Addiction Unseen
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Addiction Unseen

How I Self-Tapered off Methadone

Methadone was my Liquid Handcuffs

Every morning around 5 am, I would wake up in sweats. Feeling my knee and ankle pain creep deep into the depths of my bones.

I need to dose.

I’d ache as I moved to get up, pack the kids and load the vehicle, drive 20 minutes to the nearest clinic to wait in a line- a long line that would take forever to get to the dosing window. I could feel the dry sweats under my hoodie. I hoped I didn’t smell. But I the place smelled horrid, a mixture of all the patients dry sweats crammed into a tiny wait room with a line that reached out the door and down the wheel chair ramp.

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

We each had a number. Mine was 1843, meaning I was the 1843rd patient to enter this program. The lady in front of me: 12. Meaning she was the 12th patient every to join. She had been here 20 years. I looked around me. I had been here 18 months, 18 months too long. Most those that stood in this line, had been doing this for 5–15 years.

This was not the plan.

This was not the plan.

I kept repeating this to myself. The goal was to not be sick. To get in, get stable and get out. How had it already been 18 months? HOW?

Photo by Hennie Stander on Unsplash

The line moved another foot.

My addiction had begun when I met a boy. Yes, stupid me. A boy. I fell in love with a boy, while working three jobs and going to college. And then he introduced me to the needle.

Drastic. I know.

But whatever was in the needle, made all of my anxiety, my PTSD from childhood abuse, my worries, just fade away. I could feel happiness. I still continued to work, and even graduate college.

The Addiction

One day I woke up, realizing I needed this needle to function, to breath. I needed the drug like I needed air. There was no longer a feeling of high or calmness, but just to feel normal I had to get my fix.

One day before my internship, working for a surgeon, I remember shooting up in the bathroom to steady my hands. I was working as a surgical tech for my internship and could not go perform surgery with shaky hands. In this moment, I realized I had a problem.

I tried to stop. I screamed in pain sobbing on the bathroom floor. The boy came to my apartment, picking me up asking me what he could do. I had tried to break-up with him, but I couldn’t… he was the only one who I knew who could get me what I needed to feel better. I begged him for a chainsaw. Screamed that he didn’t love me as he refused. I just prayed I could saw my legs off to stop the agonizing pain. I had gone through all natural labor, and that did not even come close to comparing to this pain.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

“Baby, please a chainsaw, the kids scissors, I can’t I can’t do this any more.” My legs needed to go. I shivered and sweated. I couldn’t rest. Two days of moving from the toilet to a bucket to the cold floor to wrapped in blankets. My skin felt like hell fire, and yet I was cold.

How did I get here. I prayed to God. I cried and pleaded to give me relief. Just a five minutes. Please God. Please, hear me.

So this boy, introduced me to the clinic.

The Clinic

The plan was to go in, dose, get stable, and taper out. 18-months later… this had not happened. I had insurance, and the nurses always advised against a taper.

The line moved another foot.

It was time. I was not on this 20-year plan. Anger ignited inside of me. I was sick of feeling numb. I was sick of feeling chained to this clinic. I could not go camping. I couldn’t just go off on an adventure, because physically and mentally I was cuffed to a close proximity, scared I’d miss my dose in the morning.

Slowly but surely, over the next few months I tapered myself out- against all suggestions of the clinic. I realized I was just a check to them- a guaranteed check that they inflated their prices for, as my insurance would cover it. Every day, they would ask me to increase my dose, and I would not only refuse, but ask them to drop a milligram.

They never offered me counseling.

The “group counseling” was another way to meet addicts that traded their prescriptions, and I refused to attend.

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

The clinic was a trap. What most people don’t understand about Methadone, is that you can still get high while taking Methadone, as it is a fake opiate. Suboxone at least has Narcan in it so you cannot use an opiate while in treatment (unless you just don’t take your Suboxone). Taking an opiate while on Suboxone will cause you to go into precipitate withdrawals (way worse than normal withdrawals). Narcan is used to pull the opiates out of a patient that is overdosing, and as a blocker- that is what is in Suboxone. Methadone is a fake opiate, so you just need more heroin to get high, but nothing bad will occur.

What most people don’t understand about Methadone, is that you can still get high while taking Methadone, as it is a fake opiate.

Once I successfully tapered myself out of the clinic, they threatened to document in my medical chart that I was unsuccessful and went “AWOL”. I spoke with a head nurse, and she told me she would fix this, as I tapered myself successfully and after 2 days of no medicine, she said most of it was out of my system due to the half life and not to return.

AWOL.

Forever in my chart, red-flagged because THEY wanted my insurance check.

The taper, and the after methadone effects to come were painful. It took me 9-months of being off the medicine to feel normal again, physically and emotionally. Methadone numbs your senses. I had no sex-drive on it (and in my early 20s, I should have had a huge sex drive). Methadone numbed my emotions, so I had to learn to feel again. And my physical bone pain, years later, I still ache. My teeth- never one cavity. After tapering off Methadone, my teeth started to disintegrate; I’ve worked so hard to save them... but even years later, I just lost a back one.

Moving forward in life, I worked my way up through the ranks and became a Director at a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program within 5 years. The nurse, that corrected my chart and went to back with me, ended up being one of my coworkers and her, along with other MDs, DOs, and NPs, would seek advice from me with their harder clients. And this nurse- she too didn’t realize the evils of methadone, and cried when she saw me. I was the only one she’s ever met, to successfully taper and not return to either the clinic or using or, in many cases, appear in an obituary.

Life has come full circle.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

So to my readers that struggle with addiction, if you are looking for a Medication Assisted Program and want to live a life where you can maybe one day not need the medication, I beg of you to not choose Methadone. I have seen it work for some of the extremely high risk clients, but that’s because they have burnt every other bridge and avenue of help, and needed that high level of care.

Go to Detox.

Go to Rehab.

Go to Meetings.

Try.

And even when you fail, do not beat yourself up- but try again. It took me eight (8) attempts to quit smoking… and now I still vape. Find what it is inside you worth fighting for; many say you have to do it for you to reach sobriety. For me, I had to do it for my child; in the darkness of use, I didn’t care about me, it was my child that I fought for.. and that’s ok too. Whatever is your path to sobriety is okay, and I want you to know that. You’re doing it.

You just have to take those first steps.

Feel free to reach out to me at writerrae0101@gmail.com if you need support. You’re not alone.

These are my stories. Names have been changed for confidentiality.

-Rae Rae-

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Real life stories, feelings, and events surrounding addiction and one’s path to recovery. Alcohol, heroin, pills, sex, and the journey of strength. All writers welcome. Let’s hear your stories.

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RaeRae

RaeRae

Finding Sanity. Once a heroin addict, now writer & substance abuse/mental health worker. Twitter @writerrae0101

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