Tag Archives: Methadone maintenance

Rigs and Methadone Clinics

I’m very pissed off this morning. I guess I should say “was” very pissed off this morning. I went to the methadone clinic to get my take-outs, and as you may or may not know, it is the week I’m supposed to go from 25mgs/day to 20mgs. As it turned out, that wasn’t to be this morning. When I stepped to the window, and said I wanted to decrease to 20mgs, the nurse informed me that it wasn’t going to be possible. Immediately, my blood began to boil as he (nurse) tried explaining that there was a new doctor, and they could no longer do anything (increase or decrease) without the doctor’s written authorization. Boy did I give that nurse an ear full.

First I told him that I thought that was a bunch of bullshit! I told him that I had been decreasing every 2 weeks for months now, and someone damn well should have called me to let me know about this new change. If they had, I’d have told them to go ahead and put the order through to have it ready when I picked up this morning.  To his credit, the nurse was very apologetic, and agreed with everything I was saying. I knew it wasn’t his fault, and I did tell him that. After I left the nurse’s station, I saw the clinic director’s door was open so I used the opportunity let him know too, just how unhappy I was.

The first thing I said was that I thought it was really shitty of that clinic, that is supposedly there to help us, to “interrupt” my decreasing in that way. I explained that this was probably the most important moment in my life, and for them to have a change like that, and not inform me, really showed what they were about.

He then tried excusing the circumstances by pointing out that the clinic serves about 1600 (I thought 2000), and that it would be impossible for them to call everyone to let them know of the change. However, I blew that shit up by asking him just how many of that 1600 were decreasing. After that, he was stumped because he knew that I was correct. They absolutely should have had the decency to call me and let me know of this change, and he knew it. If I was a person teetering on the edge, this kind of thing may have been just the kind of thing to stop my decreasing; instead, it actually had the opposite effect. If anything, this experienced served more in re-galvanizing my will to get up out of there than it anything else.

There was much more that I said to the director, but know this: White hot fire was coming from my mouth, and I wasn’t on 160mgs of methadone to tie my tongue. My words came out clear, concise, and there was nothing anyone at that clinic could say that would make the situation right. It’s a good thing that the director backed down too because this comes down to me getting my life back, and nothing is getting in my way. My rig is big right now, and I’m going to run you the fuck over if you are standing in my way.

The last thing he said to me as I walked out his door was to come see him again when I was at 0mgs. I felt nothing for him as I turned around and said, “you’ll see me again”. My heart tells me this is true, but not in the way he wants to see me. The next time he sees me, I may just have his neck in a dog collar instead of the other way around. What comes around huh? Maybe not, but I do feel there is a story about these places that needs to be told; no matter how comfortable I am in accepting consequences of my own actions.

About my dose: I ended up dosing, but didn’t use water to wash the bottom of the bottle out. Hopefully that was around 5mgs, but I really can’t be sure. I also only took three take-outs so I will be going back on Tues. to get the correct dose amount. I was going to do change my pick-up day anyway because we (the family) are going to be doing some vacationing next month and pick-ups on Friday won’t be possible. What I will do until Tuesday is just use the baby syringe to withdraw 5mgs/day. Fuck ’em!

ismelltherain

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Yeah, so what?

I have wasted years and years of my life being a bitch- yeah I have, so what? I lay down and let my addiction to drugs take vacations from me, presents for my kids, dates from my wife; the list could go on and on. Should I dwell on that now and let it chew the ground out from underneath me? No! Especially now, coming out of the fog, when things are becoming real again, I cannot let it destroy me. It tries though-man, does it try.

Instead I will focus on some of the good things that happened during that time. Sure there were some good things. Shit, I found one of the most beautiful people on this earth, and somehow held things together enough to marry her. We have had three unbelievable kids that have smarts beyond my wildest imagination. My four year old could say octagon, and knew what one was when she was turning two. Even if I didn’t have all this, I could still find positives in helping others with the knowledge I’ve gained about being an opiate addict. My life is mine, and I want to share all that I can about this methadone mother fucker.

