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Posts Tagged ‘dependancy vs addiction’

sorry about the formatting. i can’t seem to get this to flow correctly.

i was sharing online about my fibro and of course my history as a person recovering from substance abuse and…what happened when i was treated long-term for pain management. bits of this story are strewn through out my blog. but this is a bit of how my fibro and addictions interacted. again, this is my story and my opinions…remember this is a blogg page and what i say may not work for, or be relevant to you.  this information is not to be used in place of seeking professional help. please, always discuss your situation with your practitioners. please, always do your own research.

…so i guess that leads into the substance addiction/dependence discussion. i
don’t mind sharing about it. i think it’s important to talk about
considering how many of us (fibro patients) are faced with chronic pain and often
accompanying depression. the two can often be a recipe for disaster for
anyone. keeping the issue on the front burner in the open may be people’s
best insurance. i don’t believe genetics are the only reason that dependence/addiction happens to
people. life’s circumstances can be overwhelming and with doctors often
being too willing and reckless with their prescription pads…well it can be
sad. fibro patients can be particularly vulnerable finding many of the
people closest to them pulling away or making them feel as if it must be in
their heads…”if you would just get out and do something”, “stop spending
all of your time in doctors offices and reading about it”…ughhhh with often no
where to turn, all the symptoms beating you down on you. oh, it’s
easy to understand how dependence or addiction can become an additional
issue for even the “strongest” and “most knowledgeable” of us. it happened to
me.

i was in the middle of studying for my masters in counseling. i was
interning in CA at a maximum security facility for the criminally insane, in
the Alcohol, Drug Education Program…i had been in AA for years and then
was interning with juveniles charged with felonies, doing…you got it: drug
and substance counseling (and regular counseling). with all that around me i
had to wonder how i thought it couldn’t  happen to me. i never abused or
sought out pills. i was honestly afraid of drugs….even prescription. i have been a recovering alcoholic since ’97 but it was never about anything other than alcohol. recovery was difficult with fibro constantly nagging at me. i had being prescribed vicodin on and off for several years for managing pain in my neck and shoulders. i had horrible fatigue but no one around was diagnosing chronic fatigue or
fibro then. i went on for years like that and whenever the pills ran out i just lived
with the pain. the pills never really helped the pain or had any affect on
me…that i noticed…i could take ’em or leave ’em (so i thought). i had to have surgery while i was
in CA and the chronic fatigue which had been diagnosed by then, was really
dragging me down. the surgery wasn’t serious but i was prescribed vicodin again. and the stress of recovery from a seemingly simple operation still wore on me. i began to believe the vicodin simply relieved the pain enough for me to be more active…i never noticed that by then i may have been feeling a “need” to have them. i came home and continued on with my life until i got
very sick and was diagnosed with osteomylitis…very painful. i was given
some powerful doses of pain medication and for years after that anyone would
write me a prescription for pain if they knew what i’d had. (well that and the degenerative disc disorder). i wasn’t getting “high” or consciously abusing them, i know now that i was simply trying to avoid going through withdrawal (believe me there is a difference). the
doctors who knew i was a recovering alcoholic…well they all knew…never
reviewed or considered what might be happening. it wasn’t until i blew the whistle
myself, that they all went “oh…yeah!”

 

well just suddenly stopping them was a disaster. i didn’t know why i was so “uncomfortable”…i was in “cold turkey withdrawal. the discomfort seemed intolerable and i stumbled… i relapsed with my drinking. i went down for the count and
was drinking again for almost a year and a half before i decided to pull my
head out of my…the ground.

i sobered up but still didn’t get to feeling much better. yes the fibro was
always there but there was something else still wrong. i was wrestling with unrelenting anxiety and depression. i started reading
again and i found it. i had been on klonopin for over 11 years! i missed that and no one
around me ever said anything…even after my disaster with the pain meds. long term treatment with benzodiazapines can create those symptoms in most patients and your body will be…physically dependant…meaning if you stop cold turkey you will wrestle with withdrawal. and after a short time, with out constantly upping the dose, you are no longer receiving anything more than a placebo effect…you are just avoiding going through withdrawal. the withdrawal mimics what you’re taking the drug for and resuming it simply stops the withdrawal symptoms, appearing to fix the anxiety again…and so starts a crazy cycle…but it’s a cycle that’s difficult for me to describe well. go to benzo.org for more research on the topic.
so…i endeavored to get off all the meds. my doctor said i was begging
trouble and wouldn’t help me. he closed my files. gee, if he could up and close my files after 11 years of a compliant relationship…why didn’t they pin me down and say enough already with the klonopin! i couldn’t find any doctor that would help me and with one last prescription for what was supposed to be enough
klonopin to withdraw from…yeah give huge bottles of klonopin to a person with a history of suicide…begging for trouble…but i wasn’t going to go there, even though i felt like it many times. believe me i could rant on over how betrayed i felt by my medical community after over 11 years of compliance and hard work. but i need to stay focused on “the solution”.

