As I said, it was much easier for me living under the veil of chaos created by my brother, but both our dispositions were off kilter. Gradually at first, and then more rapidly we pulled away from family. Second, money matters to a drug addict. We cannot do what we do without it. Third, our friends told the tale. It is cliché’, but it is true; we were who we were hanging with. Many times I hear parents say, “How did I miss it when it was so obvious?” or “I felt something was off, I just didn’t know what”. I think parents many times are so in denial that it takes something major, like an arrest, to finally wake them to the nightmare. And there is no doubt, if you are a loving parent and your child gets hooked on drugs, you will live a nightmare. Believe it, fear it and recognize it! I have thought many times whether or not my parents could have done anything had they known early on, and I honestly don’t know. I do know that I certainly would have liked for them to have had the chance to try.

Looking back now, at my life before drugs, I will draw a parallel maybe young ones can find easier to understand. Think of my life as a game- a football game to be more precise. The game had a coach (my drive), a team (me, family and good friends), and a game plan (life dreams). I started the game (my life) and I was winning. I was in the prime of my life, moving with speed, determination and zeal. Then on one play there was a game changer…I was hit hard (opiates). It was a jarring hit that shook my life to its core. In an instant I was standing on the sidelines, watching as the game began to fall apart (addiction). There were many times as I watched the game that I needed, had to even, get back in. Every time I tried though, I was disoriented, confused, and utterly uncoachable. I was pulled again and again, and finally sidelined. I was forced to sit and watch as my youth, my dreams, my very soul was stripped from me.

I could cry right now if I were to think hard enough about what I was, and the future I lost. What I could have been. If there is one message I wish young people would take from my words, it is this: Drugs are a game changer. Everything you think you know will be taken from you because drugs don’t care about dreams and aspirations. Moral boundaries and inhibition will no longer exist. You will find yourself doing things that you never thought possible. There are many young ones, that will disregard my words of warning. For one reason or another, many young people are convinced that it would never happen to them. Trust me young ones, some of you will wake one day, if you wake, and find that young adult life and everything in it gone. Don’t be that person- don’t be me.

Speaking of me, it is no longer me. We (me and my family) are now in overtime in the game that is my life. Somehow, late in the fourth quarter we were able to put together a new team- create a new game plan. We have the ball and we’re in the red zone. The red zone is the dangerous 20 yards in between us and the goal (recovery). It’s a place where many times the game is won or lost. The game may go either way and if you could call Vegas, they would probably say I’m not favored. What do I think? I’m betting my life on my team FTW (For The Win).

This one’s for you and yours good friend. May your children grow to live fruitful, productive lives and may they always be able to walk outside and smell the rain. Thanks for all your help and advice. You’s a good man!

I Can and Did!

I did it! I really did! I completed both my goals yesterday of decreasing my methadone dose, and attending my first NA meeting. I have to give credit where credit is due however, and the voice in my head did an excellent job. This son of a bitch gave me 1,000,001 of the most compelling and crafty reasons imaginable about why I should not go to that meeting last night.

After work, I still had 3 hours until I had to leave for the meeting. I used that time to lie down, rest and explain to myself that I needed to go. My addiction did not happen overnight, would not be cured overnight, but NA was starting tonight I said. The conversation began calmly enough, but ended semi-violently. I even dropped the “do you want your wife to take the kids and leave?” bomb on myself. I could just about feel the pain as I kicked my own ass out the door. It was certainly a battle, but one of the last things I remember thinking was “how bad do you want your life back?” I do, I do, I do want it back!

