I'm a drug addict and it's killing me! :(

in addiction •  2 months ago

Yes, I admit it, I'm a drug addict. And not a functioning one, either. I'm falling apart and the drugs are ruining my life. :(

Background

I've been quite healthy all my life. I worked for ten years in psychiatric nursing, then got into business on eBay, then went fully into activism more recently. I drank a little alcohol, mostly socially, through my 20s. I have family members with addictions to alcohol and other drugs, but I've never been the type. I normally don't even take a Tylenol for headaches, preferring other methods if at all possible.

What precipitated my 'experiment'...

Things got pretty messed up when my grandmother died 2 years ago. Her and I were very close. I had been caring for her in her home for her final years. Because of some nonsense at certain levels of the family, I ended up homeless and sick, while my parents added another million or so to their already bloated bank account. I wish I was exaggerating. But anyhow...

I needed something for the pain. I'm not excusing what I did, but my emotional (and even physical) pain was almost intolerable. I'd had a heart attack and arrhythmia which left me weak and demoralized. For the first time in my life, I was totally falling apart. I thought about killing myself, and @MediKatie (my wife) was the only person there to keep me going. I wasn't sleeping, I was having nightmares and flashbacks, I was anxious and fatigued and having trouble walking. My doctor was on vacation, and the ER only wanted to see me if I was actively dying. There was no care for what seemed to be something at least as serious as MS or Lyme.

I reached out to a local woman I knew could hook me up. She had a good reputation. It actually took me a while to finally see her, but once we sat down and talked about my options, I was excited to get my hands on it.

Descent into full-blown physical addiction

I tore into the package before I got home, I was THAT excited to get my first hit. Little capsules filled with crystals, a logo on the side. I knew I needed it in my bloodstream, I just had to have it. It wasn't a needle or crack pipe... just pills. That made it seem more "legit" to me at the time. I remember thinking "I can't get addicted to this, it's just a pill! Like a vitamin!" and I reminded myself that a LOT of people do this shit. It's all through society, at just about every level. I met quite a few addicts to this stuff back in my years of psychiatry. I'd say close to half my patients were using it, or something very chemically similar to it. The chemists who invent these designer drugs often just change one atom or group, give it a new name, and people gobble it up.

I didn't really enjoy the first one, or even the first few, to be honest. It wasn't until I'd taken several that I noticed their effect. And that effect just kept getting stronger and stronger, as the level of the drug built up in my body. Every day, I'd seek relief from my PTSD, my chronic pain, the depression, the insomnia, and many other symptoms. You could say that it medicated me. It did help take the edge off, I'll admit that.

Next time I saw my girl, she really hooked me up good. The price was right... I found myself with a HUGE bottle of the stuff! And my intake immediately doubled. No. Tripled.

And it tripled again the month after that. I didn't feel hooked at first, I just liked the relief from the symptoms. Sure, the stuff fucked me up in some bad ways, but at least I wasn't in quite as much pain, and the agitation wasn't so bad. There are pros and cons to every drug, remember that. Nothing is all good or all bad.

Anyhow, about 6 months in, I see my dealer again and ask her if this stuff is addictive. I don't feel like I really got a straight answer, and left there with even more than ever before. A BAG of pills. A bag of chemicals for me to send into my brain. It felt heavy. It felt like... too much.

2 years of addiction

If I stop taking them now, even for a day, I fall to pieces. It's not just that all the symptoms come back full force. There are also withdrawals. You don't crave more, but you feel like absolute crap. You don't "like" the drug, but you can't feel okay without it anymore. Your vision blurs and swims, you can't stand straight, your emotions go haywire on you, headaches, sensitivity to light, anxiety, moodiness, etc. Basically, your brain's neurotransmitters are completely fucked up because of your continued use of the drug. You can't function without it. That's addiction.

I eventually found a list of side effects people commonly experience when coming off it... and some of them are dangerous or even deadly! I'd known about the risk of drug contamination and so on, but never realized the pure chemical itself carried so many risks, and was so addictive.

2 years later and I'm basically on the maximum 'safe' dosage, but even at that amount, with all its side effects, I still feel like I'm withdrawing a little bit all the time. It feels like extreme sleep deprivation, when your thoughts get weird and you're not even sure if things are real or not. But sleep doesn't fix it, only another FIX fixes it... briefly!

