Citation: Zool. "The Insidious Threat: experience with Opioids (ID 31184)". Erowid.org. Apr 30, 2006. erowid.org/exp/31184
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About a year ago, I had my first experience with the now famous opiate analgesics that I'd heard so much about. An old prescription for Anexia 7.5's was sitting on my parents' microwave, and, ironically, I decided to give them a try while I was reading the book 'Requiem For A Dream.' I took two pills, and that 15 mg of hydrocodone sent me flying for hours on the most wonderful, euphoric high I had ever experienced. Everything became intensely interesting, I felt great, relaxed and yet energetic at the same time. I made multiple phone calls to friends and talked about anything and everything. My nose itched incessantly, but I didn't care... I felt great. The feeling is indescribable.
Since that first time, I took up occasionally taking hydrocodone-containing pharmaceuticals whenever I would happen to run across someone with some available, but it was just something I did to have a good time. Over the summer of 2003, the people I hung out with then were in the habit of taking Vicodins every weekend, and I joined in, because it was like, wow, everything is so much more fun! I didn't consider myself an addict, and I didn't expect to become an addict, either. I've had experience with many drugs, from weed and cocaine and crystal meth to psychedelics like mushrooms. I'd never had any real problems with any of these drugs; the worst thing that ever happened was spending a bit too much money on weed, but if I needed to, I could quit smoking pot at a moment's notice and it wasn't a problem.
That summer, a coworker of mine started dealing morphine pills and occasionally anexias. I started purchasing pills from her occasionally, and I found myself looking to get some in preparation for social events that I knew would be uncomfortable, as the opiates have the magical effect of transforming my introverted, depressed self into a giddy social butterfly. I started buying the pills more frequently, but still no more than twice a week... However, I also neglected to mention much of my drug use to my significant other(SO from here on) and my close friends.
My SO and I had taken to making weekly trips to a town about an houur away to see a mutual friend of ours, who also happened to be a heavy narcotics user. We'll call him John for this story. He used to shoot up heroin, but had to stop when he lost his supplier (such hardcore street drugs tend to be difficult to get and highly cut in the rural region in which I live). Most every time we went down there, we would splurge on some sort of pharmaceutical, and nine times out of ten, it would be an opiate. On one particular instance, there was to be a big birthday party for John, and I acquired some oxycodone/acetominophen tablets before the weekly voyage without informing either of them I had them and then took them throughout the visit so that I wouldn't have to deal with the awkwardness I knew I would feel dealing with so many people I didn't know. Each tablet contained 5 mg of oxycodone, and I took the approximately ten I had over about a six hour period.
By this point, my tolerance was up to the point where I needed 25 mg of hydrocodone for a good starter buzz, and could do 50 mg of hydrocodone in a night without a second thought. Still, I didn't consider myself addicted, and it was 'just for fun.'
One weekend in late summer, I reached a turning point which was the beginning of the end for me. My SO and I went down to see John, and some of his friends stopped by, selling Oxycontin 20's. I had never done Oxycontin before, just oxycodone/acetominophen combination drugs taken orally. Each of us purchased a tablet (and I was shocked to discover the $1 per mg price, but paid it anyway). John got a needle from one of the dealers, and in the basement of his parents' house, he and my SO decided they were going to shoot it up. I didn't want to shoot up, as that's something I've always sworn off, so I went ahead and crushed my pill and snorted it. SO and John prepared their oxy's for injection, but the needle turned out to be clogged with cotton or something, so they had to just drink the solution they made, and they didn't get off on it like I did. But holy hell, did I ever get off on it.
Oxycontin was the best thing I'd ever done. It was very similar to being on a lot of hydrocodone. That 20 mg of snorted oxycodone left me with a high more intense than if I had taken 75 mg of hydrocodone all at once. However, a problem arose when John left the needle on the counter in his basement and his mother discovered it the next morning. She kicked all of us out, including John, and I told him that he could come live with me in my apartment.
Living with John was when it all went downhill. Both of us have highly addictive personalities, and we would egg each other on to get drugs. My SO did drugs with us occasionally, but he began to disapprove of the frequency of John and I's opiate use, and the lengths we would go to to get drugs. On one weekend we attempted pulling a scam wherein we knocked on people's doors, pretending our car was broken down and we needed to use the phone, and then asked to use the bathroom and where we would go through the medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, most of the people we did that to were suspicious and called the cops, but luckily neither of us had successfully found and stolen any opiate prescriptions, and after the police called us assholes, searched us, accused us of having smoked pot and of 'scoping out' these people's houses, we were allowed to go without any legal trouble.