I am a bit pumped up this morning. I should be because I cleared two big hurdles yesterday. I am being one hundred percent honest when I say that on my way to the life drainer (clinic) yesterday morning, I contemplated the excuses I would use for forgoing one of the two goals I had set for myself. After leaving the death trap, I knew it would be the meeting I would cancel. It wasn’t to be. Turns out, I want to live just a little more than that clinic ever bargained for.  Screw you people, I’m bringing this fucker home! If I die in 4 months, I will die having seen my kids-in spite of you.

i most definitely smelltherain

Methadone Decrease/Still Here

Sorry but I feel like shit, grumpy as hell, and probably won’t feel like writing for a day or two. Still plan on getting my broken down ass to the meeting tonight, and still smell the rain.

ismelltherain

Music-what it is to me

In my brainstorming post, I made a quick comment that music was chicken soup for the soul. Of course the comment was cliche’-I knew it was when I wrote it. I was brainstorming though so I feel I deserve a pass. I will attempt to explain what music is to me now- for a little redemption maybe.

Music to me is nostalgia, and deja vu. It’s a beautiful bird, with the most beautiful feathers, soaring high in the sky. It’s an angry storm full of fury. It’s a light rain on a cool autumn morning. It’s the clouds in the sky, rolling, shifting, changing as it flows. It’s hurt, it’s love, it’s pain and it’s tears. It is very simply, what it is.

Music can help me to cry when I need to let it out. I love music because it can motivate when I need motivation. Years ago when the radio played the song “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, tell me you weren’t ready to go to school, find the biggest bully, and box the shit out of him? Show me a guy that says he didn’t do that, and I will show you a liar.  Music is everything I am, and everything I strive to be. Music just moves me like that.

Sometimes, but not very often, when I’m listening to a song it can seem as though the song was written for only me, about only me. These are times when each line matches my life as closely as the last. When the song comes to an end, I can usually be found leaning against something, staring out into nothing at all. Covered in gooseflesh, I am lost in a dream, and I do not want to return. It happened to me today, after downloading “Elton John’s Greatest Hits” on my dummy phone. I’ll just give you the first few lines, and then you can listen to this beautiful song if you wish. If you are like my coworker, and do not like Elton John, I’ll tell you what I told him…I’m going to come kick you in the knee.

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight.

Tools of Methadone Detox

This Friday will be an important day. For one, my two weeks at 40mgs of methadone per day is just about up. The alarm clock is beginning to ring, and although I could hit snooze, there is no good reason I should. In fact, there has been only one time since beginning detox that I have put off decreasing. It was because I didn’t want my family’s week-long Christmas vacation overshadowed by my withdrawal symptoms. Last weekend, my aches were so intense that I was sure I would be putting off for the second time. After a few days though, I am feeling much better so there will be no stalling. I feel as though I’m ready to make the push. I am on the front lines again; body battered, but recovered enough to continue waging war. There is one other reason Friday will be of import and that is Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Friday will be the first time I attend a NA meeting. I haven’t had occasion to mention this before, but my current stint at the methadone clinic is actually my second. The first time was about 10 years ago. I was on Oxycontin and wanted to get off. I started the clinic at the beginning dose of 30mgs/day and went down from there- just like I am doing now.  I managed to get completely off opiates for a period of about 6 months. My sobriety ended when I woke one morning with a simple head cold. I needed some Tylenol so I went to my roommate’s bathroom to find some. When I opened the medicine cabinet, there was a demon on one of the shelves. It handed me a Lortab- 10mgs in exchange for 10 more years of my life.  It’s so hard for me to imagine, that little pill cost me ten more years of suffering. It’s true though, it did. Can anyone tell me why it cost me? Addicts in recovery know. I now know too. It’s because I tried to do it alone. It may work like that for a very select few, but I am not one of them.

It may be hard to believe that I have never, in all my years of opiate addiction, gone to any NA/AA meetings. This time though, I will go to the meetings. I will go, and I will work the steps I have heard so much about. I will meet the contacts who will give me the tools, and teach me the skills I need to fight the demons in all situations. Once I am clean, I know there will come a day when I will open someone’s medicine cabinet, and there will again be a demon. It will be ready to make another exchange, and it’s price could likely be my life. However, I will be ready the next time-I will use the tools I have been given, and the skills I have been taught to gouge its fucking eyes out.

ismelltherain

Wanting Change (off methadone)

It was one year ago, or thereabouts, that I knew I wanted to make a change. I knew I wanted off methadone. My family had struggled with money for so long that I knew some things for certain. If I did not clean up my act, my wife would eventually take the kids and leave. She would at some point meet another, and I would be on the sidelines, watching as a better man raised my family. It rocks me to the core of my being thinking of another laying with my wife, being a father to my kids. One day I will have the courage to ask my wife how close I pushed her to that point. Right now though, I am not ready to know. I also knew that my health would not hold as I was deteriorating at a much faster rate than when I was younger.

