Re: Editorial by Neil Godbout in the Jan. 17 Citizen and the Ask An Addict column in 97/16 on the use of drugs.
I would like to offer encouragement to those trying to quit and issue a warning to others using the opioid oxycodone often in conjunction with other drugs - in my case a sleeping pill called zopiclone.
Both Neil and "Ann" say that an addict can't stop his/her destructive behaviour. "Ann" talks about a woman using valium: "When she tried to stop she was unable."
"...non addicts wonder why addicts can't just will themselves to stop."
But of course they can.
There are many people addicted to drugs that have. Were they not addicted in the first place?
As a policeman in Vancouver in the 1960s and '70s, I knew many addicts on a first-name basis. Most of them, almost all, accepted their lifestyle and had no thoughts of changing it. Others sought help and if they qualified were put on a methadone program. Methadone, an opiod, is addictive and a user could overdose if he/she were to use too much. They had exchanged one drug for another. The methadone, however, was free. A good way to cut the enormous profits from going to the criminal gangs.
I believe that Neil has some good ideas about helping those addicted but I think that it's not a medical issue, rather it is a social one.
Can anyone quit one of these addictions? Of course they can. What would be the reason be that they couldn't?
It probably won't be easy; some might find it so, others might think that it's impossible. Impossible is trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube. Ask yourself, "Do I want to quit?" If it's yes, then ask yourself "Can I quit?"
Mull this one over giving regard to many variables. If there is any doubt, don't waste your time trying. There has to be a firm resounding positive reply, no equivocation, "Of course I can; think it over now. Mind over brain."
Then make the commitment, make up your mind, don't accept defeat, don't rationalize, just do it.
Ask yourself when you're about to reach for a cigarette, pill, drink or whatever - "Just a minute, who is in charge of the bus here? I don't need this crap anymore."
Expect relapses, start again. You have the experience of having tried. Don't give up on yourself.
On a personal note, it took me a year to quit smoking, four or five starts and stops. That was 55 years ago. I was a binge drinker but it's been five years today since I've quit.
With prescription oxycodone for serious arthritic pain, I was using 1,080 pills a year, plus a prescription for zopiclone. I had problems that were getting worse; one pill was no longer effective. It now took three pills to get the same effect. My short term memory was gone and it was difficult to even hold a thought in my head.
On two occasions, I couldn't remember having taken any pills, I still had pain and so took three more pills. Six pills in five minutes! In a half hour, I crashed to the kitchen floor. Luckily I had help.
Two weeks later, it happened again; I crashed to the floor. I had a problem. I solved it by going cold turkey. This is Day 12 and I still feel quite unwell, however I feel much better than I did the first three to five days. They were difficult - sweats, diarrhea, headache, stomach cramps, nausea. Did I mention the diarrhea? Those are a few of the physical symptoms.
There are also mental problems - chiefly for me, irritability, anger and occasionally a rage. These are emotions that must be controlled. The pain for which I was taking the oxys has returned but it's safer to put up with it than possibly kill myself.
To the quitters, don't give up on yourself. The feel good sensation is what you'll get when you say to someone that offers you a toke or a smoke or a drink "Thanks but I've quit."
You are now the one that's "in charge of the bus."
You've got your life back. Hang on to it. Good luck!