Archives for February, 2012
I appreciate the feedback to my last post. I had no doubt that the thoughts expressed in the original letter would ring such a chord, as I hear similar comments on a daily basis. For people new to my blog this week, please review the letter in last week’s post, as that is where I’m starting today. I had the same ‘love at first site’ reaction to opioids described by many people who become addicted. My addiction began with a relatively weak opioid — codeine —but I still remember lying in bed as the effects of the substance drifted over me, easing the life-long depression that I had long accepted as ‘just how things are.’ I should make clear at this point that I do not mean to recommend that depressed people take opioids. Unfortunately, every bit of relief that I found from opioids had to be paid back, in the form of sadness, loss, and despair. There is some possibility that medicine will find a way to tap into the powerful mood effects of opioids at some point, but we are NOT there now. For people who are thinking ‘I’m smart—I’ll find a way to tame the beast,’ I can only plead that you look beyond that feeling of uniqueness. I was a pretty smart guy too. But a PhD in neurochemistry, honors in medicine, and board certification in anesthesiology offered no protection against addiction. If anything, that advanced knowledge made me more difficult to treat.
I would like to discuss a comment from a reader: I have been a recovering addict for 12 years. I was addicted primarily to Lortabs (active ingredient is hydrocodone) and Ultram. I was never an extreme user but I was consistently trying to modulate my feelings and feel better. I also have been battling BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) for a very long time which appears to be my primary issue. I have been married for 17 years and let’s just say our relationship is difficult due to my inability to be present and emotionally and psychologically sound. As with most other addicts, I distinctly remember the first opioid I took, even though I don’t remember my first sexual experience. The opioid made me feel unlike I had ever felt-- like I was “normal” in a way, and happy, which was unusual for me. Since I quit using 12 years ago I have only had a few days, yes, days, where I have truly felt good, and that was after intense work with someone for hours and hours at a time to help me get through an intense emotional roller coaster ride. I will feel “normal and happy” for a few hours or maybe a day and then I feel the despair creeping back in. I cut my thumb the other day and the first thought that I had was, I wonder if this injury will be sufficient enough to allow me a Lortab? I just never feel right without an opioid in my system. I have been researching drugs available to help me. I have tried many different antidepressants which were never helpful. I am wondering about a small dose of Suboxone (maybe 2 mg/day) which I have read may decrease some of the problems associated with BPD. I have been reading that persons with BPD have shown to have an opioid deficit and that 40% of those with BPD are addicts.
A recent question from a reader: Do you believe in intervention of someone who does not ask or desire (to be clean)? It is hard to predict human behavior; sometimes people rise to the occasion when all appears to be lost, and other times people who have everything going their way make surprisingly poor decisions. But in my experience, real sobriety requires the addict to feel a profound need to change that comes from within. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that interventions never work—but the intervention should be set up in such a way that the addict or alcoholic—him or herself-- comes to the realization that getting clean is the only option.