Due to a disease of my peripheral nervous system, I have for the last five years been experiencing increasing pain and weakness in my legs. I was prescribed oxycodone, which I was all too glad to take! My doctor increased my dose a number of times.
This too I was glad to do: more painkilling action and I like the buzz! Two years ago I was raised to 60 mg/day and up until 6 weeks ago I was taking (gobbling) that amount daily, but with a gradually diminishing effect: More pain more often and some signs (teary eyes, anxiety attacks and feeling mildly sick intermittently) of going into withdrawal by the end of most days.
The law of tolerance had set in.
End of the line unless I wanted to go broke fast buying pills or heroin on the street – not for me. I went to my doctor and told him the end result of my opiate treatment for chronic pain and that I needed to go into a hospital to be detoxed. At first he resisted, recommending a slow taper (10% every two weeks).
That would take an eternity. Given I was already experiencing a moderate hell at my full dose, the thought of this was a nightmare! In the end, and to his credit, he honored my request and arranged for me to be detoxed in a hospital setting. (Lesson here: Stick up for your own well-being with your doctor. He or she is not the boss of your body!)
The Medical Detox
Five days and four nights (without oxycodone) later, I was discharged from Providence hospital detox unit. It went well. For the most part, my nightmare imaginings of narcotics withdrawal never came true. Perhaps the gabapentin that I take mitigated the symptoms. I have no idea!
But beyond exhausted: Yes. Severe anxiety attacks: Yes. Needing a lot more than those five days to recover and feel normal: Yes. I came home having read about PAWS: Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome: a prolonged period after detoxing where any number of rough uncomfortable symptoms may come to visit.
I saw clearly that if I was to successfully distance myself from oxycodone, I would have to find a path that was a strong full-on support for my whole being. A no-kidding project! And what made the whole damn thing a double whammy was my physical pain, which was still there and if anything somewhat worse.
So the work really started after my detox. Now it was up to me. In the hospital, you give it over to doctors and nurses and just hang in there and go through it. Before you know it you’re discharged and life without your old friend oxycodone really begins.
So back to thinking about a support plan. At my detox, they urged me to go to an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). I’d seen that in action, in fact I’d taught it when I was a social worker. It just didn’t feel right to do that. My path had to be about trusting my gut, my hunches.
I pushed my doctor to get me approved for detox because it felt right even when he urged a slow taper instead. And in opting out of IOP and in not using an NA meeting as a main cog in the wheel of my support plan I was trusting my gut.
The Power Of Listening To Your Intuition
I wanted a different type of plan; one that was creative and holistic, yet structured and steady. And my physical pain: I had to address that as well. It was great and fine to be free of oxycodone, but life is a forward-moving process. I left the oxycodone back at detox – but now what?
I googled “opiate withdrawal support.” Plenty to look at! A site came up called Opiate Addiction Support (OAS). The guy who was writing this stuff was passionate, compassionate, had been through it all himself and seemed to know his shit backwards and forwards!
My gut said “yes” so I followed. We spoke by phone and he designed a personal treatment plan for my post acute withdrawal syndrome.
It included natural supplements to build my body up and help with withdrawal; nutritional guidelines; exercise and qigong; journal writing; suggestions for social interaction; and products to help manage my pain.
The plan was specific and tailored to my world. I don’t do so well when I’m left to my own vague notions, so having a treatment plan I could follow was wonderful. Best of all, our coaching sessions on the phone and his open email availability have been an incredible support!
As far as managing my leg pain, I take the gabapentin my doctor prescribed and I have been using Medical Marijuana. There are strains that have very little THC but are loaded with CBDs – one of the main pain-reducing elements of cannabis.
This stuff helps! Not like oxycodone though. It’s way more subtle but it makes a difference. And it’s not physically addictive and has no discernible side effects that I’ve noticed.
Following My Path
So here I am: Six weeks away from oxycodone; a plan in place that I follow that feels right for me and is working so far; and a long road to travel. As I said, this is a creative venture.
And I like it that way!
I’ve tried to listen to my gut and my intuition to find the path that’s right for me. Yours may look a whole hell of a lot different.
A dose of courage; a dose of taking this deal seriously and treating it with respect; and a dose of love and care for myself. That’s my prescription. Safe travels on this road and all my best!
Note from Matt Finch, owner of Opiate Addiction Support:
Richie has been a pleasure to coach…what a truly amazing human-being! His guitar students just love him, and I’m so happy to see his fast progress so he can get back to teaching. Here is a YouTube video of Richie doing what he does best.
To learn more about Richie, his private guitar lessons, and his music available on iTunes and his website, click on the link below: