We have all heard those lines spoken at an AA meeting on TV, in the movies, or even maybe in real life. I have spoken those words, many times in real life. My name is Lisa, and I am an addict to narcotics. Even after all these years of being an addict, it is still hard to say. But I have to be honest with you and most importantly, myself.
I really knew I was in trouble when I was taking more pain pills in one day then was recommended for 3-4 days for one person. So in one day instead of taking 4 pills, I was taking between 12 -16 in one day. Do I know why I am an addicted and why I needed to take so many pills in one day? Mainly it was to forget, forget my life, my body that was in great pain, and not to deal with reality. And believe me, I achieved all that by taking that many pills.
The Ups and Downs
After a week of feeling great and being high as a kite, I would crash and run out of medications. Then the withdrawals would start. And if you have never withdrawn from a medication, you would never know the intense amount of pain and suffering I would go through each time. Withdrawing from a medication is the worse possible thing that I have ever been through in my 40 plus years. First, it starts with a great amount of sleepiness, then the sweats would start. After a few minutes of that, then you are shivering from being cold. I think this was the worse part but then the anxiety and depression would set in and it was the only time in my life that I thought about taking my own life. Withdrawing is very difficult and something I don’t ever want to go through again.
Four years ago I decided to make a change to my life and stop the rollercoaster that I was living one. Unfortunately, my mind had other objectives and turned back to pain meds again and I went through the worse withdraws ever. They were so bad that I couldn’t sit still, lay still, or even walk straight. I cried and begged to have it all end, all the while still thinking there was a way of getting my hands on more medication. I wondered if I could lie to a doctor, maybe tell them my meds were stolen. Or worse yet, I could find someone who had any pain meds and I could steal them. I had hit my low. My husband was ready to leave me, I was losing my job, and I was a horrible mother. Could life get any worse?
I had hit my bottom, my rock bottom. I didn’t think there was a way of coming back from this. I thought and figured that I had ruined my life and I wasn’t worth anything. But my body was in great amounts of pain from all the surgeries and the degeneration of my spine. I had to make a choice. Was life worth living this way or was it time for a change. How do you make a change when you don’t know which way to go?
First and foremost, I got myself clean. Stone cold clean. Not an ounce of narcotics in my system at all. I did it under the supervision of a doctor, which they were able to aid in giving me some relief from the withdrawals. It still was very difficult and painful. But I did it. Vowing never to go back. I found a group that was run by this one doctor that was 80 years old at the time. I found the one doctor that believed in me and wanted to help me and not throw medications at me all the time. He had a group that meets once a week for 3 months and he approved me to join the group.
I believe that the people in that group saved my life and I’m doubting that they never even knew that. I was clean for all three months of the program and missed just one day. I was finally making some headway. But the whole time I was clean, I hurt, really bad. I was really torn between being clean and being out of pain. I didn’t know what to do. I finally sat down with the doctor and cried my eyes out, telling him everything. It was the first time I was honest, 100% with my doctor about everything. It was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had in my entire life. Telling someone who you are an addict is, well almost sobering in itself. Hearing those words spoken makes everything very real, almost gut-wrenching to know that others now know your secret. This secret that I could never speak of out loud let alone to tell someone who had to control to give you more medications. I made a huge decision that day telling the doctor because now it was in my chart. Lisa is an addict. Any other doctor that treated me after this doctor and got copies of my records would see those 4 words, Lisa is an addict.
I was ready to stop the lying and hiding that I had done for almost 10 years. I was ready to stop the abuse that I would do to my body and to other that I loved. I was ready to responsible for myself and what I did to myself. I finished my crying and my story with the doctor that day and he had sat through the entire time of my crying and talk and didn’t speak a word. Finally, he said to me those words I so remember him saying “let me help you”. He already knew that I had been abusing medications before I ever said anything. He also knew that I was in a great amount of pain.
The doctor also told me that day that he had a medication that was new to the market but it helped people who were in a lot of pain but couldn’t take narcotics. He said that he had a few spaces available and I was given the chance to be a part of it. I think I yelled yes to him that day. again trying not to cry. But this time with tears of joy. There was help for me after all.
This Labor Day it will be four years since I started this new medication that has turned my life around. I have not taken pain medications and abused them since I started this medicine. I have not had to go through horrible withdraws since I no longer can take pain meds while being on this medication. And even though this medicine isn’t designed to help with chronic pain, it has helped me somewhat.
Even though it has been hard to tell about being an addict, I know that I have to get my story out there. There are so much more people who suffer from chronic pain but are abusing the medication. It’s such a difficult place to be. It’s not black nor white, mainly all gray. You are in so much pain but you are an addict too. Don’t give up hope because I was going to but I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s a hard position to be in but knows that there are options now for you if you suffer the way I did. Life is worth living, after all, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I will be writing a Part II to this post shortly about the medication that I was talking about in this post. So please look for that soon.