Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Long Road To Recovery

AT LAST I had a proper appointment down the druggieclinic where I have a new worker named Fanny. I gave a clear "suck it and see" style oral drug screen and my methadone at long long last goes down to 25mg per day. I am pleased as punch. Nothing depresses me more than a flat methadone dose with no end in sight. If methadone is there to make me feel "normal" (whoever told Ann Widdecombe MP  it was a "state-sponsored high" was barking up the wrong tree entirely. Almost without exception, addicts on methadone continue using herin on top at every oppotunity for years on end. They tend to do that because methadone is NOT making them high at all! It takes an exceptoinal quantity of willpower to give up heroin, even with the dubious "assistance" of methadone.)

... 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...

Speedier version of the track I posted yesterday...

The Power of Madonna!


Syd said...

Gleds, I'm glad that you are willing to get totally clean and get a sponsor and work the steps. I do think that it will make a big difference in your life if you are willing. That is the key. Go to meetings and stay clean, okay?

Gledwood said...

I'm looking into the Dual Recovery meetings, they sound most interesting.

Furtheron said...

I know of a DRA meeting near us which some friends of mine go to. AA has always worked for me and the meetings I go to are accomodating in the main for other stuff too...

Interesting Stat - 10 years old but...

"One person dies from Ecstacy every month. One person dies from Heroin every other day. One person dies from Methadone every day. One person dies of alcohol every 20 mins". Institute of Psychiatry 2002

The Methadone vs Heroin stat I found incredible when I first saw that - how on earth is that a credible treatment option then?

bugerlugs63 said...

Gledwood, How I understand N/A is we can start looking for a sponsor and even "get" one, we just can't start the steps until we're off methadone and totally off H . . . I think most addicts (of 12 yrs) "feel" bi-polar when coming off all substances, I know I do, but I'm not prepared to accept any diagnosis until I have been totally Clean for a yr . . . yes, I know you were depressed pre-gear and so was I (some circumstantial/some not so). . . I'm all over the place too at the moment, especially today.
I think you've made great progress and I really believe N/A, although not 100% successful, is the best place to start. It's the only place I've seen clean addicts . . . and it really is just for today.
I hope we can both do this,
love as always x

Akelamalu said...

You have done well with the Methadone and everything else. If you keep going you will eventually be totally clean - keep on Gleds. x

Bev said...

I know I dont have it in me to be a heroin addict.I sweat even when Im not doing nothing.Im a full figued gal and I can only wear cotton in summer.The worst place I sweat is my belly and i wipe my face all the time.When you get off the metherdone will you sweat less?I hope so.

Janice Seagraves said...

I just dropped in to see how you were doing, and I must say that I'm pleased at your progress.

And you writing is very focused.

Hang in there. It's a hard slow road to recovery but it sounds like your ready to take that trip to clean-vile.


Bev said...

Grant me serenity t.Igot a hate email and was crying this morning.Than i figuered i want to be me no matter what ppl think.laughing at me and makeing a fool out of me.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well done, Gleds. x

James Claims said...

Hi Glen, I decided to stop by again and check out your recovery. Sounds torturous in a lot of ways. I'm very glad I never did heroin after reading your blog. Cocaine, yes I did that, but thankfully I didn't get really addicted to that. Clonezapam, well, I understand the perpetual sweats and the need to be off of it. It's only 87 here and I'm done for.

I'd be interested in hearing more about DRA. It sounds like an excellent idea since a lot of people who use drugs also have some mental disorder. And while I'm a huge skeptic of AA, I do applaud any effort to get off alcohol for at least a few months to let the mind stabilize. Plus, DRA sounds like a place where there are like minded and similarly situated people.

I also know from personal experience that being bipolar makes it very easy to abuse alcohol since it can intensify manias and provoke them while giving temporary relief to depression. But in my case, I haven't ever been a complete fan of abstinence from alcohol, and being in the beer capital of the midwest/US, I drink a beer here and there. Never getting drunk or buzzed, but enjoying something nice once in a while. In particular, the New Glarus signature collection is heaven in a bottle. But I've also mapped my moods carefully and found that a single beer doesn't effect me, and I can keep the drinking in check, so it's an entirely individual thing. If you haven't checked it out, I have an old formula still up where values can be entered and instantly charted according to time for different peculiarities of moods. I've found it helpful for finding the rhythms of my moods and predicting when I should or shouldn't do things. Might also be helpful to see how well you're doing on methadone from dose to dose to identify any increase in frequency or severity of moods so you can adjust mood stabilizers accordingly.

charlie pie said...

U R doing very well, stop been so hard on yourself! methadone does keep you in the addictive cycle, I h8ed drug clinic, other users there talking bout drugs didnt help. I decided to get off methadone to avoid going there and the temptations it brings. Also having to attend reaffirms the 'addict' self perception. Going to NA and the other u mentioned r very positive steps. The group members as 'EX addicts' will support u so u can start to veiw yourself as who you really are, a strong individual who is ( by the sounds of it) beating addiction into submission. Hopefully u will meet some great new friends too. Keep up the good work, and think positive! All the best

Gledwood said...

Furtheron: twice as many people die on methadone as heroin? Doesn't surprise me at all! See why I want to get off that crap. It's a toxin to body and mind!

Buggerlugz: NA make the first year off drugs sound "bipolar" yet when I turned up at a few meetings floridly manic nobody seemed to believe I was off drugs. And yet I was! So I have a "resentment" over that, that I'm trying to let go. The reason I like NA so much is exactly as you put it ~ only place you can go and meet a room full of clean addicts! (Apart from DRA maybe...)


Bev: I never sweated heavily before the opiate addiction... so hopefully I won't sweat heavily after it! I can but hope!

Gledwood said...

Janice: my writing is very focused? Coming from a published writer like you that's a big compliment. That's good! Thank you.

Bev: email can be EXTREMELY stressful... just signing in is stressful. Then I worry what the hell people are going to say to me. I'm glad I'm not the only person in the world like that.

Welshcakes: thank you very much. I worked out that barring any hitches , at the current rate, I should be off methadone in 12 weeks at the longest.

James Claims: I was going to try that mood mapping thing. One problem I have found is it's surprisingly difficult to rate the strenghth of any given symptom at one time and much easier to do it afterwards.

I'm not convinced alcohol is altogether good for me. If I'm going to do DRA or NA I'm going to have to stop it!

Charlie Pie: I really want to go knowing I'm 100% clean and can FINALLY hopefully be accepted by the NA group...

Buggerlugz: "off drugs" meant off street drugs... I was still on methadone ...

Anna Young said...

I am inclined to think that it is almost if not completely possiably to make a clear diagnosis of mental health of an addict still using, even if it is prescribed methadone. I was originally diagnosed bi polar st the young age of 16, during my second stint in a nuthouse. I feel that I was to be diagnosed with such a complicated illness. As you may well know all teenagers present as sociopaths. The brain is still growing. I using at 18, hooked st 22. I doubt I'll ever be sure of my true mental state until that day comes and I'm clean. Do you agree?

Anna Young said...

Sweety you've seen the cruel comments I've gotten. I've been in years over some assholes anon comment. Mostly because I know it's true. I cannot explain it, and I'm not saying the cruel comment you have gotten is true. You just have to block anon comments, no matter .how much attention positive or negative out is. Attention seeking is not healthy.
not to say that you are seeking attention but in a way I'm aten't we all negative?

Anna Young said...