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Am I an Enigma, or Am I Fooling Myself? - Advice?
  1. #1
    MmikeRun is offline New Member
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    Question Am I an Enigma, or Am I Fooling Myself? - Advice?

    I write this because I've been on opiates for the better part of 8 years due to Syringomyelia (a cyst in my spinal cord), as well as herniated discs in my lumbar & cervical spine (also DDD findings, but I now think those were more incidental findings). This started in my early 20's - maybe around 23. I'm now 33, and would say I started daily use of prescribed opiates around 24/25, and Extended Release around 25/26 years old.
    I've been taking Opana 30 mg ER (3x day), and Opana 10 mg IR (5-6x day). I was on OxyContin & Oxycodone before switching, and I'm quite pleased with the change. I do suffer from fairly intense pain, even on the meds; because of my wife, I've never wanted to increase dosages as neither one of us likes the fact I even take opiates. Within the last 1-2 years, I started having 'unexplained' pain, so I decided to investigate. I found that this 'mystery pain' is essentially 'psychosomatic,' or because I know the feelings this can evoke - pain that is very real, but caused by the way I bottle up my emotions, and possibly some deep-seated emotional issues. But pain that no pain-killer can touch (due to the nature/ essence of the pain). I have had several 'traumatic' experiences, but the only one I feel could have a strong enough effect to do this is the passing of my twin brother & best friend in 2011. This was, and even still is, very difficult.
    Now, into my point/ post. I started taking opiates shortly after college (prescribed for pain), and while I'll admit I have tried to get 'a buzz,' that quickly faded and for the most part, I take only as prescribed, NEVER give them away, and never mis-use (I said 'most part' because I have, and occasionally do, take an extra pill in a day). I wouldn't say they ever made me 'feel good,' nor did I rely on them for strength, etc. But as I research psychosomatic pain, it seems that it most frequently effects a certain personality-type: perfectionist, somebody who has a difficult time expressing emotions (often due to upbringing), and generally somebody who sees faults in themselves. After studying this more and more (mainly Dr. Sarno, who calls it 'TMS'), I now wonder if - in some form - I wasn't unconsciously taking them to hide from my emotions. Maybe I still am. I've seen therapists, Psychologists, even a Life Coach near $1,000/ mo! I've only been told I have anxiety, and only 1 Dr. even listened - like really listened - to my 'TMS' theory. Of course, I wish I knew this long ago, but luckily, I 'stumbled upon' this phenomenon; I guess late is better than never. 'Western' doctors often don't believe in TMS, but I do. The term 'psychosomatic' was even removed from the DSM Book (my wife is a clinical Social Worker).

    I then began a 'professional' career as a consultant. As a 'Jr. Consultant,' I started at a low-base ($30K), high-commission structure - and while most people in my position don't make it past year 1, I've been with the same employer for over 8 years. Starting my 3rd year, I was making a salary in the 6-figures, and while it's gone lower - peak was in 2011 - I've never gone below 6-figures. I'm now a 'Sr. Consultant,' was given ownership in my company, and remain a top-producer. I have progressed in those years to become married (4.5 years now), a home-owner, and we had a baby over the summer. I know this means nothing in the face of addiction, but just some facts during my years on these meds. Due to my knowledge, I'd like to get off of the opiates, but truth-be-told - I'm scared. Of the pain, of withdrawal, of being labeled an addict.
    I like to think I'm OIK asking for help, but I feel this would 'follow me' if I went to treatment, for example.

    Now that I do more 'all-around' research, I feel that maybe I do have some problem. I've been seeing the same doctor the whole time, never doctor-shopped, running out of meds, etc.
    So - am I an 'enigma' in being able to lead - what I think - is a good, progressive life, and maybe what I'm reading is from addicts - or am I just fooling myself, and if I don't stop, something negative is inevitable?
    I guess I don't know anymore. I certainly never read about people who take prescribed opiates and have good things to say. It's always 'wish I would have quit sooner,' 'it's the devil,' 'I ruined my life,' etc, etc, etc.

    I'm confused, and I do hate being on them, only because I feel it's such a chore. To be looked at as an addict at the pharmacy - the stigma surrounding everything. But I also feel they serve a purpose and help many people.
    Am I crazy and just living in some sort of haze and I can't even tell?
    I'd be very interested in hearing what people think.
    If I should quit them, what's the best way? Thank you!

