Avatar universal

My story

I've never told my story before.  However, over the past few days, I've read the questions and responses of others.  This has helped me a lot.  I guess I need to get this off my chest and tell someone -- even if its in the relative anonymity of the internet.  Thank you all in advance for caring.  I feel safe saying so here.

About 10 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with cancer.  We had two young children.  During the 18 months it took her to die, she received pain med prescriptions -- primarily dilaudid.  She gave me one for a headache once, and boy it made me feel good.  I'd take one here or there -- it sure was a good distraction from the hell of life at the time.  Then, once, she was hospitalized and there wasn't any more at home.  I didn't think a thing about it . . . until a day later, I was having a drink after work and couldn't figure out why I felt so uncomfortable.  I thought it was the flu.  I then realized I was in withdrawal!  Shortly thereafter my wife passed away.  I shouldered on and raised my kids pretty well for many years. Never touched pain meds in that time.

Of course, those first few months were horrible!  Not from withdrawal, but from grief.  I made some stupid decisions, wasted some time, but finally got it all back together.  Things started going pretty good!  I remarried (and remain so) to the greatest woman anywhere.  I have another child.  Family is great.

But about 3 years ago, my wife was prescribed vicodin.  I took some.  I took some more . . . .  I got hooked again!  At about the same time, my job took a downturn (consequence of the economy).  Two years ago, I lost that job.  It was at this point that I started hitting the scripts pretty good.  I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror as I popped a couple and realized, I had a problem!  A big one.

Since then, I've tried to withdraw and detox at least 10 times (like so many others here).  I don't think I've made it more than 6 weeks between binges during this time.  I'm not stupid.  I'm not weak.  I couldn't figure out why I kept going back, since the withdrawal symptoms sucked so bad.

Then, as I was fishing around on the internet -- 18 days ago during day 1 -- I found the Thomas Recipe.  Along with some of the posts related to that, someone mentioned PAWS.  Eureka!  Even after the worst withdrawal symptoms went away, I still felt bad . . . depression.  Obvious, right?  I don't know why I didn't realize it before.  

Since I've kept this all a secret, its no wonder why I keep slipping back.  There is much wisdom in after care support.  Thing is, I haven't had any luck with head shrinkers in the past, and I really, really don't want to tell my family. I'm obviously not the same guy on the outside that I was before, but I haven't fallen too far in their eyes.  There's still time to turn my Titanic around.  I also don't want to go to meetings.

I now know though that its going to take a bit of time.  Months, maybe a year or more to come out of this depression.  I know it has layers -- the top layer is the PAWS part, but other aspects include my change of job, my kids growing up, you know -- things in life that we all must deal with.  Its just the PAWS part handicaps me in dealing with the rest of my issues.

But I'm not doing this again.  So that's where this post comes in.

I've said something.  I'm getting it off my chest.

On the internet, I've found a group of people who don't know each other.  But at the same time, know more about each other than some of their closest family members.  So thank you for helping me through this.
28 Responses
Avatar universal
hey there - i know it took a lot to get that off your chest, and i'm hoping it did some good for you... the thing is, many if not most of us on here "didnt mean to get hooked" on the RX drugs. That's the kicker isnt it? I'm a successful businesman with multiple letters after my name and plaques on the wall with a beautiful little girl and money in the bank but still struggle with shaking it just like you. I've done what you have done about 50 times at least! Get clean, feel ok, just a few more, oops - here we go again, get clean - repeat. I'm still struggling with it.

one thing i realized it that before - i was like you. Didnt want to talk to shrink/counselor. Meetings not for me. The thing is - and i have more struggle and experience with this than you it sounds like recently - after a while there isnt any other answer BUT one of those. You say you dont want to go to meetings. Well, how bad do you want to stop? Because its VERY hard to not have support. If you cant tell your family - then what better people to tell then a room full of strangers just like you?

i have had to swallow my pride and suck it up and   go to those meetings because without them, i'm afraid of the consequences. Thinking you "can do it your way" wont work because the pills control you. They will talk you into thinking you are ok and can do a few more... then back on the cycle. Where does the cycle end? In some of my friends cases-  death. From the same pills.  Whats worse for you - talking to people you dont know about an issue you have? or not.. and not waking up one time. Your family will certainly know then..

