Am I a Drug Addict?
I’m a white male in my 40’s and I’m currently taking Morphine, Adderall, and THC (otherwise known as pot) all on a regular basis. I’m constantly talking to my doctors trying to get them to prescribe oxycodone and benzodiazepines (also known as Kolonipin or Xanex).
From just that short piece of information you should be answering YES.
That is the problem the doctors and the federal government have. They only look at that short bit of information to make a judgment call on my life.
18 years ago I broke my back doing martial arts. I suffer from degenerative disc disease and severely damaged nerves in my back. What does that mean? It means I’m rarely, if ever, NOT in pain. The psychological aspects of this are quite debilitating to me. Not only do I wake up in pain, I am unable to sleep for the typical 7-8 hours most nights. My mind is constantly flooded with thoughts like ‘I should be able to do that’ and ‘if I do it will result in more pain.’ It is incredibly distracting, and makes it difficult to accomplish even small tasks that require concentration.
Anxiety and depression are common effects of chronic pain you find in injuries. My life is lived in fear of pain, and what will make it worse. At the same time I constantly feel useless and a waste of space because I can’t do much of anything.
I spent my 30’s in the never-ending search for a holistic remedy. I went to chiropractors, healers, reiki masters, acupuncturists and voodoo shaman, each with the promise that they could heal me. Finally after a decade of failures I gave up and went the medical route.
I have both a spinal cord stimulator and a pain pump implanted in my body. They are both devices that are supposed to relieve pain. I have found neither of them to work. I asked stem-cell researchers about possibilities from them, and was told my case was still quite a bit beyond their abilities. My only possible medical route was the implants.
According to the DSM V (the psychology bible), substance-related addictive disorders can be result of use of any of the following 9 substances.
3. Cannabis (or THC/Pot)
5. Inhalants (such as spray paint or permanent markers)
6. Opioids (Including heroin, and vicoden, oxy, and other narcotic pain killers)
7. Sedatives (including muscle relaxers and sleep aids)
9. Anxiolytics (including Xanex and benzodiazepines)
10. Stimulants and Nicotine (including amphetamines, cocaine, and ahdh meds such as adderal)
Each of the drugs in these categories provide a substitute for chemicals already found in the brain. They provide it, in some cases, in such an excess that it can damage the body and brain to where it will no longer naturally produce these chemicals.
They define 2 different contexts of usage into the ‘Use’ and ‘induced’ disorders. The criteria for ‘use’ disorders is as follows:
1. Tolerance – the need to take more and more to get the same effect
2. Guilt – wanting to cut down or quit and not being able to
3. Time – spending a lot of time either obtaining substances or recovering from effects
4. Cravings and urges
5. Responsibilities – Not fulfilling responsibilities at home, school, or work.
6. Relationships – continued use when it causes problems in your personal relationships
7. Isolation – giving up important social or recreational events to use
8. Physical – Continued use even when it puts you in physical danger
9. Effect – Continued use when you know it’s having a psychological effect on you.
10. Abuse – using larger than typical dosing to get high
11. Withdrawl – Physical or mental symptoms that arise when you quit using
Morphine is great to get you stoned if you take a bunch of it. That is why people crush up vicoden, oxy, and morphine and snort them. I sit on the borderline, not between dose and abuse, but between functionality and sickness. My opiate intake stays even at a level just below making me physically sick when at rest. Why would anyone want such a high dose other than to get high? This is the actions of my pain management doctors. They refuse to give me any pills, or something I can control. Everything is dispensed through my pain pump that I have no control over.
If I go any higher, when I’m at rest I get nauseous, sick, and headaches. At the current levels it’s not strong enough to control my pain, and I’m constantly asking for oral meds I can take during the day when my tolerance is better. However, doctors don’t accommodate for such issues as they fear for their licenses.
