A question arises...

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by GoingNorth, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Hey all. I'm in a situation that has raised a question in my mind:

    Yesterday, I threw my back out. My doctor put me on Vicodin, and Robaxin, which is muscle relaxer.

    Here's the question: I find the "stoned" feeling from the medications to be very unpleasant and disorienting. I also hate not being able to drive, but that is out of the question until my back is better and I can start physical therapy.

    I'm wondering if "all" people get the same side effects from the Vicodin and some are "programmed" to enjoy that feeling and hence at risk of addiction, or if, instead, some people get a different effect and enjoy that. It seems to me that both could be genetically predetermined.

    I'm leaning towards the "different reactions for different people" line of thinking as I have a BFF who is on pain medications as part of pain management program.

    She only gets sleepy from the medications. She doesn't get the dizziness and feeling of disassociation from reality that I get.

    Neither of us have any desire to take more of the medication than prescribed or to mix non-prescribed medications with them.

    I thought my dislike of pain medications was due to the nausea and vomiting I get from them. I was prescribed Zofran to deal with that and for the first time became really aware of the "high".

    I suppose it's good that I don't have to worry about becoming addicted to pain medications, but the whole experience just made me curious. I thought that this was a good place to post this as so many of you have direct experience with addicted family members and what goes into their treatment.

    If I posted this in the wrong place, mods please move it to an appropriate location.

    I wonder also if within the sub-set of people who experience the sort of reaction I get to pain medications, there isn't a percentage who enjoy the sensation.

    With my back, I on occasion have to take pain medications for acute pain, and in all honesty, I wish that they'd invent a pain medication with NO side-effects that was effective. So far, they've got Toradol which is an injectable NSAID. I had a dose of that and LOVED it. Took the pain away with no nausea, no dizziness, and no disorientation. Unfortunately, Toradol can't be used for more than a few days and is very hard on the body.


  2. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hi GN,
    I'm sorry to hear about your back problem and the pain.

    You ask a good question and addiction is such a complex matter. But I will take a guess at it...
    To me, it's like AA suggests...that this is often a sick mind we're dealing with...Mental illness of some sort. Addictive genes are no treat either.

    I think of the high and then the craving like someone who is severely anemic (iron deficient) craving Ice and getting relief from it. There is something missing or wrong (maybe even for some just temporarily until the brain fully develops at around age 25, I dunno). Certainly there are those too who also have a long line of addiction in their families to which future generations are surely succeptible to having that lean, that bend, that tendency if they try it even once.

    But again, it's very complex...because I also think it's psycological. Maybe the need to use and abuse was brought on by a loss, social problems, academic problems, poor sports performance, poor self image, etc. That's why I think AA often works for the Addict because the answer can't be forced or bought (unlike drugs/alcohol). But an answer with supports in thinking, move along at your own pace (no pressure), guidelines, a Higher Power of your own understanding, etc...these things can often work to at least stop using...and even, perhaps, start growing and developing again as a happy functional human being.

    I hope I made some sense and I also hope your back starts feeling better soon.
  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    LMS, that makes sense as far as it goes. I know I wasn't diagnosed with BiPolar (BP) until after my husband died. Before that, I was compensated with his help. I also know that I had to be VERY careful with alcohol after his death. I didn't drink to get drunk, but rather so I could sleep.

    To this day, I drink only occasionally and only buy single servings. There are some beverages I like the flavor of and I do enjoy those on occasion. I find the sensation of being "buzzed" on alcohol unpleasant and always had. In my case, the need to sleep overcame my dislike for the side-effects.

    Interestingly, now that I don't drink to excess, I find that alcohol doesn't make me sleepy but rather disturbs my sleep.

    For me it was all about self-medicating which I suspect is the case in most addictions.

    I know now that if I am having problems with sleep or with anxiety or depression, that it serves me much better to see my psychiatrist, or my therapist, that there are better ways to deal with those things than to crawl into a bottle.

    I'm especially cautious about medications as the "addictive personality" runs in the maternal side of my family, as does BiPolar (BP) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) of one or the other sort.

    I caught my drinking when it one beer before bed turned into two, and then three. I quit cold turkey without going to AA or any other support group. I don't think I'm an alcoholic, but I think the tendency is one I have to be aware of and in control of.

    Perhaps I am lucky that I don't like the feeling of being out of control.
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    How different substances make us feel is definitely individual and related to our body chemistry and 'wiring.' And how we react to those feelings depends deeply on our emotional and psychological state at the time.

