Drug Detox and Rehab Financed …More than 63 percent of American workers abuse alcohol, and more than 13 percent abuse drugs. Alcohol and drug addiction costs America's employers… Learn more.
A Story By an OxyContin Survivor
The Anatomy of Pain and Addiction
In the spring of 2000, I awoke one morning with all over muscle aches and fatigue. It persisted for over two weeks, and I became frustrated having to deal with the pain, which was, at times, debilitating. I saw my primary care physician, and he ultimately diagnosed me with a condition called Fibromyalgia. It’s a disease of the central nervous system that manifests itself in all over body pain and chronic fatigue. The only treatment available for this condition is powerful narcotics, so he referred to a pain management specialist. When I arrived home, I called and made an appointment.
Several days later, I met with the doctor, and we spoke about my condition. He recommended a medication called “OxyContin.” He told me it was a time-released tablet, to be taken every 12 hours. It would release narcotic into my bloodstream steadily throughout the day and night, and he said it was really important that I follow the dosing instructions carefully. He also warned me not to take more than the prescribed dose; otherwise I’d run out and go through withdrawal. I asked him what withdrawal would feel like. He smiled, and told me in no uncertain terms, it was torture. He wrote me a prescription, which I filled at a local pharmacy on the way home.
I took my first dose, and then I waited, cautiously optimistic that my pain would start to disappear. About twenty minutes later, a strange sensation came over me. My pain had diminished, but there was something else happening. I noticed that I had a sense of euphoria, and I felt energized and mellow at the same time. I realized I had stumbled onto something amazing. I was sure I had uncovered the holy grail of well being. I was in the zone – feeling contemplative and reflective. For the next several weeks, I was virtually pain free, and did all the things I’d been putting off. I cleaned the house, did the laundry, and loaded the dishwasher.
I felt great – and I craved more of those same feelings. At some point, I began to chase the “high.” The urges came on quietly at first. I began shaving a few hours off between doses, and even though I knew this behavior would result in my running out early, I was, nevertheless, compelled to continue. It seemed like the more of the drug I had in my system, the more fantastic I felt. The pleasurable sensations would ebb and flow, and I remained in a constant state of perpetual bliss. I became so attracted to this feeling that one day I wondered how much better I would feel if I took two tablets at a time. The rational part of my brain immediately protested, but another part became anxious at the prospect.
Before I consciously realized what I was doing, I put two tablets in my mouth and swallowed quickly. I went to the living room and laid down on the couch, preparing myself to enjoy the rush that would inevitably come. And I was not disappointed. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I reached a new level of intoxication, and it was amazing. I didn’t know it then, but that was the moment I stepped over the line from a legitimate pain patient, on my way to full blown addict.
I used the drug this way for several more weeks. Sometimes I would take so much that I would become semi-conscious. I became isolated in my home like a prisoner. I was way too wasted to drive anywhere, and when I wasn’t sleeping. I’d sit alone in my living room, slumped over on the couch. I would have moments of clarity when my rational brain would scream at me to stop. However, those messages were always overridden by the compulsion to keep taking more.
Over the course of several weeks, I stopped showering, brushing my teeth, and I slept in my clothes. The house looked as if a tornado had hit it, with stacks of dirty dishes in the sink and laundry piled up. I stopped answering the phone all together. I had no appetite, and felt sick afterward when I did eat. I kept telling myself that I would stop tomorrow, but it was obvious, even to me, that I had lost the ability to make a conscious choice. I finally did stop, because I ran out of pills. I woke one morning, and made a beeline to the kitchen.
I opened the bottle and, to my horror, it was empty! I pulled the calendar down from the shelf and counted the days until my next doctor’s appointment: I had run out nine days early. Frustrated, I went to the living room and laid on the couch. I closed my eyes and hunkered down, waiting for pain to rear its ugly head. And it certainly did. After an hour or so, it returned with a vengeance. Every muscle in my body went into spasms, blasting through me like a freight train. As the pain intensified, I felt my whole body tense up. By the time several hours had passed, the pain had transformed into sheer agony. Fear rose up inside of me, and I was scared of what would happen next.
When I felt it coming, I instinctively jumped to my feet with an alarming sense of urgency. Once across the threshold of the bathroom, I lunged toward the toilet. I grabbed the tank with both hands to support my upper body, and dropped my head. I had one short second to inhale before it began. I started to vomit repeatedly. I wretched and I heaved, and a putrid mixture of liquid and solids came up. It burned my throat and filled my nostrils. Soon my stomach was empty, but I continued to dry heave, over and over.
When I had a brief reprieve, I returned to the couch. No sooner did I sit down when I had a sudden urge to have a bowel movement. I headed back toward the bathroom, but I didn’t make it. I soiled myself, and the diarrhea was explosive. I cleaned myself up, and just when I headed back to the couch, it began again. At that point, I was really frightened, and I longed for just one more little yellow pill to end this physical assault. I spent the next six hours on the couch, crawling out of my skin. It like there were bugs on my skin, and my legs spasmed and jerked continuously. I laid there, starring at the digital clock the cable box, retching and shivering and hurting, watching the minutes crawl by.
As the days passed, I began to feel a little better. The vomiting and diarrhea let up, and I could sleep for several hours at a time. I was keeping my meals down, and I was confident I had finally turned the corner. On the day of my appointment, I made it back to my doctor’s office. I lied to him and told him everything was fine. I reported that the medication was working, and my pain was under control. I guess I was pretty convincing because he pulled out his prescription pad and wrote me for another month.
