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 Post subject: Time For An Update
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:48 pm 
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Well, since I just blew past my two year anniversary on this wild wild ride I’ve been on, I thought perhaps I should stop in for an update. I'm guessing some, perhaps many, of you have no idea who in the hell I am. Those who have been here for a while likely know. Some are saying, "hey, DonH is back!" While a few others will likely say "Oh no, not that ass-hat again." LOL. Yeah, I am pretty opinionated and very much speak my mind. I used to post here daily. In fact I see I am still near the top ten in terms of the number of posts made on the board (currently over 600). After the drama here seemed to keep coming (25%) and I started to get really busy and frankly it was just time to move on (75%) I got out of the habit of posting and reading on a regular basis. I did stop back for a few weeks after one of the moderators reached out to me and said that the drama was done and over. Unfortunately, within a few days, the same fights (with the same people) were still underway and I just took off again.

So where have I been? Well just pretty much living life. Certainly no relapse to report or anything of the kind. In fact, I just passed my two year sobriety date a few weeks back on October 22 - having been opiate-free (other than Suboxone) for two solid years - without a single relapse - not even a "tiny" one. While that is pretty cool, the rest of it... well... let's just say some things never seem to end. I am currently on 6mg/day and slowly moving toward weaning off. I started off at 16 mg then down to 12 then 8 and now 6. The drops were really pretty easy and I have to tell you I don't feel any different on 6mg than I did on 16 - other than I have a lot more money in my pocket!

I was a volunteer firefighter/paramedic and also the CEO of a support organization for EMTs, paramedics and ambulance services. I was also addicted to opiates. When my grandmother, who was my source and didn't ever use the massive amounts of opiates she was prescribed, broke her hip and went to a nursing home (thus cutting off my supply) I made the huge mistake of "borrowing" some morphine and fentanyl from the ambulance service I ran in order to remove the horrid withdrawals I was in. It's a long story from there - one you can search the boards and read about if you would like to - but after getting in a car accident, some empty vials of fentanyl were found in my house and everything sort of fell apart from there. For a variety of reasons my case went federal. Had it stayed as a county/state type of thing, it may have turned out differently. They could not get me for possession as I had nothing in my possession (I had used it all). So it was obtaining a controlled substance by fraud that I would be charged with. I was told over and over again that I would receive probation - by my attorney, hell even by the probation officer that I was assigned to while awaiting sentencing. The sentence guidelines even called for probation. That was right up until the judge decided to throw in a little twist. On June 9, he gave me 4 years of probation and a $500 fine. But he was not done there. Oh no, he decided to throw in 90 days of something called "Intermittent Confinement". I guess it's a little known, little used tactic within the Federal system. So little known and used that my attorney, my probation agent and pretty much everyone since had never heard of it. After about a month I was told that on October 27 I was to report to a halfway house in the largest city in the state I live in. Typically people coming out of prison are sent to these "residential" type places "halfway" between prison and going home. Slowly, I started to find out a little bit more - but only on my own. Otherwise, it has gone like this: "Will I be allowed to wear green underwear?" PROBATION AGENT: "You'll have to ask the halfway house people about that" HALFWAY HOUSE: "You'll have to ask your probation agent about that." BOTH TOGETHER: "We'll have to call and ask someone else about that." And so it has gone with pretty much every question I've asked, including "Will I be allowed to take Suboxone while I am there?"

Since that's likely what many people are wondering, the answer, at least for me, is YES. In fact they don't seem to care, some don't seem to know what it even is… whatever. I arrived last week Thursday afternoon, gave them my new, full, monthly supply of Suboxone, which they proceeded to leave on a desk in plain view of everyone (although it would be really hard to read the label from a distance) but still... they finally put it in the medicine locker four hours later. I then just go to the desk and ask for it pretty much whenever I would want to. They don't watch me take it, don't monitor it - nothing. Just hand the bottle to me and say “sign here.” Again, it's a huge non-issue - pretty much the same as asking for an aspirin for a headache - or my Lipitor for my cholesterol.