During all of this time, John was on probation for drug offenses, and he tested positive for morphine on two different drug tests. Abruptly, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, and his influence was gone from my life for a while. My opiate use continued, but I didn't have very good local connections and it was hard for me to get anything more than once every week or so. My SO and I spent a lot of time together during this period as well, and I figured that opiates were probably not going to be a part of our lives anymore after John got out of jail.
However, my SO had the great idea of using John's hookup in his hometown to acquire a bottle of 30 Anexia 5's for all of us to share the day John got out of jail. Surely enough, we did the whole bottle, ten pills each, over the day, taking the first dose (five of them for me) just a block away from the jail. I ended up becoming nauseous after a while, and vomited, which still happened occasionally then when I took pills.
Of course our opiate use continued, although we maintained it on about a weekly basis, to the sporadic disapproval of my SO. He would make us promise not to do them anymore, but then a few days later he would be the one to suggest that we do them. In early November, everything went to hell.
My SO, who I had been with for 11 months and I was madly in love with, dumped both me and John without any notice or explanation. What do you think John and I's immediate reaction was? Of course - painkillers. It seems that they have a way of killing emotional pain as well as physical. I was devastated, and I started looking for painkillers on a daily basis, and I almost always found them. John and I would do lots of them every night, and in the opiate haze we would talk about our troubles and cry on each other's shoulders. For two weeks, I didn't work, I spent the paycheck I needed for rent on drugs, and I overdrafted my bank accounts to a net total of -$525 for drug money. We were taking as many pills as we could find. 100 or more mg of hydrocodone for each of us a night was not uncommon. One night, some Oxycontin 5's came around, and we tried to buy 20 of them, but only got 13. They went up our noses and were gone in a flash.
At this point I wasn't doing painkillers for fun anymore, I was doing them to kill my negative feelings. Then, abruptly, John's parents came to my apartment, broke in, and took him. Apparently there was a warrant out for his arrest because he hadn't been in contact with his probation officer, and he was in deep shit. He was sent off to rehab for three months, and since that day I've only spoken with him briefly on a few occasions, but I hear that he is clean to this day.
All of a sudden, I found myself alone, and and in the midst of addictive madness. I took stock of my life and I decided that I absolutely had to get things back together, so I called my boss, started working again, and used fewer opiates (down to a couple or a few times a week from every day). However, even as I began to deal better with my losses, I found myself desiring the opiates more than I had before, and my cutback didn't last long. Soon I was doing them almost daily again (primarily hydrocodone, because it's easiest to get), and again, I told myself, this has got to stop. It's not about having fun anymore, it's about killing my feelings, it's about lusting for that wonderful euphoric sensation to bring color into the dull grey of my life. So, I quit.
I didn't last more than five days. I got a phone call from John's old dealer, offering me 30 Anexia 5's for $80. I took the drive down there and got them, as I just couldn't resist the idea of feeling that way again, even though I knew I couldn't afford it and I knew that this decision was going to take me nowhere good. That night I worked a midnight shift. I gave seven of the pills away, and took all the remaining 22 before the night was over.
After that fateful day, things went straight down. I started doing pills all the time, even though the people that care about me worried and urged me to stop. The thing was, I just didn't care anymore. As time progressed, I found myself taking more and more pills, any opiate I could get my hands on, usually hydrocodone, but occasionally methadone (which provides a really long and intense high for me) or oxycodone/acetominophen tablets. Oxycontin is hard to get in this area... at least for me, but if I could find it, I would have been doing that too.
Gradually, as I got over the loss of my SO and I got my finances in some sort of order with the assistance of my grandmother, the focus of my drug use shifted from killing the emotional pain to taking them just because I needed to, I wanted to, I lusted to. It began to feel as though pills were what I needed just to feel normal. I've read that at least part of opiate addiction involves the brain reducing its production of natural opiates in response to the opiates being taken, and so one becomes dependent on the drug to provide these necessary chemicals... to feel normal.
At one point, my father had brain surgery and had a bottle of fifty 5 mg oxycodone/acetominophen tablets, and of course I couldn't resist pilfering some. Over the following four days, I kept stealing them, until finally I stole the whole bottle. He was so fogged out on his medications that he thinks he took them all. He took about 10 of the tablets in that bottle; I took 40. I felt guilty about it alright, but I NEEDED those pills, and despite my self-disgust, I took them anyway.
