I’m hoping that writing this down will help drive the kind of change in mindset that I desperately need. I have been addicted to hydrocodone-based prescription painkillers for close to ten years. I blew my right knee out when I was a teenager, and my left one in my late twenties. By my mid-thirties, I had had fiver operations on the right and one on the left (both ACLs replaced). Because the injury to my right knee is so severe, I am in constant pain from it, and will never be free of it until I get a total knee replacement. This is ten years out at least – the doctors say I’m too young to get one, as I’ll wear the joint out too quickly.
I’ve read through many posts on this site, and I relate so much to so many of them, it’s such a big help. I haven’t read about anyone who was exactly like me though. I get 160 10/325 hydro from my doctor a month. I typically go through these in seven days. I get another 290 pills from the street (5/500s, 7.5/750s and some 10/325s) and go through those rapidly too. I have always refused to take any opiate other than hydro, so I usually end up with about a week a month with no meds, and go through withdrawal just about every month as a consequence (always kicking myself and filled with guilt that I couldn’t manage to make the huge piles of pills I take last a little longer). I do a pretty good job of tapering. And I swear five hour energy must have been developed to handle opiate withdrawal ☺ After my week in purgatory, my tolerance is down a tad, and I go right back into the cycle. I am in such dry spell now, and for the first time in all this time, I’m thinking about how much I’d like to be free of it.
Part of my problem is that I’ve had a great deal of success, both personally and professionally during these ten years. I have a generally happy marriage (wife has no idea about the addiction) and get feedback that I’m a good dad to my children. That being said, I know I could be so much better – and I know that during wd I can be way more irritable than I should be. I’ve never spent more on these drugs than I can afford, and I’ve never let them affect my ability to excel at work. That, and the fact that I have a legitimate need for strong painkillers, has always kept me from “bottoming out” or anything like that. I’ve been addicted for so long, that I can actually see how the addiction has evolved over time – and I can see that it continues to evolve, and that’s what I’m afraid of. To be honest, my tolerance scares me too (I can take six 5/500s and get no effect at all). I know I’m in the realm of real kidney and liver damage and I wonder where will it go from here? Will I finally break down and start taking something stronger? I clearly can’t trust myself to make rational decisions around opiate use. On a side-note, as a long-term addict, I’m terrified to find out who I am without drugs (sounds silly, but so true).
My question is whether anyone can share some words of wisdom that will get me over the hump and finally commit to quitting. If you can do that, I can’t say how much I would appreciate it. For me, it’s not the physical withdrawal that is a problem. Like I said earlier, I do it every month. I need to find the mental strength or resolve to deal with this pain and not take pills. I’ve proven over a very long time that I can’t responsibly use painkillers, so taking 2-4 a day simply isn’t an option. And in ten years, I have never tried and failed to quit - I have simply never tried. Thanks in advance for any help...Ben
Hi Ben- I hear you loud and clear and think I know exactly what you're talking about. It's very familiar to me...
It's very difficult to quit when you can't come up with a good reason! All I can tell you is that now is probably the best time and I'll tell you why:
You HAVEN'T lost everything yet! You could very easily and it happens all of a sudden. It all comes tumbling down and by that point you're too ill-equiped to stop the landslide. It's overwhelming and depressing. I don't need to tell you how that goes...you can imagine: failing at the job, with your kids, your wife, etc...
If only any of us had reached out as you're doing, before the crash. I wish I had...
It's important to 'fess up to your wife. You're going to need her love and understanding. I really don't recommend going about this in secrecy. It seldom works out.
Some support like your doctor, a therapist, meetings, program, etc...will help you to stay clean. I recommend finding something now. Also, I'm a big fan of tapering. It's a little easier on the body and lets you slowly adjust to the lack of opiate.
There's a lot of support on this forum so don't hesitate to ask questions. Don't wait until you're taking unbelievable amounts and getting physically sick to stop!
You can quit if you want to bad enough. But you will need help like NA or treatment center there are also other types of rehab. So go a head and get started on a new way of life without drugs. Blessed are the merciful for they shall attain mercy.
