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!


Anonymous said...

Lots to think about.

I gained a lot of weight on methadone too. Mostly because suddenly the ONLY form of food that tasted even remotely good was SWEETS. I suddenly had a desire to eat that had been absent while using, but the only thing I wanted was sweets.

Our clinic did warn me. My doctor said from the beginning "most methadone patients find that to lose weight on methadone they have to train like an olympian and eat like a chipmunk. So your best bet is to not gain the weight to begin with". I didn't listen. Lets face it, self control has never been my forte!

I think the huge problem with these side effects of methadone is that 1)the truth is that no matter what the side effects life will be easier on methadone than on dope for MOST patients. There is already so much negative information about methadone that your clinic doesn't want to discourage you from trying. And 2)as patients we feel so stigmatized already that talking about any of the negative sides of treatment seems like feeding the stigma machine. It gives the "other side" more bait.

The reality is methadone is a medication like any other medication for any other disease. EVERY medication has side effects. One medication doesn't help ALL people with ANY disease. For every other disease there is an arsenal of medications a patient can try until they find what works.

STILL, I feel pretty lucky to have two medications to treat what ails me (methadone and subs) because most addicts have no choices. I mean stimulant addicts have NOTHING to fall back on and they have yet to find a medication that truly helps addicts who like cocaine or methamphetamines.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

For me, methadone has been a lifesaver. I was addicted to Rx opiates for twenty long years before finding MMT, and I believe I had a poorly functioning endorphin system to begin with, which only worsened with my long attempt at "self medication" with opiates. Therefore, I realize I will likely need supplementation--either with opiates or something else if it comes along--for the rest of my life. It has taken awhile to come to a point of acceptance with that but I am comfortable with it now, and spend my time working for MMT patient rights and advocacy.

I have not gained weight on MMT--I was overweight to begin with, though. I DO have sugar cravings and have to make myself eact regular foods.

I have been blessed to have a wonderful clinic with a fantastic director who cares about her patients and works so that they will feel empowered and educated. I know there are bad clinics out there, but I also think that a lot of people erroneously claim that clinics want to keep you in treatment so they can make money, when the fact is that there are so many people who need MMT and cannot get on it due to not having enough slots available, that clinics can easily replace anyone who would leave instantly and would not be losing money to people leaving treatment. It is simply good medical ethics to not encourage withdrawals when the relapse rate is 90% for those leaving treatment. However, if someone wants to leave treatment despite knowing this, that must be respected.

Good luck with your blog--I'll be back to check it out!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE it. You're doing a great thing here. Keep it up and Happy Birthday handsome!! You're still the best.

SICKGIRL said...

I know this is an older post but I've just discovered your journal so I've been taking the past hour getting caught up with your older entries.

I've got my own journal as well, and ironically enough, it has a similar name as this entry, METHADONE PRETTY. Please check it out if you've got time.

I, too, am none too thrilled with the weight I've gained since starting MMT. Grrr. Nothing I do seems to make any difference either.

OK, must get back to my reading.

peace, love and happiness...


I.:.S.:. said...

"Genetically predisposed". Perhaps, but don't make it an excuse.

Methadone is for doing quick quick reduction cures when you really, really want to stop. Using it for maintenance is utter lunacy. Two weeks tops, 7 capfuls the first day, 6 the next, down to zero in ten days. Not all of us have the fortune to have an enlightened doctor who will write us morphine until we are ready to come off. I did.

Buprenorphine has its place as well. Very useful for the opiate antagonist effect. And once you step off and are really feeling sick, lofexidine can work wonders. Most junkies underestimate it because it won't get you high, so it's not a real drug...

If you want to quit, bite the bullet and reduce fast. Funny how the 'experts' don't like that. They'd rather have you on a script forever, cause then at least you're on the books and out of trouble.

If you're not sure you want to quit, may as well use the real thing. At least it will keep you creative as far as making money in a hurry is concerned.

Anonymous said...

I am a health care worker. No-one ever gets off methadone. It is very addictive in itself.
There are social security benefits using methadone in that many conditions incidental to addiction, attract free or subsidised treatments (nursing, dental, medical).

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