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Addicted to Painkillers? How I Beat My Painkiller Addiction
Why do I write....
Painkiller Addiction is more common and less talked about, but being addicted to painkillers is a huge problem. My friends have been asking me what I am doing now, "Are you working?" a question I get asked a a lot recently. Sometimes to go forward you need to look back.
However, for once in my life I found myself short of answers, so what better way, to not only explain, but to even understand where I am at myself Is to write about it. Confused? Yeah me too.
how can I tell them I am actually a recovering addict.... not of the normal "street" drugs, you associate with drug addicts, like heroin or cocaine, but regular over the counter and presecribed painkillers.
I was asked recently Why do you write on Squidoo? What it means to me and why it has meant so much to me. Writing online on Squidoo saved me, from my painkiller Addiction
adÂ·dictÂ·ed, adÂ·dictÂ·ing, adÂ·dicts. 1. To cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on a habit-forming substance (source)
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Health or Wealth?
If you had to choose one...
A lot of people join Squidoo for different reasons. The money, points, the wealth of knowledge even the monsters have people joining in the fun.
Imagine a person who is female, tall, blonde blue eyes, popular, sociable, successful career, fun-loving, someone who always saw the positive, always there to help pick their friends up when they needed it, nothing ever being a problem, bouncing into work and bouncing back out, working with kids, so a little bit mad as well ...getting the picture? Fantastic.
Now I would like you to imagine that person hearing these words "If you return to work you are going to end up killing yourself..."
I probably knew this day was coming, but I had ignored doctors, my families and friends warnings and continued working in a job I loved. This job was everything to me, helping kids who had severe social and emotional difficulties. I threw myself into my work, full of enthusiasim and energy.
They say things happens for a reason, and I am a true believer in this, even more so now.
The company I worked for were experiencing huge financial difficulties, now this company is one of the oldest and was, most secure companies to be employed by, so if they were in trouble you knew the country was too. We had received our notice of pending redundancies, so there was a lot of uncertainty around. Financially it would cripple us if I were to lose my job.
On the day when we were to meet with Head Office, to discuss our futures within the workplace. I had also received an appointment through the post to see a top Orthopedic Surgeon, which I had waited nearly 2 years to see. The meetings were at the same time.
At the time I remember debating which one to attend, but it was my husband who stepped in, taking control, and said "You are going to the hospital and you are going to see this surgeon."
Picture available toBuy@Art.com
Was it just an accident
that changed everything...
Two years previously I had been involved in an accident at my work, during a technique we used, physical restraint, for using to calm a situation for example when if the child was in danger of hurting themselves we would need to "hold onto them" until they regained their composure. Although at all costs we would try to avoid it, we worked with really angry, upset and at times extremely violent kids.
I was indeed assisting in this said technique with another member of staff, and as you can imagine you need to be very calm, quick to respond. The member of staff had recently returned to work after being off for a while, after going through a divorce, and in my opinion should never have been so quick to come back to working with the children, not because he was not a good guy, he was great.
However we as a staff group had been very concerned over his mental health, not a good combination when you are dealing with children who will kick, spit, punch, call out your family, threaten your family, they would find your weakness and home in on it to get a reaction from you, you know what I mean.
The bosses seemed uninterested, only interested in the bottom line, it actually seemed more of a problem to them, than trying to give the guy some breathing space. But also as well he had wanted to show us he was "coping"
So it was already a very dangerous position for me to be in. I had a very angry child, an adult struggling to cope and myself.
When the child started to target the member of staff, of course it did not take long for the staff member to react, and before I knew it we were all lying in a heap on the floor.
I realised I had to get help immediately but there was no way I could leave either the member of staff or the child. Eventually due to the shouting some help eventually arrived, and I was able to get the member of staff away. Did I know I was hurt at this time, probably not as adrenaline had kicked in.
I stayed with the child making sure he was okay, and then left to find the member of staff, I could not find him anywhere. So my next step would be the Head of Care Officer, as I knew I had to report what happened. I filled out all the relevant forms, contacted the agencies involved returned to the Head of Care and told them I felt awful and would prefer to go home. It was only really then that I started to notice how sore I was.
