My Advice for Quitting Opiates

 

Before anything else, if you are taking pain medicine, you must consider: how is your pain? How will you treat it? You cannot know how much pain you are in until you are off drugs. Bit of a problem.

I could feel my body responding and improving through my opiate haze. With daily injections of Vitamin C, it was reacting to the stress of physical therapy by strengthening itself. Physical therapy hurt, but my pain meltdowns were significantly shallower and shorter. The choice to try getting off the drugs was mine alone.

1. Plan your titrate with a pharmacist or a doctor.

Opiate withdrawal is generally not fatal, but it can be if you have a heart condition. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Cocaine withdrawal can cause seizures. Get some advice from someone whose last name is MD. Even if you are on something illegal, ask a doctor for help. Please! It is their job to advise you and keep your secrets.

The pharmacist told me to get off the Vicodin first, then the morphine, then the soma. Why the Vicodin first? Because that one is the hardest to get off. It is a synthetic drug. Morphine is pretty much straight up opium and withdrawal off it is easier. This confused me because Vicodin was the easier drug to get. Yet harder to get off? Huh? She was right!

I would wake up crying from the Vicodin withdrawal, so Dummy (that’s me) cut back on both Vicodin and morphine alternately because the Vicodin withdrawal hurt too much. Plus I hated them both so much I really couldn’t decide which to focus on. I was not able to think clearly. I had liquid Vicodin and liquid morphine so I could cut back 1 mg at a time. I made a reduction every few days, one then the other. Now I wonder if it would have been just a little easier to quit the Vicodin completely, wait a few weeks or months, then start reducing the morphine. 

I made a chart and put it on my refrigerator. I would be shaking and near hysterical every night as I took a little bit then a little bit less. The ritual of precisely measuring out a dose and marking my chart soothed me. It seemed like maybe I would get to zero. I took pics of all of this, but lost them when my iPhone crashed, in the days before clouding.

2. Get some supportive people around you.

Who will tolerate you, not argue with you and not burden you with their problems which are nothing compared to opiate withdrawal, unless they are locked up in North Korea. Ask for tolerance and understanding, as opiate withdrawal will not bring out the best parts of your personality. 

3. Get ready to lose friends.

Especially any who have substance problems of their own. You might be surprised to find out who does. They are the ones encouraging you to continue drug taking and even offering you their favorites. Downright rude! I lost some friends that I rather enjoyed. Oh well.

4. Just go ahead and diagnose yourself with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

That’s a good label for the GI distress of opiate withdrawal. It is not going away anytime soon. There are opiate receptors in the digestive tract. They are used to being bombarded with opium.

It helps just not to eat, in which case you get to be skinny. Resting my digestive tract by not intaking calories gave it a lot of relief. 

Try a methylcellulose fiber supplement twice a day: Citrucel.

Magnesium is problematic. It can cause diarrhea and acid reflux, which you will be having anyway.

Familiarize yourself with the FODMAP eating guidelines to avoid the most irritating foods. It is a good place to start when looking for which foods provoke your GI drama. You will probably find FODMAP to be 50-60% useful and you can figure out your own aggravating foods from there. Aggravating foods are very individual and can change. 

I know that coconut oil is supposedly the second coming of Jesus, but it is very irritating to the cells in the digestive tract. Skip it and the coconut milk and see if that helps you. I had severe gastritis in Thailand while I ate the best food I ever had in my life. Oh, that was why.

Other advice the dietician gave me is that the fat in processed/packaged foods contains additives that are very hard on the gut, and rarely is gluten the problem. Avoid crackers, chips, popcorn, packaged baked goods, etc. Find a local bakery if you want something baked. A proper baguette should be made with no fat, so that might be safe option in a supermarket. 

Also, high-heat treated carbohydrates such as fries or the breading on fried food is very hard on the gut. Skip them and donuts.

5. Heating pads, chicken broth, and massage tools for rubbing your painful, spasming legs. Get ’em.

I remember shaking and shivering with my mug of broth at 1:00 am during acute withdrawal yet again, when I found the greatest TV show ever: #RichKids of Beverly Hills. That vapid, fast moving, totally dumb show got me through. I still love to watch it. Thank you, #RichKids. Dorothy Wang, you are my favorite! Dorothy, e-mail me and let’s have lunch in the cafe at Neiman’s in Beverly Hills. 

6. Exercise as much as you can.

Heavy exercise heals the brain. It also makes you look good. If you can’t feel good, at least you can look good. That will make you feel better.

