I’ve been trying to write this for a long time, and Leslie’s loss just really encouraged me to, even though my experience isn’t really addiction and isn’t as serious. It reminds me why I need to stay away from my “happy pills”.
In seventh grade, I became the clumsiest girl in the world. I was never a good athlete, though I had previously done well in volleyball and soccer and was a fairly good dancer. Around a year after I quit actively pursuing dance, I began actively falling on my butt and spraining my ankles repeatedly. Then I hurt my knees and found out about the chondromalacia. The doctors felt sorry for me so they started with Tramadol one time, and when that didn’t work, they tried Darvocet. The Darvocet was great for a while, but eventually, I was taking it for the feeling it gave me and not the pain relief. (Let’s face it, Darvocet does nothing for pain.) I took it, and I would run out. I wasn’t really enterprising so I didn’t go searching for more. I was “lucky” because I would get hurt again almost as soon as I ran out, and I would get another prescription for Darvocet. This went on for a while. I quit actually physically feeling like I needed the meds, but I still kept taking them. I was taking the SAT (the kid one, not the college prep one) in 8th grade and I started getting really sick. My body was having a bad reaction to the amount of Darvocet I took. Not something serious, mainly rebound pain and nausea type stuff. So, I switched to Tylenol.
Tylenol got me through the rest of eighth grade, taking extra strengths regularly…to sleep and to ensure that nothing bad happened while I was at school. Yes, I know, it sounds like a whole panic attack type-OCD thing, and mostly the Tylenol was like a security blanket. It held me in place while I went through school. It kept me from feeling like my world was falling apart. And with the right other medication that I would take, it would guarantee me the perfect night’s sleep. Then, in tenth grade, my mom realized how much Tylenol we were burning through every month or so. (We’d get the huge bottles of extra strengths that Equate makes.) Tylenol was no longer allowed in the house.
I had my wisdom teeth taken out in the summer between 10th and 11th grades. They were deeply impacted. I ended up being put on Lortab 5’s, I think. Well, they worked, but not well enough…so my mom gave me the next highest dose, since she had some of those from some problem she’d had. Those worked a little better and I found that they made me happy. For someone who hadn’t been happy in years, this was a very important discovery. I began not only trying to rid myself of the pain, I began trying to chase the happiness. We ran out of those, but I think there was like one more higher dose of that particular drug in the house and I used it up quickly. The only left was Oxycodone, which my dad had been prescribed for his kidney stones. He only used it once because it knocked him on his ass. I tried it, and not only was my pain finally completely gone, it made me feel the happiest I had ever felt in my life. I felt like I could do anything. It made me feel free. I took those until I ran out. I then went back to my oral surgeon, asking for something…telling him, I needed something. He wouldn’t give me anything. He refused. I was distraught. If I had been enterprising, I probably could have gotten a hold of something that would have brought back my happy feeling, but I started to realize I was losing something in myself. I realized that my desire for this happiness was odd, since I’m one who rather enjoys her long bouts of melancholy. I just let it go, though I would hope every time I went in to see a doctor with some ache or pain that I would get Lortabs or Oxycodone…or if I had a cough/bronchitis, I would hope for Tussinex. (It’s good, trust me…doesn’t help that the stuff tastes like candy.)
I can’t take pain killers anymore, but not because of my realization of this unhealthy happiness seeking behavior…I became allergic to hydrocodone. I could still take Darvocet, but it does even less now than it used to. I sometimes will take Tramadol when I’m in pain, and it buzzes me a little, but I don’t take it for that reason. I do misuse my old Klonopin so that I can sleep. I also take Tylenol or Percogesic every night to make sure I sleep.
The oddest thing about the whole thing is that when I didn’t need the pain killers every day, I felt like I could take them forever. Now, with all the crap that I’ve been told is wrong with me, I need pain relief…and there’s nothing I can take.
I know it’s not an addiction, and I’m thankful that I’m not addicted. I just have an unhealthy desire to take certain things. I know to try to avoid them. That can be difficult, but it can be done.