My Opioid Addiction

Posted by jdiakiw @jdiakiw, Jul 24, 2020

MY OPIOID ADDICTION
My body is my major negative asset. I am riddled with pain. At a 5, 6 or 7 out of 10 on my pain scale, I still function normally, just living through it. At a 10, I suffer in bed. As a youth I had occasional, classic aural/nausea migraines. They became more frequent and less severe, till they morphed into chronic daily headaches. Knee pain resulted in a knee replacement. But arthritis continues to attack my lower back and neck. My piriformis muscles too, add to the relentless pain.

I probably saw a hundred medical practitioners from both traditional medicine,-pain or neurology specialists, to alternative treatment, from acupuncture to cupping. Nothing worked except drugs… especially when oxycodone was introduced to the medical market.
My doctor was very enthusiastic. There was a medical mantra they all bought into that was clearly promoted by the drug company.

They believed that there was a difference between those who used oxycodone for recreational use who could be addicted, but if used for pain and no high was experienced, you could not become addicted, you were only ‘dependent’. I never experienced any high on opioids.

Somehow it was assumed that ‘dependent’ was a mild issue that could be easily rectified if necessary. You could just quit anytime. I started with Percocets a few times a day. It soon was not enough. My doc prescribed Oxycontin. It was soon not enough.
A friend had a fentanyl patch. My doc said he only prescribed a patch for terminal cancer patients. He upped the Oxycontin dose… again… and again. I continued to complain of pain. Finally he added a fentanyl patch. I began taking 160 mg of combined Oxycontin and Percocets, plus the patch.

I was a drug addict. I remember driving up the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, in bumper to bumper, stop and go, rush hour traffic, in a drug stupor. I fell asleep at a pause and was only awakened by car horns urging me to move on. It was time to stop.
A pain specialist advised moving into a residential rehab facility. I opted for the do-it-yourself option. I researched the process and decided to do it on my own. It took me 6 months to get off the opioids.

I asked my wife what it was like when I was getting off the drug. “You lost your mind. You kept saying to everyone you saw the Buddha on the road. You wandered up and down the beach at the cottage buttonholing people and talking nonsense and breaking down crying.”
My cottage neighbour, a doctor, who observed me in this state, called it ‘ebullient emotion’, typical when patients have strokes or when in shock. I burst into bouts of convulsive weeping without any reason. I did that frequently during my detox.

I reduced my dose by 5mg a week. It was agony. After a couple of months the detox twisted my mind. I was nearly mad. Even when I was down to 5mg per day it was excruciating. I wanted to give up and get a strong dose, but I persisted.

I remember talking to Laurie, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Penetanguishene and asked her if there was anything I could take to get me over the agony on my last 5mg.
She asked how much I had reduced from. “160mg and a fentanyl patch,” I replied.
“On your own?’ she asked, incredulously.
“Yes,” I said.
“That’s unheard of,” she said. Her face signalled shock.

Every time I hear one of many current statistical opioid stories on TV, I am reminded of my addiction and detox. For example: * There were 2833 opioid related deaths in Ontario last year. * In the USA, there were more than 70,200 overdose deaths in just 2017. More than 130 people died every day from opioid- related drug overdoses.

On TV as I wrote this, someone declared, “One hundred people die from gun violence in the USA every day”. 130 from opioids! 100 from gun violence! Are these not preventable?
I have been free of opioids for a few years now. The pain persists but I am better off than where I was. My wife had nightmares about my drugged period. “I thought we were going to lose you.” I am still here.
By the way, I really did see the Buddha on the road.

Thank you so much. Peggy

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@summertime4

@jdiakiw Hi again. I am glad you shared your own protocol for detoxing from opiods. Maybe this will keep someone else from unknowingly suicide. I know I can ask and I know you don't have to give me an answer, but Why did you do that? You didn't even follow guidelines? provided on the internet.

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My pain dr asked me why I didn’t consult with him when I de-toxed. At my last visit with him he told me of a recent patient who did a self detox. After he read my piece above he was incensed at my plan of 5mg per week I thot that was the normal schedule. And I thot I was following the internet suggestions. This was 20 years ago now. And I haven’t got to part 2 where I became addicted again to another drug prescribed by the same dr who got me up to 160mg + fentanyl patch I’ll write part 2 soon

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@jdiakiw

Oh Jim. I ache with sympathy pain at what you have been going through. The range of your successes and failures is incredible. Yes there is a part 2 . My doc who put me on oxycontin then suggested I take tramadol which he said didn’t have the same addictive history.