Take more salt if you are dizzy. You need salt in order to stay hydrated, because without enough of it, the body cannot hang onto fluid. You need potassium only if you have a lot of diarrhea. You will. Both sodium or potassium depletion can make you feel weak and miserable. Ask the doctor, who can order lab work for you. 

As someone with autonomic dysfunction, dizziness was a major problem during withdrawal. My biggest fear was falling, cracking my head open and waking up in the ER having been given a Demerol shot. I wanted to tattoo NO OPIATES to my forehead. Luckily, I never fell. I was very, very careful.

7. I could not tolerate the Clonidine patch as my blood pressure is already too low. Darn!

This is a sedating blood pressure medication. It is prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms. Wish I could have tolerated it. 

8. Take lots of Vitamin C.

Studies show taking C eases opiate withdrawal. I was injecting twice as much. And the shots hurt ten times as much. No longer bathed in opiates, your brain will register both physical and emotional pain very strongly. This is not going away anytime soon. Enjoy!

9. Get the Costco-sized bottle of Benadryl.

Benadryl was recommended to me to help withdrawal insomnia. Antihistamines stimulate appetite. Benadryl seemed to cause my stomach more confusion when it was already very upset. No winning in opiate withdrawal. 

10. Do whatever you need to comfort yourself, aside from taking opiates.

Homeopathic remedies have nothing in them. Try taking some just to satisfy your brain with the ritual of taking a pill. The placebo effect is an amazing and powerful phenomenon. It does not even matter that you know it is ineffective. Seriously, try this! It turned the volume down on my brain screaming at night when I took any pill at the time when I used to take morphine.

During the very very end of my titrate I had lots of vodka and homemade brownies. Totally worth the weight gain. Save the big distractions for the end.

Then I drank a lot during post acute withdrawal because of the unending emotional agony. Oh well. I was careful about my dabbling in alcoholism. I did not drink and drive. I told myself every night that I had better sort this out or I would become an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a common occurrence after long-term opiate use. I understand why. Opium is a powerful brain depressant. Alcohol is, too. My brain was so just so used to that. 

11.  On the question of medical marijuana, friends told me to try it to get off opiates.

I went down to a clinic in Venice. When the doctor found out I was there to get off opiates, not to get high by faking pain, he told me to go to rehab. He was the one who let the cat out of the bag, that post acute opiate withdrawal (when you are off entirely) is actually worse than acute withdrawal. I went home hysterical. I thought I only had to make it to getting off. What?????

I got some medical marijuana but never took it. In the end, I gave it to the LA County Sheriff with all my remaining opiates. Why? I could not find anyone who switched from heroin to pot and then got off the pot. They just stayed on the pot. Opiate withdrawal is so bad, that should tell you how strong pot is. 

Maybe those people are out there, who went from opiates to pot to nothing, but I just couldn’t find them. I had no energy to keep looking for them. The potheads I had talked to screamed at me for asking if they had gotten off the pot. I am not joking. They swore they did not need to get off the pot because it is not addictive! It is a perfect magical herb! That everyone should be on! That’s why I call them potheads.

Also, at the pot clinic, everyone there except the doctor was very high. I mean, I’ve never seen people that stoned. I was never that stoned on my opiates. They forgot to ask me to pay for the appointment, because they were all so high. Dummy (that’s me) actually returned to the clinic and paid them when I realized they had not charged me. In acute opiate withdrawal, I was in better shape than they were. It was sad to see these young people working there doing this with their lives. Looked like a form of slavery to me. 

At the marijuana dispensary I kept telling them I didn’t want to smoke anything, and no one could remember that even for 15 seconds, no matter how many times I said it. Wow. Not the sales technique to win this customer over. At least the opiates hadn’t obliterated my ability to form short-term memory. Something to be glad about. Don’t misunderstand me, opiates are no asset to your brain function. There is no question that marijuana would be a better choice than methadone or heroin. But I was embarrassed for these people living a Cheech & Chong movie. I did not know whether to laugh at them or cry for them, or punch them when they told how great it is to give this stuff to your kids.

I thought about the nice pharmacist at Ralph’s who was always so kind to me and went out of his way for me and had real answers for my questions about my drugs. What if he came to work drunk? Oh, right, real medical personnel are not allowed to be inebriated at work. He would get fired and lose his license.

The whole scene was deeply offensive to me as a professional patient. Patients deserve better.

I was so dopesick and exhausted, I decided to resume my titrate. As a general rule, I try to stick with the problems I have, not complicate my life with new ones.

