Pain pills are seductive; they feel so good, and because they’re prescribed…you feel justified to use and abuse. In rehab I learned that my story is depressingly common, and millions of people are hooked on a medication that is supposed to ease pain, not cause more.
If you’re an addict, and you’ve never abused pills, then you are certainly in the minority. A drug is a drug is a drug, and legal, clean and relatively cheap doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals can be an easy path to the high we all crave.
I’ve always been mostly a drinker, and through a lot of pain and suffering, plus a lot of help from my sponsor, I eventually got into recovery and had been sober for more than 3 years…until I discovered pain pills. I got injured on the job, and was prescribed tramadol and then later vicodin for the pain in my back. The combination of too much time at home, and legitimate pain pill needs led me quickly back to drug abuse.
I never intended to abuse the medications, and in retrospect, I should have informed my doctor of my history of abuse and asked for less addictive medications, but I didn’t…and for a while I had a whole lot of fun! I started taking only the recommended dosage, and it made me feel better, and it became increasingly easy to justify taking a bit extra and a bit more often, after all, I did have a legitimate need for the pills! That self delusion ended quickly, and after a couple of weeks I knew I was using far more to get high that for symptoms relief, but I just didn’t care…those pills felt too good. I didn’t need to hide my usage either, and family members never knew how much I was using, and never suspected a problem like I had had with drinking.
The problem began with my doctor, and after about 6 months, he became increasingly reluctant to continue prescribing the pills in the quantity I needed. He began prescribing gradually lesser amounts of the pills in an effort to taper down my usage, while what I really needed was ever greater amounts just to feed my increasing physical and psychological dependency. What began as a relatively guilt free, and rationalizable bit of fun, started to feel a whole lot more like a problem when I started to visit doctor after doctor, trying to get more pills; and enduring their sometimes incredulous expressions of disbelief as they prescribed small doses of medications.
I really started to feel like the junky I had become and it wasn’t fun anymore. The pills were never as pleasurable as they were in the beginning, and as my usage continued, my family started to grow increasingly concerned about my odd behaviors, and my seemingly never ending period of recuperation. I hated lying to doctors and knowing they didn’t believe me, and I hated that constant worry and stress about getting my needed supply. I tried to quit on my own, but the withdrawal was too tough, and I just couldn’t do it.
I eventually told my wife, who by this point was getting very concerned and suspicious, and she kicked my but right back into treatment, like I knew she would. Detox was rough, but I made it, and the classes and therapy helped my get my head back on straight. I thought I had beaten my battle with addiction, and had stopped going to meetings as a result, but I now realize that I need to be vigilant for life, or I’ll be back down where I started, an addict again.
The moral of the story is to be very cautious of pain pills, especially if you have any history of addiction. They feel too good, and it’s too easy to rationalize your usage. They take the pain away, but the pain they cause is worse than the initial problem ever was.