Guest Article - Janes Story
Posted by Jane on 9th Jan 2016
My Journey from Addiction to Freedom
People who have never been addicted to opiates have a hard time understanding just how powerful the addiction is.
It is easy for people to say, just quit, just suck it up and go through the withdrawals, you can do it. But if you haven’t been sick, you don’t know just how hard it is, especially if you know that all you have to do is take some more pills, or go find some heroin. You can try again tomorrow.
My opiate addiction started as a prescription for severe, chronic abdominal pain due to Crohn’s disease. I took it for some time, not really realizing that I had a problem.
It was frustrating, because taking the pills everyday had side effects, and messed with my mood, making me angry and depressed. My agitation got so bad they prescribed me anti-depressants and benzodiazepines to help me mellow out.
Over time, I realized that the pills weren’t working as good as they should be. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me to just start taking more. Maybe not wait as long between doses, or take one and a half, then two.
And then I started running out of my prescription before the month was up. This was a problem, because I soon realized that when I went too long without taking my pills, I started getting sick. I usually didn’t wait that long, though, because long before that happened I would experience a total panic attack, and would start searching for ways to get more. I knew plenty of people who had pills they would give me or sell me. Heck, both my parents were on prescription opiates, so I could go raid their pills, or I could buy some from friends.
If need be, I could always go to the hospital and tell them I was in pain. I found myself having to go to the emergency room at least a couple times a month.
I feel like they knew I was “med seeking” but they never asked me if I needed help, they just seemed to be satisfied to get me out of there as soon as they could.
This went on for a couple of years. It strained my relationship with my family and friends, and took away all my motivation for life. I couldn’t keep a job and I felt miserable. I spent all my time either trying to stay loaded and keep from getting sick, or watching stupid reality television.
Then, I couldn’t find any pills, I couldn’t get to the hospital and I knew that I was going to get sick if I couldn’t get something. The only thing I could find was heroin, so I did that. It was something I thought I would never do, but here I was.
My boyfriend and some family members found out after I had done it a few times, and completely shunned me, because they looked down on heroin users, even though they themselves abused opiates. How ironic, and common, I have found.
Eventually, I got arrested. After I bailed out I just kept using, even forgetting to show up at my court date. Things dragged out and I got worse. Eventually, I got sentenced to a treatment facility.
Like so many others, this arrest probably saved my life. I detoxed in jail, which is no fun, but at least I couldn’t manipulate my way out of it.
I went to treatment and learned that many people had the same story as me, and it was such a relief to know that I wasn’t in this alone. I think this is part of what keeps people out there, is thinking that no one is feeling the same as you, or doing the same things that you are doing.
At first it is hard to get up every day and live life without something in your system. I stopped taking benzos, too. Luckily I wasn’t dependent on them, but they definitely helped me stay numb to what was going on in my life.
My counselors were there for me every day, round the clock. I had a ton of meltdowns those first few weeks, but I got through them.
I have made a ton of friends in recovery and my life is fun and exciting again. I don’t just sit in front of the television feeling bad about my life, I go out and do things.
I still struggle with chronic pain, Crohn’s disease will always be a part of my life. Fortunately there is help out there for that, and lots of support from others who suffer from the same thing. I just take things one day at a time.
Today, I have one year clean and I am truly grateful. I am living a full life free from opiates and everything else. I am looking forward to my life and my future and helping others who are on the same path as me.