The reveal

Everything above is completely true, but possibly misleading because of the way I wrote it. The dealer I met with was a psychiatrist, and the drug is Effexor, aka Venlafaxine.

medicines.jpg

As a nurse in the 2000s, literally half my patients were on this, or something very similar like Celexa or Paxil. SSRIs (and/or SNRIs) were the "miracle" antidepressants of the 90s. I had no idea I was helping big pharmaceutical companies make unsuspecting sick people into addicts to their drugs. LITERAL addicts. I'm not using the word creatively, here. I'm using it by its exact dictionary definition and the way its used in practice.

Effexor is physically addictive, that is fact. But patients aren't told that. (I know they aren't, because I was trained what to say and not say about it. I never told my patients it was addictive, and denied it if they suggested it was. How wrong I was!) Patients are told "it's not psychoactive" or "you won't crave it so it's not addiction". Those are weasel-words. It's addictive. Your body needs it to function, and you develop tolerance to it and need more and more. Eventually, the side effects are more damaging than the relief you're getting, and you can't increase your dosage any further. But you can't decrease it, either.

Addiction. Caffeine never got me, alcohol never got me, I never even smoked a cigarette in my entire life, not a puff. But to save my life, I had to take Effexor, and now I'm a full-blown drug addict. I would literally skip eating so that I can get it, if I had to. Like I said, it's not fun or enjoyable in any way. You don't even notice it. But you notice if you stop.

Effexor may have saved my life, I'm not sure. It did appear to at least help with certain things. As a nurse, I saw psychiatric medications used correctly, and I saw them used incorrectly. They aren't evil. Pharmaceutical companies, yes, THEY are evil! But chemicals that affect the human body (drugs) aren't themselves evil or dangerous. A drug in foolish hands can be deadly but that same drug in skilled hands could save your life.

But now I want nothing more than to get it out of me as fast as I can. My psychiatrist (she's actually quite good and I appreciated her help) moved into a different department, so I can't see her anymore. My GP is hopeless and thinks I'm making everything up, so she's no use. I'll look for a new GP soon, but most in Vancouver aren't accepting new patients.

Getting off Effexor is tricky and potentially dangerous

Nevertheless, what I started doing a while ago is cutting back the dosage on my own. Without access to all the capsule sizes, this can be really tricky. You can't open up the capsules and divide up the crystals inside, "XR" capsules don't work like that. You have to take the whole thing, or not at all. So slowly cutting back a dosage can be almost impossible. Luckily, I saved bottles and bottles of the smaller dosages on my way up, anticipating needing them on the way back down.

I wouldn't recommend doing this. I'm trained and experienced, and it's still not easy, or necessarily safe. Check out this list of side effects of taking it. Then check out this list of what happens when you DON'T take it. SCARY SHIT!

What works far better for me, and has far less unwanted effects, is cannabis. Vapourized dabs, and/or ingested oils. Much safer, impossible to seriously hurt yourself with no matter how much you take, and completely non-addictive. Sure, you can develop a habit of using it, just as you have a habit of eating your favourite junkfood. But there's no possible physical addiction to cannabis (this isn't in debate anymore, so if you're not aware, I invite you to get back to your research!)

I even went off cannabis (after years of nonstop massive dosages), completely cold turkey, and stayed off it for 3 months. Some of my symptoms returned as soon as I stopped taking it, like insomnia, and my pain got worse. But there were zero side effects and absolutely no sensation of withdrawal. The worst it ever gets, when going cold turkey off heroic daily doses of cannabinoids, is a conscious thought of "I wish I could get medicated so my symptoms would go away".

Effexor is "free" in Canada. If you can't afford to pay for it, the government (ie: everybody) covers the bill. All you need is a prescription, and those are free and extremely easy to get.

Cannabis isn't free. It's expensive as hell. It's also very hard to get here in Canada, despite the coming "legalization". And getting a doctor to prescribe it for you is nearly impossible. It took MediKatie (who is crippled from spinal surgeries, has cancer, neuropathy, etc) 10 years of actively trying, to finally get a prescription.

Even if I could get it prescribed, it's not covered. I have to pay full price, out of pocket. And the price is ridiculously steep - cannabis oil is the most expensive oil on the planet even though it literally grows on trees. (Here is a YouTube video on that topic, which MediKatie and I uploaded the day before my grandmother unexpectedly died after having a fall in her kitchen.)