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@jdiakiw I have a note in my medication history that I took Tramadol. Unfortunately I didn't indicate why I stopped taking it. I'm trying to do better with that now.

I rely on Evernote to be my memory. I have a bunch of lists, from shopping list, meds, hospitalizations, to pottery companies and a list of my hymnal collection.

Now, when I start a medication I enter the date and dosage and any changes, and when and why I stopped taking it. I remember very little of that information, so, as I said, I rely on my external brain.

A couple of years ago I tapered off, one at a time, most of my meds. When I got to Clonazepam, I went from the prescribed dose of 1mg to .75 for a week. I decided that I needed to sleep more than I wanted to stop Klonopin. It's one of the few meds that my wife wants me to keep taking because a secondary effect is that I don't act out my dreams. She was just about to send me to the guest bedroom because I kicked and swung my arms in her direction until I started Klonopin. I'm a better bed partner now.

If I remember correctly, you mentioned esophageal problems, some of which I also have. Could you tell us how you deal with that? It's a problem that intrudes in my daily life.

20 days until my 70th birthday. That's making me feel old. But it is what it is, one of those things that are outside our control.

It's good to have you in the group.

Jim

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@jdiakiw Have you changed doctors? Are you taking Tramadol prescribed by whom?Thank you for sharing with us and I pray you are on the right meds now and doing well.

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@summertime4

@jdiakiw I too thank you for sharing your addiction lesson Part 1 I admit it scares the heck out of me. I was an addiction counselor for 30 years. I worked with people who were so addicted to drugs. There was marijuana, benzos, opiods, alcohol, methamphetamines, cocaine, and one last, the biggest is alcohol. More deaths long term than any other drug. You usually don't see an immediate death, but a long term suffering that eventually leads to organ shut down and death. Along the way, these drugs take others with them to their death. Your wife can attest to that. Those close to the addict suffer as severely as the addict. My family has experienced death due to addiction, My brother, a heroin addict, killed himself. My 1st husband, father of my son, died in a car crash after he and my son were celebrating my son's return from a Military med cruise, They left the bar with my son driving.. No more needed to be said on that. What I want to say is that through all the years of working with people addicted to chemicals, we never encouraged or even allowed them to go off any one of the drugs without medical supervision. Your story scares me because you might have died from the cessation of drug taking sooner than if you had continued using. I agree that we all have to experience some discomfort to reach our goal, but outward, extreme physical and mental pain does not need to be part of that process. I am more than happy that you made it through. It took alot away from your's and your wife's life.in the process. So now Tramadol. Tramadol is an opiod and is addicting, but can be very helpful for pain. Now getting to me. The addiction counselor who relies on percocet to ease the pain of peripheral neuropoathy in both feet, ankles and leg. This along with several other painful health issues made me rethink my objections to taking a narcotic pain reliever. I do not deny that my body is dependent on this drug and if I choose to go off I will need detox treatment. I have no intention of going off any time soon. I run a high risk of addiction so I must be extremely careful. I take as prescribed and see my doctor every month. This includes pain management and primary care. I am 75 years old and I am tired of pain. I am not completely pain free with the pecocets, but I am able to hold my Great granddaughter and take her and her dollbabies for a walk down the road, I also live alone and do the "live alone" stuff. I self check everyday on the addiction process and also question my need for the medication. I then remember crying because the pain took every ounce of energy from me. I do put a warning out there to all those using a narcotic pain reliever for relief. Always be honest with yourself and your doctor, have someone do a check of any behavior changes. Another part of this is DO NOT try to get off any medication without a doctor aboard and one that knows about addiction and medication. This includes not only narcotics but also antidepressants and other drugs that cause physical dependence.

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@summertime4

You're a great person to have in the Connect family. You articulate with great clarity some of the things that your vocational and personal experience have helped not only you, but the people you've been in contact with. I echo what others have said about the value of what you say.

Jim

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@jdiakiw

Btw. I too went through the marijuana cycle from vaping to oils, butters etc. Ending with pure CBD oil. Nothing! Then another attempt with those weird Indonesian leaf powders that have strong following. Nothing.

