An Unexpected Addiction (or, Why My Dealer Wears A White Coat)

Something rather strange happened to me last week…
With the third back operation that I had in June looking like a huge success and the memory of the chronic and incessant pain I was suffering now just a dusty ghost town in the rear-view mirror of life, it seemed only logical for me to stop taking the pain medication that has regimented and divided my life into six-hourly segments for the past (nearly) five years.

Suddenly and to my horror, I found out that I was a bonafide drug addict.

The withdrawal symptoms I’m feeling have the hallmarks of pretty much all of the effects of stopping long term drug use. Night sweats, nausea and irrational anger. My skin feels too tight for my body and I can honestly hear my eyeballs moving. (It sounds just like a light-saber in my brain which would be terribly cool if it wasn’t so terribly horrible)

So I did a little digging and found out I wasn’t alone. In fact, I wasn’t alone to the tune of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world who tried to give up prolonged schedule 5 and 6 medication usage. And, like most of them, I wasn’t properly informed of their addictiveness before-hand and certainly not advised against quitting cold turkey. I didn’t even know they the drugs that I was using qualified the term ‘cold turkey’ because at the time. It never occurred to me to ask questions about what I was pouring down my throat three times a day because I was so desperate for some kind of relief.

But isn’t that true of all drug addictions – prescription or illicit? We’re all just looking for some sort of relief from whatever burden we are finding increasingly difficult to bear. The worst part is that we don’t realise that there is a problem until it’s time to stop taking it. Hell, I didn’t even know that there could be a problem. Trust me, coming to the revelation that you are addicted is a bit of a shock, especially when the drugs you are on are prescribed by a doctor, dispensed by a qualified pharmacist and paid for by medical insurance.

(One does not simply go cold turkey)

(One does not simply go cold turkey)

Just for the record, I’m not against painkillers at all. I do believe that they serve an important part in pain management and, used responsibly and correctly, can enhance your quality of life when you are suffering from chronic pain. What I am against and even angry about is the casual manner in which they are prescribed with seemingly no warnings or concerns about long term usage being raised by anyone.

My advice to you is simple. Ask questions. If your doctor can’t answer, insist that they find out and tell you. It’s important because it’s your body that has to deal with the side effects and no one should feel like I have for the past 10 days. I’m not so sure how much longer these symptoms will last but if there’s one thing that I’m certain of, I will beat this.
Because I am a husband…
Because I am a father…
Because I am not done!

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