“But You’re Still On Something”

Sober Steve Recovery

When it comes to trying to get off of heroin, actually it’s fentanyl now, well, let’s say, opiates, because it’s all the same really. I have tried pretty much everything so when it comes to opiate maintenance drugs like methadone, suboxone, vivitrol, sublocade and subutex, yes, I not only tried them all, I have been prescribed them all. Since the first time I tried using methadone pills “met pills” is what the streets called  them then, all the way to the sublocade shot that I use now.

As people who are addicted to opiates for extended periods of time we really mess up our brains and pain receptors, as well as the pleasure receptors.

I never sucked a dick for suboxone. The brain addicted to heroin is much different than a normal brain. Being addicted to heroin, and crack and meth are similar, the drug becomes the complete and only obsession. Only thing on the addictions mind is the drug. I say addictions mind, because as someone that was addicted to drugs, I hated the word addict, well and junkie, cause there is much more to us than the drug addiction.

The purpose of the opiate maintenance drugs is not to transfer addictions, but to control that part of the brain that was so damaged. The maintenance allows for the addicted to live a normal life.

I really did try to get clean the same year I started using heroin, that was 2008. Life could have been much different but then I wouldn’t have all of this awesome information for everyone. I did buy the methadone and suboxone off the streets, and did use subutex illicitly in a rehab environment. That is a valid point, but I also was prescribed all five of the maintenance drugs and luckily for me because the vivitrol is a shot in my ass and the sublocade is a subcutaneous shot in the abdomen. The first time I tried to get clean through a rehab place was 2011, shows how long I tried on my own and just could not get it. But I left the detox facility and was prescribed suboxone.

Initially suboxone worked well, it does help with the cravings but I was not doing much work that was useful for my recovery. I was prescribed 16mg a day originally, which is and 8 in the morning and an 8 at night, but as I recently found out; a lot of factors go into this. Diet, exercise, weight, and not taking it at exactly the same time all contribute to the buprenorphine which is the active opioid flooding the brain in waves so I would still wake up really sick, or feel nauseous. Suboxone was the one I bought the most off of the streets and the one that I knew would work to get through detox in the short term. I went to the ER from my primary doctors office when I got clean for the last time. Per the primary doctor the ER flooded me with about 32mg of suboxone to tone down how sick I was. Mind you that I puked for about 96 hours straight even after all of that. I was viciously dope sick. I was prescribed suboxone since 6 months before I got clean but I would sell my subs or I would sell my subs. LOL, That was really the most difficult part at first, I wanted to use, so there was that, and I could sell a lot of them, still use, and still have subs when I couldn’t get high. Even trying the suboxone the correct way I would get sick and having the option to take it or not everyday.

At the same time that I was deciding I want to be able to use when I want to but also I want to be able to not be sick when I don’t use. LOL. That was my idea of a perfect world back then. I decided to switch from suboxone to methadone at the clinic. No longer was I going to the suboxone clinic, now like Kid Rock, I was waiting in line at the methadone clinic. The methadone was a liquid dose that I would have to drink everyday, that was whatever and it did work. But I also could just get high on heroin on top of it. I started shooting my take home Sunday dose. I got one take home dose a week and by Monday morning I was sick. Methadone is bad for your tooth enamel and it is bad for your bones. Some people are on it and it saved them, and I think that is great. Sometimes the minor side effects from the methadone are better than being dead from heroin, so I never tell anyone to stop something that is working for them, if it is really working and only they know that. I was only at 50mg of methadone and the detox was horrible and long and it is really like two weeks of hell. I used heroin to detox off of methadone and then detoxing off of the heroin was easier. Either way, I never liked going to the clinics everyday and those programs are optional and for a lot of people having that option is not good for us. During a few of my detox and rehab center stays towards the middle of my use I would ask for subutex instead of suboxone.