Opiates work as a depressant.  Pain pills cause many vital organs to work much slower than normal. When the functions of intestines are depressed, the result is horrendous constipation. My intestines were in terrible condition because of this.  Many times, having not shit for a week or more, I was forced to use a saline laxative. This liquid was commonly used by doctors to empty a patient’s bowels in preparation for a colonoscopy. What’s more, this horrible tasting laxative I had been using for years, was later recalled for the damage it caused to one’s kidneys. My kidneys have been damaged as evidenced by an ultrasound I had done a few years ago. Methadone has also been known to cause severe cravings for sweets .

I was literally compelled to eat things such as a quart of ice cream covered in caramel, m&m’s, crushed oreo’s, and topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.  The sugar began to eat holes in the lining of my stomach, causing ulcers and indigestion I can’t even describe. I gained roughly 70lbs, and would sweat profusely at the slightest exertion. I generally had to carry two or three shirts everywhere I went. It has been a very miserable existence. Fortunately, my weight is dropping, and I no longer sweat from a walk to the refrigerator for ice cream.

ismelltherain

Police and Purdue Pharma

I am from a small town that is living in the wake of an epidemic started by Oxycontin. I cannot possibly remember the names of the vast numbers of friends, and friends of friends that have become addicted to this drug.

Some years ago, there was a dealer that I visited regularly. He was a sickly man, in a wheelchair and had dialysis performed on him twice weekly. He was also a scumbag, though I don’t want to get bogged down in detail. His routine was doctor shopping, obtaining and then selling oxycontin. One day, I got word he may be selling to someone very dear to me. I went to him and said that under no circumstances was it okay with me for him to sell to this person. I also warned him that if I found out, I would report him.

Later that year I found out he was in fact doing what I heard. So making good on my word, I went to the police. I was in the methadone clinic (thinking I was clean) by this time, so it wasn’t hurting my supply. Anyway, I went to the police and had a sit down with the head drug guy. I was surprised to find out they already knew everything I was telling them. They knew he doctor shopped, knew he was selling, and even knew he was a scumbag.

Why didn’t they arrest him then I asked? Because it would cost the prison too much to house him they said. That was their answer to me! This is a guy who had a large hand in starting the oxycontin epidemic in my small town. Something I predicted to the police he would do by the way. However, as I began thinking about it, I realized that the sickly scumbag wasn’t the one truly responsible. I did some research, and became convinced that Purdue Pharma needed to be graced with that title.

Oxycontin is a drug that Purdue Pharma released in 1995, supposedly for chronic pain. I think it is plain to see now however, that this company knew it was creating a drug many people would abuse. This could not be made any clearer when three of Purdue Pharma’s top execs plead guilty in 2007 to criminal charges. They admitted their company had misled doctors and patients by saying that Oxycontin was less prone to abuse than similar drugs because it was a long-acting narcotic.

Purdue Pharma was basically saying that because of Oxycontin’s outer, time released coating, it was “long acting”. It is actually long acting when taken as directed because the drug is time released over a 12 hour period. I’m thinking this is what allowed Purdue Pharma to get away with putting such powerful pain pills on the market. Until that point, one of the strongest, regularly used pain pills was a 5mg Percocet.

5mg Percocet has 5mgs of Oxycodone with 500mgs of acetominophen (tylenol). Oxycontin comes as strong as 80mgs of straight oxycodone. Tell me how any of us with even a sliver of the addictive nature had a chance? Can’t you just picture the glee in their eyes, as these three yo-yo’s dreamed up this mega pill? Do you think for a second they didn’t know thousands would be addicted in a short time? By the same token, do you think they didn’t know that people would begin chewing the pills up, effectively nullifying the time release and giving the person an insta-high?

