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Hello again

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:39 pm
by ILoveChristmas
Hi folks,

It's been a long time since I last visited or contributed to this site, I'd guess maybe a couple of years nearly? (I checked, it's very nearly 2 years).

Anyway, I suppose as happens to everyone, life moves on, free time becomes less frequent and work becomes more stressful and so I ended up with little time to pop on. Life has been something of a rollercoaster of the past couple of years. Work has become much busier, my son's mum and I got back together and bought a house. That's all super.

Throughout all of that and in fact stretching back to 2013 I have had a problem. In the past, in fact until fairly recently, I didn't see it as a problem but that doesn't change the reality. I have a dependence on prescription painkillers.

It all started innocently enough, for a long time I've suffered from neck pain, usually I just swallowed some Paracetamol or Ibuprofen and hoped it'd go away, though it never did until I went to sleep and woke up again. Anyway, back in 2013 my sister came to stay with us for a period of time to recuperate following an operation. She was prescribed Tramadol (a synthetic opioid) for post-operative pain management. She didn't use them all and on her return home to her own house she left her remaining prescription behind. One day my neck was particularly painful. So much so that I literally punched myself in the neck in the hope I'd somehow 'click' something back into place and it would fix me. That didn't work, obviously. I got home, fished around in the medicine cabinet looking for something to take the edge off it when I came across the Tramadol. I'd looked at them previously but the first time I'd been scared off by the list of potential side-effects. This time I didn't care, I just necked two of them.

What magic was this I'd discovered? Not only did my pain, and I mean ALL of it, vanish within 10 minutes, I was left with this relaxed and happy buzz in my head. That answers the first question I've been asked recently; why? It was brilliantly effective at treating a problem I'd lived with for years. That's why.

But the second question is; why keep using them? Well, I liked it. Soon enough, even when the usual suspects of Paracetamol or Ibuprofen would do I'd find myself reaching for the Tramadol. The problem was, the relaxed happy feeling started to become more attractive than its pain killing properties and within a reasonably short space of time, certainly before I'd finished her prescription, I'd started taking them even when I wasn't in pain, just because I'd found a way to make me feel good.

The next issue was of course, where to get more of them from? I'm certainly not someone you'd find lurking around the seedier parts of my area trying to 'do business' with someone. I'd have no idea where to even begin. Luckily, Google came to my aid and I discovered that you could, quite legitimately, buy Tramadol online in the UK. You simply fill in a questionnaire describing some suitably-serious condition and assuming the prescribing doctor (whose name is invariably Indian-sounding) agrees, a discreet little package arrives the next day. Great! I had a good job so affording this stuff was never really an issue and that was it. I'd jumped on to the slippery slope to painkiller dependence.

In June 2014 the UK Government reclassified Tramadol as a controlled drug. That had the effect of meaning doctors could no longer prescribe it via electronic prescription, it had to be via special 'controlled drug prescription form', which the Government monitored the use of, hence doctors suddenly became much less willing to prescribe it. In any case, I'd lost my source. Not to worry, the internet can provide the answer to everything, so some quick Googling turned up another drug, not quite as potent as Tramadol, but crucially not a controlled drug so it was still available via my 'usual source'. The problem continued.

You'll notice until now I've referred to myself as being 'dependent' rather than 'addicted'. You might choose not to distinguish but it's my belief there is a difference, even if it's only in my head, it helps. Dependence is a psychological thing, it's your brain telling you you 'need' something because the substance you're taking has altered your brain chemistry such that not taking it leads to withdrawal symptoms. Addiction encompasses a lot of things, not least the unconquerable desire to obtain something at all costs. Dependent people suffer withdrawal. Addicts do anything and everything to get their 'fix'. You can be both, but personally I am dependent, not addicted.

Anyway, I have tried to stop a few times, however I have so far succumbed to temptation sooner or later, usually after a month or so of being 'clean' when the memory of the harsh and unpleasant withdrawal phase is past and I begin to remember the pleasant effects it provided me with.

Why do I raise the issue now? Well, I have recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I decided to tell my doctor what I was doing and it was he who uncovered what is probably the real reason for my abuse of painkillers. For years and years, in fact honestly as wrong as I can remember I have suffered from depression and anxiety. Honestly I just put it down to how everyone felt. In the words of Jim Carrey, I felt a 'constant state of mild despair' but assumed it to be normal. In taking opiates I had found something that would take those feelings away.

I am now on medication that will hopefully stabilise my mood and anxiety. We'll see how that works out. I'm also going cold-turkey on the opiates. I've done that before and I know it to be a wholly unpleasant experience that lasts for a couple of weeks but needs must. It can't go on forever, I've been telling myself that for the past year or more. All it would take is for one of my prescriptions to be declined by a doctor and this whole process would have been forced upon me.

So that's my story and where I am now. Opiate dependence is a huge but secret problem in our society, in fact in a perverse way it's quite comforting looking at the various forums out there and seeing how many people are going through exactly the same as me right now.

I sincerely hope nobody judges me, particularly those who have known me for a long time.


Re: Hello again

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:01 pm
by snail
Welcome back, ILC! :D

I don't have time to write the thoughtful reply your subject warrants at the moment (busy with work things) but I just wanted to say hello, that I'm very glad you are getting some help from your GP, and you are not the first person I've known that this has happened to.

Re: Hello again

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:06 am
by David020549
I do understand how debilitating continuous pain can be and so will your GP, the temptation to find relief became overwhelming but now you face the dependance problem. Now is the time to tell your GP the whole story, the neck pain, the pain killers and the depression, he/she will refer you to the relevant specialists and you will get help to get back to a normal life.
Be optimistic, from your posting your problems are moderate, during your treatment you will come to realize there are others with much more serious conditions. There is no reason why a complete recovery will not come quickly and most of all the neck pain gets treated as well.

Re: Hello again

PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:37 pm
by snail
Is there any update on this, ILC? How has the cold turkey gone, and how are you adjusting to the medication the GP prescribed? Have you been able to talk about this to anyone else?

Re: Hello again

PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:55 pm
by ILoveChristmas
Hi Snail,

It's going fine. I found the medication prescribed by my doctor was extremely effective in controlling my mood and the normal crash into depression I know to expect during withdrawal. I've known that process to last upwards of two to three weeks in the past before I begin to feel mentally and emotionally more 'normal'. This time it was a matter of days before I reached that phase. Of course the medication does nothing to allay the physical withdrawal. This time that has been the worst part of it rather than the depression and anxiety. Physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal are not pleasant, it's like having a bad dose of the flu, makes you run to the toilet and gives you restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Today is day 15 since I last took any and I'm still experience post-acute physical withdrawal. Much less severe than the first two weeks but it's still there and still interfering with sleep, although I find I'm now able to function during the day without much interruption.

The key thing going forward will be to maintain abstinence. I have taken steps to ensure my usual routes of supply are cut off and I have made contact with Narcotics Anonymous. They run weekly meetings in my area but the timing of them is bad for me and I'm unable to make them. I find that a real shame because I feel like I would benefit from talking my situation over with someone to explore the reasons why I got to where I am and how best to avoid it in future. I do have the phone number of someone from NA and at the moment I'm content to have that, I can at least reach out to him rather than do anything silly.

I have set myself goals to achieve within the next 6 months that will not be possible if I relapse so I hope to use that as another incentive to keep on track.

Thanks for checking in on me, I do appreciate it :) It's good to feel more human again and not live a life that revolves around how long it is until I can get home to self-medicate again!