Friday, November 11, 2011

The Long Road to Recovery & Methadone Recovery & Rehab Centers (Give me a Break)

 I've been writing a post for this blog, in my head, for many weeks. I apologize, in advance, for the length of this one.  I have a lot stored up, that I want to share. Unfortunately, my life has become a very busy routine.  I have a 5:00am wakeup and a 6:15am commute to work.  By the time I get home, cook dinner and try to unwind-- well, I'm lucky enough to read emails.  The good news is that I got my job back.  I've been very MIA, here, so to refresh anyone's memory (or introduce my job life to a new reader), I work at a high school.   I was transferred to another school, in the interim.  I liked working at the adult school, but my heart is with high school kids.  There is something about the daily drama, in the life of high school kids, that makes my job challenging, interesting and entertaining.  (I work as an Administrative Assistant to high school counselors.)

In many ways, my son's drug addiction has given me a heightened sense of awareness towards the kids I see at work on a daily basis.  I deal with parents whose kids are failing classes, or are facing disciplinary action for cutting classes.  My heart goes out to the parents, because I've been there. I know that feeling of helplessness-- of thinking my kid is just being a difficult teenager.  Little did I know that my son was using hard core drugs.  But, I digress.  My son....

On November 1st (also, his 23rd birthday), my son stopped going to the methadone clinic.  Amen.  Before I write any further, I've received a few private emails from methadone users who are not happy with me.  Somehow, they feel I am condemning methadone therapy.  For the record, I am not.  Methadone is something that should be used on a case-by-case basis.  I do believe that, for many addicts, that methadone is the only course of action they can take.  On occasion, I've driven my son to the methadone clinic and have sat, parked, outside.  There are no words to express the sorrow I felt, as I surreptitiously watched methadone patients walking in and out of that clinic door.  What stood out to me, is how old and haggard many of the patients looked like.   Some of the women looked, to me, to be in their 50's.  I was off by as much as 15 years.  Their skin and expressions looked like their body had been ravaged by addiction.  Rather than being repelled by it, I was deeply sad to see it.  Then, I'd see a young woman walk out, who looked like she could work as a bank teller.  Drug addiction has no economic, racial nor gender bias.

On the other hand, as with my son, I feel as though methadone simply kept my son from buying heroin off the street.  Methadone simply bought time, to keep my son from going through withdrawals.  Methadone made it possible for my son to look "normal" again.  It returned that sparkle in his eyes, and he could eat again. Most importantly, it helped him to function at his job-- which he loves, and has kept for 1 1/2 years.  When my son was using, he got fired from three jobs.  So, yes, methadone had it's benefits. However, my son could not accurately claim that he is sober.

However, the downsides of methadone are serious. Methadone, in my opinion, is poison to the body.  It builds up, in the bones.  For one, there are only two methadone clinics within a 40 mile radius of where we live.  Our home is 3 miles from the closest one.  My son could not move anywhere closer to his job (25 miles away), lest he have a 30 minute commute for his daily methadone dose.  Should he oversleep, which he did many times, he'd miss his dose. Then, he'd panic and he'd start to feel very sick by the end of the day.  He had liquid handcuffs to his methadone clinic. What kind of life is that?   The cost of methadone is expensive. Unless you qualify for Medi-Cal (state funded for low-income families) insurance, it's $450.00 a month.  Private insurance doesn't pay for methadone. That's a lot of money-- my son could rent a room in a nice home for that.

B's father has been funding his methadone for the last year , because my husband and I could not and would no longer underwrite that expense-- which we did for the first year.  B's father has experienced a financial crisis, and the funding came to an end.  My son knew that would happen, in early October.  B had a panicked look on his face, but he also said that he wanted to be set free of methadone. Halleluia.

It is now Day #11 that my son has not taken methadone.  I'm proud of my son, for taking my advice, and telling his boss the truth.   I knew that his boss would be receptive, because I know her own son-- who has his own history of addiction.  Sure enough, his boss told him to take a week off work to detox.  But, wait!  Why isn't my son in rehab?


I had to laugh, when Madyson left a comment "go suck an egg".  Dear Rehab Centers.  You do offer a valuable service.  However, do you think that most of us can afford you?  Seriously?  My son's first rehab experience cost $72,000 for 45 days.  Yes, we had insurance, but it was a big battle to get the insurance to okay more than 10 days of rehab.  We could not afford the Sober Living Environment for more than two months afterwards. Insurance doesn't pay for that.  So, if you want to self-promote on my blog, please don't. I'll throw eggs at you, myself.  We cannot afford rehab. Period. However, if you want to offer a complimentary rehab and would like for me to blog about it, please contact me.

My son is doing his own detox, at home, under the supervision of a doctor who specializes in addiction.   In a perfect world, I wish he could have gone into rehab.  However, my son did not want to lose his job and so he opted for taking medication from the doctor. I forget the name of the drug, but it's an opiate of some sort.  The doctor says it will help my son get through the methadone withdrawals.  Once the methadone is out of his body, he will be put on subutex.