The rest of it has been a huge experience. I was released to go get a parking sticker for my car to park on the street at night in the "big city". Was sent for a simple medical screening including a TB test. Was released to work both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon (I play sax in several different bands). And am now released from 9AM-7PM everyday to work in my home business - I have been self employed, working out of my home, pretty much my entire life. I get to take off this weekend to play three days out of state. So more or less I just sleep there, eat there, etc. But of course, nothing is ever easy. Sometime on Saturday night between getting back at midnight and leaving at noon someone stole $85 from my wallet. I had someone come to me yesterday and say "Hey man, I really need your help, will you help me?" And I'm thinking, Oh Lord, what now? Bring him some drugs? Sneak him something in or out? My mind raced. "I need to fill out some important papers and I can't read and don't write real well. Will you help me do it? I really, really need your help." Holy shit, this is clearly going to be a life experience. He’s 27, never held a job and can’t read or write.

So I'm sort of in jail, but not really. I also learned that fact very quickly after hearing some of the others talk. They have all been in prison for many, many years. This, to them, is like already being free - while to me it is total hell/crap. I guess it is all perspective. Oh, and then there is this little gem... I have to pay $$$ to go to "jail". Oh yeah, you read that right. I have to give them 25% of my gross income as something called "sustenance." I'm like, WTF???? I have to pay you to be in jail? The answer to this one came quick and clear, "no, you don't have to go to work and earn money. You can sit here all day, all night, all weekend and not pay us a cent. But if you want to leave and work, we get 25% of it." So much for my $500 "Fine" that will now quadruple (or more). Then they tell me, that maybe in a month I'll be able to go back home and do "home confinement". That's the typical drill there. Get out, get a job then go home. Again, with me, it's all different and no one knows the answer as of yet. I already got the “ask the halfway house people”, “ask the PO”, “ask someone else” answer and am still waiting. They are still working on that one. And oh yes, they still get the 25% even if I come home. It's all about the money.

I'm trying to sit on my anger but it is really getting thin at this point. This has been going on for two years now and I am so done with all of this. On the one hand, I am told "You have an illness like diabetes." I am told "This is a disease and you have to treat it like one." On the other hand I am told that I am a criminal... that I am now a Felon! I never sold anything – including drugs, I never withheld anything from patients, I never stole anything (I even paid for the meds myself by never seeking reimbursement). Most people, thankfully, are never charged for “drug diversion in the workplace.” They often just lose their job – which I did as well. There are many nurses and doctors on this board, Dr. Junig included, that did the exact same thing that I did, but never faced any criminal charges. Those who do, are very often given something called a deferred prosecution. I was first told this might be a possibility for me - prior to it going Federal. What they do is charge you, watch you for a couple years and if you stay clean and do not do anything else, they dismiss the charges and you have no criminal record. Keep in mind, I have never had so much as a traffic ticket - hell not even a parking ticket. I have a spotless, clean record. I volunteered for my community, right alongside law enforcement, as a firefighter/paramedic for over 20 years. Anyhow, those who don't get deferred, often get a misdemeanor and at most a couple years of probation. Me on the other hand, get it all. The fact that I turned myself in, went to rehab, have stayed sober for 2 years, etc. evidently does not matter. Had it been state, I might have even gotten a pardon to clear my record. It really would have been possible. But Federal? Like the President of the United States if going to pardon my tiny little conviction? Doubtful. So even though I will get through all of this, even though one day it will all be behind me, I will very likely die a felon.

So there you have it. How's that for a helluva update? Clearly the USA is completely at odds with what drug addiction really is. Parts of America want drug addiction to be a medical disease just like diabetes. Other parts of America want drug addiction to be a moral choice, and in someway on par with child abuse. I didn't go looking for this. I don't drink, I have never tried any other drugs. Had it not have been for surgery, I never would have gotten down this path with opiates. I didn't even go looking for them - they found me. It doesn't matter – to some I have made a moral choice; I made the DECISION to be a drug addict.

