I feel like I know many of you even though this is my first time posting. I have been lurking on this board for over a year trying to prepare myself for my own personal detox and rehab process and I have appreciated very much everything I have read from all of you, very insightful and very encouraging.
BACKGROUND: I finally made the decision almost two weeks ago to quit. I tapered from a 5 Vicoprofens/day that I maintained for about a year to nothing in 5 days. Now I am on Day 7 of no pills at all. I have been using a much lower dose for about 5 years (1 Vicodin 5mg about every few days) but only just recently started the higher dosage I mentioned above. Its been very difficult but not as bad as I was expecting, probably due to the dosage I was at. Just can't sleep but a few hours a day.
Many of my friends and family now know that I had the habit. Some were surprised others had a feeling. Everyone was very supportive which was a huge relief, but some of them were also skeptical as to whether or not this is truly the end of my drug use. This both surprised me and disappointed me because in my mind there was no question that I was going to quite and NEVER use again. I hired a personal trainer 6 months ago and got many of the supplements on the SAMPLE DETOX program and set a specific date and took two weeks off of work. Failing never crossed my mind would be a possibility. Well, obviously I am missing something because as I read past posts of people who have quite, I am surprised that there are many people who have relapsed after being off the drugs for 1 month or 3 months or even 18 months. I can understand if it was Day 4 or 8 or even Day 14 but how in the world do people intentionally use again after months of not using.
This scared me so I started to ponder the different reasons for a person to relapse: 1) Still having chronic pain 2) Type of friends 3) The principle of "Once and addict, always an addict" is true and not just an excuse 4) Drug fills a void 5) Drug helps deal with the pain of life. 6) Empowers and makes you a better person in every aspect of your life and you need that because you are in a performanced based environment at work or at home. If I left out any just left me know, but the point I want to make is I am sure that there is more than one reason why people relapse and for someone like me who is coming here for strength and encouragement through this whole rehab process it is very discouraging to see that people actually fail even though they have been off the drug for a 'long' time. The only one that I can understand and accept personally as a legitimate reason is the relapse due to chronic pain. The others are ones that I fear that I am suseptable to myself. I feel like I will fail myself if I underestimate the beast.
Since I don't have chronic pain issues I feel like if I make it to 90 days then I will pretty much be home free from this drug forever. I have seen PET scan images of the brain's dopamine levels after 1 month and then after 1 year and I know that it will take 1 year at least for the dopamine levels come back to normal. I am fully prepared for the next 365 days to be a dark time and I have accepted that, but by 90 days I feel like if I haven't relapsed then the habit will be in place for me to cope in ways other than using. So then why would I relapse? Right?
THE MAIN POINT OF THIS POST:
I need to have a realistic expetation of what the next year is going to be like or this rehab process will probably not work. Am I going to have to deal with this addiction issue for only 1 month or 3 months or 18 months or the rest of my life. Will I fail 5 times before I make it? Is there anyone out there that has quite and stayed quite that can encourage me and give me hope that I can make it?
Welcome aboard and best wishes with your determination to stay clean and find true restoration in your life.
Addiction sure is a complicated issue, isn't it? Before we ever become addicted, the well known "Just Say No" adage is a great philosophy to avoid becoming an addict. However, once we do become addicts, that adage really only applies, in my estimation, to the process of withdrawal. A nice simple saying to remind us not to put the drug into the system.
To find our way into true recovery, into full mental and spiritual restoration, is a lot of hard work in changing how we react to life, how we deal with serious issues and how we celebrate good things. It is a process of learning new coping skills and practicing them until they become embedded habits in our thinking.
A personal example: I didn't know how to grieve. Instead of grieving, I began using narcotics to hide from the feelings. I got off the narcotics after many months of tapering, but I had so much to learn yet. I needed professional help to help me understand my grief and learn how to mourn for the losses, the pain in my life. That was really huge for me. This is but one example of how my thinking needed to change.
I have learned ( and continuing to do so), to be a better judge of what is really an issues and what is merely an aggravation, an annoyance. I step back and reflect before I react as much as is possible for me... and the more I practice, the easier it becomes. But I do have to practice consciously everyday. I no longer consider drugs as a coping mechanism, but I remain aware fully that there are always newer, better ways to react and cope with life. I don't look for ways to hide in any way now... instead I search for ways to face whatever and find an acceptable coping procedure. Most times that coping preocedure is born when I can make myself find the balance in a situation.
I do agree that it takes about a year to fully find restoration, but I don't know of any reason to anticipate it being a full year of darkness at all. It is a year of continual growth... unbelievable growth if we work at it and allow it and practice it. for me it was a year of gradual feeling better about myself and truly finding, and recognizing, more and more good and happiness in for me.