He’d spent less than ten minutes with me. It had almost seemed too easy. I looked at the prescription, and I noticed that my heart began to beat faster and I started to sweat. Just the mere sight of the prescription was enough to wake up the demon. I filled it on the way home. As I took the bottle out of the sack, I thought to myself “Welcome back, my friends. I’ve missed you.” It was the very beginning of the prescription so the bottle was full. I was confident that if I took two pills, I’d be able to make it up during the month. Just this once, I told myself. Then it’s back to the right dose. Yeah, sure. I spent the next couple of weeks trying desperately to keep my consumption under control. I did better on some days than others, but I was still using more than prescribed.
I was watching television one evening, and I found an episode of “48 Hours.” I hit the info button on the remote to see what it was about. I couldn’t believe it when I read the screen. It said, “The epidemic of abuse of prescription medication, including the most dangerous drug, Oxycontin.” My eyes were glued to the set. The broadcast featured a graduate student who had become addicted to Oxycontin after a skiing accident. I watched as he described what it was like to take Oxy’s, and the ways he ingested them. It showed him using two spoons to crush up two little yellow pills (that looked just like mine) into a fine powder. He shared that when did that, the time-released component of the drug broke down and all of the medication was released at once. He said when he did this he’d get a mind-blowing high.
That’s all I needed to hear. I headed to the kitchen and pulled two teaspoons out of the drawer. I retrieved two pills and crushed them up the same way. I put the powder in my mouth and washed it down with water. And then, I waited – but not for long. He was so right. It hit me much faster and harder, and I was thrilled. The next thing I remembered was waking up on the couch. For a few minutes, I was disoriented. I glanced at the clock, and it read 4:30 p.m. My God – where had the last four hours gone?
I noticed there was something sticky on my shirt that smelled like strawberries. Puzzled, I went into the kitchen and there were open jars of peanut butter and jelly on the counter next to an open loaf of bread. There were also little piles of jelly on the floor. I wondered if my husband was home, but he wasn’t. I surmised that I must have made a sandwich, but I had no recollection of the event. This episode was a milestone for me, And although at the time I didn’t realize it, I had just experienced my first drug-induced blackout.
As the months went by, my overall health and appearance dramatically declined. I had lost almost forty pounds, and there were dark circles under my eyes. My hair was a disheveled mess, and my body odor was pungent. At times I would go weeks without taking a shower. I always tried to clean up before my doctor’s appointment, so he wouldn’t notice how drastically I had deteriorated. Somehow, it worked. The ten or so minutes he spent with me each month were uneventful.
The house was in chaos, and when my husband would come home, I could see the frustration on his face. Most of the time, he bit his tongue. However, every so often he would confront me. Those episodes would always end up in a heated argument. Weeks turned into months, and the only time I wasn’t high was when I was sleeping. I was caught in a vicious cycle with no way out. I’d regularly lose periods of time; usually at least several hours. Even so, oblivion was an attractive alternative to sitting in my living room, all alone.
I opened my eyes, and was confused. My vision was blurry, and my body felt incredibly heavy. I realized I had a tube down my throat. I heard a machine beeping, and metal banging against metal. It sounded like a busy cafeteria, but that didn’t make any sense. A man’s face appeared above me, and he smiled. It took me several more minutes to get my bearings. I finally realized I was in a hospital bed. The man told me to be patient, and said he’d remove the tube as soon as I stabilized. As my sleepy mind awoke, I realized I was in an emergency room.
I tried to think back and recall the last thing I remembered. I had been sitting on my living room couch watching television. So how had I gotten to the ER, and why was I there? Several minutes later the doctor returned and removed the tube. The first question I asked him was why I was there. He told me my husband had called 911 when he came home to find me passed out on the couch. My lips were blue, and I was barely breathing. He said when the ambulance arrived, the paramedics scooped me up and rushed me there. Evidently, my heart stopped on the way, but they were able to revive me. I remained silent, and all I could think to myself was, “Oh God, I really did it this time – I blew it big time.”
Just then my husband came in and gently kissed me on the forehead. He began to cry, and I could tell the episode had scared him terribly. He just kept telling me that I had died, and he wouldn’t sit back and watch me kill myself anymore. I was overcome with guilt and shame, and I knew things had to change. After my husband issued me an ultimatum, I agreed to go to treatment. I was scared to death, but I agreed to go to save my marriage. The next morning I did some research on the internet and found a residential treatment program.
Cheryl made it through treatment and has her life back. However, thousands more have not been able to be revived when they overdosed on OxyContin. Some of the deaths of teens were after taking one pill. Others were taking the deadly narcotic as prescribed but they overdosed and died.
Recent Blog Articles
Methadone replacement therapy …Yet another study (there have been many) shows that methadone replacement therapy for opioid addicts can lower HIV and hepatitis infection… Learn more.
Prescription Drug Addiction St…Although Xanax isn’t all over the news like OxyContin, 456 Floridians overdosed on Xanax in 2006, according to a report from the Florida… Learn more.
Find Out If Your Insurance Will Pay
- Assessment: Do I Need Detox or Rehab?
- What is Detox?
- How Long Will It Take?
- What Will It Cost?
- Symptoms of Withdrawal
- Our Facility
- Contact Us