In the Blink of an Eye and the Pop of a Pill . . .

man_taking_prescription_painkillers_after_surgery

I started taking pills to feel better, but continued taking them to feel nothing. I was 45 years old when I became addicted to pain medication. It started with a separated shoulder and a couple of OxyContin. It was a beautiful, south Florida day and I was riding bikes with my son. I turned my head to see if he was still behind me, when all of a sudden, I went over a high curb and went flying into a telephone poll. The pain was excruciating. To move my arm an inch was to experience a feeling the likes of which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I would have given anything for relief…and I pretty much did during the months that followed.

When I got to the ER, I was given a dose of Oxy and relief came rushing forth. I fell asleep in my room and didn’t wake up until my doctor nudged me awake. Despite the fact that I was still in severe pain, they said that surgery wasn’t required and gave me a prescription for some more oxy to take while I was healing. I went home, promising myself I would only take as much as I needed to. It took me all of four days to break that promise and start abusing the pills.

When my first prescription ran out, I was still in pain, but not nearly enough to warrant another bottle of 80mg pills. The truth is, I just liked how I felt when I took them—I’d be lying if I said that I still needed them. I didn’t go back to the ER doctor, but instead went to my regular and greatly embellished how much pain I was in. He gave me a couple more pills and sent me on my way. A week later, I was back in his office, but he refused to fill another prescription. I then learned just how easy it was to get a prescription filled in Florida, as there were pain management centers all over my area.

I started going through regular withdrawal periods and experiencing pain almost as bad as when I first got hurt. I was also snapping at my family for stupid things and had headaches all the time. What did I do to deal with the pain of withdrawal? I just took more Oxy. This cycle continued until one night the tightness in chest got so bad, I thought I was going to die. I drove myself to the hospital, and believe it or not, saw the same ER doctor that had given me my first dose of pills. A blood test determined that I had sky-high amounts of Oxy in my system. The doctor ordered a psych consult and I was urged to seek professional treatment.

My wife had shown up and heard everything. I was embarrassed, desperate and humiliated. She pretty much told me that we were done if I didn’t get my arms around this thing, and I’m glad she did. I entered an inpatient executive drug rehab program, so I could continue to work remotely during my recovery. I’ve been drug-free for 15 months and never plan on going back to pills. It still amazes me how a simple shoulder injury led to all of this.

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