i guess my point is that you took the first step... of many. Try to be open to the idea of meetings, its not just a bunch of crackheads  (no offense to the crackheads on here) and junkies and old winos. Addiction hits the entire spectrum...

hang in there, there are MANY great people here that can offer you better advice than me.. i'm just another addict struggling with the same things you are. Trying to deal with it each day...
1428440 tn?1287390379
I go to NA not as regular as the past 4 months had been. I am not sure why you don't want to do meetings, I do get a lot of it. It is always  nice to know you are not alone. I relate to everyones stories there. they are not noisy unless you want to talk. But we all have our reasons.

I also like it here. You can be who ever you want to be and wouldn't know each other if we were neighbors lol. I hear a little of me in most of the stories here also.

You can do this others do and I am on my 12 days with suboxone. Life can be returned to us.
1167108 tn?1328439313
Welocme to this site and thank you so much for your honesty.

Your closing sentence as so true. All of us on this great site have a common bond and that is dealing with addiciton. While our experience with it varies widely the common bond is addiction. We know about the struggles of an addict and also their family members as they have to deal with the situation as well.

In your case I would hope that you would be able to tell your family about your problem. Changes are that they have figured it out anyway. In the case of addiciton honesty is the best policy.

You have to mend damaged realtionships and the only way to begin the process is to admit your problem to your family and also tell them what you did to harm them during the time that you were an addict. Please do this and aplologize to them and tell them how you plan on getting clean so you don't repeat your addictive behavior.

Good luck with this and please keep posting.
Avatar universal
Wow.  Thanks for jumping in so quickly for me!  

I'm sure you guys are right about telling the family and going to meetings.  That's just more than I can stomach right now.  Just posting here took everything I had.

If you could hang with me a few days here . . . I promise I'll keep an open mind as I progress.

The thing I'm really struggling with is motivation.  Gosh, I just can't seem to do anything.  I've been meeting my deadlines, but coming in just under the wire.  I used to be so proactive (on drugs or off in years past).

These days, its all I can do to type this.  But I force myself to keep working.  I have no choice.  Its hard as so many here know.  But they do it and I will too.

The thing about telling everyone and going to meetings is it dashes my greatest hope:  I was hoping that I'd just come through on the other side of this like nothing ever happened.  I'd return to who I used to be.  I liked that guy!  Sort of like walking away from a plane crash, ya know?  Even if that might never be, I'm not ready to give up that hope right now.

So hang with me a bit here and let's see how it goes.  Thank you so much for your help and caring!!!
Avatar universal
Holy crap....When reading your post a chill went up my spine.  Other than your experience with your first wife my situation is almost the same.  I too am a normal functioning member of society with a great career and a great family.  They know nothing of my secret except for the fact that years ago I was on pain meds for a legitimate situation.  They do not know that I carried it past my doctor's prescription pad.  I too have relapsed several several times, mostly due to lack of supply.  

I completely understand your current situation, it is difficult to come out of the fog of opiate addiction without either a support group or positive areas in your life to focus on.....So, here is the alternative.  I made my way over the past several years hiding my 1-2 day, 1-2 week withdrawals from my work, family, and friends.  I refused to go to aftercare and refused to tell my wife.  I was desperate to maintain supply because each time the withdrawals were worse.  I then found methadone.....At the time it was the cure-all.  Once I started doing research and found out how horrible those withdrawals are I started this last campain to quite it all.  My point is that a drug is a drug is a drug.....We are all addicts in one form or another and are the true masters of deception!  We can justify just about anything with a little motivation from the drug.  I finally came to the realization that "when will it end" ......The answer scared the crap out of me.....I could not answer the question!  We cannot go on our entire lives living day to day while trying to ration our pills or plan around vacations or create new sources....At least I could not see myself doing it for my entire life.....Unfortunately the withdrawal process is neccessary and it reminds us how horrible relapse truly is.  I think that if you add some suppliments to your withdrawal process you will have a better time with the depression and some of the other side effects you are currently dealing with.  If you think you are depressed now....wait until you relapse and look yourself in the mirror and have to face the fact that you are again decieving your family, yourself, and will eventually have to go through the same withdrawals you are now....just worse!  That is a horrible feeling and I went through it many times.  We do not need a drug to get a job, we do not need a drug to mow the lawn, we do not need a drug to be a good husband or father!  We need sobriety so we can live in the now and remeber our experiences in life with a sober outlook instead of a drug induced fog.....Anyways, sorry for rambling and I apologize if I sound like I am talking from the height of a soap box.....I was kind of talking to myself as well there!  I wish you the best of luck and look into some multivitamins, fish oils, Glucosimine, Tyrosine, and I think that it will but your PAW'S experience in half!  It has worked for me and I am detoxing off of hydrocodone/Methadone.....Good luck and God bless!
271792 tn?1334979657
Hi & Welcome,