B has been going through withdrawals, for certain.  He gets the chills, and has been vomiting.  He buys medical marijuana (legal in California).  Yes, weed is a gateway drug.  However, I think he's walked through that gate long ago.  I have mixed feelings about it, but my son is now 23 years old.  He buys "cookies" and he eats them to help him get through withdrawals.  He tells me that each "cookie" is stretched out over 2-3 days. He doesn't want to smoke weed, because he doesn't like the high.  He says that marijuana helps with the nausea and helps him to sleep.  He's been sleeping a lot, at home, and when he's not sleeping then he is playing online video games.  I'd rather he do that, than go out to buy heroin.

By the way, B's heroin dealer finally got arrested and is in jail. Amen. Sadly, her young children are now in foster care and her husband will be deported to Mexico, once he serves his sentence. 

Last night, I asked my son why he thinks he's going to "make it" this time.  He answer was, that he was more than ready to get off methadone.  He says that being set free from having to get a daily dose is a huge load lifted off his shoulders. Most importantly, he says that his new friends don't use.  All those dark friends of his are out of his life. Yes!  It's true.

For the last year, my son has been a model roommate.  He is courteous and respectful.  He goes to work early, and never misses a day. He takes on double shifts, when he can.  He pays us rent, keeps his car insurance as paid and he is a joy to be around.

I'm keeping it real.  Getting off methadone is a huge step, but it's not the end of the road to recovery.  Once he's off the methadone, he will need to find ways to resist the cravings that are going to come.  I've read plenty of articles, on the web, that says kicking methadone is harder than kicking heroin. My son knows that, too.

But, for today, my thoughts are with my son. He is at the doctor, right now, finding out what the next step is.  I am paying his medical bills for this doctor.  It is my way of supporting him. Thanks to President Obama, my son has insurance again, but his deductible is quite high.

Above all, through all I've gone through with my son, our relationship has been healed and restored.  I know that my son both loves me and appreciates how I have never given up on him.  His relationship with his stepfather is good. He has grown to like "C", and for that I am thankful.  My husband has been a pillar of support to me.  Our marriage has survived this, and I am so thankful for that.  "C"  expresses, to me, what he's thinking and I have learned to listen without being defensive towards my son.

For me, I have learned how co dependence and addiction go hand-in-hand.  I'm much better at learning when to say "no".  My son has stopped trying to manipulate me.  He accepts "no".  He asks how he can earn financial help with things like gas money for work.  He has apologized for what he's put us through, and I have forgiven him.

I think my son has a good chance of moving forward in his life and towards true sobriety.  He knows he could slip.  I do believe that my son wants sobriety, more than anything else.

I am a God-loving, prayerful mom.  I give thanks to my Lord and Savior, each and every day for His grace and mercy on my son.  Miracles happen on a regular basis, that have helped my son to be where he is today.

I know I am luckier than some other family stories.  There are sad stories out there. I read them, when I visit other blogs.  I pray for them.

Never lose hope. Never.  The power of faith and love is getting me through this.


Dad and Mom said...


Good to see you back and thanks for the update.

I'm one of those that believe there are tried and true methods to skin this cat but we do ned to taylor our hands on methods to the individual involved.

I am glad what you have done has worked for you and yes it isn't over as you say.

Midnitefyrfly said...

I am glad to hear so many positive things. I was not on methadone, but rather went straight from opiates to subutex (suboxone now that I am out of detox). I still have cravings and I wonder if the suboxone is going to work for me long term. I am not quite 30 days into it. I am anxious to hear your son's experience on it. I will definitely be hoping for positive things!

Barbara said...

HI DEB! Always good to get an update. I'm so happy to hear you have your job back! That's wonderful.

Also sounds like B is doing really well and taking charge of his recovery by getting off the methadone. Poor guy, I know its not fun, but he's doing it.

I think its wonderful that he's living here and being courteous and responsible, etc. Eventually he'll venture out more, but like you said, video games vs. heroin???? I think I'd choose video games!!!!

I am no opposed to medical marijuana. My good friend (sober 6 years after 30 years of alcoholism) smokes it every day and it helps him so much. I sometimes wonder if it would help Keven feel more calm.

Oh, and check this out - a Rehab did offer us a scholarship! That's the only reason Kev is in rehab again. I wrote a few articles for them and they offered it. I was blown away.

Lou said...

So good for your son! I personally believe subutex is the lesser of the two evils. And of course, he will not be chained to the clinic. If he takes Suboxone, they have a program where a counselor calls the house once a week and talks about anything they want. They offer support and encouragement, and answer questions. Tell your son to ask his doctor, the program is free.

You are absolutely right--inpatient detox for methadone and suboxone is the treatment centers new money maker. All the addicts I know detoxed on their own. If they really want it, it is completely doable. The web is full of information on how to do it safely. said...

Thanks for your update. My son P has been on Suboxone or Subutex for 4 years now. It has significantly helped him, although due to other stresses in his life, I think he has recently relapsed....maybe to the point of tapering off Suboxone and using heroin again...I am encouraging him to consider rehab again (would be his 4th time) He just turned 23...Quite honestly, I am surprised he is still alive. Unlike your son, he hasn't worked in years, but has lived off student loans and attended college part time....His recent break up with his girlfriend and his on-going anxiety have been concerning set-backs...Glad your son is moving forward. Suboxone is a help, not a perfect solution, but certainly an important tool in the tool box. I am also a mom of faith and am praying for you. - Deirdre

Maija said...

I am just beginning this nightmare, and I am glad to have found you.

swiss life said...

very interesting