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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:19 pm 
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If I'm scattered in this post, I'm sorry. I feel as though I'm being pulled in several directions. I don't know what to do. I'm involved in a 12-step fellowship and I see the advantages of abstinence-based recovery programs. But, I don't want NA to be my entire life. I also don't want to disappoint my sponsor who has invested so much time, energy, care, and love in me. I don't want to disappoint my family either (who still think that I'm "strong" enough to do this recovery stuff). Also, I can see the benefits of being off Suboxone (which is what my doctor does anyway. He does not prescribe maintenance). I've been working towards that end and have been tapering off. So far, I've been able to get over the bouts of insanity that have come with the lower tapers. Craving has been an issue at times. But, I've slowly gotten down to 1mg/day.

I've read Dr. Junig's suggestion that 12-step recovery can (at best) be difficult for someone on Suboxone because such a person has not experienced the desperation necessary to make them willing to change their entire way of life. I'm afraid this is my problem. NA literature states (regarding the 2nd step): "The most obvious insanity of the disease of addiction is the obsession to use drugs...In this program, the first thing that we do is stop using drugs. At this point, we begin to feel the pain of living without drugs or anything to replace them. The pain forces us to seek a Power greater than ourselves that can relieve our obsession to use."

I know the obsession to use and Wednesday night, it was as loud as it ever was when I was using or trying to be abstinate. It's never totally left me. Even after working 7 steps, I still have a part of my brain that whispers to me that I will use again someday because it will never be quiet until I do. It bargains with me... one time, a week, maybe a month. It doesn't have to be a lifetime, a few pills, then maybe one script, that's all. There's always the Suboxone if the obsession renegs and demands more... which I know it will. That's what it's always done. But, when I feel desperate to use, the promise of relief, even if it's for just awhile, can be impossible to turn down. Wednesday reminded me of that fact. I'm scared and I'm confused. The steps don't seem to have done much for the obsession.

Today, my sponsor said to me, "A friend of mine has talked about getting high while reading the Bible. She was "saved" but was still a using drug addict. No thunderbolt came out of the sky and struck her straight. She had to demonstrate her faith by putting down the drug. Not until her will had been surrendered was she able to receive God's help.

Maybe that's it. Maybe the suboxone sets a limit on your faith. I've suspected that DRT does that, but I can't know for sure, not having been on it. I'm just bringing it up again as something for you to consider and pray on."

I have no idea what I want or need to do. I feel that I'm letting God down and everyone else too by not trusting a Higher Power to take away the obsession. I had hoped that my head would shut up if I stayed on the Suboxone long enough and kept working the steps. Now, I just feel like I'm failing.

I would appreciate reading anyone's experience with working a 12-step program while on Suboxone. If you want some of my background to offer specific advice for me, I've included it here:

I started using opiates in November 2008, which is a story all its own, but suffice it to say that, after the first use, I was totally hooked and within two months, I went from 15mg/day hydro to 100-120mg/day of oxy. A church-attending, wife, and mother of three, every single time that I stole pills, filled illegal scripts, lied to get scripts of my own, etc., I knew that I was doing something wrong. I didn't want to live that way. But, I couldn't stop because the obsession to use was far too great to stop. With one hand, I was eating or crushing pills to snort while with the other hand, I was typing on recovery forums or dialing the phone to find a way to stop. What part of me didn't want to stop, wanted to want to stop. But, I needed to have the obsession taken from me because I couldn't stop as long as it was there.

It's not very easy to keep up with a 120mg/day habit without turning to the street. It's even harder when you're wanting more because it's not getting you high. I still had my job, still had a family that didn't know what was going on, still had my reputation, my house, my car, my spot-free police record. I just didn't have my mind or my soul anymore. And, my health was deteriorating. I quickly grew tired of puking out the car door.

When I first tried to quit, I tried without my family knowing. I tried to taper but couldn't. I knew that cold turkey would result in me caving. So, I went to a Suboxone doctor. I figured that I'd do the 90-day taper plan (which he had advertised). I looked forward to the obsession going away. As many of you may be able to guess, the 90-day taper plan landed me right back on oxy, even though I was attending IOP and 12-step meetings. A few more months of using left me with no pills and two choices -- turn to the street and all the risks that entails for my family or get clean. While using, I kept going to 12-step meetings, kept hoping that something would click and help me to change.

