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Recovery I can't go on, I'll go on

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simco

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I've been posting updates on my progress on various threads across SL and TDS, but I think it would be nice to have a way to gather my posts about this project in one place so I can look back every now and then.

I hope all you wonderful BL friends will feel free to post on this thread... the more the merrier.

For those of you who are new to my story... I'm trying to kick a roughly 4-year-old heroin habit. Heroin entered the scene for me relatively late in life (I'm in my mid-40's). Before that, I was never much of a drug user. I liked smoking weed. But that was about it until 4 years ago. That was when my lifelong depression took a serious nose-dive. I was in a bad way, and when a friend gave me a bag of dope, it just clicked for me. From there it was pretty much a race to the bottom.

I've been trying to quit for almost 2 years. It's been a cycle of abstaining for a while (maybe a week, occasionally longer), followed by relapse after relapse.

But this time has felt different since it started. I'm much more committed and motivated to work on my recovery this time around. So at this point, it's been a little over 6 weeks since I used. That's by far the longest I've made it, so I'm hoping against hope that this time will break the cycle of relapsing.

As a recovery journal, I guess this one will be a little weird, because so much drama (i.e. acute WDs) are behind me. But I find that cleaning up is still very much a constant struggle, so hopefully we'll have some interesting stuff to discuss.

<3 Sim
 
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Jabberwocky

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I'm a bit interested to hear more about your current relationship with the person you describe as a friend, the one who introduced you to heroin. You folks still on good terms?

Looking forward to hearing more of your story simco.
 

simco

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I'm a bit interested to hear more about your current relationship with the person you describe as a friend, the one who introduced you to heroin. You folks still on good terms?
...
Oh, man, that is a messed up story. So this was a guy I met casually--a neighbor. Somehow during one of our early conversations (we were discussing our past drug use), I mentioned that I had a long fascination with heroin...kind of the nuclear option in terms of self medicating. I didn't think anything about it. Next time I see him, he drops a bag in my hand and says, "there's some dope for you." It was very weird. But he and I became, like, partners in crime... turns out he is a gigantic coke addict and alcoholic. I think he wanted someone he could use with (we'd loll around with him doing crack and me doing my thing). And I guess it worked for a couple years. He was my main connect for part of that time.

But once I started trying to quit, he started getting nasty. We had a few falling out episodes, but each time, we patched things up. But he was also getting really paranoid, as the coke binges got longer and more desperate.

One night, he completely lost his shit, sending me a waterfall of the most bilious texts. Some shit about me narcing on him to his wife, which absolutely never happened. Over a couple of days, the texts got more abusive and scary. And he wouldn't talk to me face to face. Finally, I blocked him on my phone, and that was the last I heard from him.

All this is for the best--I would definitely have had to cut him loose in the interest of recovery, so this saved me what I'm sure was a lot of drama. But I have to admit, for some reason, I have a hard time letting this issue go. I still think about trying to smooth things over with him, which is crazy. I obviously don't want this guy in my life, for all kinds of reasons. I don't know why having him hate me is so hard to swallow (I usually don't give a fuck if people dislike me ;-) ).
 

starting_over

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Interesting how opiates showed up in your 40s. I know once I started experimenting it was almost like a challenge to try anything and everything.

edit: ^^ lol that's quite the story. are you guys still neighbours?
 

pharmacybandit

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I'm curious to follow your story! Good luck and seriously, congrats! You're doing really awesome.
 

Captain.Heroin

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Life has no meaning, yet I keep searching...
Stay strong!

What prompted you to start using?
 

simco

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yeah, it was really weird how i got strung out in my 40s. fucking depression, man. i was not making good decisions :|.

and yes, we're still neighbors. we see each other every now and then and he always pretends i'm not there. whatever.

oh, i forgot to mention the best part of that story... during one of our earlier dust ups, i went over to his house to make peace. he greeted me at the door, pointing a gun at my head. and the best part... i went right back for more in a few days, since he was my main supplier. gawd, that was fucked up.
 

Captain.Heroin

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Life has no meaning, yet I keep searching...
*oops*

My reading comprehension is off today.
 

simco

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Stay strong!

What prompted you to start using?
thanks, CH. I think I started using because I had reached a point where I hated myself and wanted to curl up and die. Everything that had previously given me joy was broken (in my estimation). I didn't think of it this way at the time, but starting the drugs was kind of the ultimate way to say "fuck you" to the life I had built. And once I started them, well, hating yourself and walling up behind a raging heroin habit feels weirdly relieving...for a while, till it doesn't. Then you're way worse off than you were before.
 

Captain.Heroin

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I can relate to the ideation. Glad you're still with us man. <3
 

FLA

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I've been posting updates on my progress on various threads across SL and TDS, but I think it would be nice to have a way to gather my posts about this project in one place so I can look back every now and then.

