Saturday, December 12, 2009

The more I read and listen, the less I know

It's a rainy morning in California, and I'm thankful for it. I live in an area where growers depend on their crops to feed the United States. From where I am sitting, with my laptop, there is a fire crackling. Today, I plan to make some Christmas cookies and tidy up the house. This whole week has been a very busy one, and the house looks like clutter has moved in. I can't stand clutter. Clutter makes me feel out of sorts...disorganized. That's kind of how I've been feeling all week.

My son's lack of organization can be that button that pushes my ability to control my temper. Addict or not, my son displays textbook ADD traits. He can't focus on one thing for long. He loses things. He forgets things. He completely falls apart when he has to hand more than one thing at a time. Now that he's unemployed, he has to handle filling out forms and finding pay stubs (which he's lost) or ordering copies of them. He has to handle food stamps and applying for jobs.

Me, being the organized mind-- who can multi-task at her job...and actually THRIVES on being really busy-- the mom who can cook 3-4 different recipes and meals at the same time... well, it's hard for me to deal with my son's inability to focus.

Of course, I take into consideration that drugs have damaged his brain. There is no doubt in my mind.  It saddens me that my son's brilliant mind has been hampered by his drug addiction. He is truly a highly intelligent young man, with so much promise.

But, that's not my point today.  I have been reading a lot of comments from "ANONYMOUS" that talks about the benefits of methadone treatment. Of course, everybody has their own views. I've read all of them-- from those of you who have watched a love one fail in finding sobriety with methadone. I've read Angelo's comments, defending his use of suboxone. I've read websites and still-- I don't know what to think!

In addiction, there really isn't a clear and perfect answer. It's just like parenting-- what works for one kid, won't work for another one.  Everybody has an opinion. Nobody's opinion is the one and only answer. I know people who found sobriety through the 12-steps. I've known others who found sobriety without the 12-steps.  If I put 1000 addicts in one room, and took a poll-- they would belong to many different camps.

My son's treatment center stressed to use that "self control" isn't the answer. I believe that addiction is a disease. It's not a choice. I've heard people tell me I'm wrong. Fine, they can think what they want.

I am going to post ANONYMOUS's comments, today, purely as information for you to read and make your own decisions.  I wish that ANONYMOUS would re-create a Google account or would even be willing to give us links to back up his/her information.  Still, the information reads as though it's coming from someone who is intelligent and appears to have done studies or research.

For the record, I remain "interested but cautious" with the information.

For today, my son is hanging in there.  I raided my freezer and pantry and brought him food to eat. I spoke with B's father for the first time in weeks, and I finally feel as though he's on the same page with me.  I have been prayerfully considering what role I play in my son's next move.  I'm keeping that to myself, because I don't want to be influenced by anyone else.

I want to thank so many of you who have sent links to me to look into MediCal and treatment centers. I'll focus on those, with my son, while I'm on Winter Break vacation-- next week.

Today, I'm feeling some hope.  Guarded hope.  Today, I want to immerse myself into taking care of my home and some baking therapy for Christmas.  I told my son that my Saturdays remain "sacred" for me. It's MY day to do what I need to do. I don't want to be a taxi and I don't want calls with more crises behind it. I want to be Debby and I want to be a wife.  ME TIME!

Here's the comment. Your thoughts are most welcome. Be kind, though, if you disagree. I don't want anyone to feel intimidated to leave comments on this blog. Thank you:


I did post some info on why many long term addicts may need long term treatment with methadone. Many folks think that the purpose of methadone is simply to provide for an easier "detox" from the opiate of abuse and that's it. This is not the case at all. Methadone TREATS the imbalance in the brain chemistry that occurs with prolonged opiate abuse, and this condition may.....or may permanent. Many people want to know why their loved one is "still on that stuff" after ______ years. This is the reason why. It is NOT a cure--there IS no cure. It is a treatment. It controls the symptoms of active disease so the pt. can function. Just as diabetics must get insulin from an outside source because their pancreas no longer produces it, methadone replaces the endorphins that the brain no longer produces. Some diabetics need only diet and exercise, others need oral meds, still others require injectable insulin. In the same sense, some with opiate abuse induced endorphin deficiency need just support, time, exercise, etc---others need suboxone, and still others may need methadone--some short term, others long term. It's a spectrum.  Your son's frantic desire to avoid a cold turkey detox is very understandable. There is no benefit to forcing someone to undergo these agonies. It does not "teach them a lesson"--they are ill, have a disruption of the brain chemistry, and torture cannot repair that problem.

However, I would be very very reluctant to put him through a 21 day "detox". Most states and most clinics have discontinued use of these programs as they have been shown to be VERY unsuccessful for long term abstinence. The problem, after all, is not getting the person OFF drugs--it is in KEEPING them off. Doctors now recommend a MINIMUM of 1-2 years' maintenance before even attempting a taper, to allow for stabilization. Please know that your son's not wanting to go the abstinence based route is not a lack of courage, or of being lazy, etc as many think. He knows well what will happen if he goes that route.