I wsih you well and hope to see more from you as time goes on.
Thank you for your insightfulness Reach. You have answered my question and made me realize that there is a lot of depth to this addiction. I was ignorant, I was naive to the full magnitude of the issue.
I was using for similar reasons as you. I realize now I better get some of these underlining issues resolved or managed before I start celebrating my drug-free state thus far. Is this why many of the drug rehab programs are 90 days long? The NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) points out that most people find the therapy is most beneficial and successful after 90 days in rehab. Are you familiar with any other reason why the rehab centers usually require 90 days min?
To get a grip on what sobriety really means (those changes in thinking) is an endeavor that really insists that we concentrate as fully as possible on self. It is a time of self-centeredness for survival.
Physically, withdrawal is tough, really tough, whether we taper or go cold turkey. The body and brain go bonkers with pain created form frantic searches for remnants of what is no longer being provided and the mind becomes muddled because of the high rise in anxiety. Lack of sleep in withdrawal can be so hard to deal with and can make it that much harder to deal with the symptoms. Pretty impossible to work on changing the thinking when all the withdrawal symptoms are marching in us. Smiles.
It is as these symptoms ease up that I think we reach the point of being able to really change. If we don't spend a lot of time in this part of the whole process, it just becomes too easy to relapse into the old, established habits. The longer one can be in a setting of limited responsibilities and outside influences, the more the opportunity to work on the self and thinking. I was fortunate in that my children are all grown and independent. I have a fantasically supportive husband who absolved me of all household responsibility as I worked on my self and I was not working at all anymore. He came to all doctor and therapy sessions with me for months and months and really had a handle on what was occuring. I have good insurance that allowed me all the one on one counseling I needed. My entire circle of family and friends were included in my support network. If I had to deal with addiction, I was more than just a little blessed with circumstances that allowed me to do the hard work I needed to do. I was, in essence, in a rehab setting in my own home and world.
I am so aware of the blessings that surrounded my own journey. Even with them, it was hard at times. Few people have the benefit of the circumstances I had and I am aware of that. I think the people at NIDA are aware of that also. Smiles. The 90 days pulls people out of the daily responsibilities we normally encounter in daily life. It provides the time for the body and brain to level out after withdrawal and start restoring. The work in rehab with counselors and meetings can be intense with no other interference. It allows time to reflect and absorb and learn new coping alternatives. It is a time that allows the preparation work that is needed to find the flaws in our thinking patterns and to open ourselves to changing them. It is a time that we can use to make ourselves stronger before we face the world on its own terms again. Kind of like a timeout in the womb again before re-entering the world.
Not all rehabs require 90 days by any means. Some are very short inhouse stays with aftercare provided through outpatient programs. We all go down the same road, but there are different paths to get to the road depending on each of our unique circumstances. Whatever we path we use, however, needs to be a path that allows us the time we all need to change some of the thinking that has had a lifetime to get imbedded in us.
And of course there is celebration in being seven days drug free already! Much celebration! The work to find sobriety and restoration is hard work and each step of progress is cause for celebration and thankfulness. We plod and trudge along as we begin, but our steps get lighter and lighter as we make progress.
Hi Lee --You bring up a very interesting topic. I often wondered if I was truely an addict at the beginning. That was 6 years ago. I was given unlimited amounts of Hydro and was always very very careful at the dosages I would take. I would always tell myself that I "was not an addict". There are millions of people out there right now that take vicodin on a daily basis. Are they addicts? Not sure, its a tough one. They are physically addicted but are they mentally addicted? I realized that I was truely mentally and physically addicted when I started taking more and more to get high and didnt and couldnt stop. Was it because I was afraid of the withdrawal or was I addicted? I asked myself that over and over. It was the RELAPSE that made me realize I was addicted. Why would I work so hard to get clean and make promises to the people I love and not stay true to my word? Addiction was the only answer. So what did I do, I gave in. I came to the realization that I am completely powerless over this drug. I am 100 days clean today.
"1 is too many and 1000 is not enough" -
Thank you for giving me more insight into the process. I can't wait till I can say that I am 100 days clean. Based upon what you said do you still have cravings or at least a subtle desire to use? If so, to what extent? What is the longest you have been without the drug in the past? Do you feel in your heart that you are done with the drug for good?
Slept pretty well last night. Got about 6 hours. But for some reason I feel that low grade anxiety that is usually associated with the need to dose again. I thought that would be gone by now. Haven't felt it in at least 5 days until now. Thank goodness my fiance has hidden the meds and have been specific instructions by me two weeks ago to never give me the pills no matter what I say. This is one of the only times she has listened to me. Other than that I can't complain too much.