I will keep this simple---We are only as sick as our secrets. I think at some level you know that so you came on the internet and let it all out. I bet that felt good. And while this si a wonderful group of people whom I could not do without, it is never a replacement for an outside support group in the up close and personal sense.

Until you get honest with the people you share your life with and the people you choose to have as your support system, you will hold on to your thoughts and your feelings and that is what keeps us sick. That is what causes relapses.

I am making this sound easy when it isn't. I don't expect you to jump out of the chair and say "WOW, that's the ticket" but maybe something someone said here by the members will stick. Whatever you choose as support I hope you follow through with it and get to the core issues and tackle them. I know you will find even more happiness in your life.

Glad you found your way here.
495284 tn?1333894042
Many of us believed that once we stopped the pills it was over with, I had no idea that getting clean was the easy part.  Staying clean was when the real battle started.  We bury many many things while using.  I am still dealing with the grief process and my dad will be gone 4 yrs in Feb.  This is a slow process but so worth it.  Doing it my way just didnt work.  Only when I reached out for help did i start to see some changes.  Dont be afraid, dont let pride get in your way.....You can do this!!           sara
Avatar universal
Thank you all so much.  I'm sorry to hear about your Dad, Sarah.  I know that grief never really goes away . . . and I'm lucky to have my kids to help remind me of the good instead of the bad.  I try to keep that in perspective.

I've been on my own so long, so private, that its so hard for me to reach out for help.  As IBK noted, I do know this at a deep level -- which is why I reached out over the comfortable anonymity of the internet.

And I finally reached the same conclusion -- that stopping is the easy part (although it hurts so!) but staying clean is where I've been failing.  Thank you for your words of encouragement -- I will find the courage to stay clean, even if that means facing my worst fears.

Thank you all.
1435456 tn?1314674659
I just wanted to comment, I hope you don't mind.  I am gathering that there are people from every walk of life on this forum, actually from many countries as well. I suspect some are Dr, lawyers, upper management and self employed, etc, etc.
I kept my own little secret and couldn't figure out why I kept slipping down the ladder at work, when I have been there for 20 yrs and had always been in the top 10% always. I also found that it always took more (drugs) to stay at an even keel. I didn't tell my kids (16 and 20) and I might not ever, but I did tell my wife of 25 yrs, guess what? she already knew (not the extent, it totally freaked her out) then I went to my family Dr, the one that delivered those kids of mine, it was humiliating, but it felt better to get it out there. I was at a point that I was spending all my productive time counting pills, lining up a new supply, etc. I finally reached a point that I had to fess up, regardless of the fall out. I felt like my wife would support me, but if she didn't and kicked me out, I was prepared. That is how sick of it that I got. Now that I am 10 days clean off of a big, nasty habit of hydrocodone, I too am thinking of options in aftercare. I have started going to church with my wife (she is soo happy about that) but we live in a small town area, and even if I go to one of the 3-4 nieghboring towns for meetings, I am likely to run into someone that I know. At this point, I still have pride, but feel that I have been given a second chance at life, so I view it as part of my new life. Maybe I will save someone that is struggling from this horrible pandemic that is far worse than any H1N1.
Last thought. When I was using, my #1 wish (strange) was that, man I wish I could get up in the morning and only need coffee and a bagel, maybe some juice to get going. I didn't think it would ever happen. I am very close to being there now.
I feel your pain, good luck and God Bless. Thanks for sharing.
Avatar universal
All I can say is my story is the exact same. I have tried quitting many times although I never hit a bottom, I would get fed up with them. I kept it a secret from the people I cared for most so there really were no consequences for using again. This time, I decided that had to change so I voluntarily went and told my mother about my problem in hopes that letting the cat out the bag would help me stay sober. I can say that I am now almost 20 days clean and have made it further than any length of time that I can remember. The fog is definitely lifted and mental wd's are slowing down, I am finally starting to get to a really good place and it feels good! This site has been a godsend and so glad I was able to come share my secret here but it wasnt enough. Now telling my mother seems to be!
Avatar universal
Yes...hang out here with us. You'd be hard pressed to find a more quality of people!

