My Full Circle: Self-Medication, Addiction, Withdrawal, Legitimacy?

Simply Simon

Sponsor
I’ve tried not to be super loud about my drug use here, but I also haven’t tried to hide it.

When I finally caved in grad school and went to a P (the first time I did this was in college, but it f*cked me up worse), I hadn’t yet realized that my symptoms weren’t just through the roof due to what I consider stressors. By the time I got to his office, I’d figured it out but went anyway. I was withdrawing from gabapentin. Winter break was over, and for those four weeks, I binged on anything and everything put in front of me. I had f*cked up once already like this—took Xanax every night for a week without even realizing it. Then I spent two weeks in hell. But the gabapentin was so much worse. So much worse. I essentially had a 6-week-long panic attack after accidentally (I’m not shitting you: as careful as I normally am with substances, it just went out the window in my fugue) taking like... 8-1600?mg a day/night for two weeks.

Even my T, who’s The Straightest Shooter, advised me not to tell a P about my drug usage. At this point, I’d been taking truly prodigious amounts of acid every two weeks for around 8 months, and that was the safest thing I engaged in recreationally/re: self-medication (really hurts me to call my entheogen use “recreational,” and this is exactly why I try to stay relatively quiet here about drugs, because I don’t want anyone conflating my personal gains with evangelism/advocacy, because seriously don’t do this).

Anyway, idk if I’ve told this story here or not, but I went in to see this man who I would later learn is a debatably evil and definitely mad scientist. I think his moral compass is long gone. He says I scare him. I like this. We’re kind of even. He’s got the blue notepad. I’m a valuable sample.

But before that dynamic bloomed, he greeted me and asked if a student could observe. When I grilled him about the student, I could tell he was already taken aback. I eventually said sure. Then I had fun.

It took about 15 minutes for me to dump my entire trauma history on him like unloading vendor inventory for a gas station worker. There’s so much shit, but we’ve both counted such items so often we clipped right through. I looked at the grad student in the corner. She was whiter than the walls. This put me in a very good, loose mood.

Another 15 minutes: my complete drug history. When he started asking me for numbers, I lowballed the hell out of them, because they were substantial enough cut by 30-70%.

Then I started with my requests. The only reason I was there was because I was sick of paying too much for street prices when I should be able to go legit. He was onboard... enough. He knew exactly where I lived, where I worked. He used to work there, too. He knew I could have anything I was looking for, prices ranging from lavishing my attention on the right man to just cash in hand.

We struck a deal. It was worth it. It had to look good. And he loves a guinea pig, I later learned from about a hundred stories from at least a dozen mouths.

8 months of his bullshit later, with me trying meds, having horrific side effects, getting them pulled, withdrawing, trying again, until he gave up and gave in, I got my designer script I’d originally requested plus some extra shit.

I did better. But of course I didn’t stop experimenting.

The thing with f*cking around with the shit I like to f*ck around with is that when all it costs is some cash, if that, something you start using PRN blues into addiction like a handful of potato chips turns into a bag. It’s insidious and self-rewarding and the nature of human behavior.

So here I am, two years later, and I’ve just kicked the addiction I never told him about. Of course I did plenty of research. Yes, it’s actually well documented to be beneficial for PTSD. I swore every three months I was GOING to tell him. And—either believe me or just suspend your disbelief, please—I was actually serious about it early last year, when it had officially gone from a sometimes thing to a full blown addiction. I’m so cocky when I’ve already successfully tapered something from one side to the other a few times. But I realized around February last year that this was getting too big.

So I have phone sessions, right? Because I moved. I kept saying I needed to go in person for this disclosure. Dr. Mad Scientist Sir, I’ve been taking this much suboxone this often, and here’s how it’s immeasurably improved my functioning. I have citations. Can I have it? Please?

And then... COVID. Lockdown. No in person sessions. And worse, we disaster prepared. While everyone without addictions to street drugs were losing their damn minds about motherf*cking toilet paper, everyone *with* those addictions were hustling like hell. We smelled the blood in the water first. We got the mother load. We were stocked up, son.

