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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 12:43 pm 
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I was a college student at University of California, Santa Barbara when I became addicted to opiates. I was studying pharmacy and biology, and was in my second year of school when I began using hydrocodone (Norcos) heavily and regularly. I had already been using cocaine and ecstasy frequently, and smoking pot daily, and had experimented with almost every type of psychoactive drug around - including opiates, which always held a special place in my heart, ever since the first time I popped a Percocet at age 16.

I already had plenty of experience using drugs to excess, especially amphetamines in the form of Adderall, and cocaine. As soon as I had the opportunity to begin buying large amounts of opiates regularly, I took it. The addiction crept up on me almost imperceptibly - I went for months and months, taking 200-300 mg hydrocodone daily, before the day came when my supply ran dry and I got a little taste of whet it felt like to be dopesick. I remember that day very well - I had suddenly been forced to accept the gravity of my situation. I remember being terrified at the realization that I was a full-blown addict and that this wasn't going to be easy to stop. I couldn't believe how terrible I felt.

Naturally, my schoolwork had taken a backseat as my drug addiction progressed, and I had been regularly failing and repeating classes. I was always a very good student and my family and friends started wondering what was going on with me. Meanwhile, my cocaine addiction had steadily progressed and I got to the point where I was snorting around a gram a day while maintaining a 30-a-day Norco habit, and had begun taking 50-60 mg diazepam to get me to sleep at night and accentuate the opiate buzz.

After a few more months of this, I decided to make my first attempt at getting off the opiates, and I flew home to the East Coast and found a doctor in my area (south shore of Boston) who prescribed Suboxone. I was lucky to find a doctor who was kind and receptive to my needs. Although the Suboxone worked wonders, I felt a lot of anxiety and depression (probably just because I had been suppressing these emotions with opiates for so long) and eventually had my doctor write me a prescription to Xanax, 3 mg (1 mg t.i.d).

For several months, I went through a period of solid recovery, where I held down a job, stayed away from all illegal drugs, except marijuana, which I still smoked daily. Everything was going well and I began to improve my relationship with my family. However, I made the mistake of going back to California to continue with my schoolwork. I was doing coke 30 minutes after I got off the plane. I was hanging around with the same friends, and could not break out of the niche I had built for myself. People still knew they could come to me to get the drugs they wanted, and I liked the power that brought.

I quickly got myself back into a serious cocaine habit, and began abusing my benzo scripts (went from Xanax to Klonopin to Ativan and finally to Valium) and selling/trading my Suboxone for other drugs. I used OxyContin, and experimented with heroin. I took my first few shots of black tar heroin, although I still didn't like the idea of injecting drugs. I smoked crystal methamphetamine. It wasn't long before I was back at home trying to kick all these habits again. I should mention that through all this I was still taking Suboxone, and was being dishonest with my provider, who had no idea I was abusing the benzos or cocaine. The problem with Suboxone, for me, was that I was basically not committed to really changing my lifestyle, and used it more as a crutch to keep away the dopesickness. It kept the withdrawals at bay while I chased other highs, like crystal meth and cocaine. It also sold for $15-20 a pill, which helped support my various habits.

I went home and went to a couple detoxes to get off the benzos and the suboxone, and managed to stay relatively sober for a few months. When I say relatively sober, I mean that I was fucking miserable, was seeing 3 different doctors and milking every weird downer I could get out of them, and eating them by the fistful. I ate ungodly amounts of gabapentin, pregabalin, zopiclone, in an attempt to feel a little bit better. I began drinking like a fool, and got myself arrested, blacked out drunk, twice within a month.

Essentially, the three months I spent away from opiates and benzos was the absolute worst time of my life. Every day was its own hell, filled with unbearable anxiety, crippling depression, and attempts to get high on strange psych meds. Eventually, I found a connection for high-quality heroin and cocaine, and jumped back into my old lifestyle whole-heartedly. Almost overnight, I began injecting heroin and cocaine regularly. I learned how to use a needle and became just as addicted to the process of intravenous use as to the drugs themselves.