Now that I am where I am, I can tell myself that today has been complete shit, and I am still 50 times happier than my best day on 160mgs. I think the reason is because I’m dealing with the problems that have been chucked at me rather than numbing myself to them. See what I mean? I don’t mean to say that I have this thing whipped, but I know I’m on the right track. A completely shit filled day and I can still say I’m a happy sum bitch.

ismelltherain

Jasmine Lives

When I think about how lucky I am to be alive, I think about many things. I know you’ve heard addict’s say many times how lucky they are to be alive with all the crazy things they’ve done. I guess I’m the same way, but that is far from what I am writing about here. I think a lot about how truly lucky I am to be alive. I really do, and especially now that all my senses are again responding to the stimuli of life. I mean think of how remote the possibility is that you became you; all the things that had to happen, or not happen for you, the human being to be breathing air right now.

One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is the jasmine outside my front door. If you’re not familiar with jasmine, it grows as a vine, and in the spring blooms one of the smallest yet fragrant flowers I know of. This jasmine is absolutely gorgeous. The vines are about 3” in width, and start at the base of the huge oak that is feet from my front door. It winds up the tree in a beautiful pattern of vein-like trails. Mostly the vines are bare until they reach the canopy of the tree, where the flowers burst through to absorb the light of the sun. I can see, and smell them from below, and it is stunning. I can’t even imagine what it must look like from above. I have lived in this house for six or so years, and never sensed these flowers like I am right now.

I want to tie this all together with this- Knowing how lucky we are to be alive, I think it is best to try to get the absolute most out of life that we can. There is no way we can do that stuck in a rut at a methadone clinic. Actually, as I was thinking about it, I wished the jasmine flowers could be here year round to remind me. Then I realized there are a million other jasmine’s in the world year round. Furthermore, I realized all it will take for me to notice them is not being medicated. When life is over, I want to know there were many springs that I was able to smell the jasmine.

ismelltherain

Good Doctors and Bad (Methedonely Speaking)

I know methadonely is not a word. It’s my attempt at being witty. Now that my wittiness is out of the way, I’m going to attempt a semi-serious post. I don’t like my clinic; this is no secret. Throughout my detox I have had to be my own counselor, and doctor because they do not offer those things to people that will be leaving. As a result, many times I have been online looking for the best ways I should be doing this. I found this website the other day that was started by Doctor Jana Burson. She works at an addiction treatment facility in NC I think it is.

I won’t lie, my first impression was that of disgust. I was respectful of her as a person, and as a doctor, but I let her know quickly what I think of methadone clinics. Still, the doctor was patient with me, and even gave me some numbers. I am no fool, and I know numbers can be subjective. There are always ways to make numbers appear to favor your point because their possibilities are infinite. However, once we were finished with the back and forth, she helped me greatly. She gave me a bit of a confidence boost, and information on the things I should be doing. Granted, all of it I am for the most part doing, but I still needed to hear (read) it. Still begs the question, why did I have to go in search of this info elsewhere when the fuckin’ clinic I pay should be….. Stop! There I go again.

My point on all this is that the internet is a beautiful thing. I mean at what other time in history were we as humans so powerful? We have the resources of every library, of every town all across this nation, and even the world right at our fingertips. I had the ability to find Dr. Burson, to get the information and reassurance I needed to continue on my path; free of charge. I know this doesn’t make what my clinic is doing right, but it sure does make me feel better. If you are reading this and you are an addict, you too can make the internet work for your recovery like generations before us never had the opportunity. How awesome is this?!

Last, I would like to thank Dr. Burson for weathering my storm, and showing me that there are still Dr’s truly doing their profession for what it was meant to be. There is no doubt this Dr. cares about helping people, and that I can respect. I will post her reply now because I think it is valuable info. Also, the fact that it came from a Dr that is an addiction medicine specialist makes it that much more relevant. Here is Dr. Burson’s reply to one of my posts asking for advice on how to get through these last weeks of detox:

You do not have to prove your clinic is doing a poor job. I know there are clinics out there like that, and I don’t defend them.
They give the other, better-run clinics a bad name and bad reputation. I wish that weren’t true. It sounds like you live in a place with only one clinic around, if you’re driving and hour to get there.

