Citation: Ace Himl. "A Nightmare Within a Nightmare: An Experience with Hydrocodone & Cannabis (exp73497)". Erowid.org. Nov 1, 2016. erowid.org/exp/73497
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In 2005 when I was nineteen I had my second seizure and as a result had lost my license. Since college commuting was out of the question I was grounded inside of my parents’ house; living in the attic with my girlfriend. Since she was a frequent visitor (nearly a permanent resident) she left all of her medication, including her vicoprofen (which she took for her back problems,later diagnosed as fibromyalgia) in one of my drawers. As weeks turned to months I gradually became increasingly reclusive and paranoid. Marijuana, which was always more of a casual ‘once in a blue moon type’ relaxant, had become a day-to-day activity that had begun in December to help ease the pain of the fresh hole in my tongue from when I had bitten into it.
On a particular day in February I decided to see what the appeal in painkillers were. Knowing nothing about them at the time I decided to take one 7.5-200mg pill. I sat there watching television for a half hour wondering if I was supposed to feel anything when it finally kicked in. It was definitely a euphoric-type feeling that accompanied a sense of self. I was always one to be depressive, over-analytical and suicidal but for the first time in ages all of it paused. I sat there grinning while I felt all of the problems that had plagued me for years vanish into thin air and I was left with a sense of self that was, for once, happy. The one pill had lasted for nearly four hours before I felt the effect begin to wear off and after six hours it was gone. ‘There,’ I thought ‘you tried it, so you never have to do it again. No big deal’.
The next day came around though and once again I found myself at a loss of what I could do. Instead of coming up with anything constructive I decided to take another pill. Then after five hours I took another one. After two days of this pattern I took notice that each pill was bringing me upwards for about two hours before it began to subside. So rather than quit I began taking two. It was also around this time I realized I had formed an addiction. But it was the closest I had come to happiness and heaven; who would stop? My girlfriend had so many extra pills that she did not notice and because I remained reclusive my parents never had a chance to see how they were affecting my personality or demeanor.
After another month of this I began developing severe insomnia. In part I attribute this to cabin fever but I also gave credit to the medication. I would wake up sometime around noon, pop two to three pills, feel high for about four hours, take three to four and kept this steady while combining this with marijuana sometime around two AM the next day to sleep for four or five hours before repeating the process.
It was around this time where I realized that while this habit was alright for someone with no potential prospects for the future I had to return to school and I could not continue this forever. But nevertheless I could not bring myself to walk away so one evening I popped the last of the remaining pills and told myself to not ‘remind’ my girlfriend that she had ‘run out of pills’. After two hours the withdrawal symptoms finally took hold. I was panicking. The walls were expanding and the world seemed too large and then they would retract and I felt like I was suffocating. I was sweating and did not want to move. My anxiety was at a peak and I feared that if I told anyone that my life was ruined. When I realized I was not going to make it without help I immediately told my girlfriend and in the morning broke down once more and confessed to my mother and father what I had been doing. I had consumed one hundred and thirty plus pills in a little over two and a half months.
I had consumed one hundred and thirty plus pills in a little over two and a half months.
I moved out during the summer to be closer to campus and all was well. Then in the fall, right after I had started classes, I began sneaking the medications. Though my girlfriend knew I had a significant problem she still made little to no attempts of hiding them from me. This binge was much less in both duration and severity. After about three weeks of purging on two pills every four to six hours I quit outright as midterms were coming around the corner. Expecting the worse in regards of withdrawal I was surprised to see that, though I had insomnia, nothing else came of it. ‘Perhaps my body has gotten accustomed to them and I won’t go through withdrawal again. Best not to test it now though.’
The next December I got hooked again. My back had been hurting and my neurologist had prescribed me, on request, Vicoprofen. A new wave of high, this one was less severe but calming all the same. I noticed now that I was able to drop my inhibitions and be much more social then before. After the twenty pills he prescribed me were gone within four days I, for the third time, began stealing them from my girlfriend.
The habit grew and by late January (around the time classes were beginning again) I was up to three a day. As with the second time I recognized that I had a problem and did not need the bottle to disappear in order to quit. I chose a weekend that my girlfriend would not be home as she did not know I had resumed my habit and I did not need her seeing me in such a state. I thought that the worst withdrawal had been the worst and that the second showed that I was immune…how wrong I was. This time around made the first seem like a normal everyday experience in comparison. I had the shakes, it felt like I had a fever but I was still freezing and had no sensations, and, as always, I felt like I was being suffocated. I decided I needed company as a feeling of suicide was creeping into my mind. When I went to my parents’ house though and casually told them I was going through withdrawal my father suggested a movie; Children of Men. Depression took on a new meaning. I went home and stared into the mirror for two hours with a razor blade to my wrist hoping that I had the courage to just end it all. This was not a way to live. The negative times were far outweighing the positive moments and I needed to quit.
