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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:44 am 
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Hi guys.

I don't expect many to read this but I've been lurking on this board for awhile now and wanted to share my story. I sent the below e-mail to Dr. Junig a few weeks ago, and thought I'd post it as well below. I hope to find someone with a similar story/current situation, but all comments/outreach is welcome. It's wonderful to have people to talk to. I'm a 20-something female, never done a drug in my life. I am considered 'straight edge' to everyone around me and no one knows my secret except my boyfriend, Dad, and a close friend. My downfall was pain pills which I was prescribed initially and then given to by a bad influence friend of mine, and thus became pretty addicted (mostly mentally). Below is my story:


"Hi Dr. Junig,

My name is Crystal. I have been reading your website/watching your YouTube videos for about 6 months now, and I wanted to take the time to write you. I'd like to share a bit of my story, if you wouldn't mind reading.

I come from the parents of two addicts. My Dad, thankfully, was able to get his addiction under control before it completely destroyed his life, and has been sober for about 20 years or so. My mom has struggled her entire life and unfortunately still wrestles with addiction, and thus our relationship isn't what it could be and she has thrown much of her life away, which she deeply regrets but unfortunately, at 60-something there's not a lot she can do at this point except try and remain clean.
Anyway, because I had been able to watch first-hand through my parents how drug addiction is a horrible place to be, and just how deeply it can and will destroy your life, my goal growing up was always to stay far away from any drug as I didn't want to end up like my parents. And I succeeded, for a long time. I was a straight-A student all my life, graduated college with honors and was generally successful overall in life. After graduating high school, my Dad would consistently warn me to "be careful" with alcohol, etc. because I have "the gene" and thus I'd be more susceptible to abuse it. I brushed it off and didn't think much of it. I didn't have my first drink until I was 19 years old, and I'm thankful to this day that I was able to experience a fully sober youth, as not many of the people I know can say the same.

I did the normal partying thing in college, drinking on weekends and partying with my friends. Never drugs though. At this point, drugs had still never crossed my mind and wasn't something I had any interest in at all. I still believe to this day that if I wasn't 'introduced' to my drug of choice by a bad influence 'friend' at the time, there's a good chance I'd be sober today.

I was given my first 30mg oxycontin pill when I was 22 years old, and I remember be hesitant and a bit scared even to try this, as I didn't like the idea of putting a substance into my body that would affect me beyond my control. So, I broke the thing up into quarters, and probably ingested 10mgs or so. After my first one, I was hooked (mentally). Due to the fact I was terrified of physical addiction, I only allowed myself to do the drug 2-4 times a week with days breaks in between so that I would be able to avoid withdrawal. No big deal, right? I wasn't addicted. Just enjoying myself.

Surprisingly, I was able to continue that tiny bit of self-control during my two-year usage. Each week, I would meet a dealer and spend $100s of dollars on pills for the week. I got up to doing 2-3 pills per sitting (at night usually on weekends), and was draining my bank account. I was mixing alcohol as well to potentate the affects, and as a result would fight with my long-term boyfriend/go crazy and regret it the next morning. Although my addiction was mostly mental, it was just as intense as someone who sticks a needle in their arm 3x a day, as I'm sure you understand. I would count down to the weekend or Thursdays, when I would be able to do the pills at night. I couldn't have fun without them. A weekend without opiates was miserable and I was completely bored and depressed.

However, I was able to successfully hide my addiction from nearly everyone in my life, as I didn't hang out with druggies (thankfully) and I was the last person anyone would expect would be addicted to drugs, as most people have a stereotypical picture of drug addicts in their heads (no job, grungy, breaks the law, etc), and I was far from it. No one knew. I was living a lie. My employer didn't know, my friends had no idea, family, none. No one would think an innocent, 20-something, sweet, friendly, successful tiny blonde girl would be taking pills. No way. I didn't even smoke cigarettes (and still don't), for Christ's sake!

One morning this past July, I woke up, after a night of taking the pills and collapsed onto the floor in a heap of shame. I wasn't happy. I couldn't do it anymore. A few of my friends had success with Suboxone (one on it long term, the other on it for 4-5 months and successfully tapered off). I remember when I first called my health insurance and explained what was going on and that I wanted to see someone about getting on suboxone, I cried. I was embarrassed, and I know they felt bad for me. But, at the same time, I felt this incredible sense of relief. I knew I had no choice. I needed to stop this before it completely took control of and ruined my life.

I started Suboxone toward the end of July, and have been on it since. I haven't done any counseling, although I probably should. I started at 8mg, and have since tapered to 4mgs. I hope to be off of this stuff sooner rather than later, but I would lie if I said I wasn't scared about what that will be like. I know I could be tapering faster, but it's difficult. Suboxone makes me feel more normal than I've ever felt. No cravings, focused on bettering my life and my career, and I'm happier than I've been in years. My boyfriend of 5 years and I recently bought a home together and I know I have the path of success and recovery laid out for me to lead to a bright future, I just need to take advantage of it.