I hope all you wonderful BL friends will feel free to post on this thread... the more the merrier.

For those of you who are new to my story... I'm trying to kick a roughly 4-year-old heroin habit. Heroin entered the scene for me relatively late in life (I'm in my mid-40's). Before that, I was never much of a drug user. I liked smoking weed. But that was about it until 4 years ago. That was when my lifelong depression took a serious nose-dive. I was in a bad way, and when a friend gave me a bag of dope, it just clicked for me. From there it was pretty much a race to the bottom.

I've been trying to quit for almost 2 years. It's been a cycle of abstaining for a while (maybe a week, occasionally longer), followed by relapse after relapse.

But this time has felt different since it started. I'm much more committed and motivated to work on my recovery this time around. So at this point, it's been a little over 6 weeks since I used. That's by far the longest I've made it, so I'm hoping against hope that this time will break the cycle of relapsing.

As a recovery journal, I guess this one will be a little weird, because so much drama (i.e. acute WDs) are behind me. But I find that cleaning up is still very much a constant struggle, so hopefully we'll have some interesting stuff to discuss.

<3 Sim
You're in the right place. These guys know addiction inside and out. Since you invited people to post, I'll chime in. Developing a serious habit later in life may not be that unusual. I flirted was prescription opioids all through the 70's, 80's and 90's but could never get enough until whomever (AMA or FDA?) decided it was okay to treat people long term with them. I didn't mess with street drugs except marijuana, cocaine and LSD (in my teens mostly) because (a.) I was too scared and (b.) did not know where they could be had. At the risk of coming off as white and privileged, illegal opioids thru the last 3 decades of the 20th century where not available in my circles whereas almost anything else was. It wasn't until the beginning of this century that prescription opioids started saturating everywhere in my world. Since I have legitimate pain issues it seemed reasonable to me after I started getting monthly prescriptions for years. My wife was okay with it for the most part as long as I wasn't totally out of it. Very tolerant like the Dutch. But trying to stay on massive doses after your mid-50's is just pushing your body too far in my opinion. I know myself too well, I have too long of a history with them and have no plans to get off buprenorphine in this life. I just need those receptors to be slightly tweaked to live without cravings. Except death, I'm not sure what the future holds but I'm good for now.
 
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simco

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^^
@FLA, here's to tolerant wives! In the beginning, my wife was actually OK, even sort of encouraging, about my using. She worried a lot about my depression and stress (I have a very straight, very stressful job), and she was relieved to see me taking a break from my bad headspace. When things started getting sketchy with the dope, I managed to hide it very well for quite a while. So when I first started to try cleaning up, she was surprised. Then the tolerance stopped (to her credit). Unfortunately, that just pushed me deeper into lies and secrecy. Ultimately, the isolation of all the lying was one of the worst parts about being strung out.
 

simco

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I think the 'pink cloud' / 'honeymoon' phase of my recovery has ended. The last few days have been tough. Insomnia, severe anxiety (enough to make me puke on a couple occasions), and emotional lability are pretty much running the show. Cravings, too. The emotional instability is especially tiring. One minute I'll be feeling OK. Then suddenly, I'm so sad that I need to get into bed and pull the covers over me. If it's not sadness, I might get annoyed and generally pissed at almost nothing. Or, of course, I'll suddenly think, "man, fuck all this. you know you're going to use eventually...let's just get on with it and do it now! you'll feel so much better." These emotions are intense. And I wish they were fleeting, but they aren't... I'll get into a bad frame of mind and stay there for a day or two or three.

I'm trying to remind myself that this is normal in early recovery. My brain is used to getting regularly pounded with endorphins, and with that gone, it's not surprising that I feel shitty. I try to remember that this is a sign that my system is seeking equilibrium, i.e. it's healing.

The thing that worries me is that I can feel my old addict-self trying to bargain for various ways to feel better. In particular, over the weekend, an idea came into my head like a lightbulb turning on... I started thinking, "Sim, this is unnecessarily hard; you should get back on suboxone." This is a stupid idea in so many ways. Such as,
* When I was on subs, they really didn't help me very much. I still craved, and I still used (I'd just withhold the subs till I could get high).
* Getting on subs would require me to stop taking naltrexone. Though naltrexone is certainly not effective for everyone, for me it provides a safety net when
it comes to willpower. It keeps me from making the kinds of split-second bad choices that torpedoed my earlier attempts at quitting.
In other words, I'm almost sure that getting back on subs would do little more than get me closer to using dope again. (I want to stress, this statement about buprenorphine is only meant to apply to *me*. I know many people for whom suboxone has been a godsend.)

All in all, I know that getting through these emotional lows is simply something I have to do if I want to dig myself out of the hole I've been in. At any given moment, it's easy for me to know this. But cumulatively, the anxiety, depression and anger wear on me. And when I'm worn down, I get susceptible to bad reasoning.
 