    Despite having quite few addiction issues in the family tree, I have found out that I would probably not be a that good candidate for substance abuse. Okay, I like my liquor and the taste of many beverages. I even like to get myself drunk at times, have fun when tipsy and have been known to use alcohol to get by a time or two. But alcohol never gives me the buzz that would make me want to drink just because. I can see myself becoming an alcoholic if I would have some desperate sorrow to drown but it would be the situation there I would be ready to throw my life away first and alcohol would be just a way to access that goal.

    But with most drugs I don't feel anything. Painkillers work for pain but don't feel like anything more. Muscle relaxants work for muscles but don't even help with sleep. Sleeping pills don't even help with the sleep. Pot just smells bad and does nothing. Benzoes do relax and make me feel sleepy but also yucky. So absolutely no reason to even try to use any of those at least to something not needed. I mean, I take a painkillers when it hurts, muscle relaxant when my head doesn't turn, benzo if some medical operation requires it, but I have absolutely no reason to take them just because. I do know that for many people those drugs feel decidedly different. Or they wouldn't start to use them for fun.
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I definitely agree I think a lot is individual and different people have different reactions to different substances. I hurt my back badly about 15 years ago and was given vicodin. It did help with the pain but I had no experience of being high or anything on it.... and I took it for the pain and when I didnt need it anymore I threw the rest away. I also know for me although I will drink here and there I have a very natural stopping point. I also dont like the feeling of being out of control, and so when I get a little tipsy I am done drinking! I cant imagine that I would ever be an alcoholic because I just dont like it enough.
    I wish I had the same type of stopping point around food.... because that is my issue!!
    When I was in my minor drug experimentation stage in the 1970s there was one drug that I did like quite a bit and took a few times. I realized then it was something I needed to be careful with because I did like it and could see the potential for it being a problem.
    And I have to say I loved the state of well being I felt after a colonscopy! LOL..... I dont know what they give you during that procedure but it was nice afterwards. Not nice enough for me to jump at the chance for another one though! (Which I am due for but am avoiding).
    I do think with most, if not all addictions, there is also a strong emotional/psychological component. It is somehow using the substrance to deal with/avoid feelings etc. I know this is very true for my difficult child.... and what is so worrisome is that he learned to do this at such a young age that now he needs to learn to deal with himself in healthier ways.

  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Tl, you AND your caregivers are lucky you like the feeling after anesthesia. I go down hard and come up hard. I have required sedation before and after anesthesia to avoid extreme agitation and panic.

    I had to be put on valium IV after my last surgery as the pain killers caused me to become panicky. I think it is so bad in hospital as I already feel very out of control due to the environment.

    I woke up today with my back feeling some better and took some ibuprofen instead of the pain medications and muscle relaxer. I don't feel any urge to take the RX medications because I have them. I'm just glad I feel more functional and can hopefully get some stuff done today if I'm very careful. Right now I am hoping my back continues feeling better and that I'll be able to start Physical Therapy after I see my doctor next week.

    I am also hoping I will be able to drive shortly if I can continue going without the medications.

    My drug in the 70s that scared me half to death was heroin, which I tried once by snorting. I LIKED the high, knew how addictive it was, and refused to use it again.

    It's interesting that today I don't like narcotics despite liking one of the strongest ones out there.

    I think it's also un-treated mental illness that causes a lot of this.

    I know my difficulty with sleeping is what triggered my bout with alcohol. I'm just glad I remained in control enough to see where my use was heading and to quit the maladaptive attempt to cope before I became addictive.

    I also find it interesting that meth is so hard to get off because physically it isn't addictive. The entire addiction with meth is psychological. I wouldn't use it even in the 70s. "Ice" was one drug that we were all scared to death of.

    I have heard meth addicts say that the high is like no other. I do know that meth provides an intense high and that it is long-lasting and cheap.

    Pot I don't know about. I smoked it quite often back "when" and never became dependent on it. I quit that along with the use of other illegal substances by the time I was 23.

    husband was a pothead and quit before enlisting in the Army and had no problems quitting. He also used it to deal with the side-effects of chemotherapy. He didn't smoke it, but rather made a tea out of it. He never became addicted to it or to his pain medications. He did develop a physical dependence on the drugs and hated it, but he was in terrible pain without narcotics.

    I remember him being hard to medicate as he felt the medications impaired his functioning. I can remember when he had to give up driving and how hard it was for him to do so.

    I think in my case it was entirely self-medicating. I've been scared to death of becoming an addict from a young age due to family history and experience.

    I am coming around to the idea that different people experience substances differently. I'm NOT upset that narcotics make me sick without Zofran for nausea and vomiting. Rather I'm glad that I can use them if required without getting sick.

    I still wish they'd invent a pain medication that didn't cause impairment of mental functioning. I think it would cut back pill problems nearly entirely and would be good for society as well as the individual.

    My drug that I love is Toradol. One shot in the butt, you can function, and it lasts all day/night.

