... Anyway, as I was saying, if you're going to feel "normal" on methadone, you might as well reduce the dose and eventually live your "normality" without the need for any chemical crutches ~ prescribed or otherwise. I'm fed up of having an elevated tolerance to opiates so that, even on about 35mg of methadone, as I would have been then, the Co-dydramol the hospital gave me for those broken fingers was rendered ineffectual. 10mg dihydrocodeine is equivalent to just 1mg methadone. Of course the 500mg paracetamol (acetaminophen) in those pills still works. So I might as well have bought myself a pot of paracetamol and saved the dihydrocodeine for someone who really would have benefitted from it.
I don't want to have to ask permission ~ and give at least a fortnight's notice to the methadone clinic ~ just to visit my Dad's side of the family, who I grew up with, yet haven't seen in about eight years. Last time I mooted that idea I was told I'd only get four or five days' prescription in advance and then have to pick up the remainder from a local pharmacy in a gossipy Welsh village. No way!
I'm still a drug addict as long as I'm on methadone. I still sweat far too heavily ~ even worse than I did on heroin. The hot summers I used so much to enjoy in childhood are nowadays a slow torture with me perspiring heavily, despite having taken multiple layers of clothing off.
I turned up (late) at an NA meeting last night and had to squeeze into a packed-out, fusty room in pitch darkness. I felt too sweaty, dirty and paranoid to stay long and so left early, telling myself I'd shower for longer before next time ~ and make sure I had fresher clothes on.
Narcotics Anonymous take the view I do, that you're not truly "clean" until you're off all drugs, including drink, and are no longer dependent on methadone. NA is the only place I know to meet clean friends and God knows I need some. I've decided to get a sponsor, work all twelve steps and follow the programme for at least a year, just as soon as I'm finally OFF the methadone.
With NA you only live "just for today" ~ which echoes Jesus Christ's declaration that "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34).
NA advise that newcomers attend ninety meetings in the first ninety days. Again there's little point putting in this level of commitment until I'm totally off the methadone and able to engage with the programme 100%.
An alternative twelve-step programme that has piqued my interest is Dual Recovery Anonymous ~ DRA. They are oriented towards recovery for drug addicts with psychiatric issues of any type. Most of their meetings are in Central London, so I haven't been yet. But I'm really looking forward to checking DRA out.
Whether I end up joining NA, DRA or both, finding the right sponsor is going to prove a tall order. Your sponsor is like a teacher, someone who guides you through the programme, somebody to turn to in times of trouble or confusion ~ and you supposedly have a lot of them in your first year. In effect, they're a kind of mentor.
I found an NA friend who said he would sponsor me more than five years back, but I wasn't ready to clean up; he wasn't ready to sponsor anybody. Yet neither of us knew this until we were put to the test. It ended up with him dropping out of our local meetings just to avoid me. And me continuing to use heroin and crack and white cyder just as before. My only progress since then has been to knock the crack on the head, cut the heroin back from nearly every day to once every week or two, to cut my drinking to less than a third of what it once was. I'm now a methadone addict, not a heroin addict, and my new prescription is less than a fifth of what it was less than a year ago!
So I'm on the way out. I'm going so slowly, slowly, it drives me crazy whenever I think about it. But slow and steady is the only approach that's going to work for me. By the first week of June, I'll be down to just 20mg per day. I try not to think about any of this too much. I just keep my eyes on the goal. The very idea of being Clean is faintly terrifying for me because it's unchartered territory. My whole life yawning ahead of me, empty and unfulfilled. I could do anything: yet what shall I do? I want to be off the methadone and want to be off all psychiatric drugs too. Then at last I shall know how I really feel. Most long-term addicts say they feel worse in the first year off methadone than they did on it. But most long-term addicts are not bipolar. One upside to my moods is that they've often swung contrary to circumstance. I'm hoping my hard-won Cleanliness if ever, however I attain it, might spark in me a lot more energy than I currently have, along with a better mood.
I don't want to be manic, I want to be happy. I'm yet to meet a happy drug addict. Getting off all drugs is the only thing I can see to do that will truly give me a chance.
And though I'm determined not to fall into a pit of brooding, I now see clearly that dabbling with heroin was the single biggest wrong move of my life. In fact, it's the only big mistake I've ever made. I've lost twelve years to that crap and I'm not willing to lose a single day more.
God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference ...
And now for a musical break...
OT QUARTET: HOLD THAT SUCKER DOWN
BUILDS LIKE A SKYSCRAPER MIX +7%
Speedier version of the track I posted yesterday...