I am 45-year-old woman with 6 kids, I have been married for 27 years. I grew up in a small town in New York State. Although my dad was an alcoholic, I feel I had a fairly normal childhood (thanks to my mom who never used anything). When I was a teenager I did experiment with alcohol and marijuana. In my high school years, I was given a bad joint that was mixed with something (I think angel dust). I had a bad trip and never smoked pot after that. Although I continued to drink it was only on weekends socially although I did get very drunk at times. After my first child I no longer had the same good time due to not wanting to get up to a crying baby, when I had a hangover. So at 21 I no longer used any mind-altering substances. I never even needed Tylenol.
When I was about 35 I started having problems with pain. I had a hysterectomy, had my gallbladder removed, started getting migraines and had many dental problems due to poor prenatal nutrition with my six pregnancies. I was introduced to Tylenol #3 one day while I was in the emergency room for a tooth abscess. I used the pain meds as prescribed and did not think much of it. Then I started to have frequent pain problems. And I am not blaming any doctor, but they started to give me massive amounts of narcotics. Within about a year I began to rely on them for everyday pain, within a another year I started to take them all the time regardless of whether I had pain or not. I was a nurse assistant at the time. I then developed back problems – which just gave me another excuse to get more pain meds. Although I never harmed any patients in the nursing home, I did use at work. I started to call in and lie to my co-workers when they asked me why I looked so tired. Soon I was lying to my husband, which I never did before.
Somehow I was able to get my practical nursing license. I did o.k. the first year. But then, let’s just say I started to get into all kinds of trouble. I lost 5 good nursing jobs, and then I started to work in an area where people did not know me, and did well for six months. I then lost 4 more nursing jobs. So I started working 2 hours from home and stayed with in-laws. I told them I was working there because it paid double than my town (which it did). I then lost 5 more jobs, the longest one was for 10 months. When the last one fired me I finally admitted that I needed help.
They were very understanding and suggested a professional nursing assistance program. At this time I was using at least 30 10mg hydrocodone pills a day along with at least 30 Ultram®. I was sick every time I knew that I had none left. I did not go longer than 12 hours without some kind of narcotic painpill. My husband knew I had a problem, but he never knew how bad it was until after I admitted it. At the height of my addiction he would carry my pills around with him and give them to me as prescribed since I really do have a need for pain relief. He would keep them under my mattress and when he would go to the shower or even the bathroom I would jump up and grab a handful. Once he caught me and I felt terrible, but I continued to do so.
I went to detox the first two times within one month and was put on Suboxone. It worked great. If I had known that there was such a thing, I may have went for help years before. When I got out I asked my primary care physician for help, she told me that I would have to go to my pain specialist. When I went to my pain specialist for help he refused to give me anything for cravings or anxiety so I started to use again. I bought the drugs off the street. Then I went to detox for the third time I was there for four days and decided to go to rehab, this was the smartest decision I ever made. They put me on Suboxone, where I continued throughout my 30-day stay. I went to support group meetings 5 times a week and then 3 days a week. It helped me a lot, but without the Suboxone I don’t think I would have made it.
I have a great family support system from my husband of 27 years and my six kids. I also see my individual counselor every three weeks. I am now ready to taper off I will go very slowly. I am a nurse and had to temporarily surrender my nursing license. I am now ready to get it back. I have learned so many great tools that I know I will be fine. I am actually starting to enjoy life again – which I never thought I would enjoy anything without being high. But it is actually better than any high I ever experienced. I know this sounds corny but I am just so excited about my recovery.
ADDENDUM - February, 2010
I originally wrote my story about 3 years ago. Since then with the help of Suboxone and a good support system I have remained in recovery for another 3 years it has been a total of 3 years and eight months. I have not had any slip ups. I did, however, have to have a procedure for which I needed to have narcotics - one to relax me and one for pain. It was only one time and was only during the procedure. I told my specialist who gave me the procedure that I was in recovery. I did well and did not try to use again. I also had narcotic pain meds offered to me by my dentist and ER several times. I told them no that I was fine with ibuprofen. I have used all the tools that I learned while in recovery and still continue to go to the AddictionSurvivors.org website to check in.
About 1 year into my recovery I was lucky enough to get a job as a cashier. (I did have a Practical Nursing license but was unable to get a job due to restrictions on it because of my recovery.) I worked there for 2 years - the longest I was ever able to hold a job in many years. During that time I kept in contact with my former director of nursing who knew my story and knew I was a good worker.
I kept applying at nursing jobs and eventually got a assistant nursing certificate, thinking I could at least get a job in the health care field which is the type of work I love. I was not even able to get that. Finally my hard work in recovery paid off when my former DON gave me a job as a CNA (certified nursing assistant). It wasn't nursing but at least it was in the health care field. I also had hoped that if I worked hard I would be able to talk the facility into giving me a chance as a nurse.
I worked a as assistant for nine months working many overtime hours and not missing a day in those nine months, and I finally got the great news. They gave me a position as an LPN. I will be working full time as a nurse, and I will even have my own floor. I can't wait to get to work.
On several occasions I got discouraged and thought I may never be a nurse again; but even without nursing I knew I never wanted to become the full-blown addict that I once was. I could never live waking up and trying to remember who I would have to lie to that day or if I would be called to the office and be fired for some reason. Even though my six children were mostly young at that time, I am sure they knew something was up when I was fired every few months.
I know that without all the great support and tools I learned while in recovery I would never have gotten this chance. I also know that Suboxone was a big part of the reason for my success.
To suppress the debilitating symptoms of cravings and withdrawal, enabling the patient to engage in therapy, counseling and support, so they can implement positive long-term changes in their lives which develops into the new healthy patterns of behavior necessary to achieve sustained addiction remission. - explain -