    I was surprised at how easy it was to get "substances" at the ER. No questions asked and I didn't have to ask for them. Rather the doctor asked me if I had any allergies and wrote out the RXs. She originally wrote for Percocet which I refused to take. Vicodin was not her medication of choice. She went right to the stronger stuff.

    I can see where, if one lived in an area that had more than one hospital, it would be easy to shop around to get pills assuming one doesn't go into some sort of database.

    I think one might as when I filled the RXs, I had to sign three times for the Vicodin.

    I'm not sure why also, pill addiction is considered to be more "respectable" than other addictions. It seems to me that there is a perception that pills are "safer" despite statistics showing that ODs on RX drugs are becoming more and more common.

    I also know that, at least in my area, people turn to heroin when they can no longer get the pills. There apparently isn't much difference in the "high" from one opiate to another other than intensity due to strength of the substance.

    I think addiction might fall into two broad categories: "depressants" and "stimulants", and what one uses is a matter of intensity. I also think that addiction needs to be handled "whole-istically" and that treatment might be useless unless the issues BEHIND the addiction are dealt with. It seems to me that too much of our treatment of addiction is punitive and not supportive. I think that the 30 days or 60 days of "rehab" are useless. I think that addiction treatment has to be an ongoing process requiring a team and family approach. You can get a person de-toxed over the short term, but if the underlying issues aren't dealt with, they will use again.
  7. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Been thinking about you GN.
    I'm glad your back has started feeling better.

    I am having a Novasure procedure and polyp removed this next Thursday and will be given Anesthesia and likely an RX for pain medications as well. I do not keep the pain medications in my possession for long as I once abused Klonopin after falling into the depression abyss over my sons...my plan was to sleep for 5 yrs.

    When I am finished with the pain medication, I will give the rest to my mother to keep. I don't want to ever fall into that kind of addiction again. I had to be titrated off of the Klonopin over a 5 day period...it was very scary. I had gotten to the point of taking 8 Klonopin at one time...could have OD'd.

    You were wise to catch yourself in time before "leaning on a drink" became a habit you couldn't break.
  8. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I take Lorazepam as needed for anxiety. I've been on the same dose/amount for years and my usage has gotten less as I've become better at coping. I have used klonopin and didn't like it. It made me too "fuzzy" and sleepy and I needed to be able to function. The tiny dose of Lorazepam I use doesn't make me fuzzy. It just damps down the panic enough that I'm able to cope with it.

    8 Klonopin? Yeah...it wouldn't have taken much more for you to OD. That's scary! I'm glad you are aware of your addictive tendencies as well.
  9. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Yes, GN I could have easily died.
    My self-centerdness, pain, and problems at the time were even bigger than my love for my daughter as sad as that is to say. Would have been a strange irony had I given up my life with RX abuse over the despair of my drug-addict sons!

    This was also during a time when I was away from the board and receiving no supports.
    After I got better I started going to AA and Al anon and then ended up having a psychotic breakdown and was finally dxd with Bipolar Disorder.
    It's been a long road for my family.

    But as you can see through "my story", supports and medications were necessary for recovery.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Nothing to add, but hugs and hoping you don't need the medications for that much longer.
  11. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We just had an expert on addiction speak at our parents group and he said that for an addict, the first time they take a strong pain medication they get a much different reaction than non addicts. They love the feeling while the rest of us hate it. When I had foot surgery last year I was given a prescription for vicoden. I took one pill and hated it, was very nauseated and felt like I was outside my body. I never took another pill and turned them into a drug collection box.

    I have been told by addicts that they feel wonderful when they take percocet or vicoden. That is so foreign to me.
  12. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Well, I took the Vicodin with Zofran and that cleared up the nausea for me. It did nothing for the feeling of dizziness and disassociation from reality. I'm taking ibuprofen right now because I live alone and I have to be able to drive. There's no public transportation up here.

    Because Vicodin and Zofran is what they prescribe when my back goes out, I am keeping the rest of those and the muscle relaxer for the next time. I am hoping that when I see my doctor on Wednesday, she will refer me for PT. She said she would if I was healed enough. I think that will help more than anything. I need to strengthen the muscles that support my spine.

    Hopefully some exercises and stretches will help prevent this from happening again.

    I've heard people speak of getting "good drugs" when injured or post-surgical, so I get what you are talking about. Me? I wish one could take Toradol chronically. That stuff is a miracle pain killer. A shot in the butt, you don't hurt anymore and it lasts all day/night. Unfortunately, Toradol can't be used for more than a few days and that occasionally. Apparently, it's very hard on the body.

    I'm glad they have the Zofran, as it enables me to take narcotic when needed. It was originally invented for chemo nausea so is strong stuff.
  13. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member