Imagine for the first time in your life feeling completely and utterly “Comfortably Numb”, a point of just absolute relaxation. No feelings of pain or worry, just pure contentment. This was quickly followed by a feeling of nauseous, watery eyes, and my skin crawling with goosebumps. Then I feel the knots in my stomach like someone is punching me over and over again, my legs are just aching and aching, head is throbbing. It is not like “the flu”, I can tolerate the flu, this is debilitating, this is opioid withdrawal. That, what you just “imagined” is real life for any opioid addict.
Nobody wakes up one morning and says “I want to be an addict”, at least no one I know.
However I do know after having that first feeling that everything is absolutely wonderful in life, I somehow knew deep down inside there was no turning back. I also inherently knew that I wouldn’t be able to feel the level of comfort for long. I was right.
Day after day, night after night it’s a constant chase to find the ultimate high, the temporary “fix” to the problems in life that seem unfaceable and continue to pile. Sadly for us addicts you can chase and chase but you never get that first feeling that you had the very first time. It’s a constant feeling that takes you further down a to a deeper and darker ditch. For many it’s a point of no return, we just wish we could return to life before we ever touched that drug in the first place.
For myself the thought of death isn’t enough to stop me from chasing the high for the feeling of relief. Even though life is miserable at that time you just keep thinking to yourself “just let me get high one last time”… “I’ll get clean tomorrow”… unfortunately tomorrow turns into the same song and dance day after day and month after month. Waking up early in the morning in pain (dope sick) and full of anxiety as reality starts to creep back in. As soon as you get the indescribable combination of physical pain and emotional anxiety, you think of just one thing, how to get your next fix, and how to get it fast. Other than that, the only thing you can think of now is how to get my legs to stop aching to the bone, what to do with the sweats you get even though you are freezing cold. I have to get something in me somehow, someway to get up and move and feel like somewhat of a normal person, at least physically. My brain is being pushed by my body to do whatever it takes to get that feeling of relief. I’m on autopilot. I am no longer me.
I need heroin and I’ll do anything at that point until I get it. It’s as if heroin is the water i’m out of in a hot and blistering desert. And this repeats every day. Of course I am usually looking for anyway to procure money to quench that thirst. But even then there are other variables at play. Is my dealer going to answer the phone? How many times will I have to call them repeatedly to get a answer, where will we meet, and how will I get there? And this too repeats every single day.
Sometimes, somehow, the universe, God, or family intervene, and offer you help, but for many, this brief reprieve of sobriety is followed by relapse. For me, it took 22 rehabs, 19 detoxes, and finding a new community.
Somehow today I do not worry about waking up at the break of dawn dope sick because the heroin wore off. Today I wake up in the morning, every morning to a cup of coffee and a deep breath of fresh air, and the novelty doesn’t wear off. How can I not be grateful for today, or any day that I no longer have to suffer. How can I not be grateful for having someone by my side who believes in me, which helps me believe in myself?
Today is one year free of opioids, and I am just as grateful today, as when the pain and misery ended.