Chronic Pain/Illness and Opiate Addiction.

Old 06-11-2017, 08:30 AM
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Chronic Pain/Illness and Opiate Addiction.

If you are like me and became addicted to opiates and/or heroin as a result of severe chronic illness(es)/pain or because of an injury, then I'd like you to take the time to read this and reassure you that you're not alone. Unfortunately, opiate addiction is rapidly becoming a worldwide epidemic, and more and more people are not only suffering, but are losing their lives because of it. An addiction to opiates can be severely debilitating and devastating. If anyone has any advice or wants to provide support/feedback on the topics of opiate addiction, chronic pain/illness, or both, it would be very much appreciated.

This is my story.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This could be potentially triggering for those who suffer from mental illness, including those with a history of suicidal thoughts and/or self harming behavior. This post also contains graphic descriptions of opiate use that could also be very triggering for some. I apologize if I appear to be romanticizing opiate addiction- that is not at all my intention. The very last thing I want to do is offend or trigger anyone, or cause any kind of harm. The main purpose of writing this is to try and express how much this problem has impacted my life, bring awareness, and possibly help another opiate addict to feel a little less alone. If sharing my story helps even one person, it would mean the world to me.
This is probably going to be very long. But I desperately need to get this out someone. Anyone. I know that I can't be the only one out there who is experiencing the kind of thoughts and feelings that I'm about to describe.

I'm seriously starting feel like I'm running out of options at this point, and that there may not be much hope left for me to overcome this vicious addiction. Some might think that I'm being over dramatic or that going through something like this can't be that bad, but please believe me when I tell you that the pain I feel everyday because of addiction is very real and very intense. It hurts me every single day and prevents me from living a fulfilling and productive life.

Enduring this addiction to opiates is without a doubt, the most difficult and painful thing that I have ever experienced in my 19 years on this Earth. Yes, I am only 19. I've been addicted to opiates since I was 15 years old, and I likely will have to deal with this for the rest of whatever life I have left. I would not wish opiate addiction on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I have done numerous other kinds drugs in my life, but nothing "got me" like opiates did. I never had an "addictive personality" until I was introduced to opiates.

I was immediately addicted from the moment I took that first pill. They way it numbed me in every way possible and how it just "took everything away" got me hooked right away. I can't tell you enough how many times I've wished that I could go back in time and prevent all of this from ever happening. It would spare me and those I care about from a lot of pain. I'm certain that my life would be completely different than the way it is now, and that it would be so much easier to live with myself. I know it's pointless and very unhealthy to think like this. But I can't help but obsess over all of the horrible things that I've done and the things that have happened to me because of my addiction. It haunts me every day. I am a 19 year old girl. Someone who is supposed to look forward to having a whole life ahead of them, and yet, I feel like I've already ruined my life beyond repair.

On opiates, I didn't have to feel anything I didn't want to feel. For as long as I can remember, I have always been someone who experiences feelings abnormally more intensely than others, which only made this kind of drug even more addictive and griping to me. When living a life of constant physical and emotional pain, especially at such a young age, saying that those pills were a godsend would be an understatement. Any kind of pain I had- whether it was physical,psychological, or a combination of both, just melted away entirely. Opiates induced an indescribable state of pure euphoric apathy- I did not care about anything or anyone for those 3 or 4 hours. If your drug is choice is opiates, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Opiate addiction is an extremely difficult concept to understand for people who've never suffered from it. It's impossible to describe or explain to someone who's never experienced it for themselves. And that is why so many of those who have and still are going through an addiction feel so incredibly alone, isolated, and misunderstood by everyone around them.

I just can't, no matter how hard I try, shake the feeling that opiate addiction will be the reason I die. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even for 5, 10, or even 20 years. Much of the time I believe this is going to kill me someday. Whenever I hear about someone who was clean for like 10 years and dies from a relapse, I can't help but think " that's probably going to be me".

I feel as though its just a matter of not if, but when it happens. I feel hopelessly trapped and that my death from this addiction is inevitable. This is the extent of the psychological damage and trauma this addiction has caused me. The combination of having severe and treatment resistant physical and mental illnesses has not only fueled my addiction, it has created this seemingly unbreakable vicious cycle of hopelessness and total self destruction that I can't escape from.

Just like millions of other Americans, a major contributor to the development and progression of my addiction was due to the use of opiates to manage severe chronic pain. Most days I still ask myself, in vain, why this happened to me.