It’s not good medical practice to treat people without face to face contact, so I can’t give you any advice for you personally. However, I can tell you what I tell other patients – listen to your body, and remember that the dose change you make today may not affect you for about five days, due to the long action of methadone. Also remember that when you get to doses less than 40mg, each milligram is a bigger percent of the whole, so most people slow to 2mg per week or so. Some texts say the taper, or detox as you call it, should be no faster than 10% per week, but people are so different in the way they tolerate withdrawal. I also recommend:
-plenty of fluids
-ibuprofen for body aches
-hot baths do help with muscle and joint aches, but not for long
-aerobic exercise each day, but don’t overdo it. Pick something you enjoy doing if possible
-eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and if you don’t, consider starting a once-daily multi-vitamin. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive; brands like One A Day or Centrum are fine. Men should take those without iron.
-as you get to doses less than 20mg, ask your clinic doctor to give you a prescription for clonidine, a blood pressure medication that blocks many of the nervous system withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, sweating & chills, diarrhea, tremor, and nausea. It’s mildly to moderately helpful.
-don’t neglect your spiritual health. I define spiritual as anything that helps you improve relationships with yourself, with other people, and a Higher Power. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. It should go without saying that you can’t be around people who are using drugs. Consider going to 12-step meetings. If you have something that nurtures your spiritual self, indulge in that. It could be meetings or church or volunteering to help someone else…actually your blog may be a great way to help others and connect with them
-avoid relapse triggers when possible. The big 3 are strong negative emotion, being around people who have drugs, and medical situations. Some of those things you have some control over, and some you don’t. Have a plan for how you’d handle medical situtations before they ever happen.

I have seen many people taper off methadone and be successful. It isn’t easy, but it is do-able. The biggest mistake I see my patients make are that they get down to 15mg or so, get impatient and just stop dosing. Most people will do better if they come all the way down to 0mg. Look at it like this…you’ve come so far, you do not want to fumble at the one-yard line. You are almost there. Getting down to 25mg is wonderful. But if you don’t feel great, there’s nothing wrong with staying at that dose until you become more accustomed to it. Unless you have a certain deadline that you have to meet for some reason.

ismelltherain

come harder (methadone addiction)

How I’m feeling today is….uhhhh, well let me just say this. If I had the song “Eye of the Tiger” downloaded, I’d have my ear buds jumpin. I don’t though so “Sail” by Awolnation and “I’m Not Afraid” by Eminem are some of the songs that have been doing just fine. I’ve been feeling amazing the last few days in my methadone addiction detox. Either those Centrum are doing some extraordinary things or I’m just now hitting my stride on this detox train. I cannot discount what a better, more complete diet has probably been doing for me as well. Oh, and let me not forget about the way I have been pushing myself physically at work.

I wonder what people think I mean when I write “push myself physically” at work? I mostly use the phrase on my “daily symptoms log”. I know what I would be thinking. I’d probably be thinking “this guy is just making a few more trips to the water cooler” or, “he’s probably just picking up a few extra boxes of paper to be shredded”. That’s not the case. When I say pushing myself physically at work, I mean just that. I could just sit around dippin’ and dodgin’, writing posts all day if I wanted, but luckily I also have the opportunity to pick up tools to weed-eat, hedge and even mow. If you’re wondering what kind of guy I am to have such a job, I have just two words-state worker. Also, if I hadn’t already mentioned it, I live in “The Sunshine State”, and the sun’s been reading “hot” all damn winter long. So there, I do get physical. In fact I’ve got little bits of grass falling out of my hair on the keyboard now.

As I was saying though, I feel amazing. My habitual way of thinking is also changing. Yesterday, when we were heading to work, my wife asked me, “Don’t you miss the way you used to feel?” Immediately I said “no!”. What she meant was, didn’t I miss the “high”. I wasn’t even thinking of that. Being on such a low dose comparatively, I no longer sweat like the fat pig I was. This is a huge deal if you’ve never experienced it. Just imagine sweating profusely while standing in a room full of people. How do you explain that you’re really not having a panic attack, and that bad body chemistry is the reason you’re drenched in sweat in the middle of winter? It’s crazy. Fucking nuts the way we allow ourselves to live.

My thoughts are also crystal right now. My conversations-every day conversations are full of life and color. If you wouldn’t waste half your life and possibly kill yourself, I would tell you to get hooked on methadone so you can wake yourself up one day to feel the rebirth that I am feeling right now. Other people notice it too. I’ve had people that know nothing of my situation tell me there is something different about me. I think it’s because we that have truly had enough, are being born again. There is a light about us that only knows bright and there is no way to hide it. Still, I must keep my guard up because there are definitely times I’m not at my best.

