Medication Addiction – How I was my own drug dealer

Now I know what your first thoughts must be when you read a title like this one but read on before you make any assumptions, judgments or refer to your already established preconceived ideas and beliefs about drug dealers.

Prescribed medications have affected and impacted millions of people’s lives negatively, causing irreparable damage and even death.

I was a drug addict and I was addicted to the medication Fiorinal. It came in a pill form that is taken in an oral format that contains butalbital, aspirin, and caffeine.  It was prescribed for me by my health care professional as I was a chronic migraine suffer for over 2 decades. Now for those of you that have never suffered a migraine you may have some difficulty understanding how I could be a wife, a mother of three (at that time), a professional businesswoman, and a Christian leader and still become addicted to drugs. But if you have ever had one migraine or like myself suffered daily with a pain so excruciating that you thought your head would explode and that surely you had a bomb going off in your brain and this was it- your last moment on earth. Or at the least, you felt like you wanted it to be. Then you will be able to fully understand my story.

Now all drug addiction starts with one main ingredient- pain. You have some sort of pain and you want it to subside, go away or just be able to forget it for a while. My pain wasn’t just internal, it wasn’t imaginary, neither was it getting any better, as a matter of fact, it was getting worse and more frequent. Like every human being that suffers, I really just wanted it to stop. For many years I tried natural ways to handle the intensity of these headaches that were quite debilitating and most of the time I just suffered through the pain and tried to become more resilient.

So when my family doctor offered me a new drug that would help,  I took some time to think about it and felt that the benefit to me would be worth any of the risks of the side effects. Never did I once imagine that becoming addicted would be a side effect.

After some usage, the prescribed medication actually began to work. Whenever I felt an aura or the beginning of a migraine coming on I would take a pill and sometimes it wouldn’t go any further and if it did then it would just be a light headache and end very quickly. This was a miracle drug to me as I had suffered from migraines from a very young age and nothing had ever given me this type of result. This gave me back a sense of normalcy and I was so happy to have this quick fix.

But then after renewing my prescription a few times I remember my husband asking me if I thought maybe I was taking too many of them. I became irritated and angry, I even suggested that he was more worried about all the money they were costing than he was about me. Yes as any drug addict can tell you money wasn’t an object to stop me from getting my next dose. This drug was not cheap, it was pretty expensive but it was worth the relief, or at least that was the lie I was telling myself so I could live supposedly pain-free.

In truth I had begun to increase the dosage prescribed, I was taking it more frequently, and even if I had a thought that my head might begin to hurt I just popped in a pill. It wasn’t until after some secret soul searching I began to admit to myself that I was addicted. But what was I going to do? I couldn’t go back to the pain.

In here lies the dilemma that every addict asks themselves- do I go back to the way it was? What do I do now? I was faced with the truth that I was addicted but felt powerless to stop. As I put the pros and cons on the scale to measure it, it was very imbalanced. The drugs were heavily winning. In my mind I needed these drugs to continue with my life. Or did I?

I was brought back to my early childhood when I was a thumb sucker for comfort. Sucking my thumb was something I began as a baby in my crib all alone to self soothe and comfort myself when no one was giving me love and affection. It continued into my childhood and even adolescence until I was 12 years old and my buck teeth began to protrude out. Then one day I just threw away the embroidered pillowcase that I used to scratch when I slept and sucked my thumb. I had tried everything to stop up until this point. Shameful and helpless to this act, I had put the most disgusting things on my thumb, wrapped it up at night, hid it under my pillow while I slept, but every morning when I woke up my thumb was still in my mouth. Then one day I made a choice and just decided that I wasn’t ever going to suck my thumb again and I stopped.  I never sucked my thumb ever again. Cold turkey is what they call it. I made a decision and I stuck to it.

That was what I would do now. So that day I fired myself as my own personal drug dealer. I flushed away all the pills I had left in the bottle into the toilet and to this day have never taken another drug for the migraines. The withdrawal symptoms were difficult but I was determined to beat this addiction.  I was also willing to face the pain and instead of masking the hurt, I would go on a search to find the root cause of why these headaches had such control in my life. I am glad to say that I am no longer a migraine sufferer and I rarely even have headaches anymore. I haven’t taken even as much as an aspirin for almost 25 years.  I removed the reasons for the pain, and now live pain-free in this area.

It isn’t this easy for so many others and I want to make sure to acknowledge that. We are in a time of an epidemic of opioid addiction across North America. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in 2020 from this crisis.

They now have a warning attached to the drug that I was taking –This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as nausea/vomiting, mental/mood changes, seizures) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions immediately. Though very unlikely, abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction) is possible with this medication.

I really wish that this warning had been on the bottle I began using when this drug first arrived on the market. But then maybe I wouldn’t have had the understanding or the courage to face the truth about the pain that I was experiencing that was the catalyst for these migraines.

After surgery and trauma of all kinds, many patients are dealing with what seems like a magical fix in prescription form and ending up in the ordeal of opioid addiction. If this is you make sure to reach out and get some help.

10 Tips on How not to get hooked on Prescribed Pain Pills 

  1. Evaluate what is bearable– what is your personal pain threshold? Why do you need to eradicate this discomfort? Is this necessary pain for healing?
  2. Consider over the counter relief or natural pain relief first– don’t trade your health for convenience
  3. Explore all other options -if you suffer from chronic pain try non-medication treatments like physiotherapy or best practices for treatment
  4. Take less than has been prescribed for optional prescribed medication – notice phycological dependency
  5. Know the risks of taking medication and stay aware of the continued short term and long term side effects
  6. Find a health provider that treats the whole you– body, mind, and being/holistic philosophy
  7. Get additional referrals and recommendations for unknown specialists
  8. Be the ultimate authority over your health and well being– embrace a new anti-pain strategy
  9. Manage your personal pain and pleasure meter– find root causes and use comprehensive pain management so as not to become hypersensitive to pain or pose a risk of dependency
  10. Be aware of prescribed narcotics, opioids, and feel good addictive chemicals– especially when you notice withdrawal symptoms occurring

Charmaine Hinds ©

 

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