Slowly, Then Suddenly: Welcome To The World Of Opiate Addiction
We talk about the opioid crisis, but it can feel like you're on your own if you're battling with opiate addiction. The following is Kali's tale
People say there's an epidemic, but I say there's only me, in a dark house, alone.
My heart is racing, and my body seems clunky and slow, as if it were made of lead. My hands tremble and my mind races. My nose is running. I chose not to take a medicine today, but my body is now making a different choice. The same physique that allows me to type 80 words per minute and post poetry on my walls now has a new purpose. My muscles and limbs, turned inside out and engulfed in a peculiar kind of heat, scream for anything that will make them sing as nothing else has ever done before.
Morpheus, the Greek God of Sleep, was a winged demon that walked through the dreams of common people by impersonating their human forms, hence the name morphine. Addiction follows morphine and other opiates through history, leaving opium dens and opium wars in its wake, much like the nightmares that plague Morpheus' kingdom of dreams. We can still see its imprints everywhere: morphine was first marketed by Merck, and thanks in part to the early addicts' sales bump, Merck is now able to provide us everything from Nuvaring to Nasonex.
Merck isn't here anymore, and neither is my doctor.
It's just me, attempting to force myself out of a pill that has become a regular habit. I'm attempting to simply say no. An easy option, a rational one, has become the most agonizing decision of my life. It's a personal moment. A personal epiphany. A personal blunder. Goddammit, I've lost faith in my own competency, in my capacity to believe something is the greatest option and then act on it. It's like becoming lost in a neighborhood I'm supposed to be familiar with. Like when I'm drawing a bath and get distracted for two seconds and there's water all over the place. I'm not walking into a warm bath; instead, I'm stepping into a flood. In a world that prides itself on keeping in control and being strong, there is an epidemic of personal argument and beratement, an epidemic of misunderstanding and fear, an epidemic of notions about control and strength.
The term epidemic comes from Medieval Latin, which means "to dwell in a location."
Unlike a sickness or fever, the place where these drugs have me staying is a different land. It's a place where cures are double-edged, and simple solutions rapidly become difficult. Prescription pills are frequently used to alleviate pain and suffering. Do you become sick? Take a tablet to help you. Improve your performance. In opiate addiction, this sensible practice is employed and subsequently abused until the system no longer makes sense and up is suddenly down. Take a pill to get sick to get better to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get sick to get Opiates have enslaved us in a world where popping a tablet, typically prescribed by a single doctor, may alleviate chronic pain and the cramping, yearning hell that is withdrawal. It's something I've known since I was a child. Take your medicine as directed. Feeling much better now. It's the answer, yet it's also where my trouble began. It is for us all.
In the late 1800s, Bayer offered both aspirin and heroin as cough medicines for children and adults. What about Heroin's other promise? A morphine addiction treatment. An elixir promising relief from so much pain was received with open arms at a period when tuberculosis and pneumonia were epidemic. The medicine was labeled "heroisch" by Bayer's research department, which is German for "strong." Heroin, and later simply plain heroin, were born as a result. However, within a very short period of time, perhaps twenty years, doctors realized something was wrong. Cough suppressants were consumed in large quantities by the patients. Heroin, like morphine and opium before it, had come, bringing with it something far more sophisticated than pain relief.
Opiates provide pain relief in exchange for everything else, much like making a bargain with the devil and surrendering a little of myself in return. There's a vicious spiral going on, a whirlpool of good and terrible. After all, it's called "getting high." Dope. Then there's dopesick. Opiates can still soothe the suffering they've caused, even when I realize how far I've gone. How is it possible? Let's have a look at withdrawal.
Withdrawing from opiates is difficult. Unbelievably rough.
Part of the reason it's so unbearable, especially at home with a bottle of remedy beside my bedside, is that a quick fix for such anguish is always within reach. This is something my body is aware of. This is something my mind is aware of. No matter how much my heart begs me to give up, no matter how many people I've hurt or how much money I've snorted, there's a deep reptilian part of my brain that wants me to live and believes the withdrawal will kill me. My brain's fundamental evolutionary component desires for me to live. It wants me to make advantage of it. Withdrawal is only so painful because there is a simple remedy standing beyond my detox's gate (hotel room, bedroom).
Pills can deceive you. They promise a pre-measured dose, unlike powders or liquids. suboxone clinic near me
A pharmaceutical addiction puts you in a world where everything is under your control until it is suddenly, desperately not. We're in the midst of a maintenance epidemic, as well as a quit-anytime-I-want epidemic. Opiate addiction develops gradually, then all at once, as YA novelists describe love and falling asleep. When you have a bottle in your drawer, kids to feed, and you're trying not to take more than three pills tonight because you can't drive with your kids in the car to meet your dealer and your husband has to work all weekend, an epidemic is difficult to discuss. When you're just one kid stuck in a room with a baggie under your bed who said you'd never use a needle, ever, but your habit is too pricey and nothing else works as well as needles, and you've gotten yourself into this deep, how could you ever crawl out of here, alone, in this bedroom?
If I didn't end this by stating I felt better, my mother would be concerned. Welcome to opiate addiction if you feel like a solitary person isolated behind a pane of glass, with pills placed in strategic areas, a pill grinder in your purse, and a smile painted on your face. You'll be able to make it out alive. Welcome to opiate addiction if you've never felt less like a part of an epidemic, less like a part of something in your life. There are millions of other people who are just as depressed and afraid as you are. Now is the time. I'm trying not to pick up the phone. Occasionally succeeds.
When it's an illness of isolation and self-doubt, it doesn't feel like an epidemic. suboxone clinic near me
However, enlarge the image to see all those folks living alone and struggling so hard. All those different ages and social classes. I'm going through the same thing. I'm feeling completely alone. They're lost within their heads, wandering around aimlessly. We're now staying in an unusual location, and opiates are to blame. But it's something we've known for a long time. From cowboys forsaking saloons to visit opium dens, to troops in the Civil and Vietnam Wars turning to opiates as a guaranteed cure to war's many aches and pains, opiates have been used as a surefire answer to war's numerous aches and pains. It's a place where science and technology have aided us in reaching farther and faster. However, technology assists us in avoiding its own hazards at every turn. Drugs are issues, and pills will provide answers. We'll plummet faster before rising higher. We'll chat louder, spilling into houses, apartments, trailers, and rehabs via bright screens and clicking keyboards. We're going to live in the spotlight. If this is the worst kind of pain we've ever seen, we'll expect a solution that's as advanced as the problem.