It would be alright though,  because the methadone clinics were waiting in the wings to welcome all the new-born pill heads. They were there to shift the addiction from oxycontin to the lifesaving drug methadone. Thank goodness they left the light on for us right? Wrong! Rest assured I have plenty of rage in store for those fine folks. Just feel like I need to wait until I’m completely clean first. Lest the unethical dip shits get wind of it and throw me out on my ear before I’m fully detoxed. I don’t think for a second they would hesitate to do it either.

Quickly, I have one more thing to say. I know some people may think that going to the police made me a rat. Others may think it made me a hypocrite, and you all may be right on both points. I just knew what the drugs had done to me, and at all costs, I was going to attempt to intervene on behalf of this loved one. It did not help, nor could anyone have helped me (at that point), but I had to try. Lastly, I want it perfectly clear that I am not angry with law with law enforcement. Quite the contrary actually, as I am very pro law enforcement. However, I do feel they dropped they ball on this matter.

ismelltherain

Functioning addict

I was thinking this morning about how some that read this blog may perceive me. I figured some may picture me as the stereotypical drug addict that is dirty, smelly and unkempt? Maybe to some of you, I have been homeless, in and out of jail with track marks up and down my arms. Fact is, I am none of those things. I take a shower every night, never been homeless, never been in jail (because of drugs) and never shot dope. I am married with kids, have a full time job, a car payment and even a mortgage. I could be anyone you know. Wait, let me rephrase that, I am someone you know; your child’s teacher, your therapist, or your grocery store clerk. The consummate functioning addict that doesn’t function, I am.

Still, I hurt. Yesterday was very hard for me physically. It was probably my worst day so far. I will keep on keepin’ on though. My wife, my beautiful wife, is the pillar on which I stand. Thank you so much dear. You have waited on me, patiently for so very long haven’t you? I’m still in the woods, and the storm is raging now but I am coming. I will be home soon.

ismelltherain

Lies, Manipulations and Drugs

I want you to know something about addicts. Just in case there is any doubt whatsoever, I want to make one thing abundantly clear; WE LIE. Fact is that we are masters of lying and deception. If lying were a pro football team, we would be the star quarterback. What’s more is that our easiest marks are loved ones. This is why so many family members of an addict are hurt so completely throughout the process. So much so that often it is advised that family members get counseling in tandem with a recovering addict. I’m guessing it’s for something akin to post traumatic stress disorder. You see, we are able to manipulate a family’s love, with very little effort, into something that benefits and enables us. Unfortunately (for loved ones) there is no thought given to the hurt we cause, but only to our own self-gratification. Being an addict, I have come up with a simple way of reading any situation with other addicts. When there is a question, default to “it’s a lie”. 99% of the time, it will be a lie. If it sounds fishy, it’s a lie. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s a lie. Generally, if an addict’s lips are moving, it’s a lie. I was just thinking of some of the whoppers I’ve told over the years.

Once when I was in a particularly tight spot financially, I went to a family member. I asked to borrow $200. The reason I said, was because my wife, in all her glorious dim wittedness, overdrew our bank account. It was going to be fine though because from then on, I was going to show her the correct way to balance a checkbook. I got that cash over a few laughs and a passing last mention not to mention anything to her about it. She was already extremely embarrassed and her tattered ego just couldn’t handle anyone else knowing. I never told her this one so I’ve likely just signed my death warrant. Lucky for family though, we addicts many times save our most creative lies for our fellow addicts. We’re generous like that.