Vicky pretty much said it all... That daily intake of hydros, is totally out of control..and yea..all will come tumbling down..your health (kidneys, liver) possibly be the first to go...
Have that talk with your wife, and if you decide to taper..let her hold the pills. You, your wife, and your children deserve a clean Ben. I'm sure you will be a better person for it. No more lies, secrets...I had no idea that by taking oxycodone/xanax for 4 years..my body stopped creating endorphins, dopamine, seratonin..all of it..because I was ingesting synthetics. I have some pain..but it's totally doable compared to the mental pain I was feeling at the end.
I am still totally new at this..20 days opiate free, but I have a long way to go..and now I do have hope for a better future..I hope you do too.
Ben, wow, ok, you are allot like me. Chronic pain suffer, multiple surgeries, can get any pill you want from the surgeon the hole nine yards. I get it 100percent. Life was great on pills i was able to concur the world, but it will all begin to crumble my friend and fast!!!!! All the feelings you are having are false and not Ben. I actually had my knee replaced 3 times and im only 37, so wait as long as possible. I cant take pills for one simple reason, i take one, NO, i want 10, and so on, so for me taking opiates is not an option. Do i have pain, you bet, and it stinks, but, there are other options out there for you. I did a taper because i was on a boat load of meds and it was not easy but can be done. Please tell your wife, i understand its hard, actually Vicki is the one who talked me into that and he handled it great, the truth shall set you free, believe me, it was such a relief, i hated the lies and secrets. So you ask for suggestions, i say, open up to your wife, go to the doc and tell him you are dependent/addicted, and ask for a taper. You have to want it for yourself, do you want? Are you going to try? It so worth it! Best of luck to you
Thanks to each of you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. I've been sitting here for close to thirty minutes trying to figure out what I wanted to say in reply. I wish it was "OK, I'm going to follow your advice and begin the process". Instead, that part of my mind that needs to be totally committed to giving these pills is coming up with excuses not to do it. Such as: I get a blood panel every six months, my liver/kidney function is normal (how does one know one's liver or kidneys are going bad anyway - is there pain, swelling or some warning, or do they fail all-of-a-sudden?). Won't the brain adapt to not having the opiates in much the same way that it adapted to having them? I get the need to tell my wife and doctor. That will be the first thing I do when I commit to cleaning up. But that's also the point of no return - am I ready to swim so far from shore that I know I won't have the strength to swim back?
Let me ask you - when you made the decision to quit, was it like something clicked in your mind and you just knew that you'd had enough? Or did you kind of fall into deciding to quit through an accumulation wanting to do it for different reasons? And did you come to this decision on your own, or did it take people around you putting pressure on you to do it? Thanks again for your kindness and decency. It's a shame one has to get addicted to something to see altruism at work like this.
I knew i had had enough. My health was going downhill fast, i thought about my kids and grandson and i knew when i died they would want an autopsy and my dirty little secret would be out. The thought of them having to live with the choices i made just about killed me. I had to face my demons and get my life back for me and my family. I had wasted too many years using. It was the best decision i have ever made. My health is getting better, my relationships are mending and i finally am living, not just existing. I hope you make the choice to get clean~~sara
Props to you, I 100 percent agree with everything everyone here has told you. You may not see it now but if you continue on this path it is nothing but a path of destruction. I was on lortab for 4 years for a back injury I went CT the first time I quit and was clean for a year( the happiest year)... Then boom. I have since tried a few more times to quit and our addict brain will always find some excuse to wait. Well today is day 5 for me and I feel much better. I am determined as ever because like your own lifestyle I have a lot to loose. I was miserable these past few months while taking the pills because I hated every minute of it. Well this time I did something different. I told my family( my family is thick as Theives) were they disappointed yes, but there is nothing that they won't do to support me through this. You see the hurt that that caused them is enough to get me through every single minute of the suffering because now they know I will never let them down. Exercise oh my the difference it makes. I force myself and feel so much better. I do a little more everyday, I can't stress enough how important it is. I live a successful life as well and where I was I am so blessed that I didn't lose it!!! It can happen in the blink of an eye..... You can do this, mind over matter and your mind will always tell you, wait till so and so and so on and so on, I am sure you get the point. You have came to a great place, we have all been in your shoes. Please keep posting
I too, have been sitting here reading, which is all I ever do. This is officially my first post, I just feel I cannot sit here in silence. Many on this thread will most likely not like my response however, I am a straight shooter and no BS. Also, I'm not going to put my hand on your forehead and scream HEAL...sadly, it does not work that way.
