By Ryan Rhodes
My relationship with OxyContin was one of master and slave.
Oxy was the first drug I became physically dependent on while abusing, and ultimately the drug that brought me to my knees. In the beginning, I would use oxy recreationally with friends, and in a matter of weeks I was using all day, everyday!
How did this happen? It is my opinion that the chemistry of oxy coupled with the euphoria experienced under the influence of the drug is what ultimately sent me down the road of hardcore drug abuse. Anyone who has experience with opiates in any form can attest to the physical addiction that goes hand-in-hand with regular abuse. The necessity of usage just to seem “well” became my reality. Never before had I experienced my will in the hands of something outside myself.
The progression was unforgiving and rapid. In one month’s time, I had to use oxy all day just to attempt to function normally. Eventually, oxy became too costly and I was forced to switch my habit to street heroin. Within two years’ time I was sent to inpatient treatment and started my road into recovery. Looking back on everything, I am grateful for my addiction. Because of oxy and eventually heroin, I was forced into a place where I had to start looking at myself and my relationship to the world around me.
In time, I would completely evolve my human experience but not without exacting enormous amounts of trauma on my friends, family, and myself. Was this road to evolution necessary? Some might argue that this was preordained and I would find my life’s work through addiction and helping others overcome a similar plight, but the amount of spiritual and emotional pain my loved ones and I endured was an enormous price to pay. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the love and support around them that I had. People are dying and families are being ripped apart everyday.
How do we fix the OxyContin epidemic? The answer to this question is based in honesty and open-mindedness. Why is honesty important? Honesty is crucial because this is the basis for creating a relationship with our prescribing physician. Do I trust that this doctor is acting my best interest? Am I providing him or her with an accurate depiction of my symptoms? These questions are important to cover early on before any talk of medication is approached. OxyContin, if used as prescribed can be a wonderful medicine that helps millions of people globally overcome huge hurdles in pain management. The opposite is true if it is used or prescribed outside of the drug’s core use in pain management. Leading to crippling addiction and even death.
What if my friend or family member has struggled with prescription abuse in the past, but still needs to be on OxyContin? This is where I’d like to discuss open-mindedness. There are situations in which people with prescription abuse in their past will still have to be medicated on the drug or something similar to combat pain from a surgery, injury, dentist visit, etc.
What do we do for people in such situations? Firstly, there are many non-narcotic options available to people in recovery and I would recommend exhausting all non-narcotic alternatives before moving forward with opiate-based pain management. If opiates are the only solution, the concept of medication monitoring can also be very helpful. I personally have had a number of situations where medication monitoring has been extremely useful. Whether it’s a visit to the dentist or to the emergency room, it is our responsibility to ask the right questions and seek guidance and help with decision-making if necessary. Honesty, and open-mindedness are two important tools that can help people in recovery break free from the bondage created by OxyContin and other opiate-based prescription drugs. It is not an easy road, but it is also not a death sentence.
Ask for help. Take suggestions. Get back your life. Evolve your experience.