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The Indonesia leaf powder is called kratom. . It has a dedicated following. Like marijuana many varieties of the leaf

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Despite my chronic pain conditions, there is one period of 2weeks to 6 weeks of each year when my pain abates to a minor ailment. Ever since I was a young man when I backpacked from Singapore to Israel overland living in temples and monasteries all the way and my total cost of transportation and accommodation in 9 months of travel was $3.41 . The desert parts through Baluchistan Iran Syria Jordan Lebanon and Israel were remarkable sanctuaries of historic dimensions. I understood why Moses, Mohamed, and Jesus found wisdom there. I vowed then to make solo crossings of all the tropical deserts of the world. Every year in the last 30 years I have made a solo crossing of all the deserts of the world. . . Pain free! The Sahara 3x, the Atacama, the Gobi, the kalahari, Thar, and all the central Asian deserts . My travel motto is eat with locals, sleep with locals( mostly worker lodges or hostels) and travel with locals. However they travel I travel with them. I live daily by my wits only with no reservations, no defined route, usually no fixed destination . I come how when I feel like it were ever I am.
But the curiosity is my pain abates. Certainly my survivor skills are at a peak. The adrenaline is in a permanent high dosage and the sheer joy and pleasure of my experiences releases high levels of oxytocin and I don’t need oxycontin. After I ran out of deserts I began remote continent crossings, just a few years ago from capetown to Cairo overland which I wrote about here:
https://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2011/07/15/im_74_and_i_backpacked_across_africa_alone.html
While I didn’t mention it I was kidnapped and felt NO PAIN. I knew my life was about to end. (If interested google ‘kidnapped by Somali gang diakiw’) Most recently at 83, last fall I went to Kenya to go to the remote Lake Turkana , Chalbi Desert area where life exists with 6 different tribes facing extinction and live dramatic communal lives of intense family relations and community cohesiveness. But for me, No pain. Go figure

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I so commend you on your story. I too, came off of 420 mg total combination of two different opiates DAILY for about 8-9 years. I was 36 years old when I decided to go cold turkey one day. I said to myself, I was done, and didn’t want to swallow another pill. I wanted to come off of all my pain medication so I could find out where my pain level really was. I will say, the medication did help, as I was able to raise my family and work a full-time job. They just took the edge off, that’s it. When I decided to stop, I had over 1000 pills in my medicine cabinet, but I didn’t care, when I said I was done, I was done! So, I first stopped the longer acting OxyContin, which was (2) 80 mg tablets twice a day. Then, about a week later I stopped the 5 mg oxycodone capsules, 20 per day. I was doing pretty well until about the 3rd or 4th day. At that time, I felt as though I was gonna die. 🙂 So…husband checked me into a hospital detox, which, looking back, was a mistake, because I declined all their medications to help ease me off the opiate medication. I was so stubborn, I didn’t want anything! So, cold turkey it was. I got so dehydrated from throwing up and having diarrhea, the anesthesiologist had to come up and put a picc line in to give my body/heart potassium, because my body was completely depleted of it. Took about 6-9 nurses to try and get an IV started but was unsuccessful bc I was completely dehydrated. Started feeling much better on about the 7th day. Felt great by the 3rd week and exceptionally great on the 4th week. At that time, I was able to get normal sleep, finally! I lost about 20-25 pounds all within that first week. It was absolutely horrible! When my body was completely off of all medication, I did not have any pain from the 13 surgeries the 8-9 years before. I started a workout program and joined a competitive kickball league it was doing absolutely superb. I even had dental surgery and only needed Tylenol and Advil. :). Was doing fantastic for about 10 years….was having sooo much fun playing kickball, until we had a tripleheader one night and I completely threw my back out, moved into a new house and ruptured my right bicep, was showing off one night in front of my teenage sons & their friends doing flips & cartwheels (used to be a gymnast in my younger years) and ended up having 3 operations on my right shoulder (yes, it was well worth it lol), and well, the end result, hmm, that’s a CRAZY whole different story for another time. Lol. I just wanted to share my story of coming off 420 mg of opiates, daily, COLD-TURKEY! Thank you for reading! Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 🙂