I'm addicted to a dangerous chemical the government and big pharma manufacture and pay for - because they prohibit (and profit off) the healing plant oil I need.

As upsetting as it is, for my health, I've got to let it be. In writing about it so my experience might help others, I make a little bit of closure for myself.

Thanks for listening.
DRutter

PS: I've slowly but surely cut out 80% of my Effexor dose over the past 7 months.

#illegallyhealing #justsaynotocannabisprohibition #freetheweed #endthedrugwar #noprisonforpot

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@drutter This information is so very important. Anymore, it is hard to trust the medical community. There is so much greed and folks are making the wrong decisions which hurts more than helps.

The objective should be that the drugs are used temporarily but more and more most prescriptions seem to be taken for life. I have had more than one person tell me that they had no idea that they were going to need their medicine essentially for the rest of their lives.

Take care and God bless!!

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I agree, trust in the medical community is unwarranted nowadays, and that is sad. When you're ill, and you don't have a lot of family supports, that medical system is all you've got. The feeling of depending on something for your life, but knowing it's corrupt , sure is uncomfortable! It's hard to heal in that kind of environment of uncertainty, where you are always double-checking doctors decisions and worrying that you're being prescribed something for financial rather than medical reasons.

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I hope you can find the support you need @drutter. I believe you can and will find it, just keep searching. Take care!

You are brave for sharing your experience with us. It is a harsh reality to face but one many have had to over come before you. It can be done and it is a worthy cause to keep trying.

I hope with the proper emotional support you can find your way.

Wow, that's a great photo. People will surely use it when they search "pharmaceuticals and cannabis". I'm sorry for your struggle, but I can tell you're making progress.

#bigharmaceuticals #potoverpills

Congratulations you've been chosen by our curators at Canna-Curate for great cannabis content! If you'd like to join our curation trail or delegate steem power you can see how and the benefits here. Or if you'd just like to have a chat about cannabis you can join us on our discord server Steem Powered Cannabis

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Thank you for choosing my post, guys! What does that mean?
The reaction this post got from the community is humbling and very appreciated. I'm so glad it resonated as something that could help people and advance the conversation.

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It just means somebody nominated it for curation. Great post bud

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Big thanks for the nomination and love!

I've read through it. You're amazing. Most people wouldn't have the strenght, even if they had the skills, to carve their way out of this. But not only you're doing it, you're spreading the word. Upvoted & resteemed.

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Wow, thank you very much for your thoughtful response. You made my day!


This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
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Thank you for the share and upvote :)

I really know the bad things an addiction can do, I have loved ones currently struggling to come out of this. Goodluck on your journey

Right on man!!! ITs takes courage to come out to say this, but people do need to know!!! I was addicted to meth and every opiate there is and cannabis helped. IT wasn't know walk in the park though. But without the herb i would of said fuck it and went back to it.

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Awesome personal story bro, powerful! Meth and opiates are some of the most addictive and harmful drugs around. It's scary that 'meth' is given to children with ADHD (or just a lot of energy), and opiates are given to EVERYBODY. When I was a nurse I think about 1 in 3 patients was on Tylenol #3 (codeine)... a gateway to harder addictive dangerous drugs.
There's a great program here in Vancouver called the Cannabis Substitution Project which hands out free cannabis (joints, cookies, gummies, sandwhiches, slurpees, capsules, and tinctures) twice a week to the needy. It started to help people get off opiates (as we are losing several people every day to overdoses, and we aren't a huge city). Vancouver is known around the world for our cheap heroin. People come here specifically to die on our drugs. Tragic.
My friend Neil Magnuson runs the CSP. He's a great local activist who I look up to. The CSP was a sister project to the "Vancouver 420 Farmers Markets" which ran for 2.5 years. That was started by MediKatie, me, and a couple other activists. We sold over 25000 brownies (not to mention thousands of dabs and probably 100k joints) to anyone 19+, every Saturday in downtown Vancouver. RIGHT in the heart of the banking and shopping sector. I dabbed doctors, pro sports team coaches and athletes, off-duty cops, even a judge. And many homeless people who couldn't afford the $2 price tag. We did it to help people make a healthy choice. Cannabis is saving lives, as you know! I'm really glad it was there to help you through parts of your recovery. It's really hard (and even dangerous) coming off some drugs, but cannabis can help with the withdrawals, as well as the need to do a ritual (like smoke or vape something), and it fills a social need as well. Plus it's often working behind the scenes to heal some of the root problem. Opiates don't, they just mask pain and give you constipation :P
I appreciate your comment and story!!

