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Old 08-03-2013, 04:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Documenting the journey


Hi, my name is Aems. I am not new to addiction or recovery. I often feel displaced in groups so I thought I'd start a thread documenting my journey and if anyone wants to read it and comment fine and if not fine too. What I know is that I have to write about it.

Journaling has been a saving grace for me in the past but I always fear the journal being found by my beloved at home. He is not aware of my current struggles with addiction. He know I am in recovery from alcohol but doesn't realize that things have gotten out of control with the meds that the doctor prescibes for my osteoarthritis. They are narcotic meds of course and that is my difficulty at the current moment.

I have been off and on narcotic pain meds for more than ten years. I have tapered, I have gone cold turkey but in the end it's the stress in my life and the PAWS that always gets me and sends me back to the meds. I have a legitimate reason to be on the meds. My whole spine is full of osteoarthritis as is one of my knees. At the end of the day, the narcotic meds make my pain worse. I am not uneducated about why that happens. To be honest I'm quite educated in how narcotics work and why addicition happens and relapse continues to happen. Having all the knowledge in the world still doesn't prevent it from happening.

I don't really have a need to join up with one of the groups here. I've always been somewhat of a recluse and a sensitive and I'm ok with that. What I do want to do is just tell my story. To document my journey as it unfolds. If people want to read it's okay, if you want to comment it's okay too, but mostly this is for me because I need to have a voice about what I am going thru.

Thank you.
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Old 08-03-2013, 04:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I am at a point in my life where I am learning to let go of people, places and things. I have been consumed for the past thirteen years with stress related to job loss, relationship struggles, family of origin dynamics, in-law mental illness issues, my disability, getting older and all the things that go along with life. I don't handle stress well. I never have. I was born into this world as one of the more sensitive people. I have come to terms with that and have joined many support groups over the years that have been very helpful in learning to deal with an overly sensitive nervous system.

I am a seeker so I have made it a point to educate myself about the things that present themselves in my life that are troubling. The family narcissist, parental alcoholism, the childhood sexual abuse, the estranged family of origin, the schizophrenia and bi-polar in-laws, and a life partner that is too consumed with his own stuff to really even get to know who I really am, but that's his problem to work thru. I have enough of my own stuff. I have tried to help everyone fight their battles over the years, but now I'm done. Now it's my turn. If I don't do this and get it right this time, I fear that I will eventually die from my addiction. Even tho the amount of meds I take may seem small compared to others, it is a real problem for me.

I'm starting this today and sharing a bit of background for anyone who may care to read. Tomorrow I take a new step forward and begin another taper.
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Old 08-03-2013, 05:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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good to see you back on SR aems

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Old 08-03-2013, 05:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Why We Don’t Get Better Immediately: Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) | What...Me Sober?
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:37 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Aems,
Very interesting journal. Thank you for sharing this with us!
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I look forward to reading your journal. My therapist has encouraged me to keep a journal of my thoughts and feelings. Somehow the idea seems less than exciting. I'm a writer but I've never relished the idea of keeping a personal journal of feelings.

This is a great idea, to keep your journal online here at SR.

Sent from my iPhone using SoberRecovery
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Old 08-03-2013, 11:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I also am an avid journaler, have been since I was young. I worry too about someone finding my journals, and having an online private blog is a good idea too. Opiates where also my DOC, I was out of control for many years. We are here for you.
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Old 08-04-2013, 03:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Why We Don’t Get Better Immediately: Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) | What...Me Sober?

Good morning!

Thanks to all who stopped by to read my new journal. I appreciate and respect your presence here.

Day 1

Today is day one on my taper program. I am coming down from 7- 5mg hydro's a day. I know that may not sound like much to others but it's a real problem for me. Today I begin my taper at 6 hydro's a day and the plan is to reduce my dosage by 1/2 a tablet every three days. So three days at a dosage of 6 then three days at a dosage of 5 1/2 etc and so on.

I have spent the past 8-12 weeks trying to taper and have been unsuccessful. I have done this kind of taper in the past and have been quite successful at it so I've had to question why I've been unable to get on a taper and stay there this time. I'm an introspective woman so I pay close attention to what's going on both in my life, my mind and my body. I want to learn what makes me tick, what works, what doesn't and why.

In February of this year I did a very successful 28 day taper from the same dosage that I'm coming down from now, so when I began making an attempt at a taper 8-12 weeks ago and I was not able to do it, I began to observe what was different in my life now than earlier that was preventing me from being able to get back on track.