(I love this photo as it just describes my life, which has been a bit like a train crash, it is avalable to Buy@Art.com
Restricted to my bed...
with plenty of painkillers
I was off work for a total of 10 weeks, suffering back and neck pain. Nothing else for it the doctor said but rest, and prescribed me strong painkillers. I took their advice and rested. During this time, I was visited at home and I was told that the member of staff had been suspended pending investigation, and I filled out my statement, I felt awful, I knew this guy, he was a good guy, he had just been put into a bad situation so I also stated at this time that I felt the company had let him down, by not providing him more support on his return to work.
I returned to work, feeling a bit better, (looking back the doctor did not sign me back to work, I just felt a bit better and returned, the painkillers were doing their job. I still had not managed either to speak with or find out what was happening to my colleague, to my horror I found out almost as soon as I had entered the building he was dead. When someone says you could have "knocked me over with a feather" I know what they mean.
I never had a return to work interview, in fact I was straight back into full duties. And guess what, I was partnered with a power freak, who in my opinion used restraining the children as some sort of way to exert their power. (that is another story for another day) So by the end of the 1st week back I had participated in no less than 14 restraints That weekend I spent in my bed, taking painkillers, to dull the pain.
Picture highlights back pain in pelvie area available to Buy@Art.com
A dangerous cycle
pills, pills and more pills
I would get up in the morning, rolling out of bed putting on my clothes, and taking my painkillers, then I was ready for work.
Over the next year this is pretty much how I continued, bearing in mind I was newly married, and a mum too so life was pretty busy, I also started visiting a Chiropractor around this time, who informed me I had one leg shorter than the other, typical to the kind of injury I had suffered, funny the doctor never mentioned anythiing about this? So with the help of manipulation he managed to sort out my squint hips, however he could not get my neck to move or release one bit.
Still the pain continued, I sought other help osteopath, hypnotherapist you name it I have tried it, trying to find a "cure", still continuing to return to the doctor, who then prescribed even stronger painkillers. These helped of course. Made the day a bit more easier to get through. The workplace although very stressful, was a great place always something new happening, a new success story, I was always looking for new ways to engage the youngsters, the only problem was this restraint policy. I hated it, I hated what it stood for, and I really hated it because it hurt me physically to do it.
I started going home at night, getting through dinner, and then straight to bed, in pain, taking more painkillers, sometimes wandering around during the night keeping everyone else awake. That was just became normal to me.
Eventually after having an MRI on my neck area, they determined significant damage to the discs, because of their place they would not operate, as it would be too dangerous. This was not how the story had went in my head. I thought they would find the problem, fix it and I would be fine.
Guess what, they gave me even more medication and even stronger painkillers. And still not a clear plan of how to get me better, although I was asked if i was depressed at this time. and was put onto anti-depressants.
By this time I was a walking pharmacy, in fact it even became a joke around the workplace, if anyone had a headache, aches pains go and see Lisa. At the time I did not think anything about it, but now I am mortified.
*4 years after the incident a further MRI was carried out on my lower back revealing several torn discs with significant damage. 4 years later....*
they called it a "safety" plan
My sickness level was really high, from someone who had never been off work, to being off work every month or so. I was questioned about it, not in a nice way either, so I took the letter I had from the consultant in and the letter from the MRI results. I was really nervous and upset, In the back of my mind I remember how they had made fun of my colleague who had shown weakness, but they were asking questions about my health so I had to tell them. I was relieved when they said they valued my contribution to the school and would like to place me on a "safety plan". Reducing my direct involvement in the dangerous more physical side of my job.
It was at this time I took out a personal injury claim, the work had admitted off the record, they had let me down, not taking more care of me after the initial injury, so I thought this would not be a problem, and I had to think of my families future, if this is how I was at this age what will I be like in 20 years time? But yet I knew also what the management thought of people who did that too.