Yes I have a high tolerance, due to years of use, and I have horrible withdrawl symptoms when I quit taking them. That is 2 down on our list, numbers 1 and 11. I also spend considerable time going to doctors for routine visits, and ask for more medications. I believe that covers number 3. The borderline sickness I sit at covers number 8 as well.
Responsibilities, relationships, social activities, and effect, check check check check. I don’t do anything and have no social interaction because my pain precludes me from these things. I have extreme guilt over my situation, and suffer from other psychological disorders because of my situation; However, it doesn’t matter that the ‘pain’ causes it, because in the ‘short’ glance they can all be attributed to morphine use.
Ever since I was young it was problematic for me to concentrate. In high school I disovered caffeinated beverages that didn’t solve the problem but they helped. At one point I asked my doctor for Adderall when I was trying to go back to school. It worked, fantastically, all the issues with pain, guilt, and depression went into the back of my mind and I could focus on what I was doing. This was a first since the accident. The down side was stimulants made my pain worse. So I quit school and stopped taking the medication.
A year later I still have the prescription and use it occasionally to get things accomplished. I pay for it with extended pain, but at least I can feel like I have done something every once in a while. My current psychiatrist refuses to even treat ADHD because it requires stimulants. Eventually I will run out and have to see if a doctor will prescribe me more, that will be a challenge.
Recently the opioid crisis has made the news more often than I care to see. People overdose on opiates frequently and a large percentage of the time they combine the opiates with benzodiazepines for an increased high. Both of these drugs being central nervous system depressants cause the heart to relax so much that it stops.
Benzodiazepines have been the mainstay in anxiety-related treatments for decades now. Unfortunately because of the war on opiates, doctors are reluctant to prescribe because they will be questioned by the government and investigated for prescribing them.
Anxiety can be overwhelming. At its worst, anxiety causes panic attacks. A pain and tightening pushes into your chest making it feel like your ribcage is trying to collapse into your heart. You get light headed and honestly feel like your soul is trying to leave your body. In more mild cases, such as mine, you feel like ANY move you make is going to lead to your downfall. For OCD type anxiety, every time you see something out of place you feel the same. If you don’t correct it, your world will actually end.
This is no way to live life, because it’s just not living. Anxiety can paralyze you into never moving forward and never being able to live your life.
I have been on kolonipin before, years ago while I was on opiates. I never took anything but what the doctors told me to. I NEVER got high from it, and I was able to live a much more normal life. They have run stories such as ‘Just One Pill’ saying one opioid tablet killed my child. They don’t do drug screens and don’t mention what else is in their system.
Taking them as directed by my doctor, I never ‘almost died’, I was never in danger, and I was never high; However, now because of my morphine allowance and the new panic, no doctor seems to be willing to prescribe me anti-anxiety pills. I must live in anxiety torture.
THC. There have been many arguments pro and con for THC. It can be useful, like opiates, in medical situations. I have the same problem with THC that I have with opiates: In order for me to get pain relief, I have to take so much I get stoned.
At this point I’m alright with it. I’m responsible and never take THC outside of my home and am always very careful. I won’t take it the same day I take Adderall, and I won’t take any extra opiates.
THC provides me two things. First and foremost it relieves my chronic pain for a few hours. This gives me the strength to keep hanging in there. I have been very suicidal in the past due to depression and anxiety. Secondly, THC helps me work through a lot of my anxiety issues.
So I’m a 40ish white male who takes opiates, thc, Adderall, and pushes for benzos and more opiates. I ask you. Am I a drug addict? I meet most of the criteria according to the DSM V. I actually never crave drugs, and when I run out I just cope with the pain, unfortunately that means I am unable to do much of anything.
I am writing this to encourage doctors to stop treating everyone the same. We are all different, and cases must be determined on an individual level. These things SHOULDN’T be a one man/woman job. Engage primaries, therapists, psychiatrists, and other doctors patients see. Without knowing the angles you can easily be tricked into feeding a drug addict. Without knowing the angles you could be neglecting your patients and making them suffer needlessly.
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