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My name is Amy and I’m an Addict

​About fifteen years ago I started having back problems. I kept hoping that it would go away but it just kept getting worse. Finally, after suffering sleepless nights and long days I went to the doctor. After trying several different treatments and nothing helping I resigned myself to the fact that prescription pain meds were going to be part of my life forever.

The problem began, as it typically does, when I realized that when I took my meds my brain “shut off”. By that I mean that for the first time in my entire life I knew what it felt like when people said they were “relaxing”.

You see, for me watching TV, reading, and any sort of relaxing activity wasn’t really relaxing. I was always figuring, and planning, and worrying. So after being on my meds for about a month I noticed that my brain was quiet and I loved it.  No more worrying about things that might not ever happen.  ​

I spent the next 12 years taking the meds my doctor prescribed and buying more when I ran out. The problem is that the first time that you start taking your meds for any reason other than why they were prescribed you have a problem, you just don’t admit it. I started taking them when I was mad or sad or happy or celebrating. It seemed as if I could no longer do the activities that I once enjoyed without being high.

It also became impossible to work unless I had pills. So, if I didn’t have any I would call in sick to begin the often relentless task of looking for drugs. The inevitable would eventually occur, I’d get fired or I would quit. When I would finally realize that I needed to go back to work for whatever reason, often times after not working for a year or two, I wouldn’t be able to get a job making what I had made before or that there weren’t any places that would hire me in my degree field because of lack of experience. My husband and I started having trouble paying our bills, even though we were both working full-time. It’s hard to pay the house payment and utilities and buy copious amounts of drugs. We eventually lost our house.

At this point I was no longer taking pills to get high. I was taking between 10-15 a day so I wouldn’t get sick. The best way I can describe withdrawal is that it’s like having Ebola but you never actually die. 

I wanted so badly to end the cycle of spending every penny we made just to keep from getting dope sick. My husband, who God bless him, stayed with me even though most people would have given up. I would buy anything that would keep me from being sick. If I didn’t have money I would ask my friend, and dealer, if he could front me until I could get paid. Often times my entire check would be spent before I even got paid.  

It was getting harder and harder to get pills. The government was cracking down on pill mills and trying to get control of the situation. Not only was it getting harder to get pills they were getting more expensive. I was spending more and more money I didn’t have. I stole from family members to pawn or to take to cash for gold places. I took pills by the handful from family members I knew that had them. I was very bold about it too, often doing it while they were right there in the room with me. What kind of person does that? A very sick one.

I finally realized that I couldn’t keep spending money like this. I tried several times to quit cold turkey but just couldn’t do it. I know that people can do it with the help of NA and other treatments but I could never get past the third day of being dope sick. I just don’t have the fortitude, I guess. So, in all of my infinite wisdom I called my friend/dealer and asked to get heroin. Up until this point I had managed to stay away from it but I knew that the high was better and would last longer not to mention that it was cheaper and easier to get. I rationalized it in my head by saying that it’s not like I was going to shoot up – I’m just going to snort it. No biggie. I explained to him what I wanted and he said that he would get it but that it wouldn’t be until the next day after he got off of work.

Now when I say he was my friend, he really was because he had been telling me for a few months that I needed to go to the methadone clinic for treatment. He was a patient there and he thought that I should consider it. He told me that he had seen me draw a line in the sand and cross it. Draw another line, cross it. I had told him many times that I never wanted to do heroin and that I would stop before I went down that road but here I was crossing what could be the last line. He said he wasn’t my father or my husband and that he would get it but that I should think about going to the clinic. I was in tears when we hung up. He was right, how many times was I going to keep trying to kill myself? I called the Treatment Center and they got me in the very next day. 

​I’ve been in treatment now for 20 months. It hasn’t always been easy and it’s been a tear filled journey but at least I get to make that journey. My friend that helped me get into treatment killed himself last year. I do this for myself, my family, and for him. If sharing my story, which is like so many others, keeps one person from going down this path – or if it gets one person into treatment of any sort – then it is worth it.

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