If nothing else, all of this will be able to be added to my book, or included in my speaking seminars in the future. You gotta admit it does make for a "sexier" story. For now, I'm sort of sleeping nights away at "camp". I'm on a list for a private room and should be in by myself (rather than with two roommates) within a few weeks. No bars, no armed guards, no razor wire fences. Just an old building with 25 "apartments" housing about 20 men and 4 women, and one 48-year-old white guy - clearly I am a fish out of water.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:24 pm 
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Hello Don!

I can't tell you how glad I am to see your update and to know that you are (relatively) ok. I didn't realize that you'd split due to life/drama on the forum and I'd been thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. I guess I could have sent you a PM - I'll think of that next time for sure.

Dude, your situation truly sounds profoundly unjust. I don't know why they threw the book at you, and maybe you never will either, but I'm glad that you're dealing with it as best you can. Reading through your update the one thing that came up for me was that I hope you are not fostering resentment about your situation. Not too much anyway.

I have had some crappy crap happen in my life lately (my landlord tried to evict me and he lost but I still have to move for example) and I know how easy it can be to slide into a mindset that is unhealthy, especially for an addict. I don't have much adivce around this except to just watch out for it and try to adjust your thinking as well as you can. I try to stay philisophical about it and find whatever tiny silver lining I can - which you already seem to be doing by looking forward to having a good story to tell someday. And hey, at least you're literate! (That poor bastard - how does that even happen?)

Congrats on maintaining your recovery while navigating this current crop of bullshit. Please know that you have been missed - by more members than just me, I know. We have promoted a couple of new moderators (Breezy Ann and Tearj3rker) and hopefully that will help keep forum-drama to a minimum, so maybe you'll hang around a bit more often. I can't tell you how many times I've read something and been sitting at the keyboard trying to formulate a reply, thinking to myself: Where the heck is don when I really need him. You have a way of just cutting through the crap and telling it like it is without being mean that I aspire to cultivate in myself. I hope that quality serves you well in you life offline as well (by my experience it creates as many problems as it solves, but isn't that the way it is with all superpowers? :P )

For the record, I'm still hanging in here with 2 years and 3 months opiate and suboxone free (over 4 years in recovery alltogether). Thank you for being one of the people who has helped me along the way.

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You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

-Jack Kornfield


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:06 pm 
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Hi, donh, and congratulations on two years. YAY!!

That was one insane story to read and, boy, my heart just goes out to you. I remember you but never knew exactly what you were going through over the past 2+ years. I think DOAQ's recommendation to not harbor resentment is important. However, I am absolutely harboring resentment for you because the severity of the punishment you've received is absolutely ridiculous and unfair. Plus, we taxpayers are supposed to pay to punish people who really deserve/need to be punished. It makes me mad when we spend our money punishing people like you. I encourage you to fight the good fight, because your story is compelling and you don't deserve to be labeled a 'felon'.

You are so right on with the double message we get about addiction. It is a disease, just not treated like one.

laddertipper

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First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:27 pm 
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DON! It's so great to "see" you again! Wow, what an update. I cannot believe the unfair deal you got. You're right, most people would have gotten a deferred sentence or just probation. Your judge must have been in some mood that day. Sounds like we all need to do a write-in campaign to President Obama!

I'm proud of the way you're handling things. It's normal to be angry, but it doesn't sound like you're letting the anger control you. Keep expressing the it and it won't fester. I know I'd be super pissed off. It's like Diary was saying about resentment.

I really do hope you stick around a bit more. Hang in there and keep making the best of it as much as possible. And good luck with that book. :)

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 Post subject: Update
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:18 pm 
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Donh

How great to see an update from you. I know that I was probably some of the cause for the drama you speak about.... but we are addicts and we learn from our own behavior. Actually the thing I liked about you was that it was ok for be to be a jerk sometimes when I was suffering and if I was in your spot right now I am not sure I could react like you are.

I have seen several people in AA doing really well and then all of sudden something from their past comes up and they end up in jail. I can't believe what happended to you.......I always used to say if I was arressted for some of the things others have told me including family that I would go to prison not get drug court, or probation like they did. I knew I would go to prison for a long time.