First off I want to say that in all the times Iíve tapered successfully before, the thing that always, always brings me back to the hydros is PAWS. I didnít realize that before now so hopefully I can move forward with a better plan this time. As long as the moderators will continue to allow me to post the PAWS link in my daily postings I will, because I feel this knowledge is key to staying on track. It helps me to understand what is going on inside of me that keeps bringing me back to addiction. With that knowledge, I hope to have better success with staying off the hydros this time.

Now, back to these 8-12 weeks of trying and failing to stay on track with a new taper program. In all past taper attempts I have been afforded the luxury of being sedentary. Staying at home, taking care of myself, minimal activity, rest and sleep when I need to, healthy dietary changes, and journaling my butt off. The taper I did in February was practically painless and I believe it was because of the things I mention above. However, PAW got me and in the end I failed, so hope to keep a close eye on that this time around.

These most recent weeks of taper attempts failed, I believe, because Iím in the midst of some things in my personal life that are requiring a lot of physical activity. I have had to push forward in an intense way and down regulating the hydros has been unsuccessful for this reason. At lower dosages my pain returns with a vengeance and the lethargy sets in so bad that I cannot function well. I become impatient and frustrated easily. It makes me feel like Iím going mad. And yet I have tried repeatedly for the past several months to do a taper anyhow. It only recently dawned on me why I was unable to do it this time. I thought that as long as I took the taper slow I would be fine even if I was active, but being active was the key thing that was standing in my way. SoÖÖIíve made the decision to take some time off from my life to do this new taper. Again, I am afforded the luxury to be able to do this. Thanks goodness.

As always, I will stay closely in tune with what my body is telling me. I will adjust my down regulation dosages according to how my body feels even tho I have a pre-arranged down regulation schedule I plan to follow. If I feel I can move more quickly thru the taper, I will and if I feel I need a few extra days at a higher dosage before down regulating, I will. This is what worked for me last time. Dietary changes also played a large part in the success of my last taper and if you read the link about PAWS that I included at the top of this post you will see that dietary changes are necessary and why.

I am 55 yrs old and addiction has been a part of my life in one form or another for as long as I can remember. I come from a troubled family of origin and I have spent years working thru the issues that affected me regarding them. I am a very sensitive individual and things that others can blow off easily stick to me like Velcro. I am ruled by my emotions and recognize this as one of the things that effects whether I use or not, but I also recognize that the PAWS transition that my body goes thru plays a large part as well. I have been dished out more truly serious challenges in life than most, but I work hard in overcoming them and learning from them. I am weak sometimes and I am strong at other times.

Thank you for reading. I hope that in my sharing someone else will see their journey in mine, that someone else will connect their journey and the success or lack of success of it with the things I write about. Blessings to all of you today and good luck.
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Old 08-04-2013, 03:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Up there in that last post it's supposed to say, "I am coming down from 7-9 5mg hydro's a day." I didn't get in there quick enough to edit it. But anyhow, that's where I'm at today as I begin this new taper.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi Aems! It's so good to see you back here on SR! I agree with others that posting an online journal is a great idea. And it will help others in the process which is awesome.


I am 55 yrs old and addiction has been a part of my life in one form or another for as long as I can remember. I come from a troubled family of origin and I have spent years working thru the issues that affected me regarding them. I am a very sensitive individual and things that others can blow off easily stick to me like Velcro. I am ruled by my emotions and recognize this as one of the things that effects whether I use or not, but I also recognize that the PAWS transition that my body goes thru plays a large part as well. I have been dished out more truly serious challenges in life than most, but I work hard in overcoming them and learning from them. I am weak sometimes and I am strong at other times.


I really related with this because I could write it myself. Almost everything you wrote is true for me, I am even close in age, 49. I guess that adds to my desire to read your story, to see where we resonate and if I can learn from you and your experiences.
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Old 08-05-2013, 03:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thank you for your comments Lyoness.

Day 2

Yesterdayís down regulation was from 9 to 6 tablets a day. I did fairly well at that dosage yesterday. I experienced a bit of lethargy and some achiness in my legs but I rested when I needed to and felt better.

This morning, like most mornings, I hurt like an SOB from my cervical spine to my lumbar spine. The osteoarthritis is bad here and in my right knee. I can barely walk when I get up in the morning. The first things I do every day is to make a cup of coffee, get a hot pack on my back and get the first dose of meds into me. Wake up time for me is usually 3AM and my first dose of meds is usually between 3:30 and 4AM. Within 40 minutes I'll be feeling better and able to move about. This will be a good time to sit at the computer and journal here, as I wake up and move into my day. Past taper's have shown me that the fewer meds in my system over time, the less pain I will have in the mornings. I have learned that higher doses of hydros tend to make my body hurt worse between doses.