Hi and welcome! I don't post so much here but you may have read my recent post "help an ER doc is reporting me!". I've been clean for periods of time as I struggled with narcotics. I went about 4 months w/out taking anything and was doing good. Then I got a kidney stone and needed strong narcotics and I think that is what set off my most recent relapse. I have to walk a fine line because I have frequent kidney stones (lately they've been about 5 months apart and requiring surgery) and I also have a GI condition that gives me chronic pain and sometimes major abdominal surgery. So for me there's a lot of grey areas in using pills.
My reply to you isn't about my journey with pills, it's about my journey with anorexia. Anorexia is an addiction just as narcotics are and in both cases we are all striving for recovery and abstinence. I am in recovery from anorexia and have been since July 2004. It was a very long road to get to this point and I went into rehab 3 times, struggling to make it. I had severe anorexia (some people consider themselves anorexic if they don't eat for a few weeks and lose like 10 pounds and that's it and there's a bit of a difference between the two)... My weight got down very low and I was hospitalized a few times for NG tube and IV refeeding and stabilization, mostly for my heart because it was damaged from being at such a low weight.
Anyway, my first stay in a residential treatment facility was for 90 days. I came out and relapsed and within 9 months my weight was lower than it was before I had entered treatment the first time. I had discovered recovery was much easier while in the sheltered, safe and supportive environment of a treatment facility than it was doing it on my own in the real world. I went back for another 90 days and this time was able to hold my own for about a year and a half. I then relapsed again and went to a different center where I stayed for just over 120 days.
I know eating disorders and narcotics are different, but they are both addictions and both very hard to recover from. The treatment stay that helped me the most was the 120 day one (third place I went to) because it was longer than before and really helped me solidify some things - like maintaining my weight while eating healthily, getting used to life without anorexia (it's an all-consuming addiction), and I learned a lot about why I became anorexic. I used it to numb my feelings, help cope with strong self-hatred, to gain some sort of control, etc, etc. I saw a therapist for 6 straight years (I've also struggled with depression) and to this day I still go to a weekly support group. Don't be worried about what the facility is like - if you do your research you'll find that there are some wonderful places - I was lucky enough to go to 5 of them (3 for anorexia and 2 for depression/suicide). It's nothing like what you see on tv lol.
In order to be really successful in your journey to recovery I would strongly suggest getting a therapist who specializes in addictions. Not only will this help you learn more about yourself and why you do the things you do, but it also gives you a sounding board and someone to listen who really gets it. And someone who is supportive of your efforts, praises little victories and understand some slips that may happen along the way. Some people prefer to go to AA or NA or PA (Pills Anonymous) but I've always preffered a support group... maybe because I'm not religious. I've tried NA and it just wasn't a good fit for me.
I hope this gives you some insight as to why treatment centers keep people 90 days (or longer). If you ask any professional they will tell you that the longer you are in treatment the better. When I left my first treatment facility (Remuda Ranch) i had just reached the bottom of my weight range (took me 80 days to gain the weight) and I hadn't really had any time to try and eat normally, cook normally, etc. That would be similar to having someone go through detox for a few days and then enter treatment for like 2-3 weeks.... You would have just detoxed and that doesn't give you much time to learn to function sober while at the same time learning new coping skills, trying to learn about yourself, trying to find things to do in place of using, etc. Even 4 weeks (including detox) is a very short period of time.
Good luck with things - it sounds like you're off to a good start!!!
Thank you so much for sharing something so personal to help me understand the magnitude of addiction. Your experience is helping me gain a respect of this condition and in turn giving me the motivation and knowledge to prepare for a battle with my past issues. I am going to have to really dig down deep inside to uncover the underlying reason why I let myself self-medicate. From what you and Reach have shared I did not get addicted to the narcotic simply I wanted to have a high, there was a much deeper issue that I was running away from.
I hope I can figure it out myself because unlike you and Reach I am not blessed with the ability to go to in-house rehab for 90 days. That would totally ruin me financially if I stayed away from work that long, among other things. This is the reason why I have finally posted on the board, because I am trying to get a full understanding of what I am in for.
Thank you again for your personal testimony, it was very helpful.
I have to admit, after I posted yesterday the drug cravings got worse. Not to the point where it was driving me crazy or making me think about the drug every second but worse than it has been in the past several days. Very strange why it would come back after it has been going away. Maybe it is the lack of sleep. I have not had but one night of 6+hrs of sleep since this thing started. I am surprised that it is not affecting me more than this mentally.
Today the desire to use is less than yesterday. I hope that it will completely go away in the near future, bad enough dealing with everything else.