But this experience helped me so much. I suspect people trying to get off the opiates get sidetracked because doctors are not honest with them about what this is going to take. So, thank you, Medical Marijuana Doctor for telling me the truth. Thank you also, Disturbing Staff at medical marijuana clinic and dispensary. You showed me that my suffering had meaning. You reminded me how desperately I did not want to be a drug slave, and you gave me the courage to keep going.  

I considered suboxone but passed for similar reasons. Suboxone is like methadone except it contains an opiate agonist (stops the effect of the opiates) so people do not overdose and die on it. It is still under patent so it is quite expensive.

The addiction psychiatrist thought I was a good candidate for it. He is the person with the billing codes for suboxone, something the pain doctors did not know. But by the time I figured out how to get it and got an appointment with him, I was very far into my titrate. Maybe it would have been easier if I switched to suboxone much sooner and then gotten off that?

I knew from my research that many people go from opiates to suboxone but then cannot get off the suboxone. Like marijuana, suboxone stays in your body for weeks after a dose. Then, the adjustment period after you are off entirely is the hardest part to get through and the suffering same, no matter how you got to zero, which the addiction psychiatrist sheepishly admitted when I checked it with him. With that critical information, I could make an informed decision. 

I was suffering, but Vicodin and morphine metabolize out fast. I was making real progress. Why not endure if I could possibly stand it. I was on the shorter road, the one I wanted to be on. Life was out there waiting for me. The end was in sight.

Get there and power through. Got it? I told Mr. Pennington if ever a time I needed ridiculously rich and phenomenally high calorie homemade brownies, it is now. I am getting to the end of my titrate before we leave for Comic-Con.

Comic-Con 2014, about two weeks off.

Comic-Con 2014, about two weeks off.

Overweight. Profoundly depressed. Satisfied. 

12.  If in intractable physical pain again, I would try medical marijuana.

I plan to do opiates long-term only if I am dying. I don’t ever ever ever want to go through this again. Getting off opiates was too hard. Dying would be easier.

Pain medicines, whether they are muscle relaxants, opiates or marijuana, and also benzodiazepines work by depressing brain function and interrupting memory and cognitive processing, in one way or another. Pain is extremely stressful and also extremely difficult to treat.

Marijuana is a brain depressant. It can cause psychosis. It is also addictive. It may be a better choice than other pain drugs. That remains to be seen. Now that it is legal in California, doctors can talk about it.

As far as treating the pain of Ehlers-Danlos, I have heard doctors say it works for some EDSers, and not for others. One doctor speaking at an EDS conference said he observed higher rates of marijuana induced cyclical vomiting in EDSers. The medical term for this is Cannibinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. It is a side-effect from chronic marijuana use. 

It would be nice to see medical marijuana studied, and prescribed properly with drug facts and disclosure of what is in it, just like real medicine, if we’re going to actually call it medicine. Quality Assurance!

Cannabis is a complex drug that works on the opiate receptors. Cannabis takes an incredibly long time to leave the body, around 30 days. Vicodin takes a few hours. That is one reason the withrawal from opiates is so dramatic. It is out fast.

I tried marijuana recently. I was not in pain, but I did give myself a C shot while stoned and it hurt as they sometimes do. I whakced my knee on a table leg while I was stoned. That hurt just as much as usual. Maybe I would have needed a lot more to deaden pain?

Marijuana killed my appetite, but that may have been because it tasted like rotten garbage and I could not get the haunting of it out of my palate. I would not inhale it because I have had too many problems with my lungs to smoke anything. Also, as an informed patient, I know that rapid delivery methods such as smoking or injecting produce very intense and quick highs, and thus are the most addictive delivery methods. So no thanks to those. Extended release morphine and Vicodin are also extra addicting forms. I am not sure if cannabis qualifes as an extended release drug, but I wonder because it takes so long to leave the body. That would be an interesting question for a doctor. 

Marijuana felt like a much milder version of the opiate bliss, which I always found fake and boring. On my marijuana high, I felt like not engaging with people. I wanted to be by myself. I felt more relaxed. I felt more stupid. The next morning I got oddly lost, which I blame on the short-term memory interruption from the cannabis. I had noticeable trouble powering up my brain that morning. It upset me. I do not want to be out-of-it.

You do what works for you: informed, honestly and safely. Pain is a very serious medical problem, especially when it is from the disaster of EDS. If medical marijuana is helping that, then good. 

13.  Get help from the addiction world.

You need understanding for how hard this is. But you don’t need a cult, so avoid AA and Scientology.