Made mostly for pregnant women, subutex is suboxone without the naloxone. The naloxone in the suboxone acts as an opiate blocker. The user can no longer feel the effects of using an opiate because of the naloxone. It is also the main drug in Narcan, the life saving nasal spray or injection, that everyone should have, to reverse overdoses. The active opiate in subutex and suboxone is the buprenorphine and it is used for pain and to curve cravings. I would ask for it because it did not have the blocker we could technically abuse it and of course I was always still trying to get high. However, I am not totally sure about the science behind giving subutex to pregnant women but I think if the baby is born addicted, it’s a quicker detox process if the baby is just on the subutex. I was prescribed it a few times at the detox centers I was at but they quickly realized why I asked for subutex so towards the last 5 years I really was trying to get useful tools out of treatment instead of just using it as a pit stop to get healthy for more drugs.

In 2016 I had my car stolen and was in a high speed chase in the same week. Needless to say it was a bad May but after I bailed out in August I jumped right into treatment and they had recommended the vivitrol shot. In my ass, now mind you, vivitrol is from 2006 and was developed for alcohol dependence treatment but they found out it blocks opiate use. I was in outpatient treatment but I was also scared because I was out on bail, still with the vivitrol, I did not relapse before I was sentenced to jail time. Now out on Huber, I did relapse, so maybe I should have pushed harder for the jail to keep me on the shot. That was the first time on vivtrol, the second time was after my first overdose, there were 4 total, but after the first one February 20th, 2019, I was clean long enough to get the vivitrol shot, which was rare. The one receiving the vivitrol shot has to be opiate free for 7 to 10 days, they use to say 14 days, but most people that are struggling with addiction, that is not enough time. Anyway, besides that factor with the vivitrol, I started it in February of that year and by May I was depressed and felt suicidal which never had happened to me before that. I knew I could not use heroin so I started smoking way too much crack. That was changing addictions. I got off the vivitrol around July and by the end of August I quit the crack which was what I was hoping would happen. Again though, I was off drugs but I was not doing any work to stay clean.

Getting off the drugs for a little bit is not enough for most of us to stay clean. A lot of us need help with every part of our lives when we get clean. I think using sublocade is the best route for when it comes to being able to stay clean but also focus on other things. Sublocade is a subcutaneous once a month shot that they give me in my stomach. It kind of burns going in but then it’s fine after a few seconds. The sublocade does not have the peaks and valleys of sick feeling that I got when taking a daily medication. The sublocade releases an even dose of suboxone and getting the shot once a month is nice for me and everyone that worries about whether or not I took my medication that day. The shot may have some first month side effects where your body is just adjusting but I mellowed out the second month and then the third month they lower the dose. I have been able to live a normal life on each one of the medications.

I always hate when people who are not educated say “you’re just substituting one drug for another.” I never had a heroin prescription. Fun fact, Bayer, you know the apsirin people, their first product was Bayer Heroin. I have been prescribed and medically monitored on the treatment plans and was able to live a much different life then the one I lived on heroin, well fentanyl. Because the heroin we think we are buying is actually just cut fentynal. It’s hardly even heroin at all anymore.

These treatment programs are not substituting one drug for another. The trade off for a normal life is very much worth it.

‘But you’re still on something’ I hear all the time. To that I say 90% of the population is on some kind of medication, or smokes cigarettes or, drinks caffeine or drinks alcohol. Those are all psychoactive drugs. The trade off for a normal life is worth it.

Trying all of the opiate maintenance treatment programs was not the plan, I just kept trying to do the next thing that I thought would work. I also was not afraid to try the program again. I tried suboxone a lot of times thinking I could just “do it myself” and I did do it myself for the most part, but I had to use a team of people to help guide me, I used everything I learned in 13 years of using, treatment and rehab, I really did try it all, and I have been through it all. Really is amazing that I am even still alive. It takes a team of support to help heal the addicted mind but with the right medications, treatment and guidance, We do recover. 

Published by SoberSteveRecovery

(I have no affiliation or guarantee of services)

Tranquilizer Chair

In a previous post, I shared a guest piece from a relative of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who still holds the title “Father of American Psychiatry.” He lived from 1745-1813. So I decided to look him up.

Needless to say, I was a bit horrified at the methods of treatment for mentally ill people back then.

They included:

  • tranquilization through the imposition of physical restraints
  • food modification or deprivation
  • cold water treatments
  • prolonged shower baths.
  • Plus a strange blood draining method.

Read Letter B below:

Read that again….