    MmikeRun

  2. #2
    LifeSaver77 is offline Member
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    Well, I can only speak for myself, and I can tell you your story isn't unusual. A large majority of opiate addicts are taking them by script. The notion that opiate addicts have their lives in the skids is a bit of a misnomer.

    For me, I own a home, have friends and family, and a successful career. I am responsible for multi-million dollar budgets. And, until a recent back injury ((I also have two herniated discs and DDD - they heal - lol), I was a competitive athlete.

    So, I don't think you being "productive" is rare. A good number of drug addicts (and alcoholics) are highly functioning.

    I can't comment on your TMS theory, but I do believe strongly that pain and illness is often the manifestation of emotions and trauma. And, I have to think if you're here and posting, it's because you do know deep down you have a drug problem.

    Look, bottom line, most of us can say we're taking meds as prescribed. Personally, I predominantly took them LESS than prescribed. Doesn't make me less of an addict, though, and I think using a doctors note is a bit of an excuse for addiction. I did doctor shop once, but also never bought them on the street or allowed them to interfere in my life to the extent that I missed work, or couldn't perform, or got in trouble, etc.

    You'll know when it's time to make changes in your life and your health. Until then, keep posting and reading.


  3. #3
    MmikeRun is offline New Member
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    LifeSaver777 - thank you for your reply. Yes, it does sound like you know where I'm coming from, and I agree with your points 100%. As you may have seen, that was my first post, and so I'm not one who goes on the internet looking at 'drug topics,' but the more I've researched my 'issues,' I guess I have a hard time telling 'am I really an addict?' Or am 'I just physically - and I'd have to imagine - emotionally dependent?' Theres no question that I'm opiate dependent. After reading your post, I think you helped clarify my point/ question: At what point is somebody an addict?'
    Yes, we all know the 'functional alcoholics' so there's no doubt people can be functional and do quite well, on any substance. I guess, with Alcohol, we all know once you start having morning drinks, shakes, drinking at work, etc., there's a problem. But with prescribed opiates, you do take them at regular intervals. So I feel the line is more blurry. Or as you stated - 'am I posting this because I know I have a problem,' and thats the sign of an addict?
    I think my TMS (although 'self diagnosed') made me wonder if the pain I started taking meds for was more psychosomatic pain, but I didn't know. But now I'm at the point I can't because I am physically dependent, and as you can see, on what I consider to be a fairly high dose.
    You're right about the 'image' of an addict, which is stereotypical - plain and simple. But if I saw somebody doctor-shopping, 'losing' prescriptions, getting high, selling them, etc - I think most would agree there's a problem.
    So what do you (or anybody) think draws the line between 'dependence' from long-term use, and 'addiction.' Is it purely how you feel and in your head, or are there 'signs' - internal or external?
    Just as were told 'pain is subjective' in that you can't measure it scientifically - is addiction the same?

    I do, however, thank you for your reply (are you an engineer?)

    MmikeRun

  4. #4
    MmikeRun is offline New Member
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    LifeSaver777: just re-read and noticed you put 'budgets.' I thought you said 'projects,' which is why I asked if you're an engineer. Sorry!

    MmikeRun

  5. #5
    Iwantoff2013 is offline Platinum Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MmikeRun View Post
    LifeSaver777 - thank you for your reply. Yes, it does sound like you know where I'm coming from, and I agree with your points 100%. As you may have seen, that was my first post, and so I'm not one who goes on the internet looking at 'drug topics,' but the more I've researched my 'issues,' I guess I have a hard time telling 'am I really an addict?' Or am 'I just physically - and I'd have to imagine - emotionally dependent?' Theres no question that I'm opiate dependent. After reading your post, I think you helped clarify my point/ question: At what point is somebody an addict?'
    Yes, we all know the 'functional alcoholics' so there's no doubt people can be functional and do quite well, on any substance. I guess, with Alcohol, we all know once you start having morning drinks, shakes, drinking at work, etc., there's a problem. But with prescribed opiates, you do take them at regular intervals. So I feel the line is more blurry. Or as you stated - 'am I posting this because I know I have a problem,' and thats the sign of an addict?
    I think my TMS (although 'self diagnosed') made me wonder if the pain I started taking meds for was more psychosomatic pain, but I didn't know. But now I'm at the point I can't because I am physically dependent, and as you can see, on what I consider to be a fairly high dose.
    You're right about the 'image' of an addict, which is stereotypical - plain and simple. But if I saw somebody doctor-shopping, 'losing' prescriptions, getting high, selling them, etc - I think most would agree there's a problem.
    So what do you (or anybody) think draws the line between 'dependence' from long-term use, and 'addiction.' Is it purely how you feel and in your head, or are there 'signs' - internal or external?
    Just as were told 'pain is subjective' in that you can't measure it scientifically - is addiction the same?