FLA

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I think the 'pink cloud' / 'honeymoon' phase of my recovery has ended. The last few days have been tough. Insomnia, severe anxiety (enough to make me puke on a couple occasions), and emotional lability are pretty much running the show. Cravings, too. The emotional instability is especially tiring. One minute I'll be feeling OK. Then suddenly, I'm so sad that I need to get into bed and pull the covers over me. If it's not sadness, I might get annoyed and generally pissed at almost nothing. Or, of course, I'll suddenly think, "man, fuck all this. you know you're going to use eventually...let's just get on with it and do it now! you'll feel so much better." These emotions are intense. And I wish they were fleeting, but they aren't... I'll get into a bad frame of mind and stay there for a day or two or three.

I'm trying to remind myself that this is normal in early recovery. My brain is used to getting regularly pounded with endorphins, and with that gone, it's not surprising that I feel shitty. I try to remember that this is a sign that my system is seeking equilibrium, i.e. it's healing.

The thing that worries me is that I can feel my old addict-self trying to bargain for various ways to feel better. In particular, over the weekend, an idea came into my head like a lightbulb turning on... I started thinking, "Sim, this is unnecessarily hard; you should get back on suboxone." This is a stupid idea in so many ways. Such as,
* When I was on subs, they really didn't help me very much. I still craved, and I still used (I'd just withhold the subs till I could get high).
* Getting on subs would require me to stop taking naltrexone. Though naltrexone is certainly not effective for everyone, for me it provides a safety net when
it comes to willpower. It keeps me from making the kinds of split-second bad choices that torpedoed my earlier attempts at quitting.
In other words, I'm almost sure that getting back on subs would do little more than get me closer to using dope again. (I want to stress, this statement about buprenorphine is only meant to apply to *me*. I know many people for whom suboxone has been a godsend.)

All in all, I know that getting through these emotional lows is simply something I have to do if I want to dig myself out of the hole I've been in. At any given moment, it's easy for me to know this. But cumulatively, the anxiety, depression and anger wear on me. And when I'm worn down, I get susceptible to bad reasoning.
Simco, I hear you. I still crave in spite of the buprenorphine and probably always will. I don't have connections anymore and I don't look like I fit the demographic at this point. God forbid if someone were to offer though. It sounds like naltrexone may be a better fit for you. Who knows, if you hang in there, maybe something more effective will come along?

Yeah with opioids you have the double whammy of psychological and physiological addiction. You seem to have a pretty good understanding of what's going on with your body. I take the smallest dose of an anti-depressant because I'm convinced it also helps with the perception of pain. I'm sure you know exercise will help with the endorphins. Can't believe I'm saying this but sex also releases feel-good chemicals.

You didn't say whether you have an addiction doctor. Maybe you can't because of your job but I can tell you it has helped some with me. Lyrica helps.

Are you able to shoot thru the naltrexone? I would think knowing that's in your system would be a deterrent.

Keep us informed and know that you're not alone in this!
 

herbavore

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Simco, if there is any way that you can shift your perception of this phase of difficulty to opportunity it can become self-energizing. What I mean is this: you are feeling the familiar feelings of anxiety/craving etc and then your brain is supplying the familiar thoughts to those feelings--thoughts like, "fuck it, it's inevitable" etc. So if you can step back and see this as a challenge that could actually be exciting to change, you can really get somewhere. You know all that seemingly trite stuff about your worst moments being your best teachers and all that? I'm a big believer because it has been true for me.The need to do drugs for depression can really be distilled down to a very rational choice to feel better. So, it worked for a while and in brief spurts but overall was a complete failure right? The goal is to untangle all the unmet needs and deal with things one strand at a time. If you have been depressed since childhood, this can seem overwhelming but don't buy into the fatalism that says it can never change. Developing a true relationship with yourself is hard work--most people never even attempt it and spend their whole lives running with no awareness why. It's one of the reasons I respect people dealing with addiction so much--it frequently happens that their drug use pushes them into a corner where they have no choice but to turn and face themselves fully. You are at that very honorable place and I have every faith that you can transform old patterns of being into new explorations that invigorate you to push even further. It's your life you are fighting for. It goes way beyond drug use.<3
 

simco

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Simco, I hear you. I still crave in spite of the buprenorphine and probably always will. I don't have connections anymore and I don't look like I fit the demographic at this point. God forbid if someone were to offer though. It sounds like naltrexone may be a better fit for you. Who knows, if you hang in there, maybe something more effective will come along?
That would be nice! :) Meanwhile, it's true that for me, naltrexone seems to yield a better shield against bad decisions than subs buprenorphine did. It's still a bit of a mystery why subs didn't help me much; I've heard that methadone is much more effective against cravings, but for now, I'm going to try to keep opioids out of the mix.