I have a suggestion:  I understand your reluctance to share this with your family...I've been there and it took some time for me...but definitely speak with a physician. It may just be that you need an antidepressant. There is a reason why we use drugs and it's usually a form of self medication for another issue...sometimes depression. Look in to that,okay?  

18 days is great...get rid of any pills in the house;cancel refills. You need to close all the doors!

Avatar universal
what is PAWS
271792 tn?1334979657
Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. You can look it up in the health pages.
Avatar universal
@whoa1~~  Check in the "health pages" upper right. You'll find an accurate description.
1427544 tn?1285013857
i know you my think meetings are not for you...or maybe jus dont want to go! let me tell you, i've been clean now for 7 days...'yay me'  and i started going to the meetings sunday..i go everyday at 12:00am and 7:30pm i was nervous at first, but after the first one i felt very comfy! everyone made me feel rite at home...for me the meetings are keeping me sober!!!!!!!!!!! it might sound crazy, but i feel like its my dose of meds! i wish the best luck to you! god bless
Avatar universal
You sound like an amazing man with a good head on his shoulders.  Your post was very refreshing as is your approach/response to others.  Glad to have you on board.  
1292938 tn?1333273242
I have been addicted to tramadol for over 10 years- while working in a professional role running a successful company.  Pills tell you lots of lies. I tried to get off them a number of times until I asked myself similar questions- how long does this go on....the counting pills, watching for Fed-ex, looking for refill emails, waiting for the next dose for 'fell better'.  Do I want to be 80 and still on this stuff??  I used to do well at work with out them, why do I think I need them?  My grandkids have never known me without them.  I decided I want ME back.  I liked that person.  So now I am on Day 21 of no tramadol and feeling pretty good.  Not great, but after 10 years of messing with my body chemestry, I think I will give my body a chance to heal and recalibrate.  It is a fact that once we go off our addictive substance, we can never touch one again.  We have that in our chemistry.  I have gone off many times and then thought- just a 1/4 pill wont hurt, then maybe today a 1/2 pill, then by a week its up to 1 pill day- you know the drill.  Never touch it again!  Its the only way.  I have seen the damage the pills have cost me and am trying to deal with my issues that caused me to take them in the first place so I will never go back down that dark road again.
I have not gone to a local support group.  I am sure it would be helpful, but my business situation makes me a little scared to go.  I however do have support of several family members that know and are supportive of my withdrawl and recovery.  This web site and the Tramadol Recovery Room has been invaluable to my success so far.  I am thankful for all the people here who have no judgement, just sound advice and accpetance.
Take care and be strong.  Get off these pills now and live the life you were meant to live.
Avatar universal
Hi Beth, Addey, Vicki & Red --

Thank you all for your comments and sound advice!  I'm so grateful I found this forum and the courage to post here.  So many of us are from different walks in life, yet I'm beginning to sense that there are many of us professionals in here.  I was thinking about that . . . part of my underlying problem, part of what led me to my DOC in the first place, was the stress of my profession.  Many too many of my colleagues fall into my trap, or alcoholism, or other addictions and abuses.