I took the suggestion and got rigorously honest (almost). I told my family, told my doctors, and informed the pharmacies (didn't tell my employer). I detoxed at home on a long weekend and then spent the next ten days going out of my ever-lovin' mind. I thought that the days would lessen the obsession. That's not what happened. I stumbled on some pills and used for a few days and welcomed the relief. I quit for a day, used again, didn't use, used again, etc. This went on until I quit again for almost two weeks but STILL the obsession wouldn't go away. Day after day after day after day, I hoped for improvement. The only relief that I got was when I was able to sleep or when I was hurting myself to distract. That's when I went on Suboxone for the second time, different doctor. That was almost 18 months ago. I have 7 months "clean" in that I relapsed on alcohol a couple of times and on Ultram around the time of my foot surgery.

That's my background in brief. The amount of time that I used opiates wasn't long. I thought that fact should make my recovery fairly straight-forward, easier than for most. I've had years of being a person of faith, of not desiring to get high as I had always wanted when I was younger. Yet, not even that fact has given me any advantage. Despite the many bumps in the road, my sponsor has kept me moving forward with the steps.

Now I'm just lost and confused. The thought of going off Suboxone scares me. The thought that I don't have enough faith to let God lift the obsession disappoints me. Honestly, the dilemma makes me want to escape it all.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:49 pm 
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Wow, Christin...just wow....I've been reading a lot of your posts, but was at such a loss for words I couldn't reply. You're having such a hard damn time with this stuff and I didn't know what to say. Probably still don't know what to say, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Christin, I was raised a Christian and lost my faith when I was young, but re-gained it well over a decade ago. I don't go to church, but I have a personal relationship with God. I, too, prayed and prayed as to when would the madness stop, help make it stop. Similar story to yours in that I wanted to quit my OC's so bad, but couldn't even come close. Oct. 2007 I found out about suboxone, started on it Oct 29/2007. What a huge change in my life. For the first time in what seemed like forever I was functioning as a normal person. I got in with a great addiction counselor who helped me see all my idiosyncrasies. Through learning about my addiction and addiction in general it gave me understanding as to what the hell was going on.

My personal desire was to not have to take suboxone for life. I talked to God about this regulary and just asked Him to help me as only He knew best. Because I had a doctor who I believed was not going to force me to quit, I was able to be completely patient with the process of recovery. I had been taking sub for almost three years when this past summer I knew it was my time to quit. I didn't hear some big booming voice from heaven, no otherworldy apparitions came to visit me....I just knew, without a doubt, that it was time.

I don't believe God is going to come down and rescue you, I don't think He works like that. I do believe that he will present you with the opportunities and people to help you move forward. They're not always obvious, that's where faith comes in. I know you believe in God, but do you Believe God? That's right, do you Believe God?

I have to say if I were you I would be finding a doctor who believes in sub maintenance because you just don't sound like you're ready to quit or taper any lower....if anything you need to be on a higher dose. Christin, it took me three years to get my head straight about drugs and addiction. It might take you 500 years, it might be another 5 minutes....my point is I would stay on a 'proper' dose of suboxone until you know you are ready.

You are not alone in how you feel. You are not alone in the dumb things you have done. You are not alone in desperately wanting to quit feeling the way you do. You are not alone period.

I honestly hope you can get your sub dose back up to where it belongs and then I hope you have the patience to let yourself heal at your own pace.

P.S---stop worrying about disappointing your sponsor and your family. You need to worry about Christin and what is best for Christin!!

AND ORT doesn't limit your faith....you do. Please, please remember we all come to and through recovery in our own way!! Just because your friend got religion at 1pm today doesn't mean you did too.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:44 pm 
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christin - Wow, you are really tied up in knots right now & that must feel so awful. I hope that you will be able to find some clarity on your situation soon.

When reading your post the thought that came to me regarding God removing your obsession to use was this: If you had some other possibly deadly disease - say, cancer - would you expect God to remove the cancer from your body? Maybe you would pray for that kind of miracle, but you would probably also seek treatment from a doctor: surgery, chemotherapy, whatever was recommended, right?

Addiction, especially opiate addiction, is a very serious illness. It is a relapsing illness and it progresses in a very predictable way and can easily end in death by overdose. Even if it doesn't kill you, it will certainly destroy your quality of life.

I wonder, have you considered that the reemergence of your cravings and obsession to get high as you've tapered down your Suboxone dose is a pretty clear message from God that you are not ready? Maybe God's plan for you involves staying on ORT for a while longer while you do the hard, HARD work of learning what your triggers are and how to handle them and becoming emotionally and mentally healthy.

