Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Methadone Madness

There are SO many things in life that you will never believe just because someone tells you about it. Anyone ever addicted to anything knows what they were told about the "dangers of drug addiction". But we did it anyway because we had to find out for ourselves. At least I remember being conscious when making the decision to begin to use harder drugs that I was doing it partially because I knew I couldn't judge it without properly experiencing it for myself. In the past I had looked down on people who became addicted - I maybe was not even aware of how judgemental I was before I became an addict. In a lot of ways I would not do a thing differently, I learned a lot about myself through my addiction, I actually became a better person in many ways. I'm much more forgiving of the faults and shortcoming of others and I see my own much more clearly than before.

But today I am not a better person, I'm a bitch to everyone and I feel like crap. No one ever mentioned during my methadone intake that there was a huge potential to gain a ton of weight unless I was very thoughtful about what I ate. I gained almost 65 pounds just because of the methadone. Well, I can't blame it all on simply taking methadone - but it does make you feel sleepy and lethargic in a way entirely different than real opiates. There's no euphoria just the sluggish, heavy feeling especially at first and then you get used to it and start to think it's normal. Beware of all the sweets cravings that many people get when they get off H. I thought I ate a lot while I was using, rehab nurses were always impressed by how healthy I seemed despite my heavy usage. But I realize now that I ate hardly anything or I threw up what I did eat or fell asleep in my food dish. I had also been naturally thin and fit my whole life from playing sports and being active and had always been able to eat whatever I wanted. That changed abruptly after getting off H and I really wish someone had drilled it into my head that I better watch what I eat because now I'm miserable and have never been so overweight in my life. I was always under 110 lbs and now I weigh in at 155.5 on a good day. I'm hoping that as I keep going down on my dose I'll lose weight more easily, I've also really begun to pay attention to what I eat. A word to those with better planning skills - Try not to come down on your dose too fast and deprive yourself of food at the same time, you may not be safe for public exposure,

I've been on methadone going on five years or more now and I know there's people out there who make me look like a baby in the life of methadone maintenance. But despite the fact that I hope to God that I'm not a methadone lifer as far as being a patient, I do want to be involved in making methadone patients legal rights a lot more clear. Aside from all the physical discomfort and cravings patients feel while getting on or off methadone, we also suffer from the heavy burden of social stigmatism for being addicts.

I also have a bone to pick regarding the absence of proper aftercare for patients. Some clinics offer some counseling for a short period after ending dosing but it does not seem to be common. I don't even get regular counseling while being on the program. What am I saying 'regular'? I havn't had an appointment since I began. Since my intake at my current and least favorite clinic, I have heard more about my counselors life than she has of mine. I feel like I have to find my own support system because it is really the money that theses clinics are seeking. Heck, I could open my own clinic - there are permits to obtain but it is a profitable business like any other.

To anyone considering beginning or ending methadone treatment, please leave a response, I really want to hear other people's experiences. I'd like to know what people like or don't like about the clinic they go to. There are clinics all over the country, the world - what is it like for you guys out there. We need to let people know that we are medically taking methadone and we need people to know that it can make us really sick and we need rights. We should not have to be afraid to tell our places of work that we are on methadone, we should not have to feel discriminated against because of something we were genetically predisposed to and are attempting to remedy. Please let's hear from all you Daily Dosers out there!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today I feel really crappy. Nobody makes clear just how difficult it is to get off methadone once you have been on it for years. It's almost worse in many ways to drop methadone than it is to quit dope. My highest dose, almost over a year ago at this point, was 132 mg and now I'm only on 4o mg. At least heroin withdrawels are over in a few days - physically speaking. Mental withdrawel never ends as far as I'm concerned, even on methadone, perhaps the edge is removed. You really have to want to get off to put up with the discomfort for months on end, unless you have the strength to really go through severe detox and cut yourself cold turkey. I know people have to do it when they go to jail and I've heard it's one of the worst feelings possible.

Well, I'm at my job. I work nights at a trucking company. I hate my job, needless to say really. I've recieved my Associate's degree over the past five years or so but an A.S. is pretty much good for nothing. It still costs a shitload - but won't get you a good job unless you're really lucky. I want to finish school and open my own head shop/sex shop so I can work for myself. I'm sick of standing in the rain for 12 hours at a time. I really just want to be free from the control of outside influence. That includes methadone. I don't want to have to be somewhere every morning or else be sick. I can't go on vacation - see you can get methadone to take home a week at a time if you work up to the privelage by being "100% clean". I will never qualify because I will never stop smoking weed. I did not seek help for a cannabis addiction, I did not ask for regulation of every detail of my life, but that's what I got.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Think Things Through....