    I do, however, thank you for your reply (are you an engineer?)

    MmikeRun
    Hey Mike. Just wanted to answer your question about addiction >>. dependence. Dependence is simply when a person's body has become tolerant to opiates and they cannot quit without experiencing WD symtoms. Addiction is defined as having a mental preoccupation with using and the presence of cravings. Also, an addicted person uses more than prescribed ans wants to get high as well as abuses the drug to get high and escape from uncomfortable emotional/mental feelings. With addiction, there's a psychological connection to the pills. With dependence, once a person has quit the pills and gone through WD, that's pretty much the end of it.

    Kat

  6. #6
    Iluv2smile is offline Platinum Member
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    Hi there!
    I wanted to chime in here..
    I agree with Kat and that is a great explanation..
    One more thing I don't think most people who are just plugging along taking their opiates living life question it..
    I think like you said the fact you do question it is a concern..
    So either way you cannot really assess your pain while on the opiates..
    I know many people myself included are surprized at how little the pain really is once off the opiates..
    Do you think you can taper?
    That is the least painful way..
    But it is hard for some ..
    They would rather just get it over with and take 5-7 days maybe 10 for you because of the ER doses (That makes the half life longer) and get it over with...
    You are not unique even though I am high functioning great career and would of loved to be an exception with this opiate ├ępidemic neither am I..
    So please keep posting and I am sure someone can offer you a taper plan..
    I am on suboxone and tapering that..
    But the taper is different and it is the only drug that I know of where the less i take the better I feel.

    Take care
    Iluv2
    Last edited by Anonymous; 12-21-2014 at 10:57 PM.

  7. #7
    MmikeRun is offline New Member
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    LifeSaver777 & iluv2smile - thank you both. Yes, I'm physically dependent. I do know that (I think anybody on opiates - especially ER - for even 1 month or more is). Looking back, I wish I would have educated myself more on opiates, but being in my early 20's, I don't think I gave it much thought as I just wanted the pain gone. But I'm also fairly suprised at the meds/ doses I was prescribed right off the bat. I started on Diazepam, and 120 Norco/ mo. Yes, my condition is quite painful, but 'iluv2smile' said it best - maybe it isn't as bad as I now interpret it to be, and the only way I'd know is to get off, but read that once off, my pain would likely be 'magnified' - at least for a period of time - due to not having the opiates. The other great point made is that - also, a 'usual person, plugging away,' usually won't stop to look into all of this.
    I agree that yes, maybe I think/ know there's a problem by just making a post, but to give some more insight, I also made this post because at my last Dr. visit, they wanted me to 'try' a form of Fentanyl. Since I haven't really switched, I wanted to research to see if it may be in my best interest. In looking at this, it said 'cancer pain' - which I DO NOT have. It still seems crazy they'd want me to try this; so at my visit, I told them I wouldn't take a prescription until I had done research, discussed with my wife, etc. They told me 'oh, the Rep is in the lobby.' I was pretty surprised and the rep told me: 'your Dr. thought you would be good as he said you want to reduce the number of pills you're taking, and he indicated your a responsible patient with your meds.'
    "Great," I said - but I meant reducing the pills in regards to strength, not in pills alone and switch to something else stronger, not just pills for the sake of the 'form."
    But the other point is that I do take them responsibly, don't get high, etc - but reading posts, it seems that it's implied that just being on pills 'long-term' will catch up with you sooner or later; it worried me. I never gave much thought to 'being addicted' but I've also never stopped as my condition is chronic with the only chance of improvement being a risky, 50% success-rate surgery. And one on my spinal cord is not a surgery I'll take a chance on.
    In reading more posts, I can't tell if these are from people who are prescribed meds or not, but the more I read, it seems many are not. When I see people posting about 'IV or snorting' I have to imagine they're not. I guess I wanted to hear from people like you two who say: yes, I'm successful, I live a normal life, etc - and I'm not addicted just because I take them. But I now realize I can only make that determination - nobody can 'tell' me yes, you're addicted or 'no, you're not addicted."
    But I will say, I can see it can certainly be a slippery-slope, and now - more than before - I do want to get off. I think I can taper. Never really tried, I guess. I think it will come down to pain, but mind-over-matter I guess.
    And with the TMS, I do think a fair amount of pain is psychosomatic, so I was also hoping somebody may have advice/ experiences (although I could make a new string).
    With just now researching this, I can look back (hindsight is always 20/20!), I now feel that I must have mistaken at least SOME of the TMS-pain for 'real' pain. So maybe there is/ was some emotional component present. And that is what I, myself, need to determine.
    In short, I think I'm looking for answers nobody can really give me. Only me. But your replies do help, and I really appreciate it.
    I'll see how I can taper, and maybe this will shine more light on my 'emotional = addiction' or 'physical/ fear = not addicted' conundrum. But at this point, I'm open and willing to really see what I think. It's scary, but if I think addiction is present, I'm pretty sure (yes, 'pretty sure!') I'll be honest with myself and see how I can fix it. I don't think I could have done that even 1-2 years ago. And if I don't think addiction is present, I still want to make changes - primarily with things I've read, but with my 'TMS' theory, I think I owe it to myself and to my family.
    Looks like I just have some soul-searching and serious introspection to do.

