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 Post subject: Opium?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:04 pm 
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Opium? What the hell is it really? For years it was nothing more than word that came up in drug pop culture. Why did I need to know anything about that word anyway? Cheech & Chong were synonymous with smoking pot. Tony Montana was associated with cocaine. Heroin was something skid-row bums shot-up; I didn't have to worry about that one because I'm not a skid-row bum, right? I live in a nice conservative southern neighborhood and I've never had a problem with drugs.

By the time I graduated college in 1991, I had partied hard just like any average student. I drank, did drugs: smoked pot, snorted coke on rare occasions. I even had an opportunity to do mushrooms but chickened out. I'm not into getting sick with head spins and that kind of thing, I'm pretty much of a light weight. Occasionally I would drink too much and get the bad hangover. Or, come home for the weekend and join an intimate group of friends who could score coke. Smoking dope is not a problem. In fact drugs have never been a problem for me. When I entered the post graduation era of my life the party lifestyle of college was phasing out and my professional life became a priority. The extent of my drug use after college can be characterized by the occasional drinking on the weekends and at social events plus the very rare event - when it was a holiday or something - some pot or cocaine was available. All my employers drug test. Never mind the fact that I wasn't a drug addict. I could take it or leave it; I've been around plenty of drugs and I have always had a genuine respect for their potential for harm.

Summer 2003: I'm a construction industry professional, drug free. I ride bicycles and motorcycles, keep in good shape. Smoking pot is an occasional risk for fear of failing a random drug test and losing my job but my wife and I use it sparingly to enhance our sex life. I am two years out of recovering from shoulder surgery. My active lifestyle (mountain biking) has taken its toll in the form of repeated shoulder dislocations. The physical therapy was successful because I followed Dr. Andrew's advice (He's Famous, the day of my operation I was in the same OR with John Smolz). I was prescribed Lortab for the few months of recovery and PT rehab. I took it as directed, prior to showing up for PT, and I had no problems. I remember the brief period following the conclusion of PT when the prescription expired and I had some discomfort/cravings for my pain medicine. I weathered this like a champ; I was healthy, in good shape! I'm an avid cook. I prefer wine with my food and I don't tolerate being hung-over the next day because I like to feel good and recreate.

Fall 2003: At 39 years old, I begin a new endeavor as an independent contractor. I begin having some serious stress and pressure associated with owning my own business. My best friend, with whom I'v done drugs all my life, offers me some relief. He tells me that Oxycontin is like pharmaceutical grade heroin, that all you have to do is crush it up and snort it. "You'll be floatin' on a cloud of titties...Its an Opiate" I remember being too scared to try it because of all the hype in the media about how dangerous the drug is. I was told that kids, young people, were overdosing on it in high school. Well that figures. Just don't overdo-it, right? Right! Same approach I've always had. Be careful and respect the drug. So I bought some 20s; they were expensive as hell. I sat in his office and we crushed one up and snorted it. I wasn't impressed because I was comparing it to the rush of cocaine, but I have always liked having powder up my nose so the familiarity stuck. Ten milligrams of OC in my sinuses gave me a mild, mellow feeling that I was initially disappointed with. But nevertheless, I had a pocket full of 20s, and I could powder my nose without getting wired, for a little while. There was really no harm in doing that "painkiller" as far as I could see. I didn't do it every day. I could have some after dinner. After all, it was only a harmless simple pleasure. I was really oblivious to what I was getting into: Opium. So I continued for a couple of months and I got into a cycle of work related stress and neglecting my recreational life, you know, riding the bike, staying in shape, having fun. There was a void, and when I was down, I simply crushed one up. Money was not a problem for me, yet.

