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This is my first post. Go easy!
I have been taking prescription opiates in various quantities for the last 15 years.
Ever since I snapped my ACL in my right knee.
Since then I have had 2 reconstructions and then 5 other operations to try to work out what Is going on in there.
Turns out I have a rare disease called Pigmented villonodula sinovitis which causes tumors to randomly grow on the synovial linings of my knee.
So, my prescription painkiller addiction kind of went hand in hand with having all this pain.
It started with Tramadol when I was 17. Copious amounts been given to me whenever I wanted.
My addiction to pain meds started there.
I was still taking the prescribed doses though, but I couldn't function without them.
Over the months and years I started taking more and more and more.
The Tramadol made me feel human.
Every wave of warmth that washed over my body when I swallowed the prescribed 2 pills, or the 6, 8 or 10 that I eventually ended up taking, but this was no longer for pain relief, this was to get high.
Each time I was searching for the feeling I got the first time I took the tablets.
They made me chatty, they made me sociable, they made me... Me.
Or at least that's what I thought.
Eventually many years later I was given Codeine instead of Tramadol.
Which was nice. It was refreshing. Something was actually working to kill my pain! It was great.
Again, I kept to the prescribed doses.
As time went on though, this great thing was the beginning of my nightmare...
The larger doses started to happen much sooner than with the Tramadol.
However, after an operation, and after the recovery period, I decided that enough was enough.
So I made an appointment to see the GP.
I took a big *Gulp* and admitted for the first to another human being that I had a problem.
I also told my partner who was naturally very upset, but as I was seeking medical help she was extremely supportive.
The experience was pleasant enough.
We decided to taper down the tablets for a while.
8 a day for 2 weeks.
7 a day for 2 weeks.
6 a day and so on.
It worked a treat. The GP even helped me to try none opiate based medication, but they tended to just make me hyperactive.
Eventually I stopped the lot. I only took paracetamol and ibruprofen.
Life was bliss.
Unfortunately, the nature of my aforementioned disease means that anything can happen at any time.
And it did.
A damn tumor popped up.
I was booked in to the hospital to have a simple arthroscopy.
3 weeks recovery they said before I went in...
After waking up from the operation, the pain was excruciating. It was much more intense than any other arthroscopy I'd had.
Laterally I found out why.
The tumor was bigger than we had expected and it was attached to my right quadricep (thigh muscle).
The surgeons had to remove a fair amount of my thigh. No wonder it hurt.
So the 3 weeks recovery turned into 6, then into 9, and very quickly those 9 weeks off work with nothing to do apart from watch films and take painkillers made the cycle started again.
Make no mistake, these drugs are helpful. In the right doses they are amazing painkillers.
In the wrong hands they are dangerous.
They turn people into liars.
They turned me into a liar.
I kept this dirty little secret away from my friends and family for so long.
The drugs don't work.
They changed me.
I found places online to buy them.
If you look on eBay at the right time, you can get codeine easily. You have to be quick though because eBay will pull them as soon as they get wind of someone selling them.
There are online doctors who will give you Codeine but you have to wait a month before you can get them again.
So I set up 3 or 4 different email addresses and had them sent to different houses and to work.
This worked for a while until the money ran out.
I always worried about the day that I would have to stop and go cold turkey.
The weeks it would take to get there turned into days.
I got 100 tablets online and 156 prescribed one day.
4 days later I was worried about running out.
One day I had ran out of options.
I was a week away from another prescription, and I couldn't order anymore online.
I read up online about something called Cold water extraction.
Without going into too many details, you could buy Co codamol and filter the paracetamol out.
It worked to an extent, but it was disgusting and I was constantly worried about the paracetamol that had got through to the final product.
One day I even changed the date on a prescription so I could get my precious tablets two days early.
The GP found out. So, one source had been taken away very quickly. I also had no help from the GP with a weaning process because I had abused his trust.
Things couldn't continue this way.
Things were so out of hand that I was going cold turkey at work, and it was horrendous. I was sweating and snotty while serving customers.
When one elderly couple gave me sympathy for having "a terrible looking flu" something inside me snapped.
I went out the back to the toilet and I cried.
I cried in front of my boss and spilled the beans. He was very receptive and sent me home early.
On the drive home I cried some more and went in to see a previous manager.
Again, I told all.
This felt good. It felt like a weight off my shoulders each time I told someone my story.
A good few months later after going to war with myself constantly about why I should stop taking the Codeine, I still hadn't cut down.
Work had got too much and I was spending far too much time at work and not with the people I love.
My daughter was 2 now and she had grown up so far with a drug addict for a daddy. This killed me every time I thought about it.
My partner is still blissfully unaware of my relapse and I plan on keeping it that way.
So, here we are today.
I ran out of proper Codeine over 2 weeks ago now.
Using over the counter Co codamol and a hell of a lot of will power I managed to get myself down to a couple of standard weak tablets combined with paracetamol per day.
I'm now on day 2 of not having anything apart from paracetamol.
I'm hurting inside.
My nerves are on fire.
My flu like symptoms are almost totally gone though.
My sleeping patterns are erratic at best, and I still wake up sometimes with my legs twitching maniacally and I'm drenched in sweat.
For now, at least, I might have a few more months of being free from this hell that had taken over my life.
In the next week or so, while I am still signed off work, I hope to have a day where I can spend the time with my daughter and not once think about finding some Codeine.
My past routine always saw me taking my tablets just before eating. So everytime a meal time comes around, I get an insatiable urge to take some pills.
This is the hardest part for me.
After every meal I used to sit back and let the waves of pleasure take over my body. Now I have to think very hard about something else for a while when I realise that those euphoric feelings aren't going to start this time.
So, that's my story. I wouldn't wish anybody to go through it and I hate the fact that these drugs are prescribed so often without a thought for the patient and their future.
I had an Mri scan last week.
The specialist thinks I have another tumor.
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