Y’know what happens when you lock two drug enthusiasts on their isolated mountain with a shitload of drugs? Yeah. Exactly.

But shit went sideways, like it always does with an addiction to something you can’t just get from a store. This wasn’t a dry spell, which we, being a little too experienced at our age, have contingency plans for. This was a desert combined with a financial collapse.

So I’m officially clean... I think. I tapered like hell. I actually didn’t get too bad until there was a clerical problem with filling my legit scripts, which of course I was eating like Skittles because refills, amiright? The whole opioid-benzo double whammy comorbid dependency shit that doctors are always saying is a crazy problem? That shit is no f*cking joke. When they actually filled my clonopin script, just three days late, I was in such bad shape I couldn’t do one of my favorite things: drive... to pick it up. J saw me that morning and ran out immediately. He didn’t even nick one on the way back, and he didn’t taper, so he was pretty jacked up (still is... it’ll be another week probably for him).

But now I have all of my essential meds, and I’ve felt more or less fine since then. Except all those symptoms I excused as being due to the tremendous stress of grad school? Yeah, turns out they didn’t fade away as my stressors faded away. It was the f*cking suboxone. Even now, as I write this, it’s like I’m wearing a very familiar but interminably uncomfortable sweater. These symptoms are so familiar, but I know it doesn’t have to be like this. That’s what benzos did for me: opened my eyes to how I could be.

So great, I’m clean and miserable and I know it doesn’t HAVE to be like this.

I wouldn’t ask for suboxone, much as I am so fond of it. Subutec? If that’s how you spell it? Doesn’t have f*cking poison in it. But it’s notoriously difficult to get. I could walk into a pain clinic, pay my dues, and walk out with enough suboxone to do, share, and pay for my car. Say I love painkillers. Give details I know from my many intimate relationships with people in various states of recovery and addiction.

But I don’t want to do that. I want my actual psychiatrist to know everything and see what he thinks... except if I do that, the genie won’t go back in the bottle. What if he decides my leash has been way too long? Or he just wants to f*ck with me as a power play, starts pulling my controlled shit knowing what it’s like out there right now. Do not be mistaken. This is no hyperbole. Dude is a sick f*ck.

I just don’t know... live with these symptoms? Go back to the streets and try to regulate it as a PRN? And then there’s the clinics—a last resort, probably worse than just sucking it up because that shit will definitely get way outta hand.

I’m open to anything anyone has to say who has actually gotten through this hot mess.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @Simply Simon, it sounds like you've been through a nightmare. Id lay off the street drugs if I were you and be honest with your docter about what's been going on. Maybe it's also a good idea to tell them the psychological and emotional reasons why you want to change how you feel with drugs. Best wishes to you. S3 😊
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
Id lay off the street drugs if I were you
As Amanda Palmer sang, “I’d kick the bucket sixty times before I kick the habit.” I mostly use entheogens... you might as well tell me not to pray to a God I serve. But I hear you. I’m not doing heroine here... I’m doing high grade hallucinogens, and although they’ve been surprised by the effects, every mental health professional I’ve seen agrees they have benefitted me. Again... I’m the exception, not the rule, kids. Don’t play with this shit. But I’m not going to stop taking the substances that have repeatedly cured me of suicidality, insomnia, and dissociation for at least a year at a time.
and be honest with your docter about what's been going on
Doctor is such a strong word for a man who has done what he has. But I do think it’s probably the right call to tell him, because he’s very entertained and intrigued by my prolific drug use. But he’s also kind of a psycho, and that isn’t an exaggeration.
Maybe it's also a good idea to tell them the psychological and emotional reasons why you want to change how you feel with drugs.
Yeah, there’s the rub... it’s not psychological or emotional as much as it’s physical or psychosomatic if you like. My body is destroying itself. My appetite is nonexistent. Everything I do eat hurts. I’m losing weight rapidly again, at least half a pound a week but it started off at least 2lbs/week for 4-6 weeks. This was a huge problem before. I wasted away to a waif in 4 months the last time... it took over a year to get back to normal, and now I see it’s because of the f*cking ‘box. Gabapentin had all the same benefits, but the withdrawal was so severe I’m scared of it. He’d probably give it to me, but I think the suboxone/tech is better. I can come off of it without really feeling it, and after 4-7 days it’s pretty much over for me. Gabapentin is a real bitch.
 

Sideways

Moderator
But I’m not going to stop taking the substances that have repeatedly cured me of suicidality, insomnia, and dissociation for at least a year at a time.
Sifting through all the fluff that seems to be partly just the way you write, partly a way to avoid just being up front about what you need help with...^^^this statement is the one I'd start with.

Because there's a fair bit of the BS that we addicts like to tell ourselves in your posts. But I think this one is where I'd personally start (maybe from my own issues, maybe not).

It didn't cure shit.
It doesn't cure shit.

It gave you time out.

When we decide we're gonna try healing, recovery? I think that's one of the things we need to get honest with ourselves about.

Not harping on you. My addiction issues don't usually make it to this forum (in fact, I think this is probably the first time I've mentioned it, and have probably flat out denied it at various points along the way here) either. But if you want a straight answer? That's my straight answer.

And if your pdoc is a psycho? Stop using that as an excuse, and get yourself a good one. You deserve a good one. And lord knows we need them to be damn good.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
Because there's a fair bit of the BS that we addicts like to tell ourselves in your posts.
That’s totally fair (the fluff is just how I write unless I’m in an icy mood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also a comfortable buffer), but you realize... LSD isn’t addictive? Or DMT? Or mushrooms?

That’s why I wrestled with whether or not to seek benzos for two years before I sought them. Addiction. I don’t like it. I’m now having the same debate with myself over opioid replacement drugs. The research is there... it’s actually far more justifiable than benzos, which of course are contraindicated for PTSD. But I don’t know. Do I go back to peppermint capsules and engineering a diet that takes hours every week to feel somewhat normal? How long should I try that? I waited too long last time. I almost died because of it. Clonopin saved my life.

You’re totally right about my P. I should get one who’s an actual doctor I think cares. But I won’t. I got exactly what I wanted out of this arrangement, and if I wind up needing more—someone I trust? I’ll get a therapist. Otherwise? Well, it only took me 10 years to finally see one the last time I realized I needed one. Now that I have roughly what I wanted, I might actually die of natural causes before I start dialing numbers.

Is that a cop-out or the reality of who I am? Probably both. It got so bad in the year before I finally saw this one that more than one person here offered to call around on my behalf. The avoidance is real, whatever that boils down to.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
Not physically addictive, but anyone can become dependent on any substance. I mean, for awhile I was dependent on fast food. Maybe you just enjoy being in an altered state more than a non-altered state.
I appreciate the truth of this response, and it is true.

But no... I use these substances as entheogens. The very few times I didn’t come correct, I got my ass handed to me.

I use them to create new neural pathways, check myself, seek ego death, and access the divine. But I know better than to go looking for or expecting some kind of feel good time. I usually learn a hard truth, uncover a buried emotion, or—not without a good deal of pain—excise some emotional shrapnel I’m otherwise numb to.

I don’t believe in posting a thread and disrespecting people’s time and energy by rejecting the stuff I’d rather not hear, but this is about opioids. No one will convince me to stop using entheogens, and no one will convince me I’m abusing something that I regard as sacred to the highest degree.

But if it makes you feel any better, I’ve stepped away from them for years and just last year for at least four months. It’s not like I craved them at all. I knew I wasn’t done for good, but I also knew it wasn’t time again, yet.

Every single person I’ve met who feels similarly and stopped for good told me that they just knew when it was time. I’m sure that time will come. I don’t fear it. I want it. I want to feel that there is nothing left for me to find out that I can’t find alone.

I really can’t say any more except maybe that I have science on my side. I became obsessed with studying entheogens under the tutelage of a neurologist, who shared my enthusiasm. I am a hardcore academic, and this is one of my favorite subjects to research as an academic—as in “read anything that could knock down your precious beliefs; try to disprove yourself” skepticism, not the seeking of confirmation.

