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Taking pain relief to deal with mental illness

Thread starter #1
Hi all,

I was diagnosed with PTSD (as well as agoraphobia, depression and anxiety) over 5 years ago after leaving a violent and controlling relationship (I am a male and this was a same sex relationship. The reason I am advising of this will become pertinent later in my post).

Whilst I have a GP who has been very helpful and understanding, it has been almost impossible to obtain any other assistance other than medication. This is mainly owing to my ‘unique’ set of circumstances. My agoraphobia leaves me largely housebound and my PTSD means I am unable to engage with males in any capacity. Also when forced into a situation I was not comfortable in with a male doctor, I unintentionally acted adversely to him and therefore my local mental health team will not allow anyone to attend my home for therapies and such. I also live in the UK where our health service is stretched to breaking point and my towns local government has recently become bankrupt meaning many services have been cut.

During the last five years, I have been subjected to extensive harassment by local residents owing to my ‘unique’ circumstance and have also been subjected to and witness to extensive violence as well as witnessing a number of quite traumatising incidents.

Around 18 or so months ago, a family member gave me a prescription painkiller when I was suffering from a migraine. This not only stopped said migraine but allowed me to relax for the first time in over 5 years and I actually slept a whole night which again I had not been able to do in a number of years. I therefore purchased some via the internet but gradually they began to work less and less, to the point that I am taking around 30-40 today. Whilst I will not disclose what as they may be upsetting or triggering to those reading, I have had some bad reactions to the medication on occasions. I have attempted to discuss this with my GP but was told I have no alternative but to stop ‘cold turkey’ and whilst I have attempted to on several occasions, it has left me extremely unwell and I have had no alternative but to begin taking them again.

I am somewhat concerned that I may unintentionally overdose and die from taking this medication or I am doing irreparable damage to my organs, however I cannot stop.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated or if anyone has been in a similar situation and has managed to stop, I would like to hear how you did it.

Thanks in advance.
1. I hear ya. I have a list of injuries as long as Santa’s naughty list, and have been on & off of virtually every painkiller known to man, at various points in my life. Most medically, a few recreationally (I lost a summer grieving into an opium pipe, once. As in literally lost it. It was spring, and then fall, and I have zip zero nada zilch idea as to what happened in the intervening months.) And yeah. The “right” one? Is more effective at managing my PTSD symptoms than any other medication or practice on the planet. It just f*cking works. At every level (unlike losing a summer to chasing dragon dreams, I’m up, alert, functional, energized, emotionally regulated, clear headed, sleeping well, eating beautifully, blah blah blah best version of myself.) And, for me, it’s a 2fer. Meaning that it not only stomps on all my PTSD and trauma, but because of all of those injuries it lets me exercise... which moderates the f*ck out of my stress, which also stomps on symptoms.

The only problem with that, is exactly as you’ve found... the addiction potential.

Addiction scares the crap out of me... not because kicking sucks, kicking is manageable, I’ve had to do it a few times... but because it means I will LOSE that coping mechanism. Because it will stop working.

There ARE ways to deal with using incrediably addictive substances in ways that keep the addiction potential low... but they’re not fun. And the first step to that? Is getting off of them entirely for a few years. Yep. Like I said, not fun. Also dangerous. Not the getting off, per se, but holding onto the idea that getting off of them for a few years means one CAN come back to them in a moderation/low risk way... increases the risk for relapse (straight up abuse, as well as overdose). Spend any time at all in groups of people who have self medicated and those relapse risks will become very apparent. Because people die, relapsing, all the time. And once you’ve abused anything? You know you can very very easily go right back to that. So I’m not sharing that it’s possible for some people, some times, to return to moderation instead of abuse to hold out some kind of hope. You’d learn it, anyway. And you’d learn that most people don’t find that to be an acceptable risk. Not after all they’ve been through to a) get off of it & b) learn new coping mechanisms.

2. Getting Off & Learning New Coping Mechanisms. (In the US. Similar programs exist in other countries, but the process described below is often quite different.)

You’re in a tricky place, right now, because you’re neither fish nor fowl. Meaning any reputable drug & alcohol treatment facility will kick you out the moment your PTSD symptoms start surging up (which will happen once the withdrawal tones down). They’re not equipped to deal with BIG disorders. If you want to treat the addiction? You’re going to have to treat the Trauma, first.

Yep. And THAT has clear problems, because how the f*ck do you treat trauma that you’re eyeballs deep in medicating to even sorta kinda maybe deal with a normal day? Where you would NEED medication of some kind in order to regulate impossible to manage -for now- symptoms?

The answer? Is called “Dual-Diagnosis”. They’re treatment facilities that are staffed with 8&12 year degrees (instead of 3month & 2 year degrees, like straight up drug rehab) whose entire focus is helping people with serious disorders who have been self medicating, and are now addicted.

They’re not 28 day programs, but far more often 3mo-6mo programs. They’re staffed with doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, & psychologists... and more often than not... you’re going to be switching meds, not coming off entirely. From the ones you’re self prescribing, to a cocktail tailored exactly to you... for the short term, to get you through the immediate crisis, until that one can also be peeled off / adjusted downward and off, once you’ve got your feet under you. It’s almost never an easy process. If you find something that just WORKS, with no side effects, no changing around meds/dose/etc. on your first go? You’ve gotten lucky as hell. It happens. But it’s rare. Expect to be experimenting under medical supervision for awhile. Brain chemistry is simply far too unique for there to be a one size fits all answer.

Dual Diagnosis facilities are also fairly rare (most cities have at least 1 or 2, but most cities also have several hundred rehab programs), and they’re almost exclusively found in psych hospitals.

So the upside/downside is that it’s probably going to take awhile to get yourself into one of those programs. Which means, start researching now.

And DO NOT expect to interview with a social worker and get admitted the same day. Instead, plan on the “intake assessment” appointment to be where you create a plan and a timeline with that facility. The timeline can be days, weeks, or even months until admit. And it often includes things like setting up a medical detox, getting your rent/mortgage/job sorted, resources in place for you in the interim, etc. It’s a complicated process to do right, most of the time. So reeeeeeally... be prepared for a bit of a wait, and get the ball started now. Even if you “got lucky” and got a place almost immediately / before you felt ready? A) Take it if you can, but B) they’re not going to chase you down. These are voluntary programs, that a helluva lot of people want a bed in.
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