In the 19th century it was discovered that narcotic pain meds have the tendency to make pain worse in some people. Itís a condition called Opiate Induced Hyperalgesia or OIH. Altho this is something that doesnít occur for most people who take opiate meds for legitimate reasons, it does happen to some and Iím one of those. Now with that said, Iím not going to pretend that my narcotic pain med consumption got out of control solely because of this. That would be dishonest. In the beginning, the meds gave me a great feeling and tons of energy and it took my pain away initially and allowed me to do things at a pace and to a degree that I had been able to before the arthritis set in. Truth be told I loved them in the beginning. But as time went on I took more and more of the meds to push my body beyond itís limits and ultimately I injured my body more as a result. What started out as arthritis in the lumbar spine has now spread to most of the vertebrae in my back and my neck. Had I not pushed beyond my bodyís reasonable limits while initially on the narcotics, the arthritis may not be so bad today. But this is where I am and this is what I have to deal with now.

I will eventually have to go back to physical therapy, something I cannot afford at the moment but which has helped tremendously in the past for pain. Once my body gets healed againÖ.and my hope is that it will be better than it is at the moment, I will be able to move forward in considerably less pain. But I will have to heed my bodyís limitations or all will be unsuccessful. Iíve always been a little spit fire, a little go getter, independent and strong, but life experiences and aging changes things. If I want to move into my senior years without being in a wheel chair or without having multiple surgeries to replace or fuse joints then I had better sit up and take notice NOW.

Another busy day awaits me and I will be mindful of my limitations, take my time and rest when I need to. I will be at the 6 tablet dose of 5mg hydros for two more days before down regulating again. Thank you for reading about my journey and I wish you all a blessed day.
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Old 08-06-2013, 01:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Day 3

Here I am up in the middle of the night with RLS and foot neurapathy. These always hit when I try to get off the hydros. Iím also ravenously hungry and am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I did too much physical stuff yesterday so my arms and shoulders are hurting, but my lower back and knee arenít too bad. Feeling like I could sleep forever.
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Old 08-07-2013, 02:02 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Day 4

I had a rough start yesterday morning but eventually felt better as the day wore on. Got to nap in the late morning and it made all the difference in the world.

Staring day 4 in the eye. Just going to keep with the taper program and flip off the world if it gets in my face. You know, the world can do that from time to time. I ain't got no time for that, so gonna just use my hand signals as I see fit as I maneuver thru this day.

Have a good day all.
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Old 08-07-2013, 02:38 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi Aems, I did the same thing. I found it very helpful to re-read. After all, you are the only one who knows exactly how you feel. I bet you will be surprised at how much more positive your posts become over time. I was. Sobriety rocks. Very best wishes on your journey.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:14 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Aems,

I understand arthritis and wish you much success on this taper.

Other than for having a hope that you can taper off an opiate, you sound a lot like me.... the arthritis, facing the possibility of having fusions, and struggling with being less active and productive.

At 50, I've been sullenly trying to resign myself to the fact that I'm going to be in pain to a lesser or greater degree for the rest of my life. It's just so hard to accept. Five years ago, I was climbing High Exposure and hiking twelve miles in 90 degree weather without a problem! What has happened to my body?

I want to stop the pain. So, I think of pills. Then, being an addict, I ask myself, is it really the pain that is making me think of using or is my sick head amplifying the pain so that I will use?
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Old 08-09-2013, 04:37 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Day 6

Thank you for your comments ladies.

Pinkdog, I have found it very helpful in the past to make the time to journal as I taper. It's very insightful. Now if I could just get past the PAWS part so I don't start taking again.

Christin1225, I ask myself the same thing once I'm off the pain meds and when I'm considering taking them again.......is my pain really bad enough or is the addict in me talking. I think that my truth is that the PAWS makes me emotionally and psychologically unable to effectively deal with the issues in my life, and that the stress of these issues cause pain in my body as well as reduces my ability to deal with emotional stuff.

I've spent a lifetime dealing with a lot of pretty serious crap so drama and issues have become a normal part of my life for a long time. As I get older, I become more and more intolerant of the people who cause these drama's so I am "cleaning house" so to speak and for the past year have one by one swept them out the door as I realize the toxic effect they have on my life and the importance of living the most stress free life as possible while I get off this medication.

Now, with all that said, yes, I have spent years taking this med to ease my emotional pain and stressors in addition to taking it for true honest to goodness pain. I donít take several handfuls of this med throughout the day, but what I do take has become a problem for me. In terms of quantity Iím probably on the lower end of the spectrum than many others who are addicted to this med, but nonetheless, itís not the quantity that is the problem, itís the psychological addiction that is, regardless of the quantity. I have been taking this med for more than ten years, it is difficult to get off and stay off of it.