    Thanks all!!

    MmikeRun

  8. #8
    Trout908 is offline Member
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    Hi, I am a highly functioning addict. I have been using opiates for 7 years and it has not destroyed anything " visibly" in my life.. I can get them with a script, cost is minimal but I can tell you that eventually they will catch up with you and for me I have depression ( with 50-60mg of norco daily) little motivation. I have tried to quit CT 3 times but the depression is my exuse for relapse. One year later here I am hoping someone can help me get through this. I wish you the best of luck!

  9. #9
    LifeSaver77 is offline Member
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    Hey, Mike! Hope you had a good holiday.

    No, I am not an engineer...I'll take that as a compliment, however, somehow. lol

    I think it's great you're here and asking questions. The sheer fact you are, shows you know there is something amiss in your life. I mean, for years, it NEVER crossed my mind I should consider quitting. I was VERY happily using, and that was pretty much it. I like to say that every drug addict has their rock bottom story, however - what that is is entirely subjective, of course, and I like to say that only the lucky (former) addicts can tell their story.

    For you, yes, it sounds like attempting a taper might be a cool thing to explore right now. Taper slowly, and see how you feel. There are three outcomes from this:

    1 - you feel OK on a lower dose, and continue tapering until you are OFF entirely

    2 - you feel OK on a lower dose, and decide to STAY at a lower dose

    3 - detox sucks, and you rebound back up to your starting point

    To me, it's a low-risk venture. The worst is you end up back where you are. BUT, the best is that you clean up.

    I will also add, if I didn't say this earlier, I get scripts for more pills than I ever take in a day, so, the notion of "taking them responsibly as prescribed" becomes a little blurry, and potentially, a bit of an excuse. So, be honest with yourself if you're rationalizing how many you take being OK, because that's what the docs ordered.

    Ultimately, it comes down to finding out if you still legitimately need the meds for pain relief, or if you're just addicted.

    I'm glad you're here, and getting real with yourself. It's a process...
    Iwantoff2013 and Iluv2smile like this.

  10. #10
    little_engine is offline New Member
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    These are questions I'm asking myself. I've been on this stuff so long I don't know what life feels like without it or even if I want to find out. I'm used to it always being there, and I have trouble describing how I'm feeling to typical-pattern addicts. I don't like to get high, it's maintenance I crave - a constant level that doesn't make me obviously intoxicated. In a world where people think of addiction as "wanting to get high" it's hard to explain not wanting to be high but not liking life without it. I guess that's analogous to high-functioning alcoholism, since the goal there is not to be hammered but to maintain.

    I'm curious about people who find out there is less pain than they thought after getting off their pain meds. This is common? I'm terrified of living in pain, but I haven't been med-free long enough to know what kind of life is possible. I've tried, gotten through withdrawal completely, but the post-acute stuff gets me. Pain and depression.

  11. #11
    temporaryloser is offline New Member
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    If you have to ask then my guess is you are an addict.

    Kudos though. There are MILLIONS of addicts that never even consider the fact that they are addicts because the term addict evokes this image of a scrawny dirty guy living in a cardboard box.

    I think the better question is, "would your life be livable without pain pills". You could give it a shot. It wouldn't hurt to try acupuncture, meditation, the whole vitamin.herbal supplement battery, depending on your state maybe try cannabis (its not just for burn outs anymore) or yoga.

    Just like everything in life its a risk/reward cost/benefit calculation.

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