NA and other 12-step programs have helped a lot of people and for many recovering addicts they are the only game in town as they are free and community based. Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of 12 step recovery groups, their success rate is abysmally low. For the people that they work for, they really work. For the rest of us, not so much.

Fortunately, the understanding of the disease of addiction has come a LONG way since the 12 steps were developed. New treatments are being developed and tested all the time and "best practices" for treating addiction are constantly revised and updated. There are promising treatments like CBT and DBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical-behavioral therapy), Family Systems Therapy, and medication based therapies that are helping those of us who the 12 steps just didn't work for.

I highly recommend checking out the SMART recovery website for information and tools on how to cope with urges. SMART is based on REBT, rational-emotive behavioral therapy. Rather than framing the issue of cravings, urges and obsession to use as something that we are powerless over and must give over to a higher power, SMART provides lessons, tools, worksheets, essays and techniques that empower developing and strengthening our ability to resist urges. It is possible to retrain your mind - our brains are more plastic than what was assumed in the past - but like anything it takes work and practice.

Like you, I didn't use for very long, but it still took me the better part of two years to feel ready to come off of Suboxone. And during that two years I worked my ass off fixing what was broken in every area of my life. Like Romeo, I KNEW when I was ready to stop taking Sub and as I tapered I became more and more sure that I was doing the right thing.

I wish you the best in figuring out what is right for you. I'm so sorry that your doctor doesn't do long-term Suboxone treatment. Have you talked with him about what's going on with you? It seems insane to me that he would continue to push you off your medication when you are so overwhelmed. Maybe he will see the light, or maybe you will have to find another doctor - whatever happens we are here for you.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:33 pm 
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christen, ( I'm treading lightly for a while, kind of got reprimanded yesterday for taking the side of AA and God when I had finally had enough of this forum user bashing them ) maybe your not" keeping it simple stupid " ( AA abbreviation, KISS ) your doing a lot of thinking about this shit !!!! Try to do something to keep your mind off this stuff... In fact you HAVE to do things to keep your mind off opiates... An idol mind is the DEVILS workshop !!!!!!! Suboxone makes it so easy to live one day at a time, maybe you have some mild depression issues, I know I do.. I found a phyciatrist to help me, you sound like a great person, sorry your having all these problems, I know things will be a little better tomorrow, Mike


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:15 pm 
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Sorry for posting twice. christen, after rereading your post, you seem to question whether your powerless or not over opiates....( paragraph 3 ).... Some people spend a year getting a grip on the 1st step, we always said if " your not a drug addict your studying hard to be one, and chances are you will be one soon " an addict is powerless.. If you or I went back out there we would not be happy, I promise you , you would not be happy... 3 or 5 days ago a poster named setmefee posted a real long story about this very thing, try to find it, read it.... she's smart, your smart and so am I


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:12 pm 
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Thank you for all the in-depth replies. I am very touched. I had a fairly extensive thank you composed with comments and everything. But, I've lost it. The little circle-thing appeared and wiped it out. So, I guess I will let this rest at a simple thank you for now.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:29 pm 
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sullimi wrote:
Sorry for posting twice. christen, after rereading your post, you seem to question whether your powerless or not over opiates....( paragraph 3 ).... Some people spend a year getting a grip on the 1st step, we always said if " your not a drug addict your studying hard to be one, and chances are you will be one soon " an addict is powerless.. If you or I went back out there we would not be happy, I promise you , you would not be happy... 3 or 5 days ago a poster named setmefee posted a real long story about this very thing, try to find it, read it.... she's smart, your smart and so am I
I thought that I was going to leave things at a simple "thank you" but I got your second post. So, I guess that I'm not, at least not quite yet.

I've told my sponsor that I fear that I haven't grasped "powerlessness" because I assume that another run would just land me on Suboxone again. My "smartness" tells me that's playing with fire and I know how quickly the "good times" end (trust me, NONE of my good was all good. From the beginning, I HATED what I was doing, even when I loved it).

I'm replying because I wanted to let you know that I already have read and posted on setmefree's post. As we all know, our sane thinking knows that using is the most stupid, self-destructive, wrong thing to do. Regardless, I read of a relapse and I'm jealous. My head latches right onto it, wanting what the other person had... drug-wise of course, not the pain, the shame, the disappointment, the frustration, the panic, the self-loathing, the sickness, the disappointment, etc., etc., etc. that I KNOW comes with a relapse. I hate arguing with my own head! I know that there are people (I assume like you) who GET this. My sponsor is one of them. I want to GET it too. That's why I'm so disturbed by Wednesday night.

