“Just Stop” Isn’t As Easy, Or Safe, As It Sounds

The Adventures of Methadone Man and Buprenorphine Babe

Photo Credit: methadoneman.org

[Throwback Thursday — Originally published November 2013]

This post is directed toward every single person who has ever told me to “just stop taking” my medication. Whether you’ve been where I have, have gone through what I am, or have no idea, you have never been me. So please, stop telling me something when you cannot speak for me, feel what I feel, or know what I know.

I am on Suboxone. In short, Suboxone is a medication to help people get off heroin or other opiates. It is a combination of an opiod medication, and another medication that reverses the effects of opiates. So it helps people get, and stay, off drugs. However, many people view it as a drug itself, and that’s where the line begins to fade.

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Unfamiliar

[Throwback Thursday — Originally published November, 2013]

Hands in Handcuffs

Photo Credit: Douglas Pearl

When he awakes at 4:00pm, his medication is scattered on the floor. Two of his three children, a boy and a girl, have gotten into it again. His third child hasn’t arrived yet, but will soon. He slowly rises from bed, his body full of aches meant for a man twice his age. That familiar feeling of anxiety creeps into him, so he stands and collects a small cylindrical silver tube and ten tiny circular blue pills, counting each one twice to make certain the children have not taken any. He will be sure to check their eyes throughout the night just in case. The man takes one pill and puts the remaining nine back where they belong; then dumps them all out, takes another, puts eight back in the tube, and screws it onto the lid attached to his keychain.

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Shake, Sway, Sip, Repeat

I shake and I sway and I rock. There are centipedes crawling off with my skin. The woman who just walked by walked much too close. The dishes will all break if I attempt to do them and they’ll probably cut me. Now I want to run the blade across my skin and do it myself. The tears come and I dig my teeth into my pen to stop them. They must be stopped or they’ll sting my centipede skin.

I shake and I sway and I rock. My mind is droopy but my eyes are wide and everything they take in terrifies me. My legs run off with themselves and the pills keep piling up but the centipedes continue their march and the woman continues to walk too close and the dishes continue to make my eyes produce wetness. So I take a sip.

I shake and I sway and I sip. Until the sips turn into swigs and the swigs turn into gulps and the gulps turn into the bottom of a bottle.

I stop shaking, I stop swaying, I stop rocking and I stop sipping. For once, I am still.

I sleep.

Tomorrow I will do it all again. I will try to refrain, but I will shake and sway and rock.

And sip.

I Want to Feel Better

There are two common questions I’m asked; two common answers I’ve spoken more times than I can count.

Why did you start using?

Because it was fun.

Why did you keep using?

Because I wanted to feel better.

Even if I didn’t feel bad, I wanted to feel better. Always bigger, always better, always more.

So when I was with Luke the other day and he asked, “Why do you keep doubling up on your meds?” I wasn’t the least bit surprised when “Because I want to feel better” came out.

That’s what everyone wants, isn’t it? To feel better. To feel good, all the time.

It’s no wonder an addict’s mind can’t differentiate the regular bad days from the end of the world.

And that’s my problem. My addict takes over when I don’t feel 100% and I just want to feel better.

I don’t know how to feel normal anymore. If I have a runny nose, I should take more Suboxone. If I have a headache, I should take more Abilify. If I’m anxious and cranky, I should take more Celexa. If I yawn I take more Suboxone. Everything that isn’t absolutely perfect is obviously a sign of withdrawal and I need more medication.

That’s how my mind works.

I honestly don’t remember why I started using in the first place. I remember the first time I smoked weed. My friends did it and it looked fun so I tried it. The first time I did coke it looked fun. The first time I did heroin I had already done nearly every other drug so why the hell not? I don’t remember trying to self-medicate or having any underlying problems that drove me to the bittersweet arms of narcotics. I was simply surrounded by them and they seemed fun.

When I think about it, I’m sure there was some sort of underlying issue that drove me to want to feel better, but at the time I didn’t realize I felt bad. I just wanted to have fun.

Now that’s over. Now whenever I have a craving or double up on my dose it’s not just because I want to have fun — it’s because something isn’t right. After being a heroin addict for so long, my body has gotten itself used to self-medicating every single time something feels off. I can’t handle not feeling perfect anymore. Even though I’ve been sober for years, it all comes back to me when I don’t feel well. Obviously the solution is to take something (or more of something).

This is the problem I have with my medications. They’re not working the way I’d like, so I take more. I know I shouldn’t take more. I know it’s dumb to take more and I know I’ll run out sooner and actually withdraw and everything will suck and it’s the worst possible idea I’ve had in a long time.

I just can’t stop myself from aching to feel better.

Confession: I Choose Not to Medicate

I feel like I’m not doing enough for my son. He’s having such a hard time in school and his teacher makes me feel like he’s not doing well because I choose not to medicate him.  I don’t think medication is the answer. I think she’s copping out of dealing with him.  Yes he can’t sit still… Yes he can’t focus… Yes he’s having a hard time following direction, but he’s such a smart little boy.  Am I wrong to not medicate?

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