Archives for Personal story

Feelings

After Dad’s Passing

My dad passed away two days ago, one day after his 89th birthday.  It doesn’t feel quite right to post something so personal.  But it feels more wrong to write about anything else.

Writing was a source of tension between us in some ways.  My perspectives on myself, my parents, and my upbringing have changed over the years, and I tried to share my observations with my dad in several short essays centered around memories from my...
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Addiction

Aftercare Made the Difference

I relapsed in 2000 after seven years of sobriety, and my attachment to opioids progressed much more rapidly than during my initial addiction.  I wrote a post a number of months ago that described ‘living on two levels,’ and that was my experience at the time—as if one part of my personality was frantically taking ever-increasing doses of dangerous narcotics while the other part, horrified, looked on.

Eventually my behavior caught the attention of enough people that I was confronted about my addiction.  I had been trying to stop using on my own for several months, but I argued over the need for residential treatment.  I remember sitting with the hospital CEO, babbling that I would be able to straighten myself up on my own if I had a few weeks of sick-time, and his response:  ‘Jeff, you have needle marks on your hands!’
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Addiction

What’s My Excuse?

I’ve shared my opinion that traditional treatment methods for opioid dependence—i.e. residential, usually step-based treatments—are a waste of limited resources.  I’ve written that relatively few opioid addicts successfully complete such treatments.  And many of those who ‘clean up well’ after two or three months die from relapse and overdose, months or years down the line.

Those who disagree with me sometimes pointedly ask “if getting clean without Suboxone is impossible, how did YOU do it?!” My usual answer is that my situation was and is very unique, and it would be misleading to compare my experience to that of most people.  But in case someone uses my experience to justify a similar path as mine, i.e. through residential treatment, I’ll expand on my answer.
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Addiction

The Limits of Will Power: Part One

This is part one of a three-part discussion about will power; look for the rest of the story next week, after the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC Conference Championship.

A person posted the following comments after one of my articles about Suboxone:

While Dr. Junig knows what he's talking about, not everything he says is always true. Not everyone needs permanent blocker therapy. Everyone’s will power varies. The simple fact is, the worse withdrawal is, the more likely that person is to not want to go through it again, meaning abstinence. The easier withdrawals are, the more likely those persons’ mindset will be "one more can't hurt". Pain builds you; it builds character, personality, and maturity.

I have had my share of bad withdrawals, as have most opioid addicts who have lived with their illness for a few years.  Unfortunately there is much more to staying sober than remembering the pain of withdrawal.  There is also much more to staying clean than 'character, personality, and maturity.'
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Addiction

Treating opioid dependence the ‘old fashioned way’

When I mentioned in a prior post that outpatient treatment of opioid dependence is generally unsuccessful, I was referring to the results of the ‘old paradigm’ of treatment. Since 2003 new approaches, using new medications, have revitalized outpatient treatment efforts and spurred physicians-- in the past, only bystanders of the treatment process-- to become active members and even leaders of treatment efforts.

Before 2003, patients who eventually recognized defeat in their struggle with opioid...
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Got Desperation?

Doctors sometimes joke about how our medical specialties affect how we view the world.  When I was an anesthesiologist, I became more and more aware of ‘the airway,’ a collection of anatomical findings that predict whether a person is easy to intubate—the term for inserting a breathing tube into the trachea.

In anesthesia, securing the airway is the ultimate concern, and most anesthesia injuries occur from ‘losing the airway,’ leading to brain damage or death from hypoxia.  Airway assessment is an important part of an anesthesiologist’s pre-op assessment, and eventually becomes unconscious and automatic. 
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