Existing With Severe Opiate Addiction: A Personal Story

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of withdrawal symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and other topics which one may find triggering. Please use discretion when reading the following personal account of opioid addiction and chronic pain. The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Niznik Behavioral Health or affiliates.

Living with a drug dependence or addiction is not what many people believe it to be. You can’t always look at a person walking down the street and identify them as a person living with an addiction. SAMHSA emphasizes that mental illnesses and drug addiction affect those from all walks of life and can be treated successfully if the person living with the addiction and mental illness are willing to recover.


Now, and for the last 15 years, I am a person living with an addiction to opiates. In my 20’s, I was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS. AS is considered an arthritis that causes inflammation in all joints of the body, but that begins, or concentrates, first on the spine. There is no cure. My only options were, and are, to take anti-inflammatory and pain medications, which, at the time, were given out like candy. I was prescribed an addictive pain medication that I became more and more dependent on to deal with my physical pain. But, I didn’t realize at the time, that I was using the medication to mask the depression and anxiety I have been suffering from since I was a child. I “successfully” hid my addiction for over 12 years and was only discovered when the opiates allowed my mental disorders to run rampant and I almost destroyed my life, and the lives of my family members.


The entire time, I was unaware of the damage my decisions were causing my family. I knew I needed to quit, but there was a problem. Being a member of the lower-middle-class means that I have health insurance, but still couldn’t afford rehab, or even the co-pays, for help. Also, to keep from being considered disabled, I had to control my pain. I was on my own, so I got off the medication by myself. I was vomiting many times a day with constant shaking and painful muscle spasms. My anxiety tripled and I became suicidal. I didn’t sleep for six days and nights, before passing out for a span of four hours, from which I awoke even more anxious and suicidal and not able to sleep for another four days. My family, who had never dealt with something like this before, didn’t know how to help and were there to witness everything. I was destroying them.

It would have been so much easier for everyone if I had the means to come off the opiates with medical help, like they offer at Niznik Behavioral Health. They would have helped me deal with the depression and suicidal thoughts. They could have helped with the muscles spasms, the lack of sleep, and maybe even taught me how to deal with pain without controlled substances. If we knew about Niznik, my family could have sent me somewhere for help with my entire recovery. Niznik would have made sure I could afford it.

I haven’t taken those pills in a little over 5 years, but I still have to take a controlled substance for pain, so I am voluntarily monitored. Now, I think of my family, my husband and daughter, and the temptation lessens. So please, there is help for you, for everyone, with Niznik. They will always find a way to help. If you would like to begin your journey to recovery, contact them today. I promise they will help you get there.


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