What is wrong with AA? Well, I do not agree that an addict is powerless, must depend on the group to beat the addiction, must surrender to God, is an addict because he has committed so many sins, and if AA does not solve the addiction it is his fault as the dogma of AA cannot be questioned. Why do courts in the US sentence people to attend the church of AA? Can you imagine a judge sentencing you to go to Catholic mass for your legal violation?

It is in the rules of AA that the dogma of AA cannot be updated. That is a shame because back when AA was founded, no one knew anything about addiction. Anonymous Bill, the founder, moved on to sex addiction when he stopped drinking, but no one called it that. His followers protected him as he prayed on newly sober females, another great tradition of AA, the 13th Step. Now a lot is known about the phenomena of addiction, but, aw shucks, AA cannot avail itself of that, per its own rules. Face palm. They do not even tell people to seek medical help if in alcohol withdrawal which can be fatal.

But AA can be a good place to find support. Keep in mind that people in AA get punished and humiliated if they use (they have to go back to start and lose their sponsees) so it is not an honest place, and few people there are actually continuously sober. There are other non-AA sobriety groups where people get to be honest about their struggles and do not have to worship God or Anonymous Bill or anyone.  

This is a wonderful article about life after alcoholism that appeared on neuroscientist Marc Lewis' blog. I enjoy the intelligent discourse on his site very much. I loved his book about the brain and addiction. It gave me real hope that my brain could heal.

14.  To control sugar cravings, I suggest you staple your hands to the floor, especially during Valentine’s Day and Easter.

I repeatedly found myself paying for a chocolate bar wrapper in the check-out line at the grocery store. If you know me, you know I would NEVER eat in a store, and NEVER eat an entire chocolate bar all at once. I’m not sure where that chocolate went and how that empty wrapper ended up in my hands. I paid anyway. This happened over and over. Mystery.

15.  Don’t worry about getting fat. You will.

My weight went up and down in PAWS, by 10-15 pounds. This made me very unhappy. I refused to buy bigger clothes. This was motivation. I wore skirts or dresses until I summoned the drive to get the weight off.

Doctors did not take my weight concerns seriously. My cardiologist, primary care provider, and pain doctor, all said, “Congratulations, you did the hard part, go have a donut! Your weight is fine.” 

But I want to be thin!!! And you don’t know how many donuts I will eat!!! And I don’t even like donuts!!! Im miserable!!! What is wrong with me????

This is not fat shaming. When you get up in the morning and have an appropriate, flattering outfit to put on that gives you confidence, you have started the day in a better mood and no matter what goes wrong, you will have just that much more resilience. This relieves anxiety and depression. Once I started feeling better from my Vitamin C shots and could tolerate wearing clothing that was not pajamas or yoga clothes, you bet I did it. I began dressing up for my medical appointments. They went better. To be able to dress like a grown-up is a gift. Do not refuse this gift by running around town in stained, mismatched clothes appropriate for cleaning out a garage. Presenting oneself well is a courtesy to others. The reciprocating kindness you get from strangers for your efforts may also alleviate anxiety and depression.

Obesity gives you a much higher risk for many disease you do you not want, a fact not in dispute by anyone except the eating disorder treatment industry which endorses the all-snacking-all-the-time regimen, which I guess they do because their treatments are so ineffective? A therapist I was seeing suggested a cognitive behavioral therapy eating disorder workbook for my complaints about my post-opiate sugar bingeing. The plan in that book was to eat all day long, even if you do not want to, write it all down, report it to the therapist and you are forbidden from being mad or depressed about gaining weight from this “treatment." That was the end of that relationship. I was confused about why a psychotherapist was giving me dietary advice. Is that even legal? Can you imagine telling a binge drinker to spread their drinking out all day to end the binge drinking? LOL. Who has the time for such nonsense.

16.  The pain doctor and addiction psychiatrist both told me to stay on the soma every night long after I was off the Vicodin and morphine.

I stayed on one soma per night for probably a year after I was off the opiates. PAWS is just that unbearable. Then I ran into problems.

I’d quit the soma and somehow end up drinking every night instead. I’m a lightweight, so the amount I was drinking alarmed no one, because it didn’t sound like much, although for me it was. Like my donut problem, the doctors weren’t worried about my alcohol consumption. But I was worried.

I’m a grown-up, so I would force myself to stop drinking. Then suddenly I’d be back taking soma every night. Then I had to ease off the soma with alcohol. I was beginning to not like myself. I was a mess.

