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Metha DONE – Getting Sober


Methadone and Recovery I wake up bright and early, stretch my arms and legs, yawn, and take my phone from my pocket to check the time. It is 8:30.  Perfect.  Just in time to make it to class.  I make an attempt to roll over and reach for the curtain to draw it back and greet another gloomy July morning in San Francisco, only to realize I am not in bed.  Fuck, I’m not even lying down.  Becoming aware of this, I flail my arms and I strike a wooden surface to my right.  “Ughhh,” I say, “I fell asleep in the closet again.”

Sadly, this was not the first time I have committed such an act.  I’ve done this many times before.  I feel completely normal as I begin to put myself together in the closet (no pun intended).  I cannot see a thing.  Upon exiting, I look at my eyes in the mirror and my pupils are about as thick as a 28 gauge needle.  All of a sudden, it hits me: I am as loaded as I was when I went to sleep.  I can vaguely remember walking in to the closet the night before.  I now realize I have not slept, but have been under the wits of the fattest nod I have experienced in some time.  Maybe I did sleep?  Regardless, I definitely was grabbing a jacket out of my closet to keep myself warm.  This was one of a multitude of regularities I experienced while taking between 250-300mg of methadone a day.

I had a love-hate relationship with methadone while active in my addiction.  It was cheap, it was available from a wide variety of sources, it lasted forever, and it was one of the only opiates that really got me feelin’ fly the last 6 months of my using.  The downfall was its long half-life.  Ultimately, that meant I could go days without using before I began to experience withdrawal symptoms.  However, once they started, they sure as hell didn’t stop anytime soon.  I found a rehab willing to admit me under one condition: that I abstained from methadone for 40 days.  Let me tell you, every single one of those days was spent in hellish withdrawal.  Long half-life truly has its benefits and drawbacks.  And the drawbacks definitely outweigh the benefits.

My bittersweet relationship with methadone eventually came to an end by way of returning to the exclusive use of heroin and other short-acting opiates after my 40 day abstinence.  After going through that tortuous 40-day experience, I figured I would be better off just taking my chances with the higher intensity, shorter-lasting withdrawal, thinking it would be much more worth my while to get it done quickly. In the end, a week of hell withdrawing from heroinwas much more tolerable.  Of course, if I had a choice, I would choose not to kick any drug, but the past is out of my control.  I can only make decisions today to influence my future.

By Andrew T.

Image credit: Abulic MonkeyCC BY 2.0

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