Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Five Years and the Spiders From Mars

I can't believe that I almost let January go without so much as a backward glance, a good sign that I am finding it easier to look forward rather than backward. Progress. Two days ago was the fifth anniversary of starting Methadone Maintenance Treatment - MMT from this point. I am now also at a lower dose than the initial dose they started me on - 18mg instead of 20mg. I've been finding it frighteningly easy adjusting to each dosage decrease which has been a huge change from earlier efforts. The moment I managed to break through the 30mg barrier seemed to be when everything started to change for the better. I had begun to feel pretty beaten and battered and discouraged before this time as I struggled for months bouncing back and forth between 30 and 40mg fearful that I might have ended up stuck there indefinitely! I remember mentally preparing myself for the long haul just in case... Of the last 12 months, a good nine of them were spent stuck at the higher dose, while in less than three I have managed to decrease my dose successfully from 30 to18mg!

Five years - half a decade - is a pretty significant amount of time so I suppose I should really take a moment. I remember that first day so very vividly especially seeing how it just happened to coincide with my first day in my new position at work! Not only was I returning, literally, to the land of the living after having spent near three years in semi seclusion working in the office from 7pm until 2am, but I was going to have to leave less than an hour after having arrived to make it to my first doctor's appointment. At least I had more than enough time to prepare my superiors of this as I had been put on a wait list for MMT, and this wait was going to be just over five weeks!

Actually, was a damn near miracle that I even ended up showing considering the lengthy wait to start treatment. Its a wonder any addicts manage to start treatment at all sometimes. The way that this particular aspect of addiction treatment is handled has always been one of my complaints with the system. I find that as it has been my experience that once an addict decides to seek any form of treatment, having to turn them away to start at a later date generally ensures nothing but failure. Normally by their start date, something else has usually distracted the addict and they are nowhere to be found.

Ironically, when I had gone to my initial appointment, I wasn't really planning on starting any sort of treatment. A friend wanted me to accompany her to her appointment and while I was there with her, the attending nurse convinced me to have my blood work and physical done just in case. Obviously in hindsight, I am glad that I did go through the motions. Starting MMT was exactly what I desperately needed in the end and through a series of related plus unrelated events over this five week wait, I did manage to show up that Monday morning at the clinic bright and early, hoping and praying for change.



Recovery Helpdesk said...

You make a great point about the problem with waiting lists. Where I live, the only methadone clinic has had a year long waiting list! At one point it was even up to 18 months.

The good news was that the clinic is set to add 150 more treatment slots. But no sooner did that news come out that we got the news that a local buprenorphine program was closing (170 patients) and two doctors were discontinuing their prescribing (another 50 patients). Demand is so high there are no doctors with openings to accept these patients.

We need treatment available on demand!

Gledwood said...

My big problem with methadone has been that it doesn't have any antidepressant or mood stabilizing effect, like heroin definitely does.

First thing I noticed on heroin, the very first thing was that as I took it every day my mood stayed on a flatline rather than constant peaks and troughs.

I did get into some pretty major depression on heroin but the days I had to go on methadone were just undoable I did absolutely nothing with them. I had to have heroin in order to function.

Then the day I decided to stop heroin for good (there was a severe drought in the supply thanks to Afghan poppy blight) I started hallucinating vividly, hearing voices and seeing spectacular multicoloured lights my mood was racing upwards then plummeting down I had something like 6 highs and 6 lows in 10 days.

I ran to a psychiatrist who actually took me seriously. He looked really shocked when I came in totally manic.

Eventually I got diagnosed schizoaffective, bipolar type. The heroin had simply been masking this pretty effectively. Of course I never saw any professional without taking heroin first, I couldn't handle that kind of stress. So they only ever saw the self-medicated hard to diagnose me.

I stayed off gear for several weeks on end but went extremely manic in this time. They were asking me whether I wanted to be in hospital etc etc I was all over the place.

I've been using again because I've been very irritable and depressed and it takes most of it away. Most days.

I was complaining to someone about it not being the same as heroin and someone said "it's not meant to be!" as if I was stupid for even saying that. But that's not what the drs and clinic staff think. They think everyone should be doing ok on methadone and don't seem to understand that nearly all their clients use heavily on top nearly every day basically because the methadone doesn't work for them the way it's meant to.

Until the heroin drought and low quality gear methadone didn't even hold my physically. Half a gram of heroin a day requires well over 100mg to stabilize you and they don't give most people that much.

Despite all this I still don't have the same obsession with gear that I used to have. I just want my mood to go up again. When I was on a natural high I was vehemently antidrugs. I didn't even want to take the methadone, kept forgetting to dose.

I want my determination back.

Congratulations on keeping on the straight and narrow for so long!!