Pain Killers: Getting off is hard to do...

Archive for September, 2011

A Week In The Life Of A Recovering Pill Addict

Matt posted in the comment section of the post entitled ” How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?”. It was such a great comment that I felt everyone should read it and see what it’s like when you go through a  withdrawal. It can be done, you probably won’t die, you might feel like you wish you were dead but in the end everything will be ok.

I’d like to thank Matt for sharing his story…

Contributed by Matt, one of our readers.

After reading just about every single post here, I really felt I should contribute just in case my own information helps someone out there in the way that your information has helped me. So, first and foremost, THANK you ALL for everything that you’ve shared!

Back in September of 2007, I hurt my back pulling something out of the kitchen cupboard. I went to the doctor for it, remembering how much I loved Percocets back when I had my wisdom teeth extracted, and used my existing scoliosis as a tool to eventually convince the doctor to prescribe me Percocets monthly. I basically used charisma and lies to get it done. I never even considered the possibility of getting addicted. I just wanted to get high.

Over the following months, well… you know how it goes. You’re quickly buying off of people, doing whatever you can to not run out. I can honestly say that from September of 2007 to Sunday, August 28th (5 days ago), I never went through a day without some form of oxycodone. This is mostly due to my prescription increasing to 60mg OxyContin twice per day, with 120 10/325 Percocets monthly for breakthrough “pain.” This, combined with what I bought off the street, was enough to never run out, ever. My habit topped out at 240mg of oxycodone (in its various forms) per day.

Well, this last refill cycle, I decided to take a stand. I was tired of sitting alone on weekend nights just getting high and watching TV, sick of counting pills, sick of trying to think of excuses when I’d have sex without being able to finish (on the rare occasions where I had a sex drive at all!), sick of just about maxing out my credit cards because I was using cash to buy, sick of having no motivation to be active in any way, sick of declining plans if I didn’t have as many as I thought I’d need to get through those plans, sick of being constipated all the time (sometimes to the point of actual bleeding), sick of feeling like a zombie and not actually feeling real emotions anymore. What a horrible way to live! It’s not even living. It’s auto-pilot in a haze. It’s nothing. It’s brain death. It’s a vapid, soulless void with no love, no repercussions, no rewards, no compassion, no hope. Just a rinse/repeat life cycle that sucks you dry.

So, this past Sunday the 28th, I took my very last pill at 10:00pm, with my boss’s knowledge of what was going on and his blessing to be out on Monday and Tuesday only. I had to be back Wednesday. The type of job I have makes it VERY difficult to miss work, so this was a big deal. I had to make the best of it. I was armed with four .5 mg pills of Xanax, five sublingual strips of the 8mg/2mg Suboxone, and a wonderfully supportive woman who has never taken a pill in her life.


Monday the 29th: The worst day of my life. I had to make it to 10:00pm to pass the 24 hour zone and take my first Suboxone. I literally screamed into my pillow for 19 hours. Some of you talk about exercising, taking a walk, occupying yourself. I am amazed and happy for you! For me, there was NO way this was possible. I could barely even roll over in bed, let alone stand up on my own two feet. Aside from the restless legs, I could swear I could individually feel each cell in my bone marrow gnashing its little teeth and wailing. It was inSANE. Every few hours, I would take one of the .5 mg Xanax pills which would afford me about 30 minutes of sleep each. That’s it. Then it was back to hell again, until finally, 10:00pm rolled around and I took 4mg of Suboxone. Within 30 minutes, I was out like a light, and didn’t wake up until 4:30am, feeling “fine.” (read: medicated – the Suboxone is a drug, too, let’s not forget it!).

Tuesday the 30th: I basically laid around all day on the couch watching TV and feeling extremely lethargic. My energy level was probably at like 20%. In the evening, I took an 8 block walk, which was about my limit. I was asleep by 7:30pm, woke up at 11:30pm, fell asleep at 2:30am, and woke up at 6:00am on Wednesday. I don’t remember much else, but I can tell you that I did not take any Suboxone at all. This Tuesday was my first day opioid-free in 4 years.

Wednesday the 31st: I took 2mg of Suboxone at 7:30am because the heebie-jeebies were getting really intense now, and I HAD to go to work, participate in meetings, etc. I was “fine” all day. No real issues to report here. It’s incredible how far such a small amount of Suboxone (drugs! let’s be real) can go. Went to my first NA meeting, ever, at 7pm. Nice experience. Not sure I’ll keep going, though. But SUCH nice and understanding people. Fell asleep at 10:00pm, woke up at 4:00am. Not feeling great, but not feeling even close to Tuesday, let alone Demon Monday.

Thursday the 1st: I decided to NOT take Suboxone when I woke up, to see how long I could go. Pitter-pattered around from 4:00am until I got to work at 8:00am, and by the time I sat at my desk, I was so exhausted that I literally could not remove the foil top from the yogurt I brought in to eat. I had to use my teeth, because my arms were SO weak. How pathetic is that? But it’s completely true. I couldn’t even hold my head up. As soon as I realized my eyes were tearing and I was noticeably sneezing and everyone was basically looking at me dying, I took another 2mg of Suboxone because I knew I would not make it through the day at work. Then, of course, I was “fine.” After work, my girlfriend came over. This was the first time I had sex off of the oxycodone and, let me tell you, it was the best sex I had in 4 years. Did I last? NO. Haha. Suddenly, I actually have a sex drive and can feel sensations again! She was completely understanding, so we went at it two more times before bed. If there was any point during my recovery process where I was even more than 100% certain I was doing the right thing, it was then, and that’s why I’m mentioning it. Fell asleep at midnight (due to our activities), woke up at 4:00am (again, it seems 4:00am is a magic number for a lot of us!), and tossed and turned the rest of the way.

