When I was a child I had big dreams. I wanted to be a teacher. Then as a teen, I decided culinary arts was my passion. Of course, like most of us, my dreams never come true. Instead, my life became a nightmare from which I could not wake; no matter how hard I pinched myself. In a million years I would have never dreamed of becoming a junkie.
My mother always told me I was, “too smart” to become an addict. After watching my parents struggle with addictions my whole life, I was determined to never do drugs. A medical diagnosis and a script for Dilaudid changed all that; so fast I didn’t have time to think about what was happening.
My name was on the bottle. Those pills belonged to me. I belonged to those pills.
I lost myself in those pills. I drove my kids around, high out of my mind. I lied and stole from the people I loved. I took part in typical addict behavior. If you’re sitting there saying, “I’m not that bad,” you ARE, and there will come a day.
I did things I swore I would never do. Eventually, my children ended up with their fathers, and I lost a man I loved from the depths of my soul.
How could something less than an inch in size control so much of me? At that point, I didn’t understand what was happening to me—what I was doing to myself. For six years I used any pill I could get my hands on. I tried quitting cold turkey and going through the detox from hell. I tried going to 12-step meetings every day for six months. I tried going to rehab. I tried relapsing. I tried getting hooked on heroin. The cycle started over and over again. I could never get past the six-month point. I didn’t understand why I worked so hard just to throw it all away. My dreams were shit. Dreams weren’t real.
Then one day I met someone who changed my life.
In my search for answers, I made an appointment at an outpatient clinic in a town about an hour away from where I lived. I was strung out on heroin and desperate to either die or find some miracle cure.
I participated in an intensive outpatient treatment program. The doctor there was a very intelligent man who explained my addiction to me in such a way that I finally got it. He got me. He understood me. He wanted to help me. That doctor changed my life in ways he will never comprehend.
We had to attend a group twice a week, 12 step meetings seven days a week, and meet with the counselor and doctor once a week. We also got a script for Subutex. This would make me the target of persecution for many years to come.
Subutex is a touchy subject, especially with recovering opiate addicts.
They either think they’re better than you because they didn’t “need anything” to stop using, or they suggest you’re “not clean and sober” if you’re using a medication to aid your recovery. I call bullshit on all of it for a lot of reasons. Type 2 diabetics take insulin for their disease. Are they weak for choosing to take insulin? Addiction is also a disease – a treatable disease. How we, as individuals, choose to treat our disease is a personal choice. What works best for one, may not work for another.
I tried everything else, and it didn’t work. People can judge me and try to say I’m less than, but I know my story. I know that I tried everything to the point of begging for a gun to end my heroin-induced misery. So, when a doctor suggested Subutex might help, I was on board. I did my intensive outpatient treatment along with a Subutex/Suboxone taper.
And I didn’t use. I didn’t get high on my Suboxone.
My life got better. I got my children back and married a man who loves everything about me. He understands what I go through as an addict. I was clear-headed enough on the Suboxone to really understand and process what my counselors and doctor were telling me. I am highly intelligent but try explaining “one day at a time” while I’m in a puking, shitting, insomniac withdrawal, and I will probably kick your ass, steal your keys and purse, and head to my dealer’s house.
Basic stuff didn’t work for me. My outpatient treatment paired with suboxone did—because I wanted it to. I was ready. There’s a certain point reached after trying to get clean so many times, where you know too much to try to act stupid. You know why you are where you are, and you know other people do too.
It makes me outrageously angry to see someone new to a group in a meeting who is taking Suboxone, hanging on by a thread trying to share, met with glares, rude comments and whispers.
Who the hell are other addicts to tell a person what’s going to work for them?
You are allowed to give suggestions.
You are not allowed to tell someone who or what they are.
Judging is not something addicts look good doing. We are all there for the same reasons—to share our experience, strength, and hope. I understand that some people abuse Suboxone; that some people believe it’s trading one drug for another. But not every person on Suboxone sees it that way.
Subutex and Suboxone saved my life. It’s not about the pill. It’s about everything else I get to do because of that pill. It’s about the choices I can make today because I’m not dead. I know Suboxone is not a cure. There is no cure for addiction. But I am alive because I haven’t relapsed. I get to wake up early as shit every morning to see my husband and children off to work and school. I get to clean up after them. I get to worry about trivial things. I get to dream. I get to hope. I get to have peace and faith. I get to feel even when I hate it. And I love every second of every minute of all of it…because I am alive.
Not because of a pill…. but because of what I chose to do with it. So from now on, before you judge someone using Suboxone, stop and think for a second about how far they had to go to get where they are. Think about how what comes out of your mouth could change their destiny. And most of all just love them.
Give them hope…
And eventually, they may fulfill their dreams.
This post was submitted by Jennifer.
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