I was worried though. I knew the staff were unhappy, as they thought I was receiving special treatment, basically they had to work a little harder at trying NOT to restrain the kids, as I would not be able to assisst them.
This picture is of a guard protecting the Mona Lisa, during an exhibition in the US - this picture can be bought @Art.com
A safety Plan?
For me or the kids
Interesting observation - during this time of "Should not be involved in physical restraints" I still worked with the same kids, who had the same difficulties, yet did not have to restrain them? This was gong to be a huge challenge, little did I know it was in fact the staff that were more challenging on this one. I found I would sometimes be sought out by the kids saying "Don't let them restrain me?" I did inform management of this many times however they kept the restraint policy in place. For who's safety?
Whilst on my "safety plan" I probably managed to achieve more positive work than at any other time in my career in Child Care
Staff started complaining, that they felt at risk and undermined, because if they felt a young person "needed restrained" and I was present the kids knew I could not participate, due to my back problems, and would play on this. The staff were feeling unprotected and that "I was more a danger being there". I still don't know how a child "needs to be restrained", or "put down" which was a favourite term amongst the staff?
Funnily enough the school had had a visit form the Care Commission Scotland who had highlighted they were extremely unhappy about the high number of restraints and wanted this number lowered. Management used myself as a role model, claiming if I could work with the same kids without restraining them, then so could they, so not only did they see me as a danger, I was also being shown favouritism by the management, I was in pain, I just wanted them to see that.
I started to distance myself from people, I could see they did not want me there. In a day I was taking a huge amount of mixed prescription drugs, and I had started taking over-the-counter prescription tablets. To dull the pain. I was now known as "Mona Lisa" having my face super imposed into the famous painting and put onto my desk.
Even though I was on a "safety plan" this did not really stop the potential of me becoming involved and sometimes I just had to become involved in something that I know my body would react to. More time off work, more visits to the Pain Specialists. More or different drugs. At this time I was taking prescribed and those available over the counter. And drinking coffee, lots of it, and by the gallon. Anything to keep me going, I was afraid if I stopped my body would collapse too.
Books available to understand addiction - to prescribed medications
Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue
That day I sat in the consultants office will be etched on my mind for the rest of my life, how was I killing myself continuing to work in the environment I was working in?
I was addicted to Painkillers and Prescribed Drugs. ( I was actually addicted to the Codine, Codeine is found in opium and given to provide pain relief and often make a person feel sleepy. They may also dull the senses and cause changes in both mood and behavior, and highly addictive)
I had become dependant on the very things given to me to help me manage my pain, now it seemed they were managing me and I was taking them just to get through the day.
Although I did not see it at the time, I remember feeling how my mood was changing, and how I would begin to sweat, get irritable, reach for the tablets and take them, just to feel normal. My life as I knew it crumbled, even writing this I have that sick feeling of shame in my stomach, I have never touched drugs, I know of people who have experienced drug taking, and it never interested me, so imagine how I felt when I was told this news. I was told if I continued to go the way I was going I would end up killing myself.
How did this happen, well all of the above, and some more.
I never returned to my work again. I am now registerd disabled, due to physical and emotional limitations, I suffer Chronic Pain due to the back and neck injuries, the initial injury never being able to heal correctly or properly, and each restraint thereafter, putting more and more srtess on these trigger points.
I am now at a stage, 2 years later, where I have made my way from weekly assessment of prescribed drugs to fortnightly, and I now no longer take any over the counter (extra) medication.
I suffer Chronic Fatigue and have a clinical diagnosis of "severe" depression, Irratable Bowel Syndrome, Migranes to name a few.
My list of medicaton is huge, leaving the surgery not with a few boxes but a bag. I now take 32 tablets a day. This is honestly what I am meant to take.
You will never work again...
I also remember the words "you will never work again" well those were like a kick in the stomach, I had always worked. Everybody needs a purpose. I had studied hard and had a very good career. I never returned to my place of work after that day. Long story short, I took redundancy and then medical retirement.