Oh, but my DOC trap, how insidious.  Its so clean.  No messy vodka bottles in the briefcase, no needles, no smoky aromas.  Heck, you could even slip 'em into your blood pressure medicine bottle and nobody's the wiser.  That's what made it so easy for me to fall into this . . . in its beginning stages, its too easy to keep secret.  (Thank you all for letting me think out loud.  It helps.  But, as Heinlein once wrote, "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits."  So if I get too annoying, ignore me!)  Truly, these pills are deadly for stressed-out professionals.

Congrats on day 21 Beth!  I'm a little behind you at 17.  Gosh its been a long 17.  Thanks for hanging with me.  Red, I'm keeping an open mind about meetings, I'm just slow and cautious.  Thanks for the compliments Addey.  It means so much to me that those who know my problems and weaknesses still think good things about me.  It builds me up.  (And Vicki, I'm only on 17 -- I miss-counted before.  Math was never my strong suit.)

I'm committed to putting this behind me.  I know we all are.  I hope I can encourage others here, like the acceptance and advice I found here help me.

Thank you all.
Avatar universal
Sorry fellas -- I didn't mean to omit you from my last post.  Thank you for your comments and sharing your story with me.  We're going to make it.  We've taken the first steps and just have to keep walking this path.

Thank you!
1167108 tn?1328439313
Congratulations on making it this far and keep posting!

This is a one step at a time process. You are reluctant to go to a support group and also to tell your family. This is most understandable but my angle is a person who has been the "victim" of addictive behavior as both of my parents had addcition issues. My father was a functionomg alcoholic an dmy mother had serious alcohol and prescription drug abuse issues. I also am working with my 21 year old nephew whop has addcition issues that have messed up his life.

As a family member who has been hurt by addiction in the family the best thjing that the personm with the addiciton issue can do is to admit their problem and sicerely apologize for what ever things they have done tom harm the particular family member.

Chances are that the family meber knows anyway or strongly suspects that something is seriously wrong based on your behavior. You will propbaly receive support but you have to understand that your family is going to be skeptical if you have lied to them in the past to cover for your addcitive behavior. It will be very tough to do this but is is a very important step in your recovery process. I hope that you can do this with at least one family member or trusted friend.
Avatar universal
To Tab57~  Sir,you assume an awful lot.  You assume that every addict has hurt and lied to someone/everyone.  That's not always the case.  Not everyone needs to say they're sorry,over and over.    Your advice is always sweet but it's not one-size-fits all.
I just needed to say that,for what it's worth.
1435456 tn?1314674659
I really believe that everyone has to do it their way. The fact that you are where you are now in the recovery process says alot about you, your strength.
My biggest fear was always WD, you didn't get on here until like day 14 or 15. I think you are going to be fine. I am glad you found the forum, it really does feel a void. Just keep doing what your doing, staying clean.  I enjoyed reading your thread. It sounds so familar. CONGRATS on Day 17.
1432897 tn?1322959537
Hi folks.  Thanks everybody for sharing.  I've enjoyed reading the post.  When I was using I tried doing a lot of things my way.  I always seemed to end up drunk or high.  When I started getting cleaned up I found that talking and listening to people who had been there and done that really helped.  All the support was tremendous.  I didn't always follow suggestions.  I didn't pick up either.  One day I realized I was clean and miserable while the people around me were seemingly pretty happy and at peace. They told me how they did it and continue to do it.  Well,  I was hurting enough to give it a try.  I started following suggestions and was able to adopt a new way of living .  This new way was molded into my life.  I didn't have to make a whole lot of changes on the outside.  It was my insides that were screwed up.

When I started out I was pretty beat up.  Halucinations from the drugs and alcohol, no job, no money, wife hated me, sleeping in the garage cuz the wife and I couldn't get along.  Emotionally I was a mess too.  I was in a lot of pain.  That pain is what made me want to change.  Today I have learned that I don't need to be in all that pain to take positive steps to improve my world.  I can take suggestions and learn from others' experiences.  That has been one of the biggest blessings in sobriety.

There are two things I think about often:

Am I still willing to go to any length to be sober?

Anything I put before sobriety I will lose anyway.

Good luck and God Bless!!!!!!
495284 tn?1333894042
We could apologize until we are blue in the face but it is our actions that allow our families and loved ones to see that we really do mean what we say~~~~~sara
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