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That’s a great project! And yes cannabis really helps ease the withdrawal. I wish I got my hands on some CBD to see how it worked, but unfortunately I just had high thc herb. Another thing that helped besides my family and woman’s support was suboxone. That stuff is also pretty good, but can be abused and just as dangerous. You should do a post about that project your talking about. 👍

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You're right, I should go down to the CSP sometime soon and get some pics and footage for a post. Maybe talk to a few of the recipients about how it's working for them etc.

Phuck big pharma! Was on Zoloft for a short time and it made me feel like an emotionless zombie and I became a real jerk. Now I just smoke the ganja and wax- here it is incredibly cheap due to the market being flooded by outdoor.

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Yeeeaah, many people find cannabis fits with their bodies much better. It doesn't work for everybody, like anything else. But those of us who are helped by it certainly should not be punished for that. The plant should be free for all people to grow and use however they see fit, not select corporations only. I think cannabis "legalization" supports Big Pharma when it punishes people for growing plants, making concentrates, sharing medicine in the community, and other peaceful acts that have always been part of our subculture.

Free the herb!!

You are really incredible. I am very sorry for your grandmother's death, I know what it feels like. I have read about the secondary effects produced by a drug but never so realistically. I could feel what you feel and it was not very pleasant, your experience will serve others. You can achieve what you set out to do! I know that little by little you will go down the dose until not depending on that pill. Take care.

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Hey :) Thanks for reading my post, and your thoughtful comment. I'm sorry you know what that terrible loss feels like. :( It's not just because her and I were so close, it's also because she was such an amazing person. Anyhow, her love is still with me, and it helps me overcome a lot of things :)

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Hey! I just uploaded the photos that I promised you from my city, go to my profile and look at them. It has not been easy to take them, I've been on the move all the time, because I was in a car. Regards! and exist for your publication!

Thank you. This post needs to be resteemed. Drugs, street or prescribed, stimulate brain chemicals. They all have addictive qualities if those stimulated and/or recycled (ssri style) to achieve higher brain concentrations are our reward and motivation group of neurochemicals.

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Yes!! Thank you very much for your comment, and for resteeming my post - I appreciate that. All the best from Vancouver.

I hope your strong heartfelt story can help save others from the same stuggle you've had to endure. Peace and healing be with you @drutter. One love. Over grow Canada!
Im making some rosin I maybe able to donate to you in the name of @canna-curate. If you'd like to join the team to help shape the account you're more than welcome. Here is a link to the discord channel. https://discord.gg/J3q974E

Sorry to hear about your addiction to this chemical sh*t, I wish you to get free from this addiction as soon as possible.
You know I had conversation with one hypnotherapist. He told me that in a state of deep hypnosis the human body can change the blood chemistry. He personally took experiments with his students when in deep hypnosis a person was told that he was drunk. His blood was checked and there was a lot of alcohol. Conversely, a drunken man in hypnosis was told that he was sober, and a blood test at that time showed pure blood... I also read about the potential of self-hypnosis. This state of mind can be achieved independently, and perhaps it could help you somehow. I'm sorry if my message seems nonsense to you. But I think in your state you could try any hope if it is free from any substance and uses only ability of your mind and your body.
Take care of yourself!

Nearly $50 payout.... and at the cheap STEEM prices now you'll stack up..... congratulations on being properly paid for an article for once! :)

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Hi drutter,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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@Curie, that's an honour, thank you so much! I put a lot into this one so it's wonderful to be noticed like that. And your upvote leveled me up - 51 rep looks great on me, thanks! :)
Human curated and reviewed - that's how to do a proper trail. Big love and respect from Vancouver BC.

Effexor is nasty stuff

Great essay. Best of luck during this process and please keep being careful about the withdrawals. A friend of mine had a terrifying reaction when she stopped taking klonopin. Sending you good vibes!!!

so cute, cool and relaxing pics

Damn.

Yeah I was given this among other drugs and trusted my doctor. It nearly killed me.

Thank you for speaking out and changing your life.

Voting. And best of wishes that you will get better.

And detoxing off this drug and others nearly killed me.

Respect.