I trust doctors, so I was honest about my struggles. I was not an addict, again I was told, because I did not have a psychological compulsion. Post-opiates, I was just so depressed. Every night after I fell asleep came the night terrors. You would be drinking every night too if that was happening to you. But that’s not a psychological compulsion, just situational self-soothing. 

See the difference? That’s not addiction!

Whatever. Eye roll. 

17. A word on compulsions to use.

You are human. So am I. We are complicated creatures, full of needs and desires we will never fully understand. To make things worse, you cannot really help who you are or much of what happens to you. 

Life... unfair, overwhelming and confusing. It is a challenge. Why not embrace it. You can develop skills so that you can exist without bombing yourself with drugs or other highly distracting compulsive behaviors that make you feel like you cannot get though a day without them, which is a lie but a very convincing one.

Current research suggests that addictive compulsions may develop from surviving trauma. Life can be very traumatic. Congratulations, you have survived. Now what do you do? Unfortunately, talking in depth about trauma does little to relieve it. But you can develop skills of distracting yourself from your urges and staying away from behaviors that you do not want to be controlling you. Do not keep cookies in your house, do not drive by the donut shop, do not keep your dealer’s phone number. Be strategic and for God’s sake just keep learning and trying! A brain makes habits. That is a fundamental job of the brain. How ever these habits came to be, they will take practice and effort to overcome. 

This is the opposite of arguing with powerful and complicated feelings and urges. This is the opposite from trying to make those feelings go away. See the difference? Willpower alone may not get you through. Skills might. If you use again, do not go into a shame spiral. It is no one’s business, either. Just pick up and keep moving immediately. My opinion. Get back to working on living a full life and avoiding using again. You are going to have to figure that out, and you can. Just never do unsafe things like drunk driving or sharing needles, etc. That is never okay. Do not break the law. Who needs legal problems? Get medical advice so you can take of your body, your greatest asset. 

In the struggle to quit something, you get to learn about yourself and who you are and who you want to be. Ah, the on-going existential crisis that is life! It’s not easy.

Engage your senses. See, hear, taste, touch, feel. Take up hobbies: knitting and gardening are rated among the most fulfilling. Learn about life on our amazing planet, and the fascinating legacy of being a human inhabitant on it. There is no end of wonders here.

Be around other people. Connect with them. Let art move you. Expand yourself. Try new things. Explore love and caring for others. Be brave. Think about what has happened to you and who that has made you and who you would like to be. Pay attention to your life: at home, in the world, who you are in relationships, and value your experiences. Hey wait, is this mindfulness?

Drugs/compulsive behaviors are isolating and limiting. Keep moving toward the opposite of isolating and limiting.

18. This brings me to the topic of meditation, in case anyone is still reading this.

If you meditate, how ever much time you spend meditating, I suggest you spend that same amount of time doing something to understand and solve your problems. Because you just spent a good chunk of time trying to be impervious to stress, do not get lulled into a false sense that your life actually improved. This was a self-soothing endeavor. Nothing outside you changed. Relaxing is important, but you had better get off your butt and do something about your life. 

If you want to be really excellent at life, after you have meditated and then spent that same amount of time figuring out your problems, devote that same time interval to enriching yourself by learning or improving a skill or figuring out how to be asset to the people who are good to you. Just imagine what that might do for your life and happiness. People might love you more. Find your passions, and then please stand next to me at a cocktail party because I want to hear them.

If you solve your problems, then you will have attention and an appetite for a fun vacation. You won’t need to escape life at a yoga retreat. Don’t get me wrong, they sound like fun, especially the part when everyone gets a turn at crying about their bad divorce or childhood. If I found a yoga retreat for people who just got out of prison for a crime they did not commit, I would sign up. Those are the people I would like to cathart with. Until I hear of one, I will put off booking a yoga retreat until I cannot think of anything more fun to do.

I found the loveliest book on meditation and mindfulness, only it is not about that. Who knew you could engage in these lofty pursuits and live at the same time.

19. Emotionally shipwrecked. You, too?

My life had been consumed by illness. I did not know what problems a person could have if he could get out of bed and did not have intractable pain. 

My life had been an endless marathon of 100 yard dashes to cross a room, to make it through a medical appointment, to cope with the loneliness and isolation of chronic illness, to survive another day of pain, another night of insomnia, without losing my mind. Surviving that takes a very specific skill set. Not only did I manage that, I stayed completely focused on getting well. With some excellent luck, I found a treatment that works pretty well on my stupid inherited disease. That was some high-tension, high-stress living, kind of impossible to shift out of, now that my disease was well-managed, and the chemical numbness ripped off. I was just lost and disoriented. I was not skilled at making the small decisions or paying any attention to my feelings.

