Monday, October 06, 2008


I ask that you bear with me a moment or two until I am able to get my bearings, as I am literally still spinning from yet another attack against Methadone Maintenance Treatment from someone who doesn't have a bloody clue what it even is or entails! Grant me patience, now. First of all, I live in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and because of this location, I, as well as any other opiate addict also residing here, have very limited options available as far as recovery from this insidious addiction goes. Suboxone and its ilk is currently not available for prescription in this country. I will confess that it is more than possible that I may not be completely accurate with this declaration, but the last time I asked my doctor at the clinic about availability, I was told, not yet. Perhaps there are test studies being performed even as I speak, and sooner, rather than later, opiate addicts will actually be able to choose their poison!

Short of going cold turkey, to be properly detoxed and rehabbed from opiates, MMT seems to be an addicts only viable option if one hopes for a successful recovery. I absolutely am convinced that this treatment can and is, highly effective in keeping the addict away from abusing opiates. I know that there is the school of thought that maintains the addict is merely exchanging one addiction for another, but I find this argument simply too simplistic and terribly narrow. MMT does far more than exchange one of the same for more of the same, and I know that anyone reading my journal is well enough informed with what I am alluding to here that it isn't necessary for me to regurgitate all of this once again.

Even to my own ears and eyes, some of what I am about to say sounds like a huge series of rationalizations and this may very well be true - after all, one must never forget that rationalization may be the addicts only real true friend and if not friend, most certainly companion! When I first started MMT in the fall of 1999, I was in pretty rough shape.

We had been doing heroin and some pills for a solid two years, and pretty much had been dedicating all of of extra money and time towards our addiction. Pretty much from the first time that I tried it, I was hooked. I certainly had found what I thought was my nirvana. It was wondrous and it didn't take long to develop a tolerance for it. Thank heavens we knew someone that could get us heroin. He was out of town three out of the seven days and he happened to be working in a place that was literally drowning in it so every Thursday night right after getting off his bus, he would drop by our place with our weekly package. Sunday night we would wave him goodbye as his bus left town, our money in his pocket. This went on for over a year.

It started to get quite expensive as all habits tend to but this one also felt different. Where before, I may have been a bit of a bitch if I couldn't get blow or speed, I could get by at least but not this time. When I was without I hurt, I felt sick, I was in severe pain. I couldn't or wouldn't want to go to work and I had always prided myself on never letting any of my vices interfere with work and to be honest, life in general. Suddenly I had become single minded, nothing else mattered but not feeling sick anymore. I had to have a hit no matter what. Came close to bankrupting us. Sad but at least we had a house to sell to get us out of debt. And selling this one, our favorite, meant that we still had two others left although they were nowhere near as nice and they were in a much rougher part of town but that didn't seem to concern us so much anymore. We moved. We had to. We had someone else very important in our life now that very much needed to be accommodated. I had never lied before but suddenly I found myself doing just that. When my family doctor confronted me I couldn't admit it at first. I was every which way of denial until I couldn't take it anymore. This drug eventually wears you down, strips you of every vestige of dignity and self respect. I fessed up and when he started talking about getting us into a methadone program, I pretty much said yes just to humor him plus he said that as soon as we were on the list, he would be able to help us out and get us from having to buy our dope on the street at ridiculous prices.

I had never actually intended to follow thru with the methadone. The moment we were accepted our doctor wrote us each a prescription for 30 dilaudid a week. It was as if we had hit the jackpot. Between us we had 60 pills that would normally have cost us almost $20 each - quite a savings. He said that he could keep us supplied until we reached a high enough methadone dose that could sustain us on its own. I figured that we would ride this out as long as we could. Looked like it would be at least eight weeks that we could get our prescription and I figured that was long enough for us to get our finances back in order. We would in theory save a lot by not having to buy opioids for a two month period. As it was we were spending about $700/week and that was barely keeping us from getting sick so I knew that we were living on borrowed time if we continued spending at that rate. We were long overdue for a financial break.

But a funny thing happened while we going to methadone. It started working. I stopped grieving for any of the others. I went a day without a hit, then two and then a week. A week turned into a month and then two and three and we were still going. Suddenly two years had passed and I no longer did anything except for my methadone. I didn't even drink anymore. I forgot about heroin and dilaudid and morphine - oxys had yet to make their appearance but that was only a matter of time. The methadone made me so very tired though even if it did seem to work a small miracle. I would start to nod off at the worst possible time something I rarely did while addicted to the others. I needed to stay awake. So slowly, we both started to taper down our dose and as we did this, the constant state of tiredness also started to seem to decrease.

Suddenly twenty seven months had passed. We were starting to get tired of the daily grind of having to grab our methadone. Yes, for the most part normalcy had returned to our lives. We fell into our own little routine. Gone were the hours upon hours dedicated to finding that one hit that would take away the pain. I could go back to work full time, we both could. Methadone gave our life structure once again. My credit card debts were now paid off. We had sold the other two houses and purchased a three story apartment building. Our self confidence and esteem had returned. We didn't want or need methadone any more. It was time to say goodbye. I had two weeks vacation at Christmas 2001 but a week before my vacation started I got a terrible flu. I was down to about 20mg of methadone a day. I felt so sick that I just didn't feel like grabbing my methadone one day and the next and the day after that. I just stopped going and when my flu ended, any withdrawal that I may have been going thru had also ended. It was hard to tell one from the other so I kept telling myself that there was no withdrawal just crappy flu symptoms.

Both of our tapers turned out to be successes. By the time that we had stopped taking methadone on a regular basis, our bodies had repaired themselves as best that they could. After  two and a half years, we were also able to beat the mental cravings as our bodies had essentially trained themselves. So, now both the physical and mental cravings seemed to have been put to rest. I knew that when I woke up each morning that the first thing in my mind would not have anything to do with opiates and so it continued for a number of years after we had finished with methadone.

I wish that I could say that we returned to abusing opiates because of some body and mind crushing craving and longing, but that is so not  true whatsoever. It was actually nothing at all, something so utterly innocuous in the end. Boredom and availability.



Lou said...

Why do people have to insist there is only ONE way to recovery. People that think that have never had to kick a drug.
Whatever works, anything is better than doing H.

Lori said...

Boredom and availability...I relate to that. Is Suboxone not available? The reason I ask is because I have been on pain management thru a private doctor for 3 or so years now, and get a monthly script for methadone. Not having to go to a clinic really improved my life tremendously and took alot of the power of methadone away. When it is in your medicine cabinet next to the Excedrin it doesn't seem as mighty as when a nurse is dangling a cup in front of you. The few times i have experimented with Suboxone I was is an incredible drug. In the states you have a choice, Suboxone or methadone. Both seem to be pretty effective.. I have been on methadone off and for the last 7 years on, since i was 26. I am 41. There have been many positive changes in addiction/treatment programs in the US. Our politics suck, but the drug programs work. Sorry for the novel, glad to see you are ok..

Anonymous said...

Well, holy shit, and nice to meet you. I too believe there is more than one way to recover. I'm off to read more of you.