You didn't say whether you have an addiction doctor. Maybe you can't because of your job but I can tell you it has helped some with me. Lyrica helps.
Yeah, I do see an addiction doc. I've certainly heard of people using Lyrica during acute WDs... didn't know it was used post-acute. Thanks for the tip. I'm gonna research that.

Are you able to shoot thru the naltrexone? I would think knowing that's in your system would be a deterrent.
So far, I haven't actually tried to break through the naltrexone, so I don't know if I could break through it. Since I started taking it, I've been able to abstain. And you're right, I'm pretty sure the benefit is psychological--knowing it's there gives me a strong push to address problems without using.

Keep us informed and know that you're not alone in this!
Thanks so much!
 

simco

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Simco, if there is any way that you can shift your perception of this phase of difficulty to opportunity it can become self-energizing. What I mean is this: you are feeling the familiar feelings of anxiety/craving etc and then your brain is supplying the familiar thoughts to those feelings--thoughts like, "fuck it, it's inevitable" etc. So if you can step back and see this as a challenge that could actually be exciting to change, you can really get somewhere. You know all that seemingly trite stuff about your worst moments being your best teachers and all that? I'm a big believer because it has been true for me.The need to do drugs for depression can really be distilled down to a very rational choice to feel better. So, it worked for a while and in brief spurts but overall was a complete failure right? The goal is to untangle all the unmet needs and deal with things one strand at a time. If you have been depressed since childhood, this can seem overwhelming but don't buy into the fatalism that says it can never change. Developing a true relationship with yourself is hard work--most people never even attempt it and spend their whole lives running with no awareness why. It's one of the reasons I respect people dealing with addiction so much--it frequently happens that their drug use pushes them into a corner where they have no choice but to turn and face themselves fully. You are at that very honorable place and I have every faith that you can transform old patterns of being into new explorations that invigorate you to push even further. It's your life you are fighting for. It goes way beyond drug use.
Grr, somehow I messed up the reply I just wrote to your comment and lost my text.

But, thank you, herbavore! I honestly hadn't thought of it in these terms. I'm going to put this on the list of things I mull over each night before I fall asleep.
 

simco

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Yesterday I went to an NA meeting, as I do, usually once or twice weekly. As usual, the meeting left me with mixed feelings.

On the positive side, I do find the ritual of meeting formats weirdly soothing. Sitting in a dingy room on stained chairs, drinking weak coffee, and reading the laminated cards. And I often like listening to people share. I have a wonderful support network in my family and friends. But it's definitely the case that I still insulate my posse from the darker things I'm thinking about/feeling. I rarely share at meetings. But listening to others does make me feel less alone.

But then there are the down sides. Yesterday, one thing stood out especially clearly. Several people shared, emphasizing the same belief. Several folks said something to the effect of this: "This program works if you keep coming back. But just coming back isn't enough; you have to really work the program. And that means *really* working the program. NA is not a smorgasbord [their word; several times] where you get to choose which parts you want to work and which parts you don't. You have to give up your reservations and commit yourself totally to The Program."

Now, the first two sentences in that paraphrase, I can totally deal with. But the "smorgasbord" assertion and what follows it really alienates me. Statements like that seem to fly in the face of the old twelve-step saying, "take what you want and leave the rest." Obviously, "leaving the rest" doesn't mean you get to skip hard work if you don't feel like doing it. But I always assumed it implied that if some part of the program would be counter-productive for me, that I shouldn't get hung up on it.

So which is it, NA? No smorgasbord, or take what you want and leave the rest?

I suppose I'm really kvetching about one issue in particular: sponsorship. I've reached a point where I feel like it would be nice to have a sponsor. But I'm extremely gun-shy about it for two reasons:
* In an earlier quit attempt, I did NA seriously for about 6 months and had a terrible experience with a bad sponsor match. So I'm going to be MUCH more
careful this time, if I go that way at all.
* I haven't met any guys whom I trust enough to work with in that way. In my tiny-ass Midwest town, most guys with significant clean time are real NA
fundamentalists, and that's a recipe for disaster for me.

The truth is, I'd love to have a confidant in my recovery. Recovery is way less lonely than addiction, but it can still be pretty fucking lonely. And I'd even be keen to do some step-work. Hell, it would probably be good for me.

But yes, I *do* have reservations. Mainly, I have zero interest in structuring my life around NA. It's just not going to happen; one of the reasons I wanted to quit dope was so I could get back to the wonderful life that I had abandoned in addiction. As I write this, I'm feeling like my relationship with NA isn't likely to continue... surrendering our reservations is--as I understand it--one of the cardinal tasks of twelve-step work, and I just don't see that happening for me.

I find it all very discouraging. But for now, I'll keep coming back...I guess :\
 

Captain.Heroin

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How long do you have simco? Congrats on all of your progress. :)
 
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