Many years ago, I had a contact (dealer) I bought Tylox from every month. Tylox comes in capsule form and is a mixture of oxycodone and Tylenol. At some point in our dealings, I came up with a brilliant plan. Once, when her (dealer) prescription was filled, I went over and bought half (60) the pills. I took them home and emptied the contents, which was a white powder, into a zip lock bag. I then crushed up zinc pills into a similar fine white powder and refilled the caps. I was very good at it, and even used cotton gloves so the oil on my fingertips wouldn’t smudge the outer sheen on the capsule. I then balled them up in a sheet of aluminum foil. A few days later, I set off to purchase (rip-off) the other 60 pills. While at her apartment, I went into the kitchen to retrieve the sheet of aluminum foil she always gave me to put the purchased pills in. I balled them up and slipped them in my jacket pocket. All of the sudden, I realized I had conveniently left my wallet at home. I took the zinc pills out and handed them to her saying I would be back. This worked approximately 1.5 times, because the next time I pulled the stunt, she stopped me before I could get the pills put away. She then demanded I empty my pockets in front of her. I made haste as I headed out the door saying that what I had in my pocket was too personal for anyone else to lay eyes on. Even now, I’m thinking how ridiculous that sounds. I was then in quite a fix with no money and no way of feeding my habit. As it turns out though, I had everything I needed, which was a pile of look-alike Tylox and the number of another addict. I solved the problem by unloading the bogus lot on my fellow, unassuming idiot, ahem, addict. And because I was such a nice guy, I even gave a discount because he bought them all. After not hearing from him in quite some time though, I inquired as to his whereabouts. I learned that he was recovering, as he had been allergic to zinc. He spent nearly a week in bed and had a horrible metallic taste in his mouth for a month afterward. I vowed to him that sooner or later I’d catch up with the bitch that scammed us like that.

As I look back now, I realize that I am very lucky to have never been arrested or even worse for the things I’ve done. Lies hurt and it is very important to know that addicts, when in the moment, do not care.

ismelltherain

Withdrawal and Pleasure Things

I go to the methadone clinic on Fridays. My usual routine is to get there about 5:30am and wait in line for about 30 minutes. I take the dose for that day at the window and receive 6 take home doses for the week. My rate of decrease has been 5mgs every 2 weeks. In the beginning, this was no problem because if you look at percentages, when on high doses, 5mgs is not all that much. On the other hand, when I am at 45mgs/day, 5mgs is a substantial amount. So, now every 2 weeks I get set for a few days of hell after my decrease.  My last decrease was last Friday (1week ago). I am now leveling out, but this has been the worst week so far.

I have been asked many times what  withdrawal from opiates is like. Most times, I just say that it is the flu X 10. What it’s truly like, if you’ve never experienced it, you’ll never fully understand. The physical is that my calves feel like they are in a vice grips. I hurt to the marrow of my bones. My stomach is constantly churning and diarrhea is a constant. My skin is sore and nothing feels good touching it. There is an overall feeling of the worst kind of uncomfortable you can imagine. Possibly the worst part is the mental- the evil my mind plays.

There is a demon always near. It is in my ear, telling me that I want no part of sobriety and that I am not strong enough to deal with the pain I have been numb to for so long. This is one mean son of a bitch too because he uses the weakest of my weak thoughts against me. It’s as though it has talons that slice through my scalp and crack open my scull. The evil is rifling through parts of my brain, looking for the pleasure thing. It seeks to inject it with more feelgood, making me feel no more. I’m sure this seems crazy to anyone that has never experienced withdrawal.  You would be right, it is most definitely crazy. Things no normal person would think or feel. Good thing for me then because I am not normal. Such are the thoughts and feelings of an opiate addict. I am only putting my interpretation on what many before me have felt, I can assure you. It is a very dark and scary place at times. Fortunately for me, the pleasure thing in my brain has not yet been found. I am still on a path towards the light. Still not looking back.

I want to take a quick second and dedicate this blog to someone. He once was a very good friend of mine and I led him astray. The same way I was led astray by the one before me. Only difference is the one before me never made it out alive as he overdosed and died many years ago. This person knows who he is and has forgiven me, but I have yet to forgive myself. If and when I make it out of this nightmare, I hope I can help guide him through too. You know who you are and I want you to know that you are a gift to this planet. I feel that we’re going to be a team again, just in a good way this time. You are on my mind buddy, I want you to know that.

ismelltherain