My pill intake was increasing, my highs were becoming less pleasurable and more and more frequently were rather unpleasant, resulting in my becoming extremely irritable rather than euphoric. Still, I continued taking them. I would often clean out dealer's supplies with a single purchase (note that these dealers are typically people with a prescription to Anexia/Vicodin/etc. and would have at most ninety pills available to sell per month, and many sold to multiple people). To pay for all of these drugs, I used every available option. I still paid my bills, but most likely only due to the fairly large financial aid overage check I received from the university, which is long gone now. I went to school for about a month of the semester (I'm almost a junior, my major is microbiology and I hope to work in disease reasearch some day) before I missed three labs in one particular class, guaranteeing I would fail the class, and I just gave up and quit going. This gave me more free time to pursue drugs, and I did more of them than ever.
Cash advances from my two credit cards provided money for a while, and when I reached the cash advance limit I simply took money that wasn't there out of my bank account and one of the cards that provided overdraft protection paid for it... until the card reached its limit.
My life was devoted to opiate use, and I had become so sunken in apathy that it didn't even matter to me. All that mattered was getting the next 'fix', and then I wouldn't have to worry about how much I was screwing up my life, because I would feel fine, and my worries would float away for a while...sometimes. A bit over a week ago, I was at the peak of my drug use. I was acquiring 10 to 20 7.5 or 10 mg hydrocodone/acetominophen tablets a day, more if I could get my hands on them, and I would spend hours and hours and hours looking for them. Then, I hit a wall.
I ran out of money. My credit cards were and are over the limit. My bank accounts are at -$589 again, so the bank woun't let me take any more out, the local Check & Cash place had given me all the money they would give me, and there was just no more money to be had. I had a paycheck come for $264.69 on this day. My rent was due, which costs $265 a month. I knew my income taxes were on the way and would rectify my bank accounts with about $70 left over, but I also knew that I couldn't depend on that money arriving in time for rent. I was lusting for pills, even though it had been only 24 hours since my last splurge, and I made my decision. I put $215 towards rent, told the landlord I would give him $50 when my taxes came hopefully the next week and I bought some pills. As soon as I got them, I gobbled most of them down with great relief and edgily waited the 20 minutes for them to start kicking in.
I got high that night, and I felt good. I felt normal. But, I also knew that I was backed up against a wall. I knew that tomorrow would come. Addiction had taken over my life, gradually and insidiously, to the point where it was all-consuming. I realized this, and for once, I DID care. That night, I told myself, 'This has got to stop.' The only way I could keep it up was to start mugging old ladies or robbing pharmacies, and I was ashamed to find myself seriously considering a pharmacy robbery. I thought about things, and I looked back over the past year and I saw that my life, full of promise and headed toward fulfilling my dreams just a year ago, was now in shambles, with all my carefully laid plans in tatters from the storm of drug-induced apathy that had consumed my life. So, I committed myself to stopping. 'This is it, I'm done with this,' I told myself.
The first day went okay. I had some craving, but nothing I couldn't manage, and I worked and stayed busy. The next day was a little bit worse. I started out the day in a good mood, but as time progressed, I began to feel on edge, and thoughts of pills filled my mind more and more frequently. By that evening, I found myself running schemes to get money through my mind so that I might satisfy my craving, but none were viable. Had I the money at that point, I probably would have gotten some. The next day was even worse. I had the day off, and I woke up from dreams of pills to the first thought in my head being pills. I was filled intermittently with surges of anxious energy followed by bouts of listless lethargy. Cravings filled my thoughts. I developed headaches, I was so cold that I couldn't get warm, and then I would become too hot and have to step outside in the snow. I sweated, I developed sporadic fevers, and no matter what I did, I could not get comfortable.
That night, I had great difficulty sleeping, and once I finally fell asleep, I woke up over and over again, and tossed and turned trying unsuccessfully to find a position that was comfortable. I woke up early in the morning for good after only a few hours of restless sleep, and again, the same symptoms plagued me throughout the day. I ate something, and I vomited it up not long after. I developed diarrhea, and I was more on edge than ever. I was desperately irritable, and I found myself screaming at my poor, dear dog that I love because he peed on the carpet, but I just couldn't stop. I was SO angry over something that would never usually be more than a minor annoyance, and I knew I was being completely irrational, but I just kept yelling at him and yelling at him, until I finally fell on the floor and just started crying, feeling as though I was no different from my own father whose infamous temper was something always out of his control.
The depression was horrible, and I just wanted the hopeless, desperate feelings to stop.