90% of my fears of coming off suboxone are dealing with the mental aspect of it. I am terrified I will be depressed and unmotivated without it, due to the fact that my brain has been opiate dependent for a few years now. I've done research here and there, and forgive me because I'm no doctor like you, but I've read horror stories of people dealing with PAWS (post acute withdrawal symptom) after coming off suboxone, or any opiate. I'm worried I have trained my brain to not be able to produce the "happy/content" chemicals on it's own, without a substance, and that I won't feel like myself anymore. I won't lie, I've skipped a day of suboxone before and around the 48 hour mark I find myself 'craving' it (or drugs) until I take my dose. I'm afraid that after I'm off suboxone, I will be tempted to use opiates to fill the empty/depressed/bored feeling. The thought of that, going back to square one, utterly terrifies me.

From what I've read on suboxone (which is a decent amount), it seems that the one thing suboxone fails to do is fix the mental part of addiction or allow an addicts brain to heal in any way. Because of this fact, I almost feel like I'm "delaying the inevitable" by staying on suboxone longer. Even if I slowly taper down to an extremely low mg dose, my fear is that I will be bored, depressed, and unable to enjoy life without it.

If you have advice or words of wisdom I'd so very much appreciate it. I wish so badly you lived in my area so I could use you as my doctor. The doctor I see for suboxone is nice enough and means well, but it's clear he doesn't truly understand the deep, complex nature of addiction, especially the mental aspect.

I also wanted to thank you so much for doing what you do- uploading videos, creating this website, and being so open about your own struggles while at the same time being such a valuable source of information. If only all suboxone doctors/psychiatrists could be like you."

To anyone reading this who has gotten this far - Thank you! It means a lot. I'm pretty young/inexperienced with all of this still so again any outreach would be appreciated.

_________________
Crystal ❤

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge" - Psalm 91:4
–Robert Green Ingersoll


Last edited by crystal13 on Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:00 pm 
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Hi Crystal,

You're story sounds so much like many of us here, including me. I too, lived in fear of winding up just like my parents throughout my teenage years. I made the comment here not long ago that if someone had told me that I would wind up a full on opiate addict when I was 16 or 17 years old I would have laughed in their face. It just wasn't an option. Then I found pain pills, and my story is very close to the same as yours. I wound up on suboxone after loosing a battle to quit cold turkey several times and on the verge of loosing my husband and 3 kids. It saved my life...in more ways than one.

But, as you said, it's not a cure in the way we think of a cure. It treats my addiction very well as long as I stay on it. But, I know that if I ever decide to get off of it my addiction will still be there. Of course, we should use this time on suboxone to get some recovery under our belt. Get involved with some type of program so that we have the tools to avoid triggers and using once we are off. But the urge to use will not go away just because we were on suboxone for X amount of time.

According to Dr. Junig, and I agree with him, we have two choices if we want to stay sober. Take suboxone every day for the rest of our life, or work an intense program like AA/NA every day for the rest of our life. Those are the only two options if you are going to be successfull. You absolutely cannot expect to taper off suboxone and go back to living your life in the way you did before you became addicted. It just won't work. The relapse rate for opiate addicts is 95%. Some people will do well for years before they relapse. It's very easy to feel like you are doing well, let your guard down, and then get ambushed while you're not looking. I mean, think about it, 95%....I don't know of ANY other disease that has a relapse rate that high. As scary as cancer is, it's easier to beat than addiction.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't taper off suboxone at some point if that is what you feel you want to do. I'm only pointing out that it is a very viable option for you to choose to treat your addiction with suboxone for the rest of your life. If you do decide to taper, you MUST put some kind of recovery program in place of it. You said you "probably should" get some counseling...the fact is that if you choose to taper from suboxone it isn't an option. If you don't, you are setting yourself up for failure. Work a program, or stay on suboxone, these are our two options.

I hope I'm not coming across as condescending. I don't mean to. Honestly, I wish there was another way. I would give anything to be able to say I was better. That I'm no longer an addict. But I know it will never happen. I am what I am, and if I don't recognize that and treat it accordingly I will die. That's it.

You said you fear that you have trained your brain not to produce those "happy" chemicals on it's own. It's true...unfortunately that is exactly what we have done to ourselves by feeding it a steady dose of outside opiates for years at a time. You have read about PAWS and how long it can take for our brains to produce these chemicals on it's own again. It does take a long time, but eventually it will work again. Some people have a harder time than others, but Dr. J insists that it has no connection to the dose you were taking or the length of time you took subs. Each individual is different, and will heal at different rates. There are things you can do to jumpstart the healing, but mostly it just takes time. The point I'm trying to make here is that if you do plan on quitting subs you are not, "just delaying the inevitable". You have to take this time to get some valuable recovery and learn how to deal with life when you don't have the cushion of suboxone. Get a good, solid program in place before you attempt to jump. The way your body and mind heals will not be affected by staying on suboxone longer. The truth is, the longer you stay on it the longer you will have to prepare for life without it.

