My youngest son, now nearly five years in active recovery has met one of the hardest challenges for a recovering addict to face. The ability and knowledge to see clearly an ever-present danger that one may meet as they journey the path to recovery. He was fortunate to have multiple years in recovery and realized the weakness so many experiences when faced with the choice of dealing with severe pain or give in to pain medicine in the form of narcotics. We all deal with pain at some point in our life. His came as a result of a serious car accident where he suffered multiple injuries including multiple fractures of the hip. Timing could not have been worse. The accident happened just before he left his job as a Behavior Health Tech at a detox facility in a Florida and was in the process of moving his fiancé and new born son back home. It was time to pack and prepare for the drive from Florida to Maryland. He explained to the physicians that he was a recovering addict and as such would pass on pain medication. There are those who would question this decision and others who fully understand what recovering addicts must face.
The week after the accident it was time to empty the storage unit, pack and prepare for the trip north. Needless to say, the trip was most painful. The entire event only increased the pain and anxiety for him. After several days of trying to cope with all things involved, he elected to seek out a pain management physician for some relief.
He was always against MAT (medical assisted treatment). He believed in the process but not the method which often time included narcotics. Combinations of oxycodone, a narcotic and pain reliever such as acetaminophen are used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. Depending upon the amount of each may act much like a Percocet another addictive drug. The doctor prescribed this medication but never provide a plan on withdrawal. After three months my son decides to go “cold turkey” and come off of it. He knew full well what lay ahead and experienced all the suffering that goes with opioid withdrawal. He had worked in a detox facility for over two years and saw this daily. He returned to the doctor for guidance on withdrawing. The suggested path would take more time then he was willing to deal with. His new life with a fiancé and new son was a the main driver to wanting to end this. He knew the pain involved. He had taken a mild narcotic for three days after a kidney stone occurrence and even then, felt issues. Now he was confronted with a much more powerful narcotic combination that he had been on for three months. He believed from the beginning that the use of this drug would mean severe withdrawal but pain was driving choice. After the last visit to the pain medicine physician he decided it was time to reach out and consult with the family as to whether he might return to Florida and enter a detox facility in hopes that with proper care and the right method of treatment he might eliminate this crisis in short time. With proper care and the right treatment, he might gain complete withdrawal from the narcotics. The pain would still be there but far easier to handle than the withdrawal he was experiencing every moment in a day.
He contacted the facility where he worked and was granted a scholarship if need be help so that he could receive the care he had seen daily while working there. He had gained a great deal of knowledge of detox and rehab facilities over the last five years and felt where he worked was one of the more reputable and successful. He was so very fortunate that the management and some of his former supervisors understood the situation and were more than willing to help him regain his total recovery. I’m not sure you consider this as a relapse as he was under a doctor’s care using drugs prescribed. He has been reluctant to seek employment because of the drugs involved and this too added more stress.
He has always been very good at explaining addiction. He knows it’s not just taking something like Suboxone to relive the desire or need. There are a host of side effects that you deal with and you will need the help of nurses or aids. It is possible total withdrawal can be achieved in a few days to a week or so. In his mind this path is far superior to the gradual weaning. The pain and suffering are only prolonged with tapering the amount of drug intake. I believe that most who have been in recovery for an extended time and meet this type of situation know and hope they can make this choice rather than the subject themselves to a lengthy voyage back to total recovery.
We hope as he does even more that choosing to attack this obstacle quickly will prove to be the right choice for anyone suffering from substance abuse.