Hi all! Glad I stumbled across this site; anything I find that helps my recovery is a blessing and after reading through some of the posts, I'm coming to understand that saying "You have to give it away to keep it". Anyway, here is my story (it's a little long so my apologies but maybe it will keep someone busy enough they forgot about their cravings/obsessions for their DOC for a while...
~Admitting my addiction was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done. I don't like to appear weak and that's exactly what I was doing....admitting I was powerless over opiates (my drug of choice). But before I was able to admit to myself and others my addiction, I put everyone around me through hell and back, including myself. First, I wrecked our car, then parked it in a casino parking lot and was gambling large amounts of money when my husband found me in the middle of the night, holding our 3 month old infant. Then, I was caught stealing hundreds of pills from my husband's aunt. That didn't stop my lying, cheating, and stealing. Shortly after that incident....I lied and told my husband I was going to quit....I overdosed in the unit I worked in shortly before the day shift came on (I was a critical care nurse at the time). I hadn't taken any more than I usually did but I guess I crossed a very thin threshold because my coworkers found me unconscious and had me taken to the ER. About 8 hours later, I regained consciousness and realized what had happened. The addict in me thought, "oh great...now how am I going to get high without everyone watching me with an eagle eye?". No thoughts about what I had put my family through, what danger I had put my patients in, and what I had done to my career.
By this time, my addiction had climbed to about 40-50 Norco's and approx. 10-12mg of Xanax daily. I no longer was feeling the "high" I had so loved in the beginning and had to keep taking large doses just to feel "normal". Of course, that was MY perception of things....normal. To everyone else, there was something horribly wrong. My coworkers later told my husband they thought something was "off" but weren't sure and my mother fessed up that she thought I was doing drugs but was afraid to say anything to my husband. And my husband was telling everyone that I was probably just tired, having a newborn to contend with (yes, I am still working on forgiving myself for the addiction while having a brand new baby...it's something I will struggle with for a very long time, I suspect). I have wonderful enablers surrounding me. They are now attending Alanon meetings, much to my relief. It's helping them deal with their feelings and everything I've put them through.
I was released later that day from the hospital and together, my husband and I concocted a story to cover up the loss of my job (can you say "denial"?). We told everyone that I decided to put my license on inactive status while I stayed home to raise our baby. I was still very much in denial and figured I could control things. I took a part time job to earn a little extra money and keep from going crazy at home. About 2 months into being "clean", I met a coworker who had "issues" from supposed lower back pain and neck pain. On our second day working together, he slips me a "care package" as he called it....with several vicodin, oxycontins and xanax. Had I been in a 12 step program, had a sponser, or taken the Board of Nursing up on their program (they offer impaired nurses a monitoring agreement to help them keep their license), I would have had a fighting chance. Since I didn't, I accepted my little care package with mixed emotions and within several weeks, was getting my pain meds refilled again. And things just got worse from there. Soon, my prescribed meds weren't enough, so my coworker being the helpful guy he was, called in some refills he had left that he wasn't using and allowed me to pick them up for my personal use. Highly illegal, I realize, but the addict in me rationalized this behavior as an addict will. This happened a few times and then the sexual harrassment started. Every time I had to work with this individual, he would say extremely inappropriate comments and his behavior was definitely suspect. I felt I couldn't do anything because of him calling his refills to give to me. This just added to the need to feel nothing inside and numb all my emotions, which caused me to use more. It was a terrifying ride and I needed to get off and soon.
I broke down and told my family I couldn't do this alone and needed rehab. I spent all the time in rehab focusing on myself, attending my AA/NA meetings, going to process group and learning how to build a foundation on which I could start living sober. I returned to the nursing board and handed over my license (whereas before, it had only been on inactive status), at which point I agreed to enter into their program. My monitoring program is 5 years long and I'm required to attend at least 2 AA/NA meetings a week, a 2-hour Aftercare group once a week, a nurse support group once a week, submit to random urines for which I call in 365 days a year, individual counseling once a month, and have to submit regular reports from my sponsor and my supervisor at work. I cannot work in the area I previously had experience so I'm in an outpatient psychiatric clinic, which I LOVE. I work daily with addicts and alcoholics who are also struggling with mental illness. It's truly a blessing because I'm reminded of how precious my sobriety is each and every day.
Rehab was almost $30,000 and being involved in the monitoring program with the board of nursing costs me about $300/month. A small price to pay for my health, mental well being, my sanity, my family, and my career. I've learned a lot about myself and what made me turn to abusing the substance in the first place. The addict will always be with me, hiding in my brain, waiting to pounce when I feel weak.
I consider my overdose a gift from God because not only was I caught before I started to divert (steals meds from work), but had I gone home that morning and been allowed to sleep, I truly believe I wouldn't have woken up. The combination that killed Heath Ledger (one week after I overdosed) was in my system as well (realized later on that I had been abusing Ambien as well but was in denial about that because it wasn't a "narcotic"). I was unconscious for about 8 hours, without anyone able to rouse me, including my husband, who was at my side the entire time. I came out okay, physically, but realized that I had a huge problem and that I had lost my ability to care for my patients, along with my job and my license.
I think I was subconsciously screaming for help, hoping that someone would notice and get me help. But when I admitted of my own free will that I needed some professional help, it was time to get serious and help myself become a healthier, happier, SOBER person. Knowing that I'm working on becoming a better person gives me hope. I have accountability due to all the requirements of the Board and that will give me extra motivation to get better and stay sober. I'm scared to death that I won't make it and relapse, but I also realize that I have to take things one day at a time.
This roller coaster I've been on for the past few years hasn't ended as I have a long road ahead of me, but at least I will be able to ride it with a clear head. And if I can make it to the end of the ride, I will be a much more peaceful, content, confident person than I was prior to getting on the roller coaster! I hope that my story can help others out there, maybe those who don't want to admit they have a problem. I went for a couple of years thinking I was the one in control when it was really my bottle of pills that had all the power. I put everything in my life secondary to those pills and they nearly destroyed my life, hurt those I love, and almost ruined my career. I pray each morning that with the help of my Higher Power, I can choose sobriety that day. If you've gotten this far reading my story,