The only way I was able to stop myself was by making a promise that if I lived through this I would never let myself falter again. I worked through the nightmares and difficulty of sleep until, three days later; I began to feel like I could make it to class. My friends said I looked miserable; I snapped at them and defended my habit by saying that I ‘was just having a bad day and feeling sick’. I was turning against everyone I cared about.
...three months later and I was back at it. This time around it was because my girlfriend had been taken off of Vicoprofen as it worsened the fibromyalgia rather than help numb the pain. I took it upon myself to take it for the back problems that conveniently came about when I found this out. ‘Why should I go to a hospital where they’re just going to give me pills anyway? It’s a waste of four hours.’ Carefully she gave and monitored my intake. But this was positive as it made sure I could not go over my limit. Sure, the euphoria would not last more than two to four hours but I could deal. It still allowed me personal freedom from the depression and anxiety and I was able to be openly social without fear of repercussion. The pressure to obtain straight A’s as I always did was gone and I was satisfied with the life that I would usually dread to face every morning. During finals time I stood up in front a class of fifty and broke into impromptu song rather than speech for a final presentation and after I was done with my part grabbed my bag, and taking a bow, walked out. I got a standing ovation and an A. I can assure everyone that anyone who has ever known me that I would never have been one to do this otherwise.
I took these pills through the rest of finals and into the summer before I was down to ten. By this time I had been sneaking another pill on top of what she was handing to me and it was also during this time that I had been seeing another girl on the side. In order to ease the burden of withdrawal I decided to cut down over the span of two or three days. Still the pain was brutally difficult to cope with. All of the guilt of cheating came into light and the idea of lying next to a woman that gave me so much and was naïve to the fact that I had betrayed her disgusted me. I remembered the promise I had made to myself the previous time and realized I had broken it. Every little misery and fear that should have been present over a month caught up with me and I was left to face it all with no alternative option. There were the chills, the feeling of a fever, the lack of sensitivity to light. I wanted to sleep through all of it the first night but couldn’t. If I turned on the fan then I was shivering but if it was off I was sweating profusely. So, after my girlfriend had fallen asleep, I panicked silently in the dark and silence. It wasn’t long before I popped a pill, threw myself into the shower and cried for several hours with the water that I could not feel pelted my body.
Two times during the summer of 07’ I would finagle a prescription from a doctor or hospital for thirty pills of either Vicoprofen or Oxycodone. If it was Vicoprofen I would take two pills, if it was Oxycodone I would take three. It was always for some sort of made up pain that I would plan out carefully before presenting it either to my girlfriend and/or the doctor. I would do my research to get a fix of medication that would last anywhere from three to ten days and then I would crash for a day or two. Though I was still being monitored carefully I had still not learned my lesson after nearly two and a half years.
What got me to quit was quite surprising; a simple dream. I woke up in a frightful panic after stopping a three day high. I was used to after-shock nightmares but this one had shaken me up. After doing a bit of research into interpretation it said to break up the dream into three sections; beginning, middle, and end. It said to analyze the first section and find the significant events. What stood out the most was my friend sitting in a derelict house taking sections of various painkillers and then slumping over paralyzed with a wide and disturbing grin on his face. For the second part I was supposed to mark my response about the prior. In the dream I was very casual and shrugged off anything I had seen as I thought I was awake and had had a simple nightmare that meant nothing to me now. Finally I was supposed to take the third scene and write down what emotions it evoked as it showed the outcome of what the prior two in conjunction. I had dreamed that I saw disturbing images of ghosts, mutilated bodies, animals being slaughtered and the like. They said that this all was the subconscious speaking about the transition and it being a means of trying to teach a lesson. It is when it dawned on me that this was the cycle. I would take the painkillers, feel very blasé and content about my usual life and then have it followed by fear and dread when I was forced back into reality. This is when I knew it was time, when a part of me realized what my conscious self would not admit to it, that I needed to stop once and for all.
It has been a little more than a year since my last abuse. In that time I have been doing well in studies and thanks to antidepressants I feel stable as I was when I was taking the Vicoprofen. Yes, there have been times where I have been really tempted to resume my habit and there have been one or two occasions where I needed the medication for truthfully legitimate reasons. But even during those rare moments I have told my wife (we got married six months later) to restrict me to one pill every six hours and to always be careful and hide the pills well as I am liable to search for them (which I never have as I have finally learned discipline). While it never brings me close to heaven it does what it is intended to do; help kill the physical pain, never the emotional.
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