I never expected it to happen to me. Isn’t that what we’ve all told ourselves? But honestly, I was always the straight edged kid. I was against smoking, drinking and drugs of any kind. Even the thought of smoking cigarettes disgusted me, mostly because I hated the smell but also because it was bad for me. Honestly, that hasn’t changed. But how did I get from being the straight laced goody two shoes to a recovering heroin addict. “Recovering” is the key word now, but only a short time ago, I was an active opiate addict – and I was lost at sea, in an abyss of misery, despair and depravity. Only by God’s grace, hard work and dedication have I been brought back to shore. I may have been shipwrecked, but I survived.
Heroin didn’t come into my life by chance. It was by my own depraved choice. I had started by occasionally experimenting with drugs, namely oxycodone (the active ingredient in the popular opiate painkiller Percocet). I enjoyed the brief “up” feeling of euphoria it provided. But before I knew it, I required more and more oxycodone to experience the same euphoric feeling. I soon realized that it was costing a small fortune to acquire a feeling that didn’t even satisfy me anymore and before too long, I decided to try heroin. Heroin provided a similar feeling to oxycodone, though it made me more relaxed and tired compared to oxy which made me more hyper.
The craziest part was that I still thought that I would never become addicted…that is until I realized that without the drug I started to feel “funny” and “different”. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but I just knew I didn’t feel normal. It finally dawned on me that I was probably going through some kind of withdrawal. This led me to try street Suboxone – I found someone who sold it on the streets and I used it on the days I didn’t “want” to use heroin. At this time, I wasn’t a full blown addict because when I was, I always wanted to use heroin…and sadly, I always did.
By the time I was completely addicted I used heroin every day. I made excuses for myself, I took money out of savings and I took out cash advances. A few times I tried to go cold turkey and even tried Suboxone (buprenorphine) but since I used it too early, it sent me into premature withdrawal which I later learned it could do if you don’t take it after an appropriate amount of waiting time. The physical withdrawal was terrible and lasted for days. And while I conquered it twice, my mental addiction was too strong which led me right back to using. After 2 failed attempts, I recognized I needed help.
This led me to a methadone clinic. I was reluctant at first because the stories I read made me worry that I’d only be replacing one drug with another. Methadone was referred to by some I spoke with as “liquid handcuffs” which I only assumed was because people on it felt enslaved and disempowered. But after doing some research and only a short time at the methadone clinic, I quickly changed my mind. To me, attending the clinic was the best decision I’ve ever made. Months went by and I was free from heroin. I no longer sought after that “high” that active addicts (like I once was) crave.
After only a few months I started to taper down. While this isn’t typical for most, I felt like I had a strong handle on my addiction and recovery and thus, I felt like it was time to come down.
The highest dose I personally took was 70mg which is considered in the average range although everybody is different. After tons of research, speaking with my doctor and counselor, I decided that a slow and steady taper would be best and most effective. Thus, I began a 1mg a week taper. I literally went from 70mg to 1mg tapering down only 1mg a week and then after the last week, stopped, being on 0mg.
A lot of people thought I was going to experience methadone withdrawal after a few days, but I didn’t. I was told that I’d experience methadone withdrawal anywhere between 2 days and 7 days. The good news is, I didn’t experience any. The worst that happened was that I experienced a little bit of restless legs and sweaty armpits. However, these were pre-existing issues I had experienced long before I started taking drugs. Frankly, I hadn’t experienced either for many years because opiates took away both. Thus, when I started experiencing restless knees and sweating again, it was a bit unexpected but then I remembered how much I experienced these before I ever even started taking opioids. Long story short, the symptoms I experienced were just a part of my body getting used to itself again. I was “feeling” again, for better or for worse. After all, Methadone and opioids are painkillers. Thankfully, my body is in pretty good shape so I didn’t experience a lot of discomfort.
People ask me all the time if I recommend Methadone to others, especially above other treatments. My answer is always “it depends”. At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for heroin addiction and thus, each recovering addicts must find what works for them. Ideally, I feel that those who are qualified candidates are best off doing to a top drug rehab and addiction treatment center, which includes a week of detox.
To read other heroin addiction recovery success stories visit our Heroin Addiction & Recovery Discussion Forum. View “Meet the Admins” to read more recovery stories from those who also assist with running the website and forum community.
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