FEAR, ACCOMPANIED with PAIN and a sense of SHAME has sometimes cured this disease.

Just like prison sometimes appears to cure someone of their traits. I’ve spoken about the correction system in regards to addiction many times in my blog. I’m adamant that if negative consequences cured addiction, no addict would ever lose more than one thing, or ever get arrested more than once because they would be so horrified and shocked at their own behavior they would just be magically cured.

Back then, little was known of mental illness so of course, the theories that were presented we’re taken as Bible. There were no “fact checkers.” Being the Monday morning quarterbacks that we are all experts at, its easy to scoff at Dr. Rush’s ideas of circulation & bleeding to cure the brain.

When you know better, you do better. I hope there is currently enough education being done around MAT treatment for inmates that better humanizes their need to have treatment like any other disorder. Many people can quit cold turkey and maintain sobriety, but I believe it’s because THEY chose it- not because they were forced.

Samhsa’s website lists the goals of MAT therapy:

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. 

Buprenorphinemethadone, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid use disorders to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

These MAT medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use!!!!!!!!!

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

Web MD lists 6 current “traditional” treatments for addiction that have proven successful:

6 Treatments For Addiction That Are Proven Successful
By Corinna Underwood
Reviewed by Dr. Carol Anderson, LMSW, ACSW on December 12, 2020
With several options available, you can find an addiction treatment option that best fits your individual needs.
Addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all. Treatments may vary based on your needs. You can choose the treatment that works best for you based on the substance you're abusing, the level of care you need, your personal mental health needs, or what health care options you can afford. Here are some of the most common addiction treatments that have set patients on a successful path to recovery.

Detoxification
Medically-assisted detox allows you to rid your body of addictive substances in a safe environment. This is beneficial because sometimes substance withdrawal can cause unpleasant or even life-threatening physical symptoms. Because detox does not treat the underlying behavioral causes of the addiction, it is typically used in combination with other therapies.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
According to American Addiction Centers, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a valuable treatment tool because it can be used for many different types of addiction including, but not limited to, food addiction, alcohol addiction, and prescription drug addiction. Not only can CBT help you recognize your unhealthy behavioral patterns, but it can also help you learn to identify triggers and develop coping skills. CBT can be combined with other therapeutic techniques as well.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) could help you recognize your negative thoughts and give you ways to combat feelings of self-defeat. The goal of REBT is to help you realize that the power of rational thinking lies within yourself and is not related to external situations or stressors.

Contingency ManagementContingency Management (CM) can be used to treat a wide variety of addictions including alcohol, narcotics, and tobacco. Contingency management therapy reinforces your positive behavior (ie maintaining sobriety) by giving you tangible rewards. This type of treatment has been used successfully to combat relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

12-Step Facilitation
Twelve-step facilitation therapy ("12-step programs") can be used to treat alcohol and substance abuse. It is a form of group therapy that includes recognition that addiction has several negative consequences that can be social, emotional, spiritual and physical. This type of therapy begins with acceptance, then moves on to surrender to a higher power, then eventually transitions to involvement in consistent group meetings. Programs like the popular Alcoholics Anonymous use group meetings for discussion and mutual support.

Treatment with Medication
Medication can play an important role in recovery when combined with behavioral therapies. Certain medications can be used to reduce cravings, improve mood, and decrease addictive behaviors. For example, the FDA recently approved lofexidine to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in patients receiving treatment for opioid addiction. Medications like acamprosate can help reduce drinking behavior.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, you don’t need to fight the battle alone. Talk to a medical professional. There are successful treatments available that can help you overcome your addiction.

There are many other alternative treatments such as Ibogaine, vivitrol- not sure if that’s alternative- its pushed as pretty mainstream now- & also sublicade injections & subutox.. I won’t go into all of those here; because it’s been a rough day & my brain is loopy but its important to remember that NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL despite what any social media influencer tells you.

Let’s work together to find help for these struggling souls, including my son who’s still out there. Other struggling humans aren’t the enemy & other recovery providers shouldn’t be either.

Instead of a tranquilizer chair let’s find a LOVE chair!

Btw..Don’t look up “love chair” for a blog, at 4:30 am- before coffee…