Within a couple months, I was injecting around a gram of heroin, good east coast stuff, every day, on top of the cocaine I would mix with my shots. When I couldn't get dope, it was morphine sulphate, hydromorphone, or oxycodone. Predictably my life got really shitty really quick. My sister found my heroin and my needles after 2-3 months, and my parents shipped me back to detox, where they recommended a rehab that focused entirely on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Of course, I was strongly opposed to going to any place like this, as I thought that AA/NA was for weak people who were incapable of summoning the willpower to stop using drugs and instead prayed to God to help them.

However, when I got there I began to gain respect for what these people were doing. I realized that it was all about taking a new perspective on life, a perspective that allowed me to realize how selfish and dishonest I had been for 3 years. I realized how much harm I had inflicted on my loving family, friends, and various girlfriends. Although I had trouble with the idea of praying for help and guidance from a God that I had never understood or respected, I was willing to admit that nothing else had worked for me, and it was this desperation that helped me keep an open mind.

After about two weeks of terrible withdrawals, god-awful withdrawals (still not as bad as benzos + suboxone), I began to feel better, and after about a month of honest sobriety, and honest work with the 12 steps, I began to feel different. The overwhelming obsession with intoxication that had absolutely ruled my life for so long seemed to lift. I learned to deal with my emotions and to understand my feelings instead of obliterating them with a shot of dope.

It has been a month since I left this rehab, and I am now living in a sober house in Burlington, VT, where I am constantly surrounded with an atmosphere of recovery and sobriety, and where continued 12-step worked is strongly encouraged. I go to an AA/CA meeting almost every day, and I am still working on my 4th-step inventory. I can honestly say that I do not suffer from an obsession to get high any longer. I feel good, I feel healthy, and I can live a normal life. I still think about getting high, but the thought is not forced into action by an overwhelming impulse, like it was before.

I am sorry for the length of this post, but I feel like I am finally beginning to get my head above water, after years of struggling with this addiction. I honestly never thought that I would be able to overcome this problem, and had assumed that I would spend the rest of my life on Suboxone and tranquilizers. I think that Suboxone is a very useful tool for many people. I want to warn people not to fall into the same trap that I did - thinking that Suboxone by itself was a cure for addiction. I continued getting high while taking Suboxone and did not take my sobriety seriously. THis of course was completely my fault, the result of a lack of foresight and a lack of understanding the seriousness of my addiction issues.

Suboxone can help people live a normal life and help them be capable of focusing on their recovery. Opiate addiction is different than other addictions, and is so incredibly powerful that people may feel they need maintenance therapy for a long period of time. Although I don't think this is the optimal long-term solution, I think that once people get their lives back in order, and achieve a degree of normality and regularity, I think they can put some effort and thought into a spiritual recovery. Who am I, however, to tell anyone what is best for them? If you can live a better life taking Suboxone (and you no doubt can if you are truly addicted to opiates), then why not take it?

I think Suboxone is an excellent tool for opiate addicts, and their physicians, especially when used alongside cognitive-behavioral therapy, stepwork form the book of Alcoholics Anonymous (and a sponsor to guide you through this process), and possibly AA meetings. Obviously it can be abused, and providers can be abused - I took advantage of the trust of my provider and continued to get high and abuse meds. I wish that physicians weren't limited to only taking a small number of patients onboard, and I wish that more people were aware of the potential benefits of Suboxone maintenance.

I also want to say I appreciate the insight I find in the blog (SuboxoneTalkZone). Not only is the doctor who posts there realistic in his approach to opiate addiction and recovery, but he has experienced addiction himself - in my opinion this is of the utmost importance it helping someone get better. Without an understanding of the nature and insanity of addiction, it is difficult to empathize and help someone overcome this problem.

I also find comfort in the fact that someone with such an understanding of addiction medicine and such experience treating opiate addicts has found some comfort and validity in the 12 steps of AA. I often find that physicians are polarized in their opinions regarding addiction medicine - some take the "medical" approach, usually liberal with maintenance meds and anxiolytics, while some seem to insist upon spiritual recovery and other therapy as the only means to sobriety. I think that the best approach is a realistic balance between the two depending on the needs of the patient.