December 6, 2003: I'm at the SEC championship game in Atlanta. The holiday season is approaching, work is slowing down as well and the occasion is festive and such a relief from work that I don't need any OC. My wife and I go to game day bar functions to meet friends and do the typical football Saturday partying. Game time approaches and I'm starting to feel a little tired and sluggish. We go to the game and my condition gets even worse. I am really tired and fatigued, got a headache! I don't get headaches, ever! This is the first memory I have of suspecting that I may have a dependency on OC because the first thing I wanted was a line, just about 10mgs, thats all. The game ends. We won (WDE!). My wife and I are beat and we head back to the hotel to crash after a long day of college football. I got into the room and all I wanted was for her to go to the bathroom so I could do a line. She took a shower. That was the best line of Oxycontin I've ever had in my life.

The rest is history.

Today, I have been on Suboxone for three years. I can honestly say that it saved my life - of desperate drug dependency - and made me functional again. I am currently trying to taper off of a point two milligrams per day, dose of liquified Suboxone (that I can barely fucking taste). I am struggling even as we speak: sneezing, wheezing, GI weak, fatigue, no motivation, depression, etc, etc, etc.

One thing I can never agree with is the constant insistence by all doctors that I need to go to meetings, or I need treatment, meetings, twelve steps, or whatever. Thank you very much for your concern, but I'm fine...except that I would like to wake up tomorrow morning and not be sick.

Now I know what Opium is.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:12 pm 
Thank you for sharing your story. That was an excellent post. I swear - opiates are the chemical equivalent of Satan! So sneaky and evil and out to undo us all!
I am sorry you fell victim to this dread disease. But it sure sounds like you've made good progress over the last few years. Apparently tapering and discontinuing Suboxone goes pretty smoothly for some and is tougher for others. You've gotten yourself down to such a small dose. I'm sure it must be frustrating to want to be done and have to struggle so much to get off such a tiny amount.
I'm sure you've heard it all before, but just in case....Are you doing everything you can to get your natural endorphins flowing? Strenuous exercise, running or biking. Are you pushing yourself to do things that generally make you feel good...laugh with friends, funny movies, plenty of sex, whatever? I know you don't like 12 step stuff, but what about taking care of your spiritual life...church, prayer, meditation? And what about your nutritional status...good diet, supplements, etc?
I can't speak for myself because I have a long way to go as I've only been on Sub for 4 months, but these are things I've learned are important for any type of detox, PAWS.
Have you tried skipping a day with your dose? Some people I've heard do better with tapering that way.
I wish I had the answer for you but all I can do is just encourage you and I'm happy to do that much!
Please remind yourself of how far you have come and all you have accomplished when you start feeling down about not being able to get off this stuff. You can do it. Just hang in there and be patient. As bad as you may feel right now it can't compare to how bad it feels to live in active addiction.


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 Post subject: Collateral Damage
PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:30 pm 
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Another sad part of my story is that there remain two other victims. We all started this together, got hooked together, DT'ed together, relapsed together, purchased together. Hell, "they" were the ones who discovered the doctor that eventually took me in! Yet they are brothers, in business together, share the same office and only one of them has any intention to get treatment. They don't even use their Suboxone as prescribed anymore because they still do ox. They are hopelessly interlocked in this cycle of quitting and relapsing. I have out paced them in my own recovery simply because I don't have the same environment they do. When they look at me, I can detect a little jealousy of my progress, even though they tell me I look good.

One of them is detoxing as we speak. It won't last, sadly. Their family gave up on them after one failed stint at Betty Ford. Hell, we even used to talk about how fortunate we were that we could even afford to get help while many others struggled to even find hope.
They are two of the brightest, accomplished professionals I know....
its just sad.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:16 pm 
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Horrible story.......Mine is very similar.

I started out strong and now, I'd fit in the catagory of your two buddies.....Making another run at it now as i'm about 3 weeks on sub with many obstacles ahead.....

Addicts/Junkies are usually the smartest/brightest/talented/creative people on the planet....(You got to be something to keep a habit going!)...With that said, can't stop now, right?


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Fond Du Lac Psychiatry
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, M.D., Ph.D.

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