At that time I suffered some very tragic news, and an abusive ex-partner wanting to stir up trouble so losing my job did not matter, there were days when I could hardly bite my fingernails, never mind worry about a job, and I spent my day sleeping and crying.
I was then served a kick up the butt, when my ex-partner who is an abusive control freak wanted to take me to court for access to his daughter that would need to have been over my dead body.
This seemed to jolt me into the here and now, but even this was a slow journey, setting small goals to get into a routine where I could still have some quality of life, but more on a timetable. This timetable eventually meant that I could do more, and more. Now when I say more, I mean being out of my bed for 2 hours at a time, not just up for the toilet. Everybody in my family rallied round, taking turns, taking care of me, I don't really remember that time, maybe I don't want to my mother-in law was the best support to me, I wonder if she really knows how much she did for me at this time?
I seemed to be on the right path with my medication and was no longer abusing it, (god that is hard for me to write) I felt lost. I had nothing to do, I could not do much without causing aggrivation to my neck and back, sometimes even walking is hard, if I pushed myself and went against the pain signals my body cried out for piankillers.
There is a funny story that my neighbour tells about this time, she used to come over every so often, and I thought she was just being nosey, she was really annoying, however my husband used to keep the front room light on, and if it did not switch off after my daughter went to school then she would know I had went back to bed and would come over to see I was okay, meaning I had to get up and could not go to my bed a wallow in self pity. I did curse her though.
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learning to pace myself
As time was going on, and I was seeing some improvements, I had to learn to PACE myself. Take my time, break things down into manageable pieces.
I was finding my mind was bored, so I would aimlessly surf the Internet. I liked reading peoples stories, and how writing had helped them put to rest some of their demons and were enjoying expressing themselves.
It fascinated me, I was never really technologically minded, so the running of a website was alien to me. I had landed on a Squidoo page. The more I clicked the more interesting subjects and people I found. Some people had hundreds of pages, some pages about their work, some said they had never written before and that Squidoo allowed them to publish their own work.
I have always loved writing, although doing nothing with it. I signed up there and then. And created my very first web page. It was an amazing feeling. Not only had I done something I had never done before, but I was on the World Wide Web. I sent my page to some of my family asking them what they thought, I remember feeling so sick, wondering what they would say, but they all agreed this was indeed fantastic, and would be a great way to channel my frustrations or energy, so I made some more pages.
I started to get feedback from other Lensmasters on Squidoo, giving me help and information on how to make better pages, this was so encouraging, that I made even more pages. Building up a lovely network of on-line friends, all having the same goal to create good high quality web pages. Oh and did I mention the ability to earn some extra money for your favourite Charity or yourself?
Now instead of focusing on the pain or discomfort I am in, it is not the main focus in my life, anymore. Yes I have my bad days, where I can do nothing but read, I love to read other peoples stories too, but it has made me realise an important thing.
I thought along with my limited physical ability, and my mental health issues, I could no longer be this bright bubbly personality I had always been, I could not do what I used to be able to do, I was confined, I was restricted. Wrong through my writing I have indeed found my lost confidence, I have found I still have the ability to make people smile, I can support and encourage, I think it is just in my nature. And yes I can still bounce in, okay on a screen, but it has made me look differently and more positively at my situation.
My husband, friends family all love to have me back, sounding better, happy, cheerful, positive again and my daughter loves the fact she can join in helping me create pages (she loves to be the model if I am taking pictures etc)
I am glad I found Squidoo, or maybe like the day I went to the consultant instead of turning up to hear about the future of my job, Squidoo found me.
Where am I now
Well ....here of course
I still have the pending court case against my work going on, but hopefully that should be put to rest this year, they have accepted liability. In hindsight If I had known the struggle it was to take out a personal Injury Claim, the extreme emotional pressure of it , I maybe would not have done it. They even called into question significant events in my life, they used losing a baby 12 years ago, or the fact I had left an abusive relationship, or my mum had died of cancer and more all before I even started working there, that was one of my strengths I was always a "coper" emotionally. However after extensive psychological assessments they have indeed agreed because I was struggling physically with pain every day, this in turn had affected my emotional capacity to cope, resulting in a vicious cycle, due to the incident and subsequent incidents thereafter, they were just trying to get off with taking the full blame of not protecting me as an employee in the first place.