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@jdiakiw

Despite my chronic pain conditions, there is one period of 2weeks to 6 weeks of each year when my pain abates to a minor ailment. Ever since I was a young man when I backpacked from Singapore to Israel overland living in temples and monasteries all the way and my total cost of transportation and accommodation in 9 months of travel was $3.41 . The desert parts through Baluchistan Iran Syria Jordan Lebanon and Israel were remarkable sanctuaries of historic dimensions. I understood why Moses, Mohamed, and Jesus found wisdom there. I vowed then to make solo crossings of all the tropical deserts of the world. Every year in the last 30 years I have made a solo crossing of all the deserts of the world. . . Pain free! The Sahara 3x, the Atacama, the Gobi, the kalahari, Thar, and all the central Asian deserts . My travel motto is eat with locals, sleep with locals( mostly worker lodges or hostels) and travel with locals. However they travel I travel with them. I live daily by my wits only with no reservations, no defined route, usually no fixed destination . I come how when I feel like it were ever I am.
But the curiosity is my pain abates. Certainly my survivor skills are at a peak. The adrenaline is in a permanent high dosage and the sheer joy and pleasure of my experiences releases high levels of oxytocin and I don’t need oxycontin. After I ran out of deserts I began remote continent crossings, just a few years ago from capetown to Cairo overland which I wrote about here:
https://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2011/07/15/im_74_and_i_backpacked_across_africa_alone.html
While I didn’t mention it I was kidnapped and felt NO PAIN. I knew my life was about to end. (If interested google ‘kidnapped by Somali gang diakiw’) Most recently at 83, last fall I went to Kenya to go to the remote Lake Turkana , Chalbi Desert area where life exists with 6 different tribes facing extinction and live dramatic communal lives of intense family relations and community cohesiveness. But for me, No pain. Go figure

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@jdiakiw That sounds so much fun . And what an experience you have to remember now . My son wanted to do that buy got married instead . He would love to read your story. I,ll have to send him the website . Great story thanks for sharing .

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@jdiakiw

Despite my chronic pain conditions, there is one period of 2weeks to 6 weeks of each year when my pain abates to a minor ailment. Ever since I was a young man when I backpacked from Singapore to Israel overland living in temples and monasteries all the way and my total cost of transportation and accommodation in 9 months of travel was $3.41 . The desert parts through Baluchistan Iran Syria Jordan Lebanon and Israel were remarkable sanctuaries of historic dimensions. I understood why Moses, Mohamed, and Jesus found wisdom there. I vowed then to make solo crossings of all the tropical deserts of the world. Every year in the last 30 years I have made a solo crossing of all the deserts of the world. . . Pain free! The Sahara 3x, the Atacama, the Gobi, the kalahari, Thar, and all the central Asian deserts . My travel motto is eat with locals, sleep with locals( mostly worker lodges or hostels) and travel with locals. However they travel I travel with them. I live daily by my wits only with no reservations, no defined route, usually no fixed destination . I come how when I feel like it were ever I am.
But the curiosity is my pain abates. Certainly my survivor skills are at a peak. The adrenaline is in a permanent high dosage and the sheer joy and pleasure of my experiences releases high levels of oxytocin and I don’t need oxycontin. After I ran out of deserts I began remote continent crossings, just a few years ago from capetown to Cairo overland which I wrote about here:
https://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2011/07/15/im_74_and_i_backpacked_across_africa_alone.html
While I didn’t mention it I was kidnapped and felt NO PAIN. I knew my life was about to end. (If interested google ‘kidnapped by Somali gang diakiw’) Most recently at 83, last fall I went to Kenya to go to the remote Lake Turkana , Chalbi Desert area where life exists with 6 different tribes facing extinction and live dramatic communal lives of intense family relations and community cohesiveness. But for me, No pain. Go figure

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Hello @jdiakiw,

Your mention of your annual walks without your usual pain reminded me of a video I saw of Michael J. Fox with Dr. Oz. In this video (the link posted below) during the time Michael is skating, his PD symptoms disappear completely. It just reminded me of your experience and I thought you might enjoy it.
https://www.oprah.com/own-health/michael-j-fox-goes-ice-skating-with-dr-oz-video

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@jimhd

@summertime4

You're a great person to have in the Connect family. You articulate with great clarity some of the things that your vocational and personal experience have helped not only you, but the people you've been in contact with. I echo what others have said about the value of what you say.

Jim

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@jimhd Thank you Jim. Helping others makes for helping ourselves. I need help from everyone in our group. It is so important to hear what each of us is saying.

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Wow – this group has become fun. I didn't expect to get tales of wild adventures in addition to excellent examples set by people who have years of first-hand experience with a condition that I'm fairly new with. Thank you all! Peggy

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