PI started my DOC (also Hydrocodone) five years ago due to spine pain, and after a full spine reconstruction surgery a couple of years ago I just upped my dosage, just crazy. I'm married, great career, good mother, yada yada... here was my dilemma. The GREAT thing about why (I felt) I had a great career is because I was ON FIRE when I was on the pills, I could do anything and I only got better at it, how? I upped my dosage as my tolerance went up. When not at work I was a hands on mother conquering everything needed with ease. I, unlike most, never had a bad day (on pills) EXCEPT, there is this small problem and its called running out! My pain intensified, I was irritable, absolutely worthless at work, it was just plain sad. I too, thought, is this the real me? Hell no I don't want to be the real me, the real me blows! So the cycle started again and I loved it. Did I think about my kidney and liver? Sure, but obviously not long enough to care. I continued.
What finally stopped me was reading something somewhere (not here, I stopped before I got here) was that most pain sufferers can alleviate their pain quite significantly just by eliminating their Hydrocodone. This fascinated me, I read further, Hydrocodone withdrawals are quite often more painful than the initial pain you even (remember) suffering from.....I was easing my pain level and feeding it with Hydrocodone at post surgery days level, well there is NO WAY its THAT intense now? But how will I ever know? My pain receptors are being deadened by this stupid drug. I am very much like you, I am an ALL or nothing person, have one pill - need ten! I too had blood work done often and was fighting fit, I guess we are lucky considering the enormous amounts of Tylenol we were digesting! Lucky is right. Anyway, as I read this article it started to make perfect sense. I was now feeding my withdrawal mostly and not my initial pain. I'm not much of a religious person so that route was torched....Im also a businesswomen and well known so AA/NA (which in my town should stand for NOT ANONYMOUS!!) was neither an option. The only thing I had on my side was that my husband knew my struggles. It's easy for people on here to say "go to meetings, tell your spouse, quit the pills" I hear it chanted over and over and over. For some, that advice is not so easily obtained due to underlying issues, which OBVIOUSLY needs a lot of work before you even attempt to just "get clean" in your case, opening up to your wife may he one of those issues. It happens. Did those issues probably start due to pill use? Sure, probably, most likely, who know and who cares because its today that is all you need to worry about and what happens from now.
All I am saying is, for some, just flushing those pills isn't the way to start, and I am thinking that this is the case with you. If nothing else, take great care and work up to telling your wife, explore all the pro's & con's of just how much you tell her too. Sounds bad, but no need having a MAD spouse by your side as your sole supporter. I could not have done it without my husband. I don't care what anyone says, IN MY CASE I could not have done it. I have heard all sorts of advice, if I only accepted the LORD I will be fine forever more, that may work for some, but the LORD wasn't physically living with me or doing my job at work...I just needed to accept ME. (And before everyone jumps on me about that comment, check yourself because everyone has their own views!)
Back to that article, once I was set up and organised to take the plunge (in my opinion cold turkey was my ONLY option) I did it, HATED IT, MISS THE HIGH...it blows!! However....my pain is DRASTICALLY reduced now that I'm clean and able to assess it correctly, and much to my surprise is easily manageable with Ibuprofen, ice, exercise etc...the good old fashioned way! How nice it is not to have to check how many pills are in my pocket before I go anywhere!! And do I like the "real me?" Not at first, I could not stand her, but we are getting re-aquainted and let me tell you she blows "Hydrocodone girl" out of the water! Am I still on fire at work? No where near the pace I was, but It's coming back - that is probably my biggest frustration in my opinion, but I can live with that, I'm already at the top I decided it was time to delegate!!!
I know I have rambled forever. And nobody is going to convince you to do this but you. You obviously have had enough because here we are conversing! Make a plan, there are always pros and cons to just quitting at certain times....tomorrow just may not work, Monday may not either, but you sound like a very educated man and I guarantee that you can make it work.