Nothing but my travels themself are going to convince me to stop. But it’s not possible for me to make someone understand that unless they also call them entheogens, and that’s not the majority of even prolific users, let alone anyone else.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
But now I have all of my essential meds, and I’ve felt more or less fine since then. Except all those symptoms I excused as being due to the tremendous stress of grad school? Yeah, turns out they didn’t fade away as my stressors faded away. It was the f*cking suboxone. Even now, as I write this, it’s like I’m wearing a very familiar but interminably uncomfortable sweater. These symptoms are so familiar, but I know it doesn’t have to be like this. That’s what benzos did for me: opened my eyes to how I could be.

So great, I’m clean and miserable and I know it doesn’t HAVE to be like this.
I managed depression (pre-PTSD diagnosis) by becoming a low-grade alcoholic for a little over a year. I say low grade because it didn't interfere with my daytime responsibilities, and I never day-drank...but I absolutely conditioned myself to need about 2/3 a bottle of wine or some equivalent every night. Every single night. Stopped eating, lost weight, and when I was traveling for work and got into a city late? I'd panic until I could figure out how to get my alcohol so I could sleep.

I don't know how much it contributed to my rapid mental decline - it seemed to stabilize me for 12 months, but then there was a bad month, couple of weeks, and then I was attempting suicide.

It wasn't hard physically to quit it, once I started the psych meds. I was afraid enough of the psych meds but knew I needed them, and I also didn't want to be an alcoholic, so I figured I should quit while I was able. And I did. About a year of occasional slip-ups or cravings, but now alcohol just made me feel extremely ill (psych meds) - and eventually, I decided that the particular hangover that comes from mixing an SNRI with alcohol just wasn't worth it.

You say, the benzos opened your eyes to how you could be.

I'd posit that the benzos simply tranquilize you enough so that your symptoms are kept low-level enough to be manageable without a lot of effort.

And hey - I totally get it. There are plenty of times I'd give anything to be tranquilized. I've used gabapentin for that before, and maintain a scrip for it PRN...problem is, for me it's a knockout effect. So it's like an alternative sleeping pill. That's just to say, I also know enough about it to know that higher-dose use is indeed (as you say) extremely difficult to come off of.

You have PTSD, and that isn't diminished by drugs alone. Can't be. You were managing it with drugs, the combo platter of entheogens and benzos. I guess it's the equivalent of painting over mold on the walls. The walls are still rotting, you just can't see it. I wouldn't go too long without a therapist, so you're replacing the benzos with some legit mental health work. Doing the homework, incorporating the day-to-day life changes, interrogating your dependency on opioids, etc.

Or book yourself into a PHP and get a strong refresher course in skills, so you've got something to replace the benzos with.

Because - they really don't do anything to help the root issue, and they will stop working over time. But you will feel like shit, symptomatically, unless you put something in place to turn down the volume on your psychic pain. Something that isn't just covering the real problem, but is part of a bigger picture of addressing it.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
I just came back to say it’s too late now. I am far enough away from my addiction that I don’t even want it back, especially because the side effects, the resurfaced symptoms it had quelled so damn effectively, are yielding too many things I think of as benefits. Yes it feels like my body is trying to kill me again. Yes I can barely eat. Yes, the suicidal thoughts are roaring again, and the constant feeling of being one small disaster away from total mental collapse has me back on edge to the point where I can’t remember how the hell I coped before.

But god am I thin now—constantly moving and sneering at food I know I desperately need to eat. The lightheaded euphoria of clinically starving is as addictive as ever. Anorexia whistles through my being like the call of sirens. It feels so good to be so tiny again. I’m getting much stronger physically from all of the exercise, and this is my favorite rationale. Sure, I’m clinically anorexic. But I’m still strong. Stronger than before. I’m transforming back into the worryingly slender yet impossibly well toned version of myself.

Why would I want that to end? I’ve missed it so much—so much more than I miss the other addiction that held it at bay.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
You are so d*mn talented that I am constantly in awe of your gifts. I can’t fence with you, wrestle over better drugs of choice nor persuade one iota. But I will offer my truth...

I was never cured through addiction.
It only dulled the inner screams.
But then, I chose me.
 
Top