In the last 5 years, the world has seen an opioid crisis become worse and worse. People overdosing due to building up such a high tolerance to pain medications, many don’t make it out. After my first major surgery in 2015 I was one of those people amongst that crisis, I was 20 years old.
The thing is, you think that it will never happen to you. You take it as prescribed by your doctor/surgeon and because of this, you feel that you are safe from becoming addicted. Unfortunately addiction can happen to anyone and that is a fact! Most addicts have either a background of Chronic Health, have been involved in a tragic accident or have Mental Health conditions. The problem mostly, is that people do this over a long period of time and sometimes decide the dose may not be enough because their tolerance has changed, with it being a prescription drug, they still feel safe to increase the dose, thinking there will be no danger.
My addictive side of life with drugs started before I got seriously ill when I was in my teens, dabbling in Cocaine, Marijuana, Ecstasy, Speed and Legal Highs. I would drink as normal at the weekends like most teenagers. At that time, it was seen as “the norm” for most people my age to be doing this. I had an addictive personally, a need to be lively and enjoy life and wanted to do that at any cost.
However, my journey with prescription pain killers started before surgery just taking when I was in severe flare ups with my Crohns Disease. After surgery I needed a PCA pump, oramorph and oxytocin on top of what I was already on. I did really great after surgery pain relief wise and had the PCA pump removed just a couple of days afterwards, the oxytocin started to pass straight through my Ileostomy so was taken off of that from the get go on that happening. Being completely honest, I didn’t even know I had an addiction, after all why would I? I was taking it as prescribed. As time went on, my pain seemed to become worse and I couldn’t understand why. One night, I had to call out of hours and a home visit was arranged due to being so poorly. A practitioner nurse visited me and had explained what she knew it was after working in a prison and watching the same thing happen there. I was terrified and didn’t want to be alone, so I went to stay with my mum to detox, I went cold turkey – a term that’s used, meaning you come off everything all at once without weaning off.
After months of sweating till my clothes were soaking through, my stoma going non stop like a firehose (bag changing was an absolute nightmare!), sleepless nights, sleepless days, struggling to eat, losing weight, nausea, intense stomach cramps and my entire body feeling like my veins and skin were crawling, I got better and managed to go back home. I had a lot of support from doctors during this time and it is really important to always communicate with your doctor. Doggy cuddles helped tremendously too! I mostly survived on smoothies made by my mum and water. My dad would come past to check on ey every day and took me to the beach often, it’s my favourite place to go when I am struggling.
After sharing my story on Instagram, many followers commented and messaged me to thank me for talking so openly about this. It made me realise there is not enough awareness about addiction to prescription medications. There needs to be more talking about this, supporting others who have been though it or are going through it! I am not ashamed that this happened to me as it actually taught me quite a lot and helped me understand addiction on a whole other spectrum and why it can happen and take over peoples lives. The pain of withdrawal is unbearable, it makes you feel as if you are dying and the only thing that will take the pain away is to take the one thing that’s causing it – it’s a vicious circle. So if you were given the choice to have no pain, 9 times out of 10 you will. It’s an awful place to be in and many suffer with this for most of their lives.
Luckily there are many charities and organisations that help with addiction and substance misuse. One that is very well known for this is a charity called MIND,
Addiction can happen to anyone but it can also be overcome by anyone. You truly never know the strength you or someone else has until they go through the hardest times of their lives and come out the other side!