And then, I got a phone call. A friend hurt his back and offered me some anexias. It so happened that I had a carton of cigarettes I had stolen from work, and I leaped at the opportunity for a trade. I gobbled the five Anexia 7.5's he gave me and desperately waited as the minutes dragged by until I would no longer be in this hellish nightmare of withdrawal. I didn't even consider turning down his offer; all that mattered was putting a stop to the nightmare. I made it 96 hours being clean. Over the following days, the local narcotics market seemed to have become very dry, and I was only able to acquire very small amounts of pills, and not every day.
One day, though, I did something really desperate - in Canada, tylenol with small amounts of codeine is sold over the counter, and I made the three hour drive to the bordder, crossed over and managed to purchase a bottle of two hundred. I hid the pills in my crotch, and it's a good thing I did, too, because U.S. customs searched my car, my coat, and my pockets, all the while attempting to intimidate me into confessing something.
However, I made it through. But, what an insane risk - smuggling narcotics across international borders. There was a time such a thing never would've even occurred to me, but I wanted the pills that much. There is an extraction procedure that can be used to separate the acetominophen from the codeine, since doses of codeine large enough to get me off would also include toxic or near-toxic doses of acetominophen were I to just take the pills. I acquired some simple supplies at a gas station once back in the states, found a deserted back road, and spent an hour and a half in my car extracting the stuff. I got off on it, but two hours into the drive I became so tired that I decided to pull over, but plowed halfway into a snowbank instead. It was 4:30am at this point. I started digging myself out with an ice scraper, but thankfully, a gentleman with a truck soon stopped and pulled me out with a chain. The next night, I did the extraction procedure again, except this time I used more pills, thinking it would get me off better.
After downing the bitter solution, the buzz was fine for a while, but then I just started feeling heavily sedated and unsociable, so I figured, hell, I need more, I'm not getting off like I should. I extracted the codeine from thirty more pills and downed that solution as well, and within an hour I knew that had been a mistake. I started feeling extremely lethargic, and moving required a huge effort. I became nauseous and threw up, and I started feeling like I was having to force myself to breathe. Everything started getting distant. I lay on my couch for several hours in this state, panicking inside, afraid I was going to die and thinking what a stupid fuck I was and that I have to quit, I have to quit, I have to quit this shit. I'm going to kill myself someday, sooner or later, if I don't. Gradually I felt better, and a friend dropped by to whom I had promised some of the pills, and I just gave her all 60 or so that I had left.
I took 15 mg of hydrocodone on one occasion since then, and when I did it, two days ago now, I actually got a decent high off it, which was surprising for such a low dose.
Yesterday, I overslept and missed work, and ended up trading shifts with a coworker so that I worked the evening. My mother stopped by before work, and I could immediately tell by her demeanor that she was strung out on diet pills again, which she periodically orders off the internet. I asked her about it and she confirmed that it was true. I asked her for some, and she reluctantly gave them to me. I sped through the rest of the day, and after work (that place was sparkling when I left) I went to my mom's house, where she and I talked for hours. I told her everything about my addiction, everything I hadn't told her before. She was worried, but she wasn't angry, and she has faith in me. All my friends do. Everyone has been cheering me on through this ordeal, and I'd like to say that I'm done with it all, I'm going to be clean from now on, but there's no way to be sure of that... What am I going to tell the guy who stopped by work last night and said he'd call me today after he gets seven Oxycontins? Am I going to be able to say no to that? Do I have the willpower to escape this madness? I don't know.
I want to get my life on track, and I have plans to do so, but... drugs have a way of diverting everything.
Once, I was great with finances. I managed my relatively meager income wisely, I was reasonably frugal and had a substantial sum in savings, and I had excellent credit for my age. I made responsible decisions, and people were impressed with the life I was carving out for myself given the dysfuntional, abusive, poor home I came from. When I was younger, my mother, who had struggled with one addiction or another her whole life, told me not to start, not even to try drugs. Typical adolescent arrogance of course led me to disregard her advice, but now, I wish I hadn't. I wish that I'd never taken that first Anexia. I wish I didn't know what that wonderful opiate feeling was like, because in the end, it's not real. Now, the only wonderful feelings I know are synthetic. I don't know how to have fun or enjoy life anymore without drugs. Happiness and drugs are synonymous to me.
I never meant to be here. I never planned on becoming a drug addict, and I was once one who was baffled by the irrational, self-destructive behavior of addicts. Now, however, I understand, and I wish I had listened to my mother's advice. If I'd never started, I wouldn't be where I am today. At this point, all I can do is pray that I am strong enough to survive and overcome this, but honestly, I don't know if I can.
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