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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:51 pm 
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Location: Wisconsin
Greetings Everyone:

While I used to pretty much hang out here an hour or more each day, that has not been the case for a while now. Some of the veterans may remember me. If you look at the number of posts I've made over the years it will confirm I have been pretty involved here in the past. Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to dedicate the same amount of to stop by anymore and honestly, life has so much returned to normal that my need to stop by is just not what it used to be. Make no mistake, I'll be addicted to opiates for the rest of my life. I'm not cured by any means but I most certainly am in very solid remission.

I wanted to post to try to give everyone reading some hope that your life really can return to normal again and Bup can very certainly help make that happen - so much so that you won't even really think much about it anymore.

You can find more about my history and story here. If you already know this story, skip to the update section below. If you don't read anything else, at least read the "Here's the point" at the end.

Otherwise in a nutshell, I became addicted to opiates nearly 25 years ago. Amazingly enough I did not become physically dependent for over the first 12 years, using a single 5 mg oxycodone or hydrocodone less than once a week. For me it started after adult tonsil removal. A switch got flipped. Before or after, I rarely if ever drank. Never tried any other drugs, not even ever smoking a single cigarette much less a joint. I have no interest in any other drugs and never did until the pain of surgery required oxy and then it was on. It's the same now. I have zero interest in any of that.

I was very, very much a functioning addict - right up until I wasn't anymore. Once a week eventually became twice a week, then every other day, then every day, then, well you know the rest. Tolerance went up as it always does but even at my peak I rarely topped 60 mg/day. I never purchased on the street, never scammed doctors, none of that. Having very elderly grandparents living at home whom I took care of became my source. When they passed away and withdraws hit hard, I turned to the healthcare provider service I managed and "borrowed" morphine, fentanyl and more. No one had a clue - no one. On top of it I was very well known within the industry I worked including as the executive director of a state association for that industry. My name was well known. So was my face, appearing in a monthly industry magazine column.

A car crash brought it all to an end. A friend wanted to clean my house for me so it would be ready when I was released from the hospital. Upon entering she found used syringes and more. I was finally found out, confronted and admitted it. On the day I was released from the hospital after the car crash, I was terminated from my executive director position and placed on suspension from the healthcare organization I used to administer. I entered an in-patient detox on my own a few days later and was started on Suboxone. The date was October 22, 2009. Five days later as I was being released from detox, a search warrant was served on my home along with one at the place I was executive director. How could my life get any worse? I was fired from my job, suspended from my patient care work, and would eventually face criminal charges.

In hindsight it certainly could have gotten worse before it got better for me. I didn't lose my house, my family, my life savings - just as some do. Still, at the point I was at, it really could only get better - and it most certainly did and has.

UPDATE: I recently celebrated 5 years of sobriety without a single slip. In the several months leading up to the date I thought I might make a bigger deal of it. In the end, it just passed like any other day. I have returned to working for the organization that had fired me and have been for three years already - although only as a consultant and only part-time - all on my choice. I'm currently down to 1 mg of Bup/day and honestly feel as good if not better than I ever did on 16 mg. I have no more cravings at 1 mg than at 16. I'm less tired as well. Beyond that, I feel as normal as I ever have. Bup has never made me high - in the least. It takes care of cravings and keeps me out of withdraw. I will say I have to be more careful with my dosing as there is no room for error at this low dose.

I've been on a long, slow taper for nearly a year now. My Bup doctor seems to have learned a lot right along with me. Years ago he was somewhat pushing me to stop, saying that 2 or 3 years should be more than enough and I don't really need it anymore. He also said 2 mg is plenty low before dropping. He now knows better and six months ago suggested that perhaps stopping is not a good idea after all as he now knows of the huge relapse for many who stop. I do give him credit for changing his mind based on evidence and pretty much admitting as much to me.

I'm not sure what I'll ultimately do. I feel I have the best of all worlds like this. I'm on a very, very small dose so if I need surgery or pain medication, I likely can easily get it with appropriate pain medication doses. I'm still kept safe from using, have no cravings, and have my life back. Four appointments a year, a half dozen or so drug tests and 5 strips or tabs a month is all I need at this point. The cost of Bup alone has gone from nearly $500/month to about $35/month. Pretty small price to pay for added protection.

HERE'S THE POINT: The point I want to get across is your life can return to normal. I was just as addicted as you. I injected my veins and ruined many of them. I stole meds from family members. I suffered criminal charges. Yet here I am five years later with my life very much back to normal. Do I still "work a program?" Well I guess, sort of. I don't do meetings. I do help several others. I do some speaking on addiction and may be doing more. I still read a lot about addiction and such. Mostly I just take my morning medication - one for hypertension, one for high cholesterol and one for addiction. They all seem to be doing their job just fine. I no longer do counseling and haven't for nearly four years now. I even stayed longer than the councilors wanted - finally saying "look, there is not much more we can help you with at this point." I know full well I can never take opiates again - at least not on my own. I've been lucky enough not to need them for pain in the last five years either. Amazing how well other medications actually work.

You can do it too! You really can. It has not been easy but it can be done. Most everyone trusts me again. My life is actually better than it was back then. It's great not having to wonder where the next dose is coming from. It's great having nothing to hide. I don't at all like how I got here but I'm very glad I'm here. Bup will work for you as long as you do your part. Even 1 mg does it's job for me - so much so that my 5 year sobriety date pretty much passed without me even remembering it. Isn't that how it should be?

Don


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:42 pm 
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Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us, Don! It's a great thing that you don't feel the need to be on the forum every day, even though it means that we don't get to hear from you as often. It sounds like you were a great candidate for maintenance medication.

People need these kinds of stories with a light at the end of the tunnel!

Amy

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:54 pm
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Great update, and great "here's the point". Like you, I've been amazed at how quickly life is getting back to pretty much normal. I've still got plenty of work to do, that's for sure, but like you said, it's great not having to wonder and worry where and how I'll get my next dose. "Will today be the day I'm busted?" Etc etc, so in that respect, and the fact that I'm not experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms, I feel like I did before opioids took over my life, and nearly ended it.
It's good to hear a success story like yours, and very important for a newcomer to read as well, so they can know that one can live a happy, healthy, normal and productive, fulfilling life while in recovery with buprenorphine. Thank you for sharing with us. And congratulations on 5 years! Best of luck, whether you decide to maintain or continue your taper. If you choose the latter, please let us know how it goes.

Elizabeth


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