Since joining Squidoo / now Hubpages I have, made lots of individual web pages. I have learned about SEO, HTML, CSS and all the lettered words you can think of related to computers. I have built my own online presence and developed my Hobby into an online business. I have a made friends that are both helpful and supporting, without knowing me, as a person, only my online work.
I have had my work reviewed and have recently been interviewed by a UK national newspaper about why more and more people are turning to the power of the Internet to make an extra income by reviewing products online.
I do not know where my future is heading, but If you had told me a few years back I would be, sitting working away, writing online, I'd have called you crazy.
Your Opinion is important to me.
I have very mixed views about how easy it was for me to become dependant on these presecription drugs, until I visited the Specialist who really shocked me with his assessment all I had to do was phone up and re-order the prescription, I was even able to do that with sleeping tablets. In my view this was all too easy, and I never really moved forward with a diagnosis in this time, they just kept giving me stronger and stronger painkillers, please answer the question below, you also write an expalnation for your answer if you wish, thankyou
Do you think Doctors hand out prescriptions to highly addictive drugs too easily
Where am I now
27th April (Ironically Freedom Day, S Africa)will always be a very special day for me....
I wanted to let people know, about how this journey is going and the best way was to write about it, I have found so many supporters through this page, and more understanding of my circumstance from friends and family, so I felt it only appropriate to let you know how my situation has developed.
Still working away at Squidoo, (Now Hubpages) and love everything about it. From the community to the amazing people I have met.
I have managed to more than 1/2 my intake of prescribed painkillers, this was tough, really tough, and many a day I just spent in bed. I decided after reading this lens again, this was no way for me to continue, I was still in pain after taking all the medication, so what was the harm, in a review of my medication with a Top pharmasist 2 of the tablets I was taking counteracted each other and their effects? So I am pleased to say I am now down to around a respectable number. No more buying over the counter tablets.
I also feel as though I have emerged from a deep brain fog, And although I have symptoms that initailly led me onto taking more tablets, I have found alternative methods for coping with Pain and fatigue
The biggest news is, I received news from the 6 year court battle that they were willing to negotiate and settle, I have always stayed true to myself, and wanted a fair outcome, It has been told many times to me and my family how wrongly I was treated by my employer.
The employer is probably one of the oldest most established organisations, and it was indeed very daunting. to see my name vs them, on the documentation, I felt sick every time I thought about it.
I have had my full life picked apart, I have had my full life put out there, and this perhaps explains why I have written a lot about my personal stories. May I add that is only some of the disasters in life I have got through, but the ones I felt it time to reflect and share. I have had my brain picked apart by some of the countries top doctors, who all had the same opinion of me, some of their words really did mean a lot to me, as at times I did start to doubt myself, but as I was aware they will try to twist it to make their case more stronger, and the levels they stooped to were beyond belief at one point, and as the blows would come I wanted more and more to just disappear and give up.
Yes I have had a tough life, and faced many challenges, but that should not affect the outcome of how my employer treated me.
The effect and impact of that accident on the rest of my life. The evidence was proof enough without an evidential hearing.
Would I say it has been easy, no way...I had a lot of support from my family, I could have walked away quite a few times, but the most hurtful thing were the people who were unfortunately involved, as in the case of most accidents who chose to turn the other way and not be involved. but on the same hand people who I had worked with for a considerable amount of years, stood by me. And gave me their full support.
I feel very strange, happy, nervous, excited, and sad, and I think it will take me a while to get around the fact it is over. And this is now time to put this behind me and I can now think about my future and make some new memories.
I would really like to say thanks to my family (I know you read my work, and I appreciate your support lol....and to those who chose to turn the blind eye when they saw wrong, I wish you well, but I hope you never need someone to come forward for you.