Politics of course sometimes comes into play as my grandfather built the fire department in my town where I grew up and what goes for one doesn't always go for the other's. At least you get your sub.......that I am glad for or this could be a really bad time in your life.

Each year seems to go by fast........I almost have 3 yrs on suboxone..........my hope is those 90 days go fast for you. At least you get to leave and I know you hate to pay that money but I would pay if I could get out of there.........Remember when you get out.....people will be watching even closer and that's when your recovery needs to be at it's best. Don;t let those resentments get the better of you..........

I know you feel like a fish out of water. But you know just as I do ......we all deserve some kind of punishment for the things we did in active addiction.......do it and get it over with and then you will know you are right with God, the courts and everyone.

I know I was part of that drama you experienced........there was reasons and some day I will talk about them......in the meantime......take your subs,,,,,,say your prayers and get the hell out of there with no issues.

Good Luck......Donh


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:01 pm 
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Thanks for the responses everyone. My post was so long as it was, I didn't want to keep on going and going. Still, I do want to make sure I clarify at least a few things that I said - and then either was questioned or referenced by others in their replies.

First, I didn't stop reading and posting here ONLY because of "drama". That's why I put the percentiles in there as well. Honestly 75% of the reason is I just don't have nearly as much time (although I do again now - LOL) to keep up with it everyday. I had been asked multiple times to become a moderator but I just didn't think I had the time to properly devote to it. Plus, all of my life, I have always been the one in charge (or one of the ones in charge). I run my own business, ran the fire department, ran the organization I was CEO of, ran the band I played in, on and on. These days I just want to be one of the participants and not one of the leaders. Plus, as I continue my transition back to some of the work I did for years prior to becoming CEO of the state organization - where I had all of my eggs in one basket - I continue to get more and new clients in addition to repeat business and I just don't have the time. The remaining 25% was some of the BS going on.

In addition to that, while I'll always be a drug addict, at some point you have to bring the intensity back down and live life. At least I think you do. I just can't make my addiction the everyday focus of my life. I feel that my recovery is on very solid ground - and my handlers agree. I don't ever think about drugs, never have cravings, no urge to drink or start some other addiction. Now make no mistake, I'm sure that the Suboxone still is playing a big role in all of this. As I continue to wean off, I will likely have to re-double my efforts again for a while. But as of right now, I'm in a great place with no current danger whatsoever of a relapse. Even with everything going on these days, I have no current worry of relapse.

As to the anger thing... um, yeah, I'm certainly there. I have just about hit my wall. I have bent over backwards to do what is right. I have immersed myself in my recovery, I have made amends to those I may have harmed, I have done anything and everything that has been asked of me. I honestly feel I have been somewhat of a model for recovery. Yet, I don't seem to get a break with any of that. I have never failed a drug test, I have never missed an appointment, I have never been caught doing anything I'm not supposed to be, on and on. Yet, I get treated the same as the guy who fails his tests, doesn't show up, loses his medication, etc. Then this court BULLSHIT. I didn't even mention the drug courts that are popping up more and more these days (that would have been much more appropriate for me) - but yeah, a drug court is yet another example of what could have or should have happened.

