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From Painkillers to Heroin – An All Too Common Story

Every day there are stories about people who start their drug use with a legitimate prescription for painkillers and become heroin addicts. Their lives are ruined. But you can prevent it.

A recent story chronicled the life of one such person. Here’s the time line:

  • At 18, her doctor gave her a prescription for Vicodin for fibromyalgia.
  • Over the next two years she took the drug more and more frequently and, within three years, was a full blown addict.
  • She kept taking Vicodin for five years, prescribed by her doctor all that time.
  • After five years, she lost her job – along with her health insurance.
  • She could no longer afford the doctor’s visits or the prescriptions, so she turned to heroin.
  • During those years she married, had child, and then divorced her husband.
  • She was mid a custody battle when she overdosed – not on heroin, but on muscle relaxants she took to relieve the pain of withdrawal.
  • She was taken to the hospital for the overdose, and had to get a psychiatric evaluation. She waited five days to go into the psychiatric ward and spent two days there.
  • While waiting, she missed a custody hearing and lost custody of her son. Her ex-husband took him home.
  • That was the last straw – she decided to get the addition help she needed.
  • Unfortunately, she went to a methadone clinic – she chose that clinic because they also offered counseling. And she is stil, to this day, years later, on methadone.
  • She has since had two more children, both of whom were born early and had to be under close scrutiny in the hospital to make sure they weren’t addicted to methadone and going to go through withdrawal.Fortunately, both babies escaped that horror. But if she gets pregnant again, she might not be so lucky.

She is now back with her husband, has three children, thinks of herself a no longer an addict. But the truth is, she’s addicted to methadone. And someday she’s going to have to deal with that. When she does, she’ll discover that getting off methadone is more difficult than getting off Vicodin, heroin or any other drug.
What could have been done to prevent all of this?

  1. There actually are handlings for fibromyalgia. Going on painkillers forever is not your only option. There are doctors who get down to the bottom of what is causing the symptoms and have very successful treatment protocols that make people better. So, the first lesson to learn is this: If a doctor tells you there is no solution to your problem other than trying to suppress the symptoms with addictive painkillers, go to another doctor. Do some research on the Internet. In many cases, the conditions some doctors say have no solution are actually being treated successfully by other doctors. Don’t give up.
  2. If you do get addicted to drugs, don’t do a program that addicts you to another drug. You have traded one problem for another. Again, do a little research before you decide on your options. Methadone is notoriously difficult to kick and even though a methadone clinic may say that they offer counseling, this woman got stuck on methadone for years, and will probably be in the same condition for even longer.

A good drug rehab program either doesn’t use drugs at all or, in some cases when it’s medically necessary, will use a drug for a short period of time to help relieve the symptoms of withdrawal and protect the person from dangerous side effects as they come off the drug.

But they only stay on the drug for a brief time. Once withdrawal is over – a matter of days, usually not more than a week or so – the person is taken off the drug they were given by the rehab or detox facility.

When they leave, they’re drug free. And are likely to stay that way if they go to a really good program.

So … make sure you always question painkillers, or other drugs, as the only solution. And, two, if you need help getting off drugs, realize that addiction to another drug is not the solution.

If you or someone you care about needs help with drugs, give us a call at 855-889-0555. We will help you find the right program for your situation. We’ve helped thousands, we can help you too.

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