Have you ever read the story of the jaywalker in the Big Book, sullimi? It's a great story, one that I understood immediately because that's the part of my brain that's insane. As long as it's kept quiet enough, I do okay. Maybe it doesn't ever shut up completely because I'm not doing everything that I'm supposed to be doing. I'm not sure. That's why I've started this thread.

Let's see if this post disappears too. :?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:26 pm 
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Hi Christin - I really relate to you in a lot of ways. Like you, I kept things looking really good on the outside - church going wife and mother, house, job, kids, clean police record, the whold nine yards. In a lot of ways I think this makes our recovery harder, because when the voices start saying, "you're not an addict" you have a lot of outside stuff (and people) who would agree.
If I'm not mistaken, you are the person who once posted that you're sponser told you that being on Sub somehow "blocks" your relationship with God. I think this is at the heart of your current struggles. I went through traditional recovery in NA several years ago and I know some of the viewpoints are pretty hardcore on what constitutes "being clean". In the NA worldview, drugs are considered idols, something you put before God, or that you put your faith in instead of in God. For myself, I feel that there is truth to that. However, I don't and I can't put Suboxone in that category. If Suboxone is the tool that is keeping me away from the drugs I abused, then I have to accept that it is medicine I need to take. Maybe in some sense I do see it as a "crutch", but if I have to lean on something in order to stay away from drug abuse that always gets progressively worse, with worsening consequences, then so be it.

I'm really concerned for you because you have a strong obsession to use. I honestly think that a higher dose of Sub would be to your benefit. Many people, including myself, have relapsed at very low doses of Sub, or shortly after going off Sub. Being told that taking Sub somehow blocks your relationship with God or cripples your spirituality is not only untrue, but dangerous. I knew a minister, a young woman, a while back who was on a narcotic pump because she was dying of cancer. Did she somehow lose her relationship with God because she was on the meds? I don't think so. Just as I don't think being on Sub has to affect your faith. It's the place you give something in your life that determines it's meaning. I have to look at sub as a medication I take, like taking an anti-depressant. Maybe I won't need to be on it forever, but I need to right now. And it sounds like you do, too. Don't let well meaning people put you in harm's way. Find another doctor if you have to, another sponsor or group or whatever it takes. Just don't pick up drugs. It NEVER get's any better.
blessings,
Lilly


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:01 pm 
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Hi, Christin. I have been in and out of AA for over 31yrs and owe my life to it. When I first started, I hadn't begun drinking alcoholically, but it was available and I went. I learned quickly not to discuss my various "other drug" use and never had much problem speaking about addiction in general terms. I have gone to NA over the years but never found what I needed in that fellowship, even though my DOCs weren't alcohol.

IMO, working the steps and being a member of a fellowship are essential to maintaining recovery. Unfortunately, we need to learn to keep our medical issues to ourselves. No one would consider discussing their blood pressure with a sponsor or in a discussion, but for some reason a lot of newbies feel they must tell everyone about being on ORT. This opens them up to a lot of abuse at times. It has always helped me to realize that such abuse stems from personal opinions rather than any fault of the program. Attitudes are slow to change, and many seem to feel that the way *they* got sober is the *only* way. We all need to develop a bit of toughness about facing the inevitable stigma and abuse that we are likely to experience, and to take what we need from the fellowship....while leaving the rest behind!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:23 pm 
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Moman, I need to respond to something you said. You stated, IMO, working the steps and being a member of a fellowship are essential to maintaining recovery.

Are you saying that if a person is NOT a member of a fellowship and does NOT work the steps that they cannot maintain recovery? There are many people, myself included, who are very healthy and stable in their/our recovery who do not utilize any 12-step programs.

You also said, "...many seem to feel that the way *they* got sober is the *only* way". But aren't you doing/saying the very same thing by stating that working the steps and being part of a fellowship (your way) are ESSENTIAL to recovery?

NA/AA is simply not for everyone. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all. To the people who are helped by 12-step programs I say, GOOD! More power to you. But it doesn't fit with everyone's life or beliefs and I believe it's important to respect others' ways of staying in healthy recovery.

I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I felt the need to respond.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:58 am 
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I've been hesitant to give an update because what I'm doing, I don't totally understand. I suspect that I do it for some sense of control during times when I feel threatened or in need of controlling. Or maybe I do it to punish myself. I don't know. What I'm doing is taking a fraction of my Suboxone (anywhere from .25-.5 mg a day), just enough so that I can function. I've done reductions like this in the past when faced with similar dilemmas.