Well, I'm Cassie, and you know where to find me :)
Excellent post!!! I concur it all! I do firmly believe you have to do it for yourself and you truly have to be " ready" I mean really ready!! I also agree w your opinion on the meetings, as I live a similar lifestyle. It's def not easy. Anyways great post!!! How much clean time do you have if you don't mind sharing?
A loooong time I have lost count! Long enough to know what works for me and does not work for others. This isn't a text book addiction, this is an individual struggle. Advice and awareness are wonderful, but only Ben will know what plan will work best for Ben!
Getting clean is the easy part, staying clean is the hard one. Putting down the pills doesnt mean this is over, it is only the beginning. Using is just a symptom of what is really going on inside of us. Pills give us a false sense of security. Self discovery is what this is all about. Many of us have come here financially broke and found NA/AA as it was free. The program isnt for everybody but it does work if you work it. You have to want to get and stay clean and do whatever it takes to stay that way. This is not easy by any means, it is the hardest thing you will ever do but it is worth it~~sara
Hey, I am only posting because you said you haven't read about anyone like you. I think I am/was exactly like you. I used/abused pain meds for 18 years. Tylox, hydros, then Fiorinal w/codiene for about 8 years. Towards the end I had a legitimate pain issue (several bulging disks, spinal stenosis and DDD) and was being prescribed 120 norcos a month. When they ran out I was a buying a couple hundred a month. Eventually I switched over to percocets, but I was still buying a couple hundred hydrocodone pills each month.
My husband and I have been been successful and I was able to spend $13,000 a year buying pills off the street without it "hurting" us. I pay the bills, so he had no idea what I was doing, and still doesn't.
When I quit taking the pills I was concerned about my relationship with my husband because we have been together for 11 years, but I was with my pills for 18. I was thinking all kinds of ridiculous **** like "what if I don't love him anymore when I am sober"....etc.
During the past 10 years I put myself through undergrad and law school just fine while on the pills. Most of my issues were more of the dealing with the mental issues of not having the pills when I ran out, which seemed to be about 4-10 days almost every month. So I know what it is like to detox all the time but as soon as they are available again either by prescription refill or my source I would hop back on that train.
Eventually I just got so tired about worrying about where I was going to get my next 100 pills and thinking about what I could have done with all that money was eating at me. I would like to say I had some kind of epiphany about destroying my liver or not being there for my family when I was "sick" a few days a month, but it was really mostly the money for me.
You have a good start already and give yourself some credit for that. I was terrified of getting to know myself without the drugs or alcohol for that matter. I went to some meetings and heard what I needed to hear. I knew I would get a lot of support there, free, gut level, stuff. I listened and found someone that was working a good program that I wanted to have for myself to be my sponsor to cover the in between meeting stuff that wouldn't tell me what to do or think, just ask me the right questions so I could find my way. Then the day came and I stopped everything, cold turkey, no treatment, I used the program for that. Later realized it is what saved my life enough to get me to be able to go through treatment. Honestly I was terrified. Meetings helped me a lot, getting to them, sometimes I would walk a couple of miles, I moved from one state to another and needed more meetings than they had there, so I just started them up. talked to places, people, Yes, my veins itched and my tongue would be dragging on the ground sometimes. But I did it, with a lot of support from the 12 step program. Today, 30 years later, I am still clean and sober and I know you can do this too! If I can, anyone can. I will be praying for your peace that passeth understanding will fill your heart. One second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. It was not easy, but it is worth it all!!!!!
There's good news! You found my very first post on this site from five years ago. It took me another six months from that first post, but I did quit and have stayed quit ever since then. If you're inclined to help people, which is great, keep an eye out for new posts and you can offer support and advice that I'm sure people will appreciate.
I'm a strong believer in some form of aftercare. I don't think it has to be 12-step, although those have the advantage of being free and available pretty much everywhere. I personally saw an addiction therapist for a year after I quit and that did the trick for me. My advice has always been to be willing to try everything with an open mind, and then once you've done that, you can pick the one that fits with your goals and personality, which is exactly what I did.
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