Over time, drugs like Suboxone and Methadone have become a popular form of treatment in the addiction to opioids and heroin. With the addiction crisis climbing to insurmountable heights, it is understandable how these kinds of medication have become an answer to so many individuals across the nation. Nevertheless, we cannot deny the growing number of cases where drugs, like Suboxone, have perpetuated the cycle of addiction longer or created a cycle all their own. For a firsthand look into how Suboxone can be a detriment to long term sobriety, hear the story of this recovering individual.
“For years, drug addiction ruled my life. I was a complete and utter hostage in my own body, and had absolutely no control over my own thoughts or behaviors. I never planned to become this person, but who really does right? Who wakes up one day and says, ‘I think today I’ll become a drug addict.’ No one in their right mind. None of the ‘red flags’ or precursors of addiction were present. No one in my family ever had a problem with drugs or alcohol, my parents were still married, and I honestly never wanted for anything. My childhood was actually better than great; I know I got lucky compared to other kids my age.
When I was 15, someone offered me some pot after homecoming. Unlike most stories you hear about substance abuse, I didn’t spiral into full blown addiction after that night. I actually didn’t feel a need to smoke pot very much, although sometimes it was around, and I would partake in the festivities. It wasn’t until I tore my ACL during senior year, that I really began to experience what addiction felt like.
During this time, OxyContin sales were at their peak and no one really knew just how dangerous this medication was. So, at the ripe old age of 17, I was discharged after surgery with a month supply of OxyContin and multiple refills. It wasn’t until the pain of surgery dissipated that I really began to enjoy the effects OxyContin produced. The average person does not understand how someone can become addicted to a drug that makes them drowsy, but it almost seemed that the pills had the opposite effect on me. I didn’t feel tired; I actually felt on top of the world; unstoppable in a sense. At first, Oxy creates almost a warm, cozy feeling inside, that allows you to believe everything will be okay. I would go on to chase this feeling for the next 7 years.
By the time I turned to Suboxone for help, I had been a full blown opiate and heroin addict. I had tried outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, holistic approaches, and just quitting on my own. Nothing seemed to work. Then one day in outpatient therapy, I heard some guys talking about this medicine that could take away the dreaded ‘dopesickness’ that became my life. I had been going to these groups for months, but continued to relapse over and over again. I figured I might as well try this “miracle” drug everyone was talking about, if for nothing else, to at least get me by until I could score again.
Walking into the doctor’s office, I thought ‘Here we go again. Another round of counseling and weekly drug tests.’ But, it didn’t exactly happen that way. After meeting with the doctor for 25 minutes, I walked out of the office with a 90 prescription in hand and a form I was supposed to get signed by my therapist. In the beginning, I really thought this was going to be it for me, but it wasn’t. I would spend the next year and half selling my Suboxone to get more drugs and forging signatures on that form.
I finally couldn’t take it anymore, and decided to really give an honest go at Suboxone. At first, I felt like myself again. I was holding down a steady job, I was mentally and physically present at family gatherings, and I had a few bucks in the bank. What more could I really ask for? It wasn’t until about 4 or 5 months into taking the medication that cravings began to set back in. Not the physical cravings that make your body ache, but the mental cravings that turn into obsessions that keep you up at night. The ones that literally haunt you in your dreams and wake up with you in the morning. The ones that keep you from thinking about anything other than that ‘warm, cozy feeling’ inside.
All over again, I was a hostage in my own body, but this time to a drug that was meant to help me. Here’s the sad reality about Suboxone that doctors do not tell you. Yes, maybe you won’t use heroin again, but you’ll be physically addicted to a medication and still be going crazy mentally. It’s almost like walking through life with the mute button on. Everything seems okay on the outside, but the inner person is screaming for help and no one can hear it. When you’re in a situation like mine, you can’t put into words what’s really going on. Family will not understand, nor will friends, and the therapist you’re ‘required’ to see only schedules you once a month for follow-up visits. Suboxone left me trapped and alone…just like OxyContin and heroin.
This cycle perpetuated for what felt like an eternity, with many relapses in between. After being on Suboxone for 3 years, I just couldn’t take it any longer. I decided I needed help and a chance to REALLY get sober. I entered an inpatient treatment center for what I hope is the last time. The entire 28 days I was with them, I suffered withdrawal from the Suboxone. No one tells you that that sickness is by far worse than anything I had ever felt before; even more than heroin. After I completed inpatient treatment and was living in a halfway house for 45 days, did I finally begin to feel better physically. That’s truly when the work began and I started to change.
For years I searched for the answer. I wondered why I couldn’t get sober and why treatment and the 12 steps didn’t work for me. The answer was in front of me all along. It’s not that treatment didn’t work, I just didn’t want to do the work. I was lazy and entitled, and I thought I was different. Although I thought I wanted to get sober, and that’s the message I allowed people to believe, ultimately I wasn’t ready to give up the chase. The chase of that feeling I experienced the first time I tried OxyContin. Honestly, if the pain never got great enough or the consequences too much to handle, I would probably still be chasing that feeling.
What I found today is a feeling greater than any drug or medication could give me. After investing my time and energy into a program that isn’t as difficult as I always assumed it to be, I found out that it really does work. I am no longer tormented by a drug my doctors prescribed me, neither OxyContin nor Suboxone. I do not lay awake at night and wonder if I’ll ever be able to be ‘normal.’ I am not haunted in my dreams nor am I bogged down by the mental obsessions which once ran my life. I feel an indescribable freedom today, which I was only able to find through complete and total abstinence.
If your story sounds anything like mine, you should know that there is another way…a better way. Maybe you feel that there is no way out, and Suboxone is the lesser of the two evils. Yes, maybe for a time it is, but eventually that bubble will burst and you will feel trapped all over again. I ask you this: What else do you have to lose by trying? Nothing. But, you have EVERYTHING to gain. So why not try another way. Why not give yourself the opportunity to experience true freedom. I can guarantee if you really commit to this program, and you put forth real effort, you will not regret it.”
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