This Friday will be another one when I give another “fuck you” to the methadone shit hole. I’ll be decreasing to 25mgs/day. I’ll probably be back to writing sad posts, and listening to “Rocket Man” on my MP3 player for a few days. I’m giving fair warning here. My emotions for a few days are generally a mess. I do have one message to “methadone” the medicine though: Is this all you got? I haven’t even missed a day of work because of your dopey ass yet. You’re gonna have to come harder than this-much harder, if you plan on makin’ a run at breaking me. Bitch!

Yeah, I’m a little on the nuts side. But I’m a good feeling nut.

ismelltherain

St. Jude, my path is now found

Call me nuts, but I have an admission to make. AA/NA is not for me! There, I said it. It’s in bold letters for everyone to see. If you find this hard to understand, I’ll say it again; AA/NA is not for me! When I first came to this conclusion I thought,  shit, now I have to go back and change some of my previous posts such as “Tools”. However, I now realize that I cannot and will not do that. This is a growing process for me. A process of trial and error, and in order for it to be accurate and honest, I must leave everything as is. That is, unless my grammar coach reads something, and says I need to go back and revise. But anyway, let’s get to the reason for my post.

I could go on and on about why I feel AA/NA is wrong for me, but that is not why I am writing this. I will simply say this, any message that tells me that I am powerless to do something on my own, is not a message for me. It is not something I can identify with. I know that I walked me into this mess, and I must walk me back out. Maybe the AA/NA message is for you-I don’t know. If it is, that’s not wrong either.  If there is something I wish to be gleaned from this, it would have to be that you (the addict) must find what way works best for you. Because “you” are all that matters. As for me though, I found my message while browsing the net last Wednesday.

All of the feelings I had been having were galvanized when I stumbled across a place called St. Jude. St. Jude has been in the addiction business for a very long time. They have done multiple studies, and in turn have helped many people. All it took was for me to read the first few sentences of their page, for me to know I was home. The people at St. Jude speak my language-they speak it loud, and they speak it clear.

It felt good to read about the studies they had done. Studies that led to their belief that addiction should not be viewed as a disease, but that of habitual and perpetual bad choices. Habits formed by us, the addicts making personal choices to keep doing drugs. Their focus seems to be that of awareness, personal accountability, and the most important-believing in ourselves. I can most certainly dig that shit. I like it-it gives me goose bumps. And when a message gives me goosebumps, that is a message I can live with. There are other things too.

One other thing is believing that we have the power to change, without having to sit in meeting after meeting, year after year. Don’t get me wrong, if you are a person that wants to eventually counsel using addicts, meetings are a good way of reaching them-initially. However, St. Jude believes that the continual admission that we are addicts can keep a person chained to their past. Not to mention the fact that I have kids to raise, a blog to write, video games to play and rain to smell. I cannot do these things sitting in a room somewhere rehashing my past over and over. It’s just not how I want to live. All these messages just fit me you understand? They don’t claim to be right for everyone, but you can’t argue their studies, and success records.

Their studies are complete, and their verifiable success records are second to none-literally. The studies they have done over many years of attending AA/NA meetings cannot be ignored. I believe St. Jude’s methods are tried and true and they will work for anyone that wants them to work. Which is in an of itself what I believe is the key. Do you want to change your life yet, or are you still comfortable in the misery in which you live? I think it’s as simple as that. Weird, considering all the time I’ve spent trying to dissect addiction, the disease. I have one other thing to touch on before I close and it’s off topic, but not really.

This writing thing ain’t easy. I’m not kidding you all, it really isn’t. It’s super easy to write a few good posts. However, doing it day in and day out is I think, what separates the good from the great writers. I don’t claim to be one (great writer) either. It’s obviously something I have done well enough to this point, but we will see if I can continue. I almost had a miserable fail last week though.