I have no problem taking responsibly for what I have done and have continued to do so throughout all of this. I did what I did, but let's treat it as such, shall we? Give me the average punishment that others who have done what I have done get. Unfortunately, that is not what has happened here. I can give you examples of convicted drug DEALERS who have done no time! DEALERS!!!!! I had personal use. I never sold or even gave away any drugs. I never stole from people or organizations. So at the end of it all, I'm tagged with a felony, I lose my job, I lose my paramedic license (or didn't renew it), I lost my position and legacy with the fire department, I lost my pilot's license (at least for now), I had to hire an attorney, I had to pay for rehab, I had to pay a fine, I have to do drug testing on a regular basis, I have to report to a probation agent. When is enough, enough? Do I get any credit for what I have done? Hell no, I get to do this BS 90-day thing. So, yeah, I guess if I really drill down, it's little more than staying in a low-class hotel every night. I mean that really is about what it is. I leave at 9 AM and return at 7 AM, then repeat it the next day, then gone the entire weekend. So, yeah, it's not really jail and I get that. But still, C'mon. How does any of this help to rehab me? If anything, is this not putting me at risk of relapse? I certainly didn't "get away with anything" in all of this. I just want to be treated like the others. Put me in the middle, in the average. Those who were never charged got off much lighter than me - and good for them. I really have no issue with that. I really don't. I have issue with those who have done far worse things than I have done and get far lighter consequences, or those that did exactly what I did and didn't get nearly what I have. That's where my beef is. And again, I've hit my breaking point. I'm done playing nice. Now, everyone that is currently involved (my handlers) are sort of bending over backwards for me and so I do the same for them. I have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear. I am an open book. I'm not doing anything wrong so check me over top to bottom - I have nothing to hide.

I just heard this story about a guy who did a ten year sentence for a crime he didn't commit. The child who helped to convict him recanted his story after this guy did his ten years. TEN YEARS behind bars for a crime he never did. The state gave him $25,000 for his "trouble." I can only imagine how angry he must be. At least I'm not at that point. Yeah, it could most certainly be worse. Still, enough is enough. I'm not just going to roll over and continue to take it. Honestly, part of me wanting to get out there and tell my story is all that has happened. I'll get to name names. I'll get to tell my story. I'll get to relay exactly what happened and how people reacted. And then I'll let the chips fall where they may. I'll let the audience decide. Again, I have little fear that anyone will say "Wow, he really got off light". Not going to happen. The guy who railroaded me out of my CEO job, who was also the best man at my wedding 12 years ago, has been fired and thrown out himself. They finally saw through him. Then they called me and asked if I'd come back to work again - not to my old position - but to help their now sinking ship. It took 18 months but that one has come home to roost. Most of the people at the fire department have been supportive all along. A few have not. Now, at least two of them have been turned on by the rest as word leaked out of their actions. When people find out the whole truth, they at least are seeing it for what it is. I don't at all take pride in the fact that both of these organizations are now really struggling. I honestly don't. I want them to thrive. Although, it is interesting how far both have fallen since I am out of the equation - along with the teams I had assembled at both places who quickly started to abandoned ship. I had both places on very, very, very strong financial and operational footing. Both have now had to take out loans to avoid default and be able to pay their bills. Both have lost most of their staff, have lost income, have lost clients, etc. Amazing.

I don't want to stay angry. I honestly don't - and don't think that I will. Although, it's a necessary step on the way to acceptance. In fact, I'm being told by some that I should have been much more angry sooner. I just was not because I figured I played a huge part in all of this and had no one to be angry with other than myself. I always wanted to take responsibility and not blame others. I now have two years behind me and have beaten the 50% to 90% relapse rate that is often quoted. Enough is enough. It’s time to move on. I’ve paid my debt.

I guess the best part of all of this, is I am now a clean slate. I have nothing that I have to hide - like I hid my addiction for so many years. I have nothing else to fear. I am ever closer to having all of this behind me. Still not sure what I'll do with the rest of my life, but that's a far bigger question than this post. I honestly will try to stop back here more often. I am pretty sure I'll be able to do that for the next 90 days, or, err, ummmm, next 84 days, LOL. After that I'll be starting my final taper off of Sub and I'll likely be here through that as well. Thanks again for your replies and comments. It's great to see that at least some of the familiar names are still here. Hopefully there are a few more still lurking around!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:26 pm 
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Hi Donh, I had posted to you earlier and when I came back it had double posted, so I erased one and both disappeared. To summarize, I wanted to welcome you back! I joined after you left but have read a lot of your past posts and found them very informative. I am sorry you are going thru this, it seems that the judge decided to make an example of you for whatever reason.

Thanks for sharing your story as it will help others to see the consequences they could face should they continue down the path of addiction. You have a very healthy attitude about this and I sincerely hope this passes quickly. Congratulations on 2 years clean!


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