A Brief Recollection of My Opioid Addiction

By jesmith89 12/12/18
Statue of a beast in chains and in a box, symbolic of opioid addiction

It’s early morning, another day of chills, goosebumps, lethargy and the all too familiar withdrawal that I came to be familiar with throughout the 3 years I was addicted to opiates. I am far along in my addiction, and on a physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially destructive path of addiction that took me into the darkness and into a world I never thought I would be a part of. I wake up and roll over, I check my pill bottle to see if I left myself anything from the night before. Sometimes, in my haze, I would have the wherewithal to consider the fact that addiction is a 24/7, 365 day operation and that my daily requirement of opiates must be met or I face certain realities. Score! I left myself half a pill! I break out my broken bic pen and card and chop up a line… I almost feel the surge of endorphins hit me before it even reaches my bloodstream, but that is most certainly a fantasy after three years of addiction. I crush the pill up and sniff it. This is just enough to maintain. At this point I don’t feel my drugs anymore, unless I happen to come across a large amount of them. In fact, I don't remember the last time I truly was high from opiates, because at the tail end of my addiction I barely have enough money to afford maybe one or two pills.

It's a cycle of boom and bust. In 2017 I came up with the clever idea to fund my addiction in a legal sense and put fast cash in my pocket. Handyman services! To be quite honest, looking back, I spent most of my handyman career in withdrawal, rushing through one project after another, sometimes lacking quality just so I could get paid the fastest. I had one rule, I had to get paid at the end of the day, and if a customer would write a check or somehow delay payment, I would always have to jump through one hoop or another to make sure I got my money. I would drag my butt from job to job, most of the time in withdrawal, and get my money at the end of the day only to spend it immediately on drugs. If I toughed it out all day, I would have enough to put barely enough gas in my tank and maybe 4 or 5 pills. That was my life. Work all day, do pills at night, wake up in withdrawal, work all day in withdrawal and get high again. That cycle became exhausting after some time, and before I knew it, I felt like a robot, without emotion, just going through the motions day after day with no enjoyment. Addiction removed the capacity to feel for me, to feel for others as well, and when I started using heavily in the beginning, it served a purpose because it numbed the pain I felt.

Opiates began as an occasional recreational party favor for me, and as time went on, I started to feel more and more like I was an outsider watching myself go through addiction. There were times where my conscience was screaming ,”No! Don’t do it! Just stop!” and yet here I was, yet again in the back of the dealers vehicle, handing him my days wages in exchange for a few little blue pills. I remember, at the beginning, hearing the words, “this stuff is harmless, it’s not that big of a deal” and taking it seriously. I kept making excuses, and that's how we as addicts become psychologically dependent on drugs. The drug tricks our brain, and our inner dialogue keeps on making excuses for us. “It’s ok to pawn that computer, you can get it back in a few weeks,” “Just transfer that money from their account, they will barely notice, it's only 300 dollars,” “Sell your car now to get high, you can always get another one later.” I think that may be how addiction can lead to crime. It’s repeatedly minimizing our actions to serve the purpose of taking care of “now”, without a regard for consequences or the “later.”

My addiction eventually grew from the weekend couple pills, to a daily dose of up to 180mg of Oxycodone, and it didn’t stop there. A couple months ago, as I was sitting in the line to get my dose of daily Methadone, I see a sign showing a picture of some all too familiar pills with a warning in bold stating the following: Warning for King County, these pills contain Fentanyl, a very powerful painkiller, it has led to many overdose deaths… I couldn’t help but recall a month before that moment, I was smoking those same pills off of foil in my dirty, unkempt room. I had barely showered, I sit in the corner of the room, nodding off and drifting in and out of consciousness. Clothing lays on the floor, unwashed sheets lay on top of a mattress and I sit in the corner, day in and day out smoking and nodding out. This was me, this was my life. I had came to accept it, and at one point, I was willing to welcome death, as it would take me away from the misery that addiction brings.

But there has to be a happy ending to the story right? A lesson learned, a battle fought, a victory over evil. But the story is still being written. It was only months ago that I was in that dark place, and it was 3 years ago where it all began. Recovery doesn’t have an end point, it doesn’t have a universal checklist to follow, it’s different for everyone. For some people, just to be alive is a victory in itself, and for other people it’s another step completed of the Twelve Steps. For me, every day I don’t use is a blessing, and the farther I go away from the poison I became a slave to for 3 dreadful years, the better. Some days, for me, just waking up and going to the clinic instead of hustling all day just to spend all my money on drugs is a victory. I slowly learn methods to tame the beast that is addiction, and I hear the stories from other people whose addiction took them to far darker places than mine. I learn, I grow, I surrender to the moment, I accept the past, stay vigilant in the present, and remain optimistic for the future. I keep that beast locked away so deep inside the dungeons inside my head, never to come out again.

 

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