Today I had my Groups: Recover Together meeting. It’s basically weekly group therapy for opioid addicts trying to get clean, and in recovery. I have been going to Groups now for over 6 months, and today got my 6 month token. Its’ just a little pocket coin to fiddle with and remind yourself that you are in recovery and yes, you can do this!
I’m pretty proud that I have managed to kick my opioid addiction and stay clean for almost 10 months now. Oct. 28th will be my 1 year anniversary. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve had some really tough days and brutal nights. I am currently in the Suboxone program. Suboxone is a drug used to curb the cravings and block the effect of opioids. Basically, as long as I take my daily sublingual strips, which are paper strip that I put under my tongue and let dissolve for 7 minutes without swallowing — yeah, TRY to go 7 whole minutes without swallowing, it’s a real trick! Anyway, as long as I take those I don’t have the hellish cravings for the drug, and even if I did do any dope it would be “blocked” by the Naloxone in the Suboxone strip. Rendering doing it absolutely useless…I wouldn’t get high, so why bother? It’s a phychological thing as well as a physical thing I believe.
Going to the weekly group meeting, where I am in a room with 8-10 other addicts all in the same boat, and all doing the same basic thing – trying to eliminate addiction from their lives. We have developed a pretty tightly knit group at this point. We’ve come to hold one another’s feet to the fire. When you arrive at the office for the meeting you have to take a piss test, and they test it on the spot for any drugs. It’s a 6 way test. As long as you don’t test for any drugs except for the Suboxone (buprenorphine) you are good to go. You go into the group meeting and when you are finished you pick up your weekly prescription from the coordinator on the way out. You can test positive for marijuana also, it’s legal here so they don’t dock you for having it in your system. Plus, many of us use it for pain relief, which is why many of us started using the opioid drugs to begin with. Marijuana isn’t considered to be a problem in this program, and I don’t believe it’s a problem drug if used smartly. If you test positive for any other drug you are pulled aside and have to meet with the counsellor before you can pick up your script. You have to explain why you are positive and generally they will give you a break and a chance to continue. If you habitually test positive, or have a “dirty” or “hot” result you can be tossed out of the program. And no one wants that! Going to these meetings in order to get your prescription, being tested weekly, and bein accountable has become pretty damned important to me. I need the Subs, so I follow the program and it’s kept me on track very well.
The opioid crisis is a nationwide crisis affecting all communities regardless of age, race, gender, religion, social status, or wealth. It doesn’t discriminate. I know many very prominent people in my community that hide secret addictions to these powerful drugs such as Percocet, oxycodone, Vicodin, Heroin and Fentanyl. Once the drug gets you hooked you are in a fight for your life. Too many times I have seen that fight end in death. I didn’t want to be another one of those statistics. Maine has an unusually high number of addicts, and a very high over-dose rate. It’s a rural state, and for some reason has become a very big state for the trafficking of these potent drugs.
Tonight on ABC television here in the US there is a show that’s going to be on that’s called “State of Addiction” which will talk all about the epidemic we are facing here. I plan to watch it and have encouraged my family and loved ones to do the same. I can tell them things, but I think that hearing them from people who combat this every day will be even better for them to understand. I am very lucky to have a very good support network of family, friends and a very supportive and loving girlfriend. Without them I don’t think I would have made it back to sobriety….I thank every single one of them, and especially my dear Mother who I put through hell and back with worry and angst. I’m sorry for all of it, but an addict doesn’t see those things or the way they are affecting people around them when they are actively using. It’s not til one gets clean that we can look back and realize the damage we have done, and just hope and try to fix it somehow.