Anyone considering methadone as a means to quit dope should try to do a little research first so they know a bit about what they are signing up for. I know it's difficult, because by the time a person seeks treatment, life is pretty bad. At least some parts are bad enough to make the rest seem like it may not be worth it; and to be honest, most of us would have to admit that lack of funds is the usual road block keeping us from using forever. The point I'm trying to make is that I feel like I jumped right into treatment without asking a lot of questions because all I cared about is that I knew I would feel better. I just didn't want to be dope sick anymore; and by this time it was a rather regular feeling as I was unable to afford the amount of dope I needed to stay high. The filthy rich can blow through fortunes on dope so it should be no suprise that even though my boyfriend and myself were working full time and hustling and selling glass art that he made, we still couldn't swing it. I truly believe that I will never say that I regret the decision I made to begin methadone treatment; I simply wish I had been mentally able to enter into a better informed situation.
Knowing all that I know now about clinics (whether they be Metro's, CSAC's, Habit Opco's, or corporations under other names), I still believe that methadone is a gift to the field of recovery and to all of those whose lives have been changed by it. I think patients could benefit from treatment in numerous ways if clinics were to operate as non-profits. It would be great if patients could pay less for smaller doses; as it is set up now, the cost is the same for 10 mg as 300mg. The way things stand as of now, there is hardly any aftercare to speak of and depending upon the individual clinic patients may be required two hours of counseling or more a month and others may be offered no counseling at all. Evidently there are many changes that could be made to improve the current situation. For any changes to take place, however, caretakers and professionals in the field need to collaborate with patients to come up with procedures that accomodate both parties equally.
A major reccuring gripe I hear from patients is that they feel like they are treated as criminals rather than medical patients, the majority of whom are in treatment voluntarily. Obviously, the women and men who choose to work at a methadone clinic must have a certain level of compassion and understanding towards the patients being accomodated at these clinics. The doctors, nurses, and administrators could all probably make more money someplace else and deal with a lot less grief on a daily basis as well, but they choose to use their skills to help addicts find recovery. For that I have respect for these people. But just because some people feel for us addicts does not mean they understand us or, more importantly, trust us. I can't count how many times I have been treated like I was a liar and a thief because I was a recovering addict, I have been told countless times as I'm sure we all have that "the way to tell and addict is lying is to see their lips move." I resent such assumptions because there are many, many well funtioning addicts in the world, myself being one of them. A few bad apples should not make the whole bushel worthless, right? I know plenty of women and men who worked and raised their families and even attended school throughout the time they were using. All addicts are not morally inept individuals, in fact there is research that shows addicts to be, on the whole, trustworthy, compasionate and highly intelligent individuals who are suffering from a disease even they cannot define or understand.
All this being said, it should be clear that I am ready to move on from this stage in my life.

If Only We Could Travel Through Time....

For the sake of all those who have yet to go through heroin detox or opiate replacement therapy, I wish that I could go back and begin this blog from the moment immediately before I got clean. Like many addicts, I knew in my soul that I needed a drastic change in my life long before I actually made any changes. Part of the problem I had in initiating change was that it was difficult to get the answers I was looking for and even more difficult to put together a plan that may work to keep me clean over the long term. I saw over ten different doctors and therapists over the course of many years while I sought a program which would work for me. I believe that it would have been really helpful to be able to find some resources out there for people in my position. If I had had access to a non-judgemental, unbiased source of knowledge and information regarding opiate dependence, I may have saved myself a lot of heartache and physical pain.
I can't even count how many times I tried to get clean on my own. But I do remember vividly the excruciating pain of it as if it were yesterday. Once I found out about medically assisted detox programs, I realized it was possible to detox with relatively little discomfort if a person was under the supervision of a medical staff at a rehab facility. With the ability to be detoxed and back on the streets within a week or less, it's easy to fall right back into using because most rehabs don't set up adequate aftercare programs for their patients. I in fact wondered if they hoped patients would come back because it is after all a profitable business with state care going for over a thousand dollars a day and up. After several years of trial and error - of cold turkey, of trying to wean myself, AA, and NA, and even a year or so of suboxone - it was the methadone that finally made recovery a possibility.
As much as I credit methadone maintenance therapy with changing and possibly saving my life, it may not be the best thing for everyone. First of all, one must understand that methadone clinics are not non-profit. It is in their interest to make money off their patients. Methadone clinics are not charitable organizations - so if lack of funds is the main reason you want to quit drugs, methadone may not be the answer for you as it sometimes feels like it costs as much as my old habit. It doesn't, of course, cost nearly as much but it seems that way sometimes. There are many, many more reasons to think significantly about whether methadone is right for you - so if it's something you are thinking about for yourself or someone you love - PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR MORE TIPS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN THERE! PLEASE, i WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM OTHERS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED ADDICTION AND ARE ON THEIR WAY TO RECOVERY EITHER PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Diary of a Drug Fiend

This blog is for all the addicts and recovering addicts and everyone who loves an addict and wants to help; or simply to those who would seek a better understanding of what it really is to suffer from addiction. I was a heroin addict for a long time and I have been clean now going on five years. I want to share what that journey has been like for me in the hopes that my reflections may help others with their journey down a similar path.
It is my hope to clarify some misconceptions our society holds in regards to addicts. I want to dispel many myths and rumors which support the belief that all addicts are unintelligent, lazy, morally weak people who think only about themselves. In fact, addicts cross all boundaries of race, gender, age, and level of education to name just a few. There are so many reasons why people become addicted, nothing is black and white in regards to addiction anymore. A substantial number of medical experts regard addiction as a disease not unlike diabetes or cancer and that is a belief which seems to be more and more acceptable to the medical community.
However, there are still millions of people out there who would imprison us for our disease rather than seek a path towards rehabilitation for drug offenders. I want to address methadone as a treatment for addiction because I believe it is equally misunderstood. People seeking recovery through methadone maintenance are routinely discriminated against at NA or AA meetings because we are not considered clean. It is difficult to find a doctor who does not have a bias against methadone patients and it can be difficult to find a job or even receive school loans from the feds. Please stay tuned to discuss all these topics and more. Stay Clean!!!

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