Friday the 2nd (today) – I did the same thing as yesterday, and the same thing happened at my work desk. I was falling apart, and did another 2mg of Suboxone. Got through the day “fine” (drugged on the Subs). Got home, and had enough energy to actually do my laundry. Now I’m sitting here at 9:37pm feeling alright, but I know it’s the Subs.

What will I do now? Well, no more Suboxone. This is luckily a three-day weekend (Labor Day), so from now onward, I take nothing other than potassium, Immodium, one-a-day multi vitamins, eat fruit, take showers, etc. But no more Suboxone. I only used it to make it through work. I’d ask “What should I expect?” but, guess what? It doesn’t really matter. It’s not like it’s going to change anything. I’m not going back to the pills. I’m not going back to that empty, hollow, lifeless “life.” If tomorrow will be like Monday again, then so be it. I will scream into my pillow until my throat goes raw, and I will be thankful for being able to feel it.

And until then, I will be looking forward to living my new life. A real life. The one where I crave sex, and feel emotions, and rely on nothing to make me happy but day-to-day experiences, conversations with strangers, a joke told over a delicious plate of food, maybe even just the food itself.

I can’t wait, and neither can you.

“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Continuing the timeline:

Saturday the 3rd (yesterday) – Day 6. This was the first day of not using Suboxone. I woke up around 6:00am, walked 10 blocks to a coffee shop, and sat around for awhile trying to keep myself outside and active. I ended up going home after 2 1/2 hours, though, because people were talking to me and it was very difficult to focus. On top of that, the restless legs were getting the better of me, and they’re SO darned uncomfortable. I’ve been eating bananas and taking potassium supplements, and I guess they help, but the restless legs are still an issue, and it’s what causes me to sleep so little. When I got home from the coffee shop, I literally watched movies on my couch for 12 hours, finally going to bed at 11:00pm, though I didn’t fall asleep until 2:30am, and I only slept 3 hours.

Sunday the 4th (today) – Day 7. Woke up, had sex with my girlfriend, did my normal potassium / Immodium / Naproxen / multi-vitamin regimen, walked around the block to get myself moving, ate a banana, and treated myself to an hour long massage with focus on the legs to help with their restlessness. Afterwards, I went to a little cafe and ate a vegetable bagel sandwich. I didn’t much feel like hanging out, though, due to focus, so it’s 1:54pm and I’m home now. Probably going to relax and watch movies again. My energy level is extrEMEly low, and it makes me so lethargic, enough so that it’s just really hard for me to do anything at all. Even taking a shower, while feeling good, is a particularly taxing thing to do.

Even though this is Day 7 without various forms of oxycodone, it’s only Day 2 without Suboxone. I’m hoping that I make it over the hump soon. While my determination is unwavering, and while there’s no chance I’ll ever go back to the old life, I’m frankly sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

OK! Hi! I’m in MUCH better spirits today. The timeline:

Sunday the 4th part 2: After posting the above, I ended up taking a long hot bath/shower combo. Afterwards, I had a text on my phone inviting me to a Labor Day BBQ with some friends. I hadn’t been social for 7 days now, just wallowing on the couch feeling terrible, so I agreed to go. Drove the 45 minutes, hung out for only 2 hours, and went right back home. I just couldn’t handle the social situation yet. My brain was too foggy, my legs were going crazy and I felt like everyone might be staring, and just the act of moving my body felt like I was stuck in jello. I went home and went to bed early, like 9pm. I slept a full 6 hours!

Monday the 5th: Again, that jello feeling, just terrible still. I walked 10 blocks in the morning to a coffee shop, hung out for an hour, and walked the 10 blocks back. It’s funny, you know… getting yourself to the point where you start walking is darn near impossible, but once you actually start moving, it feels good. Still, my energy levels at this point were so low that afterwards, I collapsed on my couch, again, drifting in and out of that inconsequential, nourishment-less twilight-type sleep. Last night, I slept a total of 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Total.

Tuesday the 6th (today): This Day 9 is my turning point, I think. Unless the nasties return later or tomorrow! But it’s 7:34pm now. I haven’t had any form of oxycodone in 9 days, and no Suboxone for 4 days, and I actually had some energy today! I worked hard the whole day at my job and not once did I feel like I needed to lay down. I’ve eaten three meals, and even if I still have the runs, my appetite is awakening. So is my sexual appetite, although I really need to work on my endurance because I’m not used to all of those sensations.

I just wanted to make this Good News Update for everyone who may be reading out there, afraid of the process. Yes, of course it’s hard. Yes, you do have to accept that you are going to feel unwell for awhile. There’s an end, though! I know that I still have a ways to go to get to 100%, but let me tell you, 75% feels AMAZING.

Thanks again Matt for the contribution to the community..would love to hear comments…


Larry C.

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