well, i set out to learn how to withdrawal and what to expect.
my prescriptions were going to run out and i had to do something. the
short of it is that i withdrew faster than is recommended…it was very
rough. i took just over 3 months or so. april 25 was the last day i took a dose of klonipin. no more p-meds.

that’s the short of the long of it all. i have many entries about my
withdrawal from the meds on my blog page. there is other information there
too and i touch on a lot, including my fibro. i’ve had a bit of a complex
life…not a pretty or happy story. but i’m here and plugging away. i have
bad days, really bad days and then…the wonderful good ones. i try so hard
to hang my hat on the good ones…those have to be what i see more than the
others because they are precious and few. but i can send you to my blog if
you ever want to read some. it’s off focus re fibro…i am still taking lyrica, and i’ll wait a bit before making a decision about that one. i’m not fond of it but it seems to help quiet the symptoms.

but re dependant vs addicted…i don’t think there’s a difference. look them up in the dictionary and you’ll see they cross reference. that’s
why they call them “chemical dependency units”. dependency is just a “nice”
word for addicted…perhaps a more accurately descriptive word. “addicted”
sounds ugly and has horrible connotations. i guess we see addicted people as
whoring around street corners with unsavory crowds…the depictions are not
nice. but you don’t have to be homeless and dirty to have a serious and life
threatening and life altering situation going on. i’ve met many an elderly
woman and man who never even took hardly an aspirin their entire
lives…only to find themselves “addicted” or chemically dependant in their 50’s and 60’s. there are
so many similar stories and far too many go unchecked because of the stigma.
pain management and management of chronic illness is a blemish on the medical
community and no one wants to look at it. you see if we deal with
withdrawing people safely from meds and are vigilant over people’s use of
meds then the medical community will have to admit to a bigger problem. the
fact is that dependency or addiction in america is epidemic and who knows
the number since so many poor people don’t know what’s happening to them.
either docs are leaving them on substances they’ve developed a tolerance to
or they’re just yanking them off with horrible consequences.

 whether it was my 11+ years on klonopin or my adventures with pain
medication…i may be an alcoholic but the whole romance of pills never attracted me. i trusted my doctors. i’m sure we were all doing our best, the fact that i was an alcoholic should have
been a red flag, very early on, in the management of my care. at the same time, they shouldn’t brush
myexperience under the rug because “i had a predisposition”. that just isn’t right. this happens to far too many people who go through exactly what i did…alcholic, predisposed or not. it happens. i never saw it coming…even when my
behaviour changed. i’d always trusted my doctors to watch me, even when i
couldn’t see what was going on. i never hid or lied about my alcoholism. if
i wanted to abuse drugs….i might have. i did some dishonest things once
the dependency or addiction was full blown…but i was also the one to call
it quits when i started to feel that something wasn’t right. if it had been up to them i’d still be toting bags of pills. oh i
could go on…that’s why i started a blog. i have too much to say and i’ve
read too much reliable and alarming research. i pretty much only look at the NIMH, WHO,
Mayo clinic, Harvard, Lancet and such peer reviewed articles for the most
part. i rarely pay attention to anything that does not come from a source
that i wouldn’t feel confident quoting in a graduate paper. pull a bad
source there and you’ll hear about it! there’s too much “alarming”
controversial stuff written about this topic and you have to be careful in
sourcing. i’m sure people will read my blog and perhaps they forget that this is mypersonal blogg page. i’m expressing myopinions. granted i don’t buy into conspiracy theories and i read more peer reviewed research than i need to, but what i say and write is still my opinion. this is not a medical site but what i write is a response to my personal experience and…research.

so…that’s probably more than you wanted to hear or read about this. i’m
always willing to share this information and my blog with anyone so don’t
worry about sharing this information or me as a source. i’m not a licensed
professional…just a person who’s had to learn the hard way. maybe i’ll
have my license one of these days. god willing.

gee, take care and find one thing to smile a bit about. i’m glad you asked
me about this…it helps to share. some of this is still very fresh for
me…some is soooo old. i’m sorry to hear about your dad…i have to say
that strong wasn’t the only thing that may have helped me through…call it
luck, call it god, call it some good friends…i was one of the fortunate
few. more people don’t make it than do by no fault of their own. it’s kind
of like fibro…no one wants it and if we could change it we would. the art
is in living with it i guess.

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