So far I’ve been finding it very cathartic to be honest with you lovely people who are kind enough to read my blog. In the spirit of this honesty, I’m going to let you into a secret no-one else knows. Deep breath. Oof, this is strangely harder than admitting I was a drunk.
I’ve been addicted to painkillers as well as alcohol.
There. I’ve said it. I don’t suppose this is huge in some people’s world. But it’s a biggie for me. True, it’s not heroin, but yep, it was codeine, which, as an opiate is a step or two down that nasty old path.
Dropping the drink has given me the clarity of mind to start turning the cold beady eye of truth on my life, which is probably why it occurred to me last weekend that I may just have another little demon to pulverise here.
So – the gory details. I’m a tall, gangly creature, and as such I’m naturally more prone to back problems. Which I’ve had on and off since the age of about 16. I’ve never got anywhere following the standard NHS process, which basically results in having anti-inflammatories thrown at you in vast quantity, and referrals to physios which just didn’t help. Over the years I’ve been to osteopaths, and more recently a really good chiropractor. But these options aren’t cheap, and let’s face it, there was wine and beer to find funds for.
I’ve never been a drug taker particularly, I’ve always chosen alcohol as my poison. (Well, apart from a brief phase in my early 30’s, when I had a destructive and idiotic rebound relationship with a drug addict and let’s just say I did a bit of f*cking stupid experimentation).
So I’ve been living with varying levels of chronic back pain for over 20 years. Self-medicating at the end of the day with a lovely, wholesome combination of anti-inflammatories, and a truckload of wine.
More recently, I’ve had access to some nice strong codeine. That was a revelation. A full dose of that swiftly resulted in a complete absence of pain, and a happy, floaty Red.
It was only in the absence of the pain that I realised how grindingly, exhaustingly awful its constant daily presence has been. In my mind, this easily justified taking more of the codeine. During the week, I would struggle through the day, and as soon as I was no longer required to drive or function at work, I’d take a dose. Or have a nice drink. Or sometimes, both. Then at weekends, well, I had free reign to constantly top up with the drug during the day, and then alcohol on top in the evenings.
Now, this combination is dangerous for all sorts of reasons, not least potentially fatal respiratory depression. But hey, I’m Marvel Comic-level invincible, right? Or at least I felt pretty invincible when the codeine kicked in. I started to look forward to the delicious rush and the flood of feel-good shit into my system when it started to work. It was seriously nice.
I began to take it more frequently, and found that the good feeling diminished slightly. But if I topped it up with booze, I’d feel good again. For a short while. And so the cycle of addiction began. I knew I had a problem with both alcohol and codeine, but while I could see and admit the alcohol problem, it was as if the drug problem slid out of view if I tried to focus too hard on it.
And then I stopped drinking. But I kept taking the pills. And they insidiously crept further and further in, as I needed something to replace the alcohol buzz.
This brings me to just over a week ago. I started having bad headaches, which would build in severity during the day to the point I could hardly see straight, and barely handle the cacophony that is my lively, lovely childen (and I would have days like the one here in Bad Mama..).
Last Sunday found me on the biggest dose of codeine I could take, and then counting the minutes between doses. And then when they stopped working, I found an old stash of diazepam, AND YEP, I TOOK ONE THOSE TOO!!!
The mental conversation went something like this:
Brain: “Hey there. Hey up there!! Yes you, doofus! ”
Me: “Yeah, whassamadder? I’m busy feeling all nice, and dreamy up here. Oh. Oh crap. I’m bloody addicted to drugs now aren’t I?”
Brain: “No Shit, Sherlock! STOP RIGHT NOW”.
So I stopped. I admitted to myself that I was addicted to these buggers too. I did a bit of reading. I tapered off the dose over two days, and since Wednesday I’ve been clear of them. All of them. Not even a lowly paracetamol has passed these lips.
Its been, well, tricky, is a nice word for it. It was a bit like going back to square one. I was fed up, irritable, couldn’t sleep properly and had the headache from hell. I’ve basically been The Queen from Aliens. But as of Friday, I gently started to feel better. And today I feel pretty good, well, apart from tonsils like golf-balls, courtesy of my germ-ridden sprogs. I’m not sleeping brilliantly, and I had a bad case of restless legs in the middle of last night but I’m clean baby. Squeaky. And it’s getting better and better.
Happy Sunday everyone. I hope that if there’s just one other person out there who reads this and who’s taking an itsy bit too much pain medication, and perhaps doubting just why they take it, this confession might strike a chord.
Love, Squeaky Clean Red xx