I actually had some down time at work on Fri and spent 4.5 hours on a new post. I posted it, rode home, logged back on, and took that gobbledy-gook down quickly. If you don’t know what gobbledy-gook is, picture about three pages of regurgitated shit. Thing is, I caught that one, but I may not catch them all. What I’m trying to say is that there will be good posts and bad-I know this. However, please know that my heart is in every one. If something matters to me, I will write about it. And while I am now doing this blog for me, I want it to eventually be a gift to you. You, are all those struggling with addiction to opiates or whatever else. Hope you enjoyed the post.

ismelltherain

Methadone addiction-a synthetic prison

It’s a bunch of bullshit! That’s my quick, gut reaction to what I feel methadone addiction is. I know that’s not going to explain it though, so I will try explaining in another way. I will quickly say that I am not a medical doctor. All the info I will post is from the research I have done on the net, and info I have gathered via personal experience. I think I probably should have done this nearer the beginning (of the blog), but better late then not at. Here’s what I came up with:

The way I feel when taking methadone is quite different from the way I feel with other opiates. Taking Oxycontin could best be described as orgasmic. I remember it being an intense rush of euphoria that was very potent- an in your face type of high. Oxycontin just busts down the door and wraps you in a tight, electrifying hug, but then lets go relatively quickly. Methadone is much more subtle. Instead of busting down the door, it seeps under, over and through the cracks. It slithers in and around, and gradually wraps me in a warm velvety blanket. The high begins as a distant vibration that slowly envelops until there is a constant thrum reverberating throughout my body. It is long, and lasts for hours and hours. That is the best way I can describe the difference in the two highs. There is also a chemical difference in the two.

People often use the term opiates in a general way to describe all the opiate drugs. There are actually different types of opiates. Oxycontin and heroin are semi-synthetic opiates. Very basically, this means that each have natural properties as well as some man made properties. Methadone on the other hand is completely man made, and is a synthetic opiate. The difference is staggering. The strength of both types is generally measured in half-life. Half-life is the amount of time it takes half the drug to be eliminated (broken down) by your blood. Oxycontin has a half-life of roughly 3 to 4 hours. Methadone, has an average half-life of 22 hours! This is why the methadone clinics can treat patients on a daily, rather than an hourly basis. This is also why overdose is a real threat when using methadone. The euphoric effects have long since worn off while there are still high levels of the drug in the bloodstream. When a person ingests more of the drug to again feel the “high”, the levels become toxic, and overdose can occur.

The way opiates work in the brain is that they mimic a chemical (endorphins) that the body produces naturally in times of great stress or pain. The drug binds to specific opiate receptors in the brain, and causes them to fire off at a much higher rate than normal. The opiates end up taking the place of the endorphins and eventually the brain shuts down that function. Why should the body create something that it no longer needs? The adverse effect of this is highlighted when a person, such as myself, attempts to detox. All the body’s normal defenses against pain are no longer working, so the physical pain associated with detox are made that much more painful. Problems also arise when the body, so starved for essential vitamins and minerals because of a horrible diet,  no longer has a “feel good” hiding these deficiencies. After researching, and without advice from the methadone clinic, I have found that it is very advisable to take  a good multivitamin while detoxing. Thanks for nothing I say to them.

I have already described in an earlier post (named Methadone) what the physical symptoms are like. What I want to make very clear is that the synthetic opiate known as methadone, produces the absolute worst withdrawal symptoms of all the known opiates. It is a very dangerous drug that is used as a not-so-quick fix without addressing the problem that led to us going to the clinic in the first place. I will tell anyone who will listen…these clinics want you comfortably numb. While you are, with no real push to ever get you clean, they can continue to rape you (figuratively)- just as the person that once sold you the Oxycontin did. Never, ever fool yourself into believing they have your best interest in mind. If they did, I would not have been in the same place five years later on a higher dose.

I want to say one last thing. Last Friday, after having such a good week, I decided to decrease for the second week in a row. I am now at 30mgs of methadone/day. As a result of this I have been feeling very bad the past few days. I refuse to say that I shouldn’t have decreased, but the fact still remains…I am in much pain at the moment. I really wish, for the sake of anyone else that does this, and for my sake as well, that I could tell you it’s not painful. It is-you know it is, but I want to show that it can be done. Not only that, I want to show everyone that it can be done without the jackasses at these clinics. I’m now going to go extinguish (rest) myself. Peace, love and all the rest.

ismelltherain