I myself went through 13 abstinence based rehabs without success, both in and out patient. I went to thousands of 12 steo meetings, had sponsors, worked the steps, did everything I was told. However, only with medication did I experience success--and the success was profound and long lasting.

Does it REALLY matter, truly, if a person needs a medication to function normally, as long as they DO function well? Many many people all over the world require a variety of daily medications to live, or to function normally, and they are almost never told to get off them or stop taking them. I swallow a medication each day that allows me to live a normal life and I don't give it another thought. My life is great. Had I been forced and pushed OFF this medication, for the purpose of being "drug free", I would undoubtedly be in jail or dead. It was very clear, after many such attempts, that abstinence was NOT working, despite my best efforts to make it work. My family agrees wholeheartedly--they are so amazed at the difference proper treatment has made in my life.

MMT is vilified primarily because people do not understand it or how it works and they believe rumors and false information they have heard or read. Used correctly, however, it can be a very valuable tool in the opioid addiction toolbox and is, in fact, far and away the MOST successful method of treatment for opioid addiction available today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I've been visiting other blogs. Many are filled with hope. Some make me feel like I could substitute their addict's name with mine. I try to not feel hopeless.  I am praying for you.


Madison said...

Oh, don't get me going. Come on now. I'm going to be nice and email you privately.

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

LOL. I am expecting for my "pit bulls"-- Fractal Mom, Madison...and possibly, Lou to have something to say. I love y'all! I hope you know it.

It's so hard to know who to believe and what to do. For now, I have made no firm decisions or formed a firm opinion.

I wait. I pray.

Anonymous said...

I pray too. My son is addicted to oxycontin. He is on suboxone. When he is on the right track, which gets better and better after a few relapses, it helps him function as normal. I don't think "cold-turkey" and "21 day de-tox" is realistic. I think it is much like your son's diabetes. It is a disease. They all have it in their genes. We have to stop projecting our own agendas on their addictions. God help us all.

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

My son has never been diagnosed with ADD but he and I have agreed that he has it. The post above of course could be about my son. I have often wondered if he was on suboxone through a clinic if he would be able to function. I agree, one size does not fit all. I hope you had a fantastic "Debby Day";)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Debby for the boost I needed today to get out of my cave of despair and go buy a Christmas tree today...even if I only enjoy it. I appreciate everyone's opinions but am as confused as ever about how best to support my son. Blessings.

LisaC said...

As a mom of an addict of three years, drugs and experimentation longer than that, but definitely seriously addicted for three years, I don't know anything about methodone clinics. My son never suggested that as an alternative for consideration. Had he, I'm sure I would have considered it.

My son did detox and intensive outpatient twice...relapsed during both; he's 12-stepped with sponsors and meetings, to no avail. I agree what works for some, doesn't work for others. What I believe from my heart is that whatever the addict chooses as his "program" to get clean, success is driven by one thing...that they want it more than anything else. Disease model? I believe it but still occasionally have doubts. But the truth is, there are individuals with diabetes, heart problems, liver problems, etc., and they don't take their meds regularly, they don't take care of themselves, they eat wrong or don't exercise. Taking care of ourselves, across the board, is extremely challenging for people. We are constantly drawn to eat or drink the wrong things. Choose to go to a movie instead of to the gym, etc. None of that carries the same pain levels as for the ones that make these choices with illegal drugs. Anyway, I don't know my point really except to say I can't judge, I don't know what is best, but I do recognize how difficult it is. Hang in there Debby and enjoy your Christmas holiday, your tree, your home and your family and I will continue to pray for you and B.

Angelo said...

I aqree with everything anonymous said. Everything.My problem with methadone "for B" is that he is not really ready to stop using and will be able to use while on methadone. But, now that B has no job or income I believe he will do the methadone detox alright. The problem is after the 21 days is done and he has a methadone habit now. It has a very long half life and builds up in your system. B needs long term treatment or maitenance with methadone or suboxone. I'm glad to see you positive and in good spirits today.


Cheri said...

Still praying here too!

Cheri and Wayne

SICKGIRL said...

Please accept my apologies in advance as my response is quite lengthy and in order for all of it to allowed, I must submit it in two parts. I understand that I may seem to be taking allowances with your blog, but please believe me when I say that this is not at all my intention. This is a subject that I not only feel passionately about, but one extremely close to my heart. This is also a controversial enough area regarding addiction and recovery that one should try to take care not to appear too cavalier. With this...