I benefited from books about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I also really liked the HeartMath books.

I had a lot to learn about the more mundane but much more enjoyable parts of life, aspects other than extreme living caused by extreme illness. It was hard at first and very overwhelming.

I spent a lot of time with normal people, so I could learn what normal life was and how to get better at it. I found a lot of inspiration out there! Thank you, normal people slogging away at life. You have no idea how much I quietly studied you, and how much you taught me. Now, I love everyday normal life problems. They are much more fun than surviving one physical crisis after another. Everyday life takes real skills too, and I admire people who are good at it.

20.  My brain could not recover from long-term opiate use. 

One year went by. I was told my brain would heal by then. Nope, I was still a mess. The addiction psychiatrist said to give it two years. I waited another year. Nope, still a mess. I proceeded like I always do: undaunted by my agony, making bad jokes about it, working to figure out and solve my problems. I read everything I could find, kept talking to former addicts, and kept getting medical advice. My brain needed some help. 

Finally I got my break. I saw a psychiatrist who had a pain certificate who also had had a college roommate with Ehlers-Danlos. She understood me. She listened to my EDS saga, my pain saga, my trauma saga, my drug saga, my C shots, and how my brain was torturing me now. She said, “This has been a lot to go through. This has been unfair. You need neurofeedback and neurofeedback and more neurofeedback."

The brain is a complex electro-chemical organ. Neurofeedback is brain stimulation, essentially. Attempting to harmonize those brain waves, I guess you could say. I don’t exactly understand it.

Getting a qEEG (with poor neck posture).

Getting a qEEG (with poor neck posture).

My qEEG showed that my brain was not communicating with itself, was on fire from so many years of pain, was stuck in severe anxiety and PTSD, badly fogged and sleep deprived. Funny, that is exactly how it felt to be me!

EEG leads are being placed on my head. 

EEG leads are being placed on my head. 

I tried a few practitioners for neurofeedback. I did it for about nine months. It was always really really hard. Not the sessions themselves, because you just sit there and watch a computer game or I would use the time to study Japanese.

Studying 日本語.

Studying 日本語.

Neurofeedabck was just very overwhelming on my delicate nervous system and too sensitive body. I got stress rashes from it, or sometimes had the worst neuropathy of my life, ouch! Often it gave me insomnia or bad anxiety. I would get exhausted from it and really hungry. It never got easier.

But it worked. It was a gift. It shut down my night terrors very quickly. I began having long, emotional, vivid dreams where I was waking up in the morning with comforting insights into the horrors I had lived through, instead of waking up in the middle of the night, out of bed, across the room, shaking in fear. My brain became unstuck and able to move though and move on. My brain became able to handle pain better, my thinking became un-muddled and then clear. It healed. 

Neurofeedback was a lot like doing exercise that was too difficult for my flimsy body. I was glad it helped so much. I was glad when I stopped going. I would like to try it again someday but I would look for someone who had worked with ill people and hope that person could figure out how to make it tolerable for me.

21. Final thoughts. 

An addict has a psychological compulsion. I was only physically dependent on opiates. But that was the only difference. Other than that, I relate to addicts. I think there is a big gray area with psychological compulsion when you are dealing with a substance like opium, so powerful it is on the human body. So let’s all be on the same team here. Let’s treat people labeled as addicts with compassion and with actual medical care. Let’s treat people in physical pain not as if they are just too stupid not to be in pain and if they figured that out, they wouldn’t want drugs.

Recovery takes a long time. Maybe years. I had to sort out my life from top to bottom. I had to contemplate the past, find a way to live with what happened, re-evaluate everything, figure out who I am and find my place in the world. I’ll bet you will, too. Not a little project, that is. I think I’m still working on it. Your reading this is helping me. Thank you.

You, off drugs, no matter why you were taking them, will be a different person, your more fabulous self, I say. This will be a big adjustment for the people around you, too. Drugged, soothed and numbed, your needs were different. This might push their comfort level. Hopefully they will rise to the challenge and get to know you as you figure out who you are. 

You’ll be a real man by the end. You can do it.

I LOVE YOU. I RELATE TO YOU. I CARE ABOUT YOU. YOU CAN DO IT. 😘😘😘😘

Finding my happy again.

Finding my happy again.

Madora Pennington