When I was struggling with painkillers, it actually helped me a lot to think of my addiction as a fight. It was me versus the pills, and I knew that one of us was going to destroy the other. Every recovering drug addict has their own way of dealing with the fallout of their past and moving forward. For me, it was creating an enemy. I knew that if had something to fight-some figure to which I could give shape, personality and life-I would have a better shot at recovery. After all, you can’t fight what you can’t see.
For a while, it was I who was my own worst enemy. It took a little while for me to realize what was happening to me and when I did, I didn’t want to believe it. I was just a guy who happened to fill a prescription after hurting his back. Six months later, I was the guy who missed work, lied to himself and lashed out at his family–it was not an easy shift to reconcile, nor one that I immediately allowed myself to realize. I knew there was something wrong with me and the way I was acting; I just wasn’t sure what was causing it. When I finally found out it was the painkillers, I immediately resolved to fight back.
My strategy was simple enough: just evade addiction until it got tired, in other words “cold turkey.” I lost the first fight and quickly went rushing back to fill another prescription. I was ill-prepared for how strong my addiction was and lost before I was even in the fight. Relapse stung even more than realizing I was addicted and I quickly mounted another attempt at recovery. This time I realized that, like all fighters, I needed a trainer, a coach, a mentor. At this point, I discussed my options with my family and entered a Florida drug rehab center.
I knew that if I could get through the first few rounds (detox and withdrawal management) then I would have the momentum I needed to overcome painkillers. With the help of my doctors and nurses, I was able to finally function without these pills long enough to detox the right way. After that it was a matter of “strength and conditioning” my brain (rehab and counseling). Without a positive attitude and a determination to get my life back together, this process would have been all the more difficult. At first I was uncomfortable with my therapist asking such probing questions, but I hung in there long enough to realize that she was just trying to draw a clear behavioral path to my addiction.
I’ve been in recovery for almost three years and still cannot believe how easy it was for me to get addicted to these painkillers. This situation has made me an advocate for prescription drug reform in the medical community. People need to know just how dangerous these pills can be and the impact they can have on their lives.
New Castle, PA