As I move into this new taper Iím finding it more difficult than the last taper. I was able to sit low and let my body rest the last time, this time Iím busier and itís been a rough ride for me to get to a lower dose and stay there. I have been attempting to do this for several months very unsuccessfully, so I decided that in order for the taper to work for me, Iíd have to put some things in my life on hold for a while and I have made arrangements to that. And I am grateful that Iím in the position to be able to do that.

Getting back to Christin1225ís comments about resigning ourselves to doing lessÖÖ.this has been a big deal for me too. I love to garden and do busy work, but my body will no longer tolerate it. Getting my hands in the soil has always been a grounding experience for me. Now Iím learning how to garden on a smaller level. Porch and patio gardening is taking over the gardening I used to do in the yard on a large basis, so Iím making efforts to stay connected to Mother Earth while dialing back the degree to which Iíve done it in the past. If I donít honor both my body as well as my desires then itís a no win all the way around.

I would be lying if I said I didnít like the energy the meds give me to do what I used to do, but the pain relieving qualities of the meds reduce my pain while giving me energy and that is a bad combination for me because it allows me to push beyond what my bodyís limit really is. I have only made my condition worse over the years by doing this. It has been difficult dialing back my activity level but I recognize it as pertinent to my health if I donít want to end up in surgery or a wheel chair. Unfortunately, my reduced activity level has made it difficult to keep my weight down so the weight Iíve gained during this past year only adds to the arthritis pain.

As I work on clearing toxic people out of my life, I face the inevitable health decline of my aging mother. I expect for her to pass this year and Iím going to have to make some hard choices when that happens regarding the meds, but will deal with that when the time comes and try not to get too far ahead of myself.

PAWS is a b*tch. It has in part been responsible for my failures to stay off the meds in the past. Iím trying to be more educated this time around about how PAWS effects my ability to stay off the meds. If I stay focused on whatís going on inside of me I will be able to understand whatís happening when it happens and hopefully I can adjust my life or attitude or understanding to compensate. This is important to me.

Thank you if you have stopped in today to read about my journey. I hope that along the way someone resonates with what I write or has an aha moment for themselves. Have a blessed day.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I have felt the same things, the fear and horror at the idea of being in pain every day for the rest of my life. Especially when I know there is a pill that can take it all away...for awhile. Until the pain comes back even worse or my addict self has me back to taking 50 oxys per day and that pain is far worse than the physical pain.

I experienced hyperalgesia too though I fought believing it for a long time. My migraines were ten times worse while using, too, and I'd be in the ER every single time I ran out of oxy with a huge migraine. But I refused to believe that I was having rebound migraines from not having the oxy. Oh the level and layers of lies we tell ourselves for that next fix.

After getting off the dope and onto the suboxone my pain levels skyrocketed for months. I was back where I was ten years ago disability wise and this was making me profoundly depressed and even suicidal. But I stuck it out and listened to people who knew better and have found that now it's true. Being off the opiate merry-go-round my pain levels have actually dropped significantly. It took time to get here but it has happened.

I still have daily pain, and I still fear it, but with each day's experience I get another dose of reality to try and help balance my fears.

So keep going strong! It will be worth it! And thank you Aems, and all, for sharing your stories!
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:37 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Starting over at day one of the taper today. :/

It's an interesting thing about the hyperalgesia isn't it? In the begining, before I knew about this, I knew that it seemed I experienced greater pain when I was on higher doses of the meds. Physical therapy didn't work, chiropractic didn't work, special orthotic shoe inserts didn't work, and acupuncture didn't work. All the things that should have been working, that I believed in, did nothing. My pain just got worse. That's when I began suspecting the meds were responsible and I researched everything I could on the internet and found this thing called hyperalgesia. Well, at least it confirmed my suspicions.

Hyperalgesia is something that happens to me while still on the medication. Pain gets worse, dosage is increased, pain gets better for a while and then always, always the pain worsens after Iíve increased the dosage, sometimes to the point of not being able to do any more than sit all day long and waking in the mornings so full of pain I can barely make it from the bed to the coffee pot. Over the years when I have successfully tapered for a period of time, I have found that my pain is less when I'm off the meds than when I'm on them. So with that said, I guess it's fair to say that addiction keeps me on them and PAWS keeps me going back to them. MY brain is not functioning properly because of the PAWS so I always end up back on the meds. PAWS.......think about that for a moment........PAWS is what's responsible for going back, again and again and again. Or in other words, stinkiní thinkiní. I think about this when I reflect on the death of Cory Monteith recently. Even tho he made many attempts at sobriety and staying clean, this crooked way of thinking because of PAWS is what eventually led to his death. In my opinion. There should be greater attention to PAWS for people in recovery, whether they're in rehab or going it on their own.