I am early into my 12-step work and have not had the "spiritual experience" that is promised but I can already feel a tangible lifting of the obsession that kept me coming back to opiates for more. I feel like I am free enough to begin to make things right with the people I have hurt. I have a new perspective on my drug addiction and on my life and it feels great.

I know how incredibly difficult it is to break this addiction and I empathize with everyone out there struggling through it. I am sure that if I don't keep up with the recovery work, I will likely slip into the same habits, so I have to work at it every day. Again, sorry for the length, but I have a lot to say about this subject as it has been such an enormous part of my life.

Peace everyone, and good luck.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:23 am 
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I know this post is from back in 2009 but I just found it. 2009!!! Damn I wish it were still 2009. That was before I took my first ever pain pill. I knew from the very beginning I was going to be addicted to them!! Like people always say. If only I could go back and know everything I know now!!! I was given oxycodone for pain after I had Gastric Bypass Surgery. I weigh 215lbs now but back then I weighed 425lbs!!! Anyways I started out taking them as prescribed, ah but then I thought to myself, if one works good for pain 2 or 3 at a time would be excellent!' When I first took 3 at one time. Oh my! I swear I actually saw God and was conversing with him. LOL. After that it was fucking on!! Have been addicted to opiates since. It has screwed up my life so badly. I had a great job making good money at the University of Oregon for 19 years. When I didn't have Oxys to make me happy and give me energy I wouldn't go to work. I finally missed so many days of work that they gave me the option of quitting for medical reasons or get fired. I should've let them fire me! I quit and got no damned unemployment. I really don't remember where I was going with this post? LOL See don't mess with opiates screws up your memory! Don't know why I had to wait late in life to become a drug addict? I'm 53yo now! Damn I'm old!!!!!! Never even thought about taking drugs or drinking or anything when I was younger. If anyone reading this is on the early stages of opiate addiction, please listen to those of us that have been going through it for a long time. I finally figured out the fact that I actually have to want to quit to be able to beat this shit!! I never really wanted to quit until now!!! Suboxone is a great medication I was on 300 mg a day oxycodone addiction. I wasted thousands of dollars on the shit!!! Even sold my truck to get money to buy pills!!! The cravings are slowly subsiding. Had a very bad craving day on Monday. Anyone else ever have dreams of their drug of choice? I sure the hell do! It's not gonna happen overnight. You have to be very patient! I have never been a patient person. I want what I want and I want it right now!! Be careful of the suboxone also. They can be addicting also! Anyways I'm sure this post makes sense to no one but me and I apologize!! Good luck everyone!!!! Ken Nunnemaker 4-4-17


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:57 am 
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Ken, the difference between the oxy and the suboxone is that you are addicted to the former and dependent on the latter. You don't mention what dose you are on, but I'm wondering if it's enough if you are still feeling cravings. When I started on 16mg of suboxone, my withdrawals were gone and my cravings were gone within a few hours. I haven't had any cravings since!

Anyway, welcome to the forum!

Amy

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:25 am 
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Hi Ken, Welcome! Your story and mine have some similarities! I too got hooked on opiates after gastric bypass surgery. All I did was switch addictions! I just wanted that feeling of two glasses of wine! After gastric bypass, I could not drink. Well, I could but I would drink three or four sips of wine, feel buzzed for ten minutes and it was over. I could then keep drinking and feel no effect at all. Plus, all those empty calories....enter pain meds! I was using percocet while having dental work done and really started to enjoy the percs. I went through a period of withdrawl and thought never again! I was prescribed tramadol for osteoarthritis in my knees and you know where that went. It was easy to find tramadol online so I was taking more and more. By the time they changed the classification of tramadol in August of 2014, I was popping 40 50mgs tabs a day. That is when I found myself in need of suboxone. I think that part of my problem was that I was experiencing depression related to menopause and the trams lifted that darkness. Suboxone helped me threefold! Depression, pain, and addiction. I was prescribed 24mgs and have weaned myself down to 4mgs. So, that is my story! Please, stick around and continue to share! There are wonderful people here who will only support you on your continued recovery journey! Enjoy your day!


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