Next month, I will be celebrating the fourth anniversary of starting MMT - Methadone Maintenance Treatment - and two months after that, will be able to celebrate the very last time that I took any other kind of opiate. Considering the unbelievably grim shape that I was in four years ago this week, this statement is this side of a personal miracle. There was absolutely no way that I could have ever imagined that there truly was light at the end of this very dark tunnel. My addiction was utterly and completely out of control.

As humbled as I am to have to admit to this, I am also able to stand here now able to offer you and your son hope. I read about your struggles regularly, and it tears me apart knowing how much you must suffer. I choose to take the time to comment today because I think that it is so very important that you know that there is always hope, that the light will be there, no matter how faint it may seem currently. My heart goes out to you as you. I understand how very hard it must be for you to have to watch from the sidelines as your son struggles daily as well as being a non-user, finding the required empathy needed for support.

I am also all too aware of the extreme emotional responses that exist today regarding Methadone Maintenance Treatment. There rarely seem to be any middle ground. I understand that this is not for everybody, but a grave disservice would be done were I not able to offer the other side. While the benefits of MMT remain controversial for many, there are an equal number who have found it to be the miracle treatment they so desperately wanted. It has proven to be my salvation.

Currently, I reside in Ontario, Canada, and because of my location, I have limited options available. Suboxone and its ilk is currently not available by prescription in this country or at least it wasn’t the last time I asked my doctor about availability, I was told, not yet. Short of going cold turkey, the only real treatment option available to opiate addicts is MMT which is designed to be completed over a fairly lengthy time period.

This is obviously very different than the 21 day methadone detox mentioned. While I’ve heard about this 21 day detox to treat opiate addiction, I must confess I am not completely sure how it is actually used to ensure success. I really can't do much more than speculate as to why this particular method seems to fail more often than not. If I understand everything correctly then I suspect that it doesn't offer much hope of success because this 21 day time frame may simply just be too short a time period for methadone to be effective or to even act as it is meant to act. This treatment seems to be doomed even before it is started. It also appears to me that here in Canada we seem to approach MMT quite differently than many in the United States.


SICKGIRL said...


Personally, for me, methadone has forever changed my life. My life now is unrecognizable to the one I had half a decade ago. And like your son, at the time I started I was not really ready to completely stop using and presumed that I would continue to use while on methadone. My frame of mind back then regarding methadone was to use it as a means or tool to reign in my outrageously high tolerance towards opiates that had developed. Was hoping to take a few months to get my finances straightened out, give my body a short drug vacation but without all of the previous messiness of sickness and withdrawal. Taking methadone daily would at least prevent me from having to suffer through withdrawal.Back then, this was to have been a purely short term solution to my problems!

But a funny thing ended up happening while I was going each day to receive my methadone. It actually started working. I stopped grieving for any of the others. Once I managed to reach a stable dose - this is the dose that, when taken properly on a daily basis, that will completely prevent the user from being able to feel any and all of an opiate's normal narcotic side-effects which generally severely impair the user otherwise - I was able to completely cease using any form of opiate whatsoever, plus any and all cravings were completely eliminated. As I mentioned at the outset of my comment, other than my methadone, I have not taken any other form of opiate in almost four years - four years in March 2010. I have also reached the point where I practically never even think about them at al.

Unless I find myself reading about other people's journals on this subject, for me, opiate addiction, for all intents and purposes is now nothing more than a footnote in the many experiences of my life!

I could go on endlessly regarding this particular subject, but then I would also be terribly presumptuous, not to mention, rude especially as I am using your journal to do this. Please, if you or any of the other parents reading have any questions regarding MMT, I beg you to take the time to contact me. I would be more than happy to answer any and all of your questions or concerns. my email is

peace, love and happiness...


ismelltherain said...

I have some fairly strong opinions on not so much methadone, but the way most of the big clinics are being run. I have experience because I just detoxed after 5 years of paying $105 cash/week.

I asked several times throughout those years about detox and several counselors lied by withholding info. I trusted them fully at the time, but not by the end. It is not right to have counselors that are in total control of a patient's dose, UA's and punishments (taking medication) because it fosters the same type atmosphere addicts are used to in dealing with street dealers. Patients never confide in those counselors.

Also, why make all people pay in cash? I took a Personal Finance class not long ago. Basic life building starts with getting a checking account. Debit/credit cards come with that so why always cash? I know why- because they know exactly what they are doing by creating that type of atmosphere.

I understand those saying they can't live without methadone, but what about those feeling they can? There is no out provided, and it is disgusting. I had to create and implement my own detox plan with 0 advice from the clinic throughout. They also interupted my detox after I had been decreasing every 2 weeks for 9 months. I've been out of that clinic 8 days after never missing a day in 4+ years and haven't even recieved a call to asking how I am.

The clinic I went to could have had a huge success story with me. That is if they wanted to promote the wellness they purport. They don't though, and to me it's obvious why- they don't want people off their medicine.