I'm sorry this response was so long...I just want to be sure you don't feel pressured to get off suboxone just because someone (even your doctor) tells you that's the way it is done. You have to advocate for yourself and be sure you are ready to live life on life's terms before you jump.

I'm not even sure if I answered the questions you really asked. :oops: If you need to know anything else maybe someone who isn't so long winded today will come along. :D

You sound so young and intelligent, I would really like to see you succeed and feel good about whatever choices you make.

Good luck!

Q

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No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:26 am 
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@qhorsegal2 (we need a tagging option here...haha) - Oh my Goodness. Your response made me cry. Thank you SO, so, so much. Thank you for reading and caring enough to give me some advice. This is exactly what I needed. I didn't realize that there was so many individuals like myself out there, and also people who are more experienced with this and so willing to help me and give me guidance. Again, thank you so, so much for your time. I look up to you. I hope you won't mind that I keep in contact with you from time to time or if I have questions. You seem so insightful, experienced, and such a wonderful source of wisdom.

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Crystal ❤

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge" - Psalm 91:4
–Robert Green Ingersoll


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:11 am 
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Crystal, Let me first say that you have been on suboxone wayyyy longer than me so you probably know way more than I do but after reading your story I just had to give my 2 cents..First and foremost the people here are hella smart and give awesome advice and Q is one of them so yah definitely take what she says into consideration...But I just wanted to say you are not alone in the fear of when quitting everything just being unmotivated and bored things like that I can tell you that I feel the EXACT SAME WAY anytime I think about having to quit suboxone..I too am completely freaked out over the PAWS thing I mean I have done heavy heavy drug use especially opiates for a ling long time in fact one of the things or problems I had when I first started sub treatment was like you said I almost felt normal and that in itself depressed the hell out of me almost like I was high so much and for so long feeling normal almost felt wrong in some way ( as if that makes any damn sense lol) but that's the best way I can describe it ...Anyway the point is you are not alone in your fear believe me ..good luck


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:23 am 
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Hey crystal :) I must say ur story definitely has some similarities. Oxycodone was my drug of choice and I too always thought...if not for that one person handing me that pill when I was in so much pain from a migraine I'd have been Ok. All these yrs later of course I realize I'm an addict so I'm always gonna keep the blame on me. I made it til I was 30 though before my addiction rampage started. I have been on subs for almost 3 yrs now and my life is so much better and I can't imagine coming off it, but unfortunately my Dr is not someone who practices leaving that up to me and has advised me its time to slowly taper. Well I was not happy, actually I tried to talk him out of it. Id tried rehabs, detox, cold turkey and nothing worked. I'm happy on this forever, like taking a blood pressure medicine, but he's the doctor so I'm pretty scared for what my future holds. Now I haven't gotten down very low yet but I know after 3 yrs my comfort zone is going to be shook. So I have the same worries u do about coming off subs. I worry I won't have motivation to even clean my house. I worry I'll be so down and sad that I'll turn into a hermit lol. I don't know what my future holds when the time comes but I'm scared. Welcome to the forum Crystal, there's such support and help here, you will love it. Plus it is so nice to talk with ppl who know exactly what ur feeling & been there.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:40 am 
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@Crystal, Thank you for your kind words, but I didn't do anything special here. We have MANY, MANY members who would have given the same/similar response to you if they had seen your post first. That's why I love this place so much! You are welcome to keep in touch though, if you like. Send me a PM anytime you want! :D

@Jenn and Always - I totally understand the fear you are all describing. That's one of the things that bothers me the most about sub treatment. Most doctors just aren't as knowledgeable about addiction as our Dr. J is. I hear that quite a few are coming around and starting to treat patients long-term, but it's going to take time to trickle down to the masses. I live with that fear as well. It's happened to me once already, and my taper/jump was a disaster. I know there is a percentage of people who get to the point that they are sick of the whole game and want off subs because THEY really want it. But, I think if everyone was completely honest there would be more people who admitted that they were only getting off because they were being forced to do so by a doctor or someone else in their circle of influence.

I really wish that one of these doctors who believes it's best to force addicts off their meds when they aren't ready would explain to me why they believe it's going to work. It makes NO sense to me, and I get angry when I think about it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:23 pm 
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I totally agree Q..I for one asked before I changed doctors and made sure I would have some say as to when and how a taper plan was developed...Just from what I have read it seems like the doctors seem to be a little more educated about suboxone and hope it will get better for all involved..But I feel HORRIBLE for people who live in smaller markets and don't have a ton of choices for doctors..In Oklahoma City there are actually quite a few options for treatment but I myself guarantee I will do whatever it takes and switch doctors a hundred times of I have to if the doctor I am seeing starts demanding I jump before I am ready ...It irritates me for addicts to be treated like we are stupid and don't know how we feel individually...Got news for them I KNOW EXACTLY HOW I FEEL AND WHETHER I CAN MAKE IT WITHOUT MEDICATION not them so lol don't get me started ...


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:16 am 
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Thanks a ton everyone for your kind words and advice. Love this board. <3

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Crystal ❤

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge" - Psalm 91:4
–Robert Green Ingersoll


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