When I was 15, I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease called Pseudotumor Cerebri. I was diagnosed after a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) revealed that I had elevated pressure within my brain. I'm pretty positive that every person that I told this to had never even once heard of this disease. I didn't even know it existed until I was diagnosed. Only about 1 in 100,000 people develop this disease in the United States. Just quickly google Pseudotumor Cerebri if you're curious and you'll see what I mean. There is currently no known cause or cure, and very little is understood about this condition in general. The majority of people who develop this condition will live with it for the rest of their lives. Many people are never able to achieve remission and some get so ill that they eventually become disabled. My physical, mental, social, and emotional health deteriorated rapidly in a matter of months. Before I knew it, whole life was completely turned upside down. I could no longer picture a future for myself. I was in constant agonizing pain every single day. And when I say everyday, I mean every. single. day. And it only continued to get worse for years until my first period of remission. (There's no "cure", however some people can achieve remission for varying lengths of time)

Several trips to the ER in a single week wasn't uncommon. I've been to the hospital so many times that I literally lost count. I have spent significantly more time in a hospital than someone should in an entire lifetime. I was so ill that I couldn't even leave my house, sometimes for weeks at a time. It was just too painful to even leave my bedroom. I missed eight months of my junior year of high school and lost most of my friends. My life was completely falling apart.

My first neurologist did not take my pain seriously. Because I was in constant agony, I wanted to kill myself just to make the pain stop. I ended up contemplating suicide on a regular and daily basis. He thought I was being an overdramatic and overemotional teenager and that I was in pain because I had depression. Basically, it was " all in my head". I became so incredibly frustrated that I lost any hope that I could ever live a normal functioning life again. Anger, frustration, and desperation drove me to self medicate. One of my friends who was also a low-level drug dealer saw how much I was suffering, and offered me something that could ease the pain. It was Vicodin.

Eventually I became so fed up with the way my doctor was treating me that I searched for a new one. After finding a new neurologist and an excellent neurosurgeon, I finally achieved remission in June 2015. The pain was completely gone. I could not even believe it. However, even though my physical pain was completely gone, I still couldn't stop taking opiates. I would make up any excuse to justify using them.

First it was 2 pills. Then 5. Then 10. Then 30. My habit was getting way too expensive, and it took so many pills to achieve the effects that I desired. It was 3 months after my first operation when I tried heroin for the first time. I was 17. My addiction went from bad, to worse. My downward spiral of addiction and self destruction took an immediate nose-dive. I made my first suicide attempt when I couldn't get more heroin. That's how much the addiction took over my mind. I was so addicted, that I would have literally rather killed myself than live without it for one more second. I could not STAND being sober. Sobriety became uncomfortable and absolutely miserable.

During the summer of 2016 I went to an inpatient rehab facility and for the first time since the start of my addiction, I actually thought that maybe I was going to be okay. I was clean from opiates for almost a year... until now.

Another reason as to why I used in the first place was because of how mentally ill I was. Since March of this year, I've been taking Saphris, which is an atypical antipsychotic. This medication has literally saved my life. For the first time in years, I don't want to hurt myself or end my life. For a while I was doing so well that my severe obsessions and compulsions to use opiates became much more manageable and tolerable. Once again I had a period of hopefulness, but that also came to an end. (Again.)

My VP shunt started malfunctioning and I needed to have surgery to correct it. In other words, I needed a second brain surgery. As soon as I got my hydrocodone prescription from the pharmacy, I relapsed. I knew that was going to happen and that I would not be able to control myself if I had full access to the drugs. Or without someone to dispense them to me. And yet, I didn't ask my parents to monitor them. I could have said something, and I chose not to. I could have prevented this. I could have still had a year of sobriety, but I was weak. I'm still asking myself how this happened, even though I was doing so much better mentally.

I was recently once again discharged from the hospital, due to more complications. I was prescribed roxicodone. And you can probably guess what happened next.

I know for a fact that I will die if I can't get this addiction under control soon.

Is there any hope left for me...?
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Old 06-11-2017, 08:40 AM
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Welcome, and clearly there is an opioid addiction in Canada and death is not an uncommon result. Our Health Care system is working hard to deal with this problem.

I'm glad you posted and I know that you will be able to stop using the drugs and live the life you want to live. My suggestion would be to go back to your doctor and explain the situation. Try to come up with a tapering plan and some kind of alternative to pain medication.
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Old 06-11-2017, 02:57 PM
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Hi and welcome Azyu

I deal with chronic pain too - it was important for me to find a doctor who knew something about addiction, and it was important for me to be honest with that doctor about the extent of my past addictions (in my case alcohol and weed).

It can take a little while to find that doctor but it is worth the search

There's great support and encouragement here too for recovery. I'm glad you found us

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