First of all, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I decided to kick methadone…cold turkey. You read that right. I did it without the use of drugs. I did however take supplements and vitamins, such as melatonin to help with sleep but, that didn’t really do much to be honest.
Ok, let’s start from the beginning. I had been shooting heroin and pills for about a year when a using buddy suggested we start going to a methadone clinic to kick our habit. I didn’t do any homework about methadone and methadone clinics before I agreed to go.
Fast forward 6 months…I have moved more than 1,100 miles away to “start over” because, despite being on methadone, I am a true-blue addict and so I’m now injecting cocaine and crack. Needless to say, things are getting out of hand and, still in denial about being an addict, I think that moving to another state where I don’t really know anyone will be the solution to my “drug problem.” I continue with methadone for another couple of months then decide that I don’t want to keep wasting my money on the stuff and that I’m tired of being a slave to it. It’s a Sunday night. Monday morning I go into work (I was a server in a trendy café at the time) and, by the afternoon, I’m starting to feel really bad. Chills, goose bumps, anxiety. I talk to my boss and am honest about what I’m going through. Surprisingly, he is very understanding and tells me to take as long as I need to get better. Little did I know that it would be the better part of 2 months before I begin to feel somewhat “normal” again.
Methadone: Kickin’ It
I had no idea the extent of discomfort, nay pain that I would be facing. The first (and only) night, I slept pretty hard. But then full-on insomnia plagued me for about the rest of the time it took for the junk to get out of my system. I endured all-over body aches, cramping, chills, sweats, anxiety, depression, and itchiness all over my body. Oh, and the “jimmies” how could I forget that? The extreme restlessness I felt in all parts of my body is what would keep me up at night and plague the long days I spent on the couch – catching up on seasons of shows like Dexter, Weeds, Heroes and countless movies. Apparently, this is where the term “kicking the habit” comes from – the overwhelming urge to kick, shake, and fling your arms and legs to get rid of that terrible feeling that I can best describe as inner-restlessness but, it’s kind of indescribable.
I didn’t mention yet that I was living with a guy at this time. He was someone I had dated on-and-off over the years and is a total sweetheart; a good guy. He took care of me during the hell-on-earth I endured, also known as methadone detox. He is also a big guy, like a body-builder type. I mention this because, at times, the pain and restlessness got so bad that I would beg him, in all seriousness, to punch me in the face to knock me out or choke me out cold for a couple of hours – anything to be asleep, unconscious really – and not have to feel what I was feeling at the time. Of course, he refused. But I meant it. I really did. I was so completely desperate.
Methadone Detox: The Aftermath
Once I began feeling better, I returned to work and thought I was over that phase of life – the one where I was using drugs recreationally (it’s OK, you can laugh – I am). I told myself that, after going through what I did, I would never use again. So, a couple months later I was eating painkillers and soon enough shooting heroin again. I didn’t know that there was a difference between abstaining and recovering from an addiction. And I didn’t figure out this distinction for another 4 years. At first, I was able to start and stop using drugs but, after a while, I was in the midst of full-blown addiction (again). And this time, things would get even worse before they got better. This time, I decided to get professional help and, in the process, learned about addiction. This time, I am clean and sober for the first time in a very, very long time and my life is better than it has ever been.
Lesson: drugs are bad and also, methadone is not a solution. It only makes matters worse.
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