In one article I read recently it was said that recovery in and of itself causes a lot of stress. It suggested that some addicts never learn how to manage stress without our drug of choice or may do so only after many attempts. It suggested that our ability to deal with it depends on our willingness to take care of ourselves and maintain a healthy physical, emotional and spiritual lifestyle, and said that repairing the damage to our nervous systems usually requires from six months to two years, suggesting that PAWS is the cause of most relapses in early recovery.

The same article also says that since we are addicts, repeated relapses could eventually be fatal and that itís important for us to understand PAWS because it could be a matter of life and death. Itís important to have an understanding of post-acute withdrawal and be able to recognize the symptoms and what to do about them when they happen.

This is where Iím at. I need to fully understand what this PAWS is and what I need to do to take care of myself during this time. Frankly, Iím of the opinion that PAWS is whatís responsible for each time I fail while in the midst of a taper program. My current taper has been the most difficult so far and in all I think itís been close to 8+ weeks that Iíve been trying to get a grip on lowering my dosage of meds. I frequently take the meds because I fear the pain coming back. I may not even be in pain at the time; I may fear the pain occurring during an activity so I take the meds in advance of the pain in order to avoid it happening. In reflection, what I truly need is down time while doing the taper but I keep getting caught up in activity on the days I feel progress and that ultimately leads me back to taking a higher dosage because I have over done when I felt well.

Itís mind blowing to me the mental and psychological effects narcotic pain meds bring about. In all of the ten plus years Iíve been on this medication, Iíve never once had my physician talk to me about these effects. This leads me to think that physicians either donít care or are not aware. Either way, it seems unacceptable to me that they donít share this information with their patients.

Ok, thatís all I got today. Iím starting over at day one of the taper today. I let fear of pain and my desire to do more than my body can on a lower dose of the meds, get in the way of practical thinking. Have a good day all. Blessings.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:48 AM   #19 (permalink)
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AEMS I am following what you say and thank you so much. i need to get to bed here, (its almost 10pm) but I will write more tomorrow. What you wrote is so true about paying attention to that later on the PAWS, in recovery. I am on day 3 today... read through my threads if you want to know more. Stay strong, and how come you are not willing to quit cold turkey? I always found tapering to play with my head so much, the pills never stopped talking to me, it was always this sick cat and mouse game and the cat always won. I had to rip the band aid off, get sick, and get through it. This is my though. And you are right, when you don't have them the pain is way better!!!! Almost gone!

Talk more in the morning and thanks for writing.
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Aems (08-12-2013)
Old 08-12-2013, 06:07 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Day 2

Thanks for coming to read icandoit12. I choose to taper because I want life to go on while I get off these meds. Iíve quite cold turkey twice in the past and it lays me flat out for 2-3 weeks. I donít know why so long, but it does and I just donít have the time for that. On a taper I can at least go about some semblance of a normal routine and as for the meds talking to meÖÖsure they do. In the past Iíve had to flush remaining quantities along the way. I want my voice to be stronger than their voice! I want to taper slowly so their voice is but a whisper while mine is planning my next move in life and how Iím going to deal with the voice if and when it becomes more than a whisperÖÖand at some point it always does. I want to have a plan in place in advance of the voice, so I know how Iím going to handle it when it talks to me. I am realizing now that the voice is PAWS. Itís the changing chemicals in my brain. The whole thing is a learning process for me but I MUST listen to my own voice and body very carefully. I must heed my limitations, like it or notÖ..and frankly I donít like it, but if I donít, I will never get off this medication. If I get off and stay off this medication, I believe that the greater part of my life will return to normal. I believe that, because Iíve been there in the past, before I understood better about PAWS.

Itís no joke, narcotics are hell to get off of and stay off of, and we must keep a close vigil on activities and emotions while weíre getting off this junk. We need to execute a plan of action and not just jump into a taper or a cold turkey routine thinking thatís all we need to do. Iím not much for white knuckling this thing. I have a great desire to know the psychological aspects of what keeps me on this medication and what makes it so difficult to get off of it.

OkÖÖ.. I did well on my pre-agreed dosage yesterday but I woke in a great deal of pain this morning. I took my taper dosage and am feeling better, but it was hell earlier. Iím moving into my day now. Going to be mindful of my limitations and honor my body and spirit in this day. I wish the best for everyone here too, that you may honor yourselves as well. You are worth it. Blessings to all.
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