Monday morning, I woke in a puddle, but after sleeping fairly well. I'm not quite sure that I can call the thrashing of last night sleep, until I finally relented and took a bit more Sub around 5am. I recall hearing my husband get up to shower at 5:45. But, I think that I fell asleep some time between then and getting up at 6:30.

I know that this isn't "healthy" recovery and that I'm just proving how messed up my thinking is. But, it's what I do to deal with the confusion and the conflicting emotions inside me. I know that I put myself at risk for relapse. But amazingly, when I feel shut-down like this, I don't crave, even as low as my dose is. That said, I have relapsed in the past when doing this. But, I had a supply of pills nearby. That's never been the case in any subsequent "episode" (for lack of a better word). In fact, a couple of times, the shutdown eventually resulted in a lower dose overall.

I don't know where this behavior is leading me. I don't plan to do it. I just do it. I wish that I didn't feel like such a failure. I wish that I could, as has been suggested, "think about Christin" and not disappointing everyone else. But, my head doesn't work that way. Just like it's not okay for Christin not to be okay. Don't get me wrong. I have no one to blame but myself. I'm the one who can't stand the idea of others seeing me as not being stable. I'm the one who can't stand the thought of looking inside me to find something of worth instead of looking to others, even though the latter requires a lot of work, jumping through hoops, and routinely feeling not up to par. I'm the one who has lost the faith that I once had, so that I get in the way, even though I do Believe God.

I've gone to counselors but don't stick with counseling. It feels like a waste of my family's money because I don't get anywhere. My patterns of thinking and how I feel are so entrenched that it seems impossible to change. I don't have the faith that I need in myself to change. Maybe that's what it really is. I can be a total failure and waste of space as long as I'm doing something to keep that secret from everyone else. It's not that I don't know that I have worth merely because God chose to create me. I know things like this. But, there's a whole lifetime of things that stand between knowing and feeling.

This tangent was not my intention. I apologize. I'll close.

Before I do, another thing on the "Suboxone stand-off." There's something to be said of controlling how lousy I feel. I hurt only as much as I allow myself to hurt. Then, I pop a crumb under my tongue. It's not much different from when I've used excessive amounts of Tylenol to stave a desire to use. There's something about consuming something in amounts that are potentially harmful, odd as it may seem, that can help take the edge off when I want to use. I don't always feel compelled to down a bunch of Tylenol. I think that it depends upon why I want to use. I use to numb, to make the world feel right, to make me feel good, to hurt myself, and because, sometimes, it feels like it's the one thing that is really me.

See what I mean? I'm pretty messed up inside this head. It's just not possible to keep everything else in life running as it should and try to fix what's inside of me.

I fear that I may have typed too much.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:27 am 
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Good morning, Christin,

First of all, you never have to apologize for "typing too much". Make your posts as long as you need them to be! That's what the forum is for, to help us get through these challenges. So, write, type, vent, bitch, moan and whatever else you need to do.

I'm not going to address your faith issues, as I'm an atheist, but I did want to reply to you about counseling/therapy. I hear you that you've had no success with it in the past. It's my opinion that you probably haven't found the "right" therapist. I've been in and out of therapy for the last 25+ years and have been with my current therapist for over 6 years. And I agree that when you are working with someone who's not right for you, it can feel like a waste of time and money. But once you find the right one that's the right fit for you, you will be amazed at how much it can help you. Those entrenched thought processes CAN be changed. And I believe finding the right therapist can definitely help you to do that. So my unsolicited advice would be to keep looking for the therapist that's just right for you. It will be worth the time you put into it.

And please stop being so hard on yourself. You are not a failure. So many of us have struggled with taking suboxone at times when we feel we "need" it. Try to be patient with yourself and keep at it. Looking back to how truly fucked up I was in the past, I can honestly say that if I could change all of my messed up thinking, anyone can. I went from a miserable, angry, insecure person to someone who is now confident, strong, and happy.

Hang in there and remember, post as often as you need to. We're here to help you if we can.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:28 pm 
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Christin,

I have many times found my faith to be the strongest right after it was at it's weakest!

I am so glad to hear you Believe God, not just believe in God. When I first heard the phrase Believe God it was like a smack in the face for me....I believed in God, but Believe God really shook me to my foundation.

Please consider seeing a counselor, it helped me tremendously. Maybe your preacher would be a good place to start if you're uncomfortable with a counselor.

Hang in there!


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