The stigma attached to addiction is (and always has been) wrong. I grew up thinking that addiction was some sort of disease that only infected “bad” people. I naively thought I was immune to its pitfalls. After all, I wasn’t abused as a child or abandoned by my parents; I got good grades in school and had a wonderful group of friends. I wasn’t in danger of getting hooked on drugs…or so I thought.
Shortly after I began taking opioid painkillers for a legitimate injury, I began to notice something peculiar. Despite clear instructions to take one pill every six hours, I realized that increasing my dosage made me feel like a million dollars. I went from taking two at a time to ten at a time. I didn’t realize I was setting myself up for a battle…a fight in which the winner takes all and the wager was my life.
Walking in the Shoes of an Addict
Nothing can compare to the chaos and turmoil of addiction. Feeding the beast is a full-time job in itself and the constant desperation to avoid withdrawals never lets up. If someone you love is struggling with addiction, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of the disease. With that in mind, here’s a day in the life of an opiate addict.
Rise and Shine
I wake up to the unmistakable feelings of withdrawal. My body’s covered in sweat, but I’m freezing. My stomach is doing somersaults and my muscles ache. I hate waking up like this. It’s a good thing I saved half of the OxyContin I bought last night. I’d hoped to make it last until later, but I have to get well.
I climb out of bed, grind the pill into a fine powder, roll up a dollar bill and breathe life back into my body. I instantly feel better…but the euphoria quickly fades.
I’m officially out of “medicine.”
Getting More Drugs
I’ve managed to eat breakfast, walk my dog and shower. My high is wearing off and a familiar panic begins to settle in. I curse under my breath, asking myself why I let things get this bad. I hate my life right now, but there will be plenty of time for beating myself up later. I’ve got to find some pills.
I hate my life right now, but there will be plenty of time for beating myself up later. I’ve got to find some pills.I call my contact, but there’s no answer. What the hell am I going to do if I can’t get in touch with him? My mind races. My internal dialogue is overrun with thoughts like I don’t want to go to the doctor with another fake injury…I think my doctor’s on to me anyway. I definitely don’t want to go to the dentist and fake another toothache. What am I going to do?
I call my contact over and over again. He finally answers on the fifth attempt and we arrange a meeting. I immediately jump in my car and drive. My nausea kicks in during the car ride and I’m sweating again. I give my “friend” the last $65 dollars to my name in exchange for one lousy pill.
Giving in and Giving Up
I’ve been staring at what’s left of my OxyContin pill, swearing that I’ll make this one last the whole day. I’m in a futile argument with myself and I know it. I finally give in and grind the rest of my pill, snorting it with all the self-hatred I can muster. Minutes later, I wish this tug-of-war would just end.
The Manipulation and Lies Mount
My father calls me to see how I’m doing. I lie and tell him I’m great. He asks me if I need anything and, without hesitation, words involuntarily come out of my mouth. “Is there any way I can borrow some money to pay my car loan this month?”
After leaving work, my dad comes by and gives me the money. I suspect he knows something’s wrong with me, but we don’t discuss it. He tells me he loves me and my heart breaks. I’ve become such a liar and I hate myself with every fiber of my being. My family doesn’t deserve this; I’m not worthy of being loved by anyone.
Brief Moments of Happiness Fade
Despite my self-loathing, I take every penny my dad graciously gave me and hand it over to my drug dealer. I’m happy to have five pills in my pocket and I can’t wait to get home.
I walk in the door and I’m immediately greeted by my dog. Thanks to this addiction, my furry little friend has been left alone for most of the day. Despite my neglect, he’s so happy to see me. I instantly begin to sob. What am I doing? At this point, there’s nothing in my life but collateral damage.
Despite my self-loathing, I take every penny my dad graciously gave me and hand it over to my drug dealer.
Hoping for Hope
I skip dinner and opt to spend the evening inside my own thoughts. I’ve made such a mess of my life and I don’t see a way out. From losing jobs to losing friends, I’m miserable and these stupid pills aren’t making things better.
My dog curls up beside me and nuzzles his nose beneath my chin. I promise him things will get better and say “I’m sorry” for ignoring him. He falls asleep and I get lost in my thoughts again.
I wonder where I went wrong; I try to pinpoint the moment I gave myself permission to settle for this life. I had a million things I wanted to achieve and all those aspirations have been smothered by OxyContin.
I tell myself it’s time to make some serious changes. And even though I don’t believe it just yet, I tell myself I am worth saving.
Learn more about prescription painkiller abuse and addiction.
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