83: Pain Medicine – Just What the Addiction Ordered (Sort Of)

Pain medicine in recovery. A slippery slope. We talk about our experiences when having to take pain pills, as prescribed by a doctor, and how the body doesn’t know the difference between these prescription medications and the drugs we bought on the street. We examine the ways medical professionals entice us to use pain medication by stating that it’s a part of the healing process, and try to understand if there’s any truth to that idea. We explore the attitudes of persons in 12 step fellowships towards people who end up having to use pain management, and whether that’s a great way to treat our members. Pain medicine in recovery is a scary idea, even if it’s the right thing to do in the situation. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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Transcript:

recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature hi welcome to recovery sort of i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery i’m jason i’m trying to recover and uh today we wanted to have a discussion about pain medication and being a person in abstinence-based recovery uh trying to navigate issues with pain medication when you should take it if ever if ever you should take it and when you should take it and the dangers of taking it and all the fun stuff around that um this kind of campaign yeah it’s scary stuff uh this came up for me recently i had issues with kidney stones which are incredibly painful um i had to basically go into the emergency room and say please give me pain medication because this hurts so [ _ ] bad i need you to do something for me and that felt awkward and was very awkward and uh even now that whole experience it with with 20 years of abstinence-based recovery it was it’s still a weird area to navigate for me it’s still difficult yeah i i had to take pain medication after a surgery i say i had to i don’t know that i had to uh i’ve heard about people going through quote unquote uh bigger harder more painful surgeries and and not taking it um of course that guy left his wife for a young girl or something i don’t know that was a whole big thing too anyway so i don’t know i’m not gonna say that his was the right way mine was the wrong way i went through the process i told him i have this addiction history maybe we don’t want to do pain medicine the doctors and nurses swore up and down that it was the healthiest thing i could do because it promotes healing and i’m still debating that idea in my head but that’s how it was sold to me so i was like fine i’ll do what they tell me to do like look normally i struggle to follow doctor’s orders so i don’t know if this was the part of me that was like you’re going to be an upstanding citizen and follow the doctor’s orders this time or if it was a part of me was like you got a [ _ ] excuse bro uh but i went with it i took it and i will say scared me at the very least it scared me i thought oh i got this time without using it’s going to feel awful to be out of my mind right nope nope felt warm and cozy just like i remember it yeah that’s what makes it scary and weird um even this most recent time so i you know had the kidney stone ended up it it hit me in the middle of the night i ended up in the emergency room at three o’clock in the morning you know in agony i mean it was really severe pain and all i wanted was pain medication and of course i know nowadays in this climate and especially where we are in cecil county like you can’t just walk in there and be like hey i just want some pain medication but that’s truthfully that’s all i needed and that’s all i wanted and even to say like say that i needed it is feels kind of weird but i was in so much [ _ ] pain i was throwing up like it hurt that bad and if i knew if they would have told me any other things i could do i would have been 100 percent willing to try them but in any case they get me in there um they you know put in the iv they shoot me up with something it wasn’t a and it might have been opiate-based but it wasn’t an opiate base that i had ever heard of it wasn’t uh like dilaudid or or anything it was whatever drug they gave me for the pain but it didn’t make me high or feel high maybe because i was in so much pain but it definitely [ _ ] made the pain go away and within like 35 40 minutes i was like [ _ ] yeah this is all i needed and now i’m fine i should just take this every day yeah this should take so and that’s where it starts to get weird so they gave me a prescription for five uh oxycodone i think it was oxycodone anyway definitely an opiate they gave me a prescription for five of those and said look you might be in pain over the next day or two until you pass this stone here’s five of these make an appointment with a urologist you know and and follow up so i went home that next day i took one pill that day because i was still in a lot of pain laying around on the [ _ ] couch couldn’t move you know and took one and then that’s where the weird thinking starts so the pain seemed to get better and it seemed to go away but then like my head starts doing that tricky thing where it’s like i think it’s starting to hurt a little bit maybe i should just take one now so that by the time the pain hits me later i won’t feel it and like that’s where i go like doctors and nurses sell me on this idea when i had my surgery they were like you want to make sure you take these ahead of time you don’t want to it’s harder to catch up once the pain actually onsets so you got to be preemptive about it like you are [ _ ] speaking addict to me all i hear is take a bunch yeah well if that was the case i would have taken all five in the first day because i know it’s coming that and to be honest i mean the fear of that pain coming back in that in that first day like now it’s like ah whatever i’ll deal with it you know and then when i get to that point i’ll be crying again but in the day or two after that like [ _ ] that like i don’t care what i had to do to not feel that level of pain it was misery but again that’s where my head is like oh it’s fine you can take them you got five you know and uh i [ _ ] love opiates and i love that feeling and i do not like pain in any sort of emotional or physical way right so the absence of it is wonderful i mean if they prescribed you five it’s probably safer to just take all five write that in there to get them out of the way so you know you can’t use them right and i’ve been there as well so i’ve had a couple injuries a couple surgeries since i’ve been clean um the very first one i had my wisdom teeth cut out i think i had two cut out and two pulled and i didn’t take any pain medication for that um i went into it typically i had a year or two clean and went in with the [ _ ] attic you know mentality of new and recovery like i don’t need any pain medication i can do it without it and honestly i did but i wasn’t in a lot of pain from that i really wasn’t i mean it just it didn’t hurt all that much so i didn’t i don’t feel like i like sacrificed anything being some kind of weird martyr like it didn’t hurt that much it hurt for a couple days i took some tylenol and it was fine i thought you were gonna say he took him there and i was gonna make fun of you i was like really for some wisdom teeth i had one pulled in prison and here’s the reality right i had it pulled in prison this guy [ _ ] it all up i don’t know what he was thinking he yanked on my goddamn jaw for like half an hour and then was like oh fine i’ll go clean the right tool and he went and got the right tool and cleaned it came back and pulled it right out i’m like did you really just [ _ ] my face up because you were lazy and for like three weeks i had something that looked like a baseball sticking out of the side of my [ _ ] face it was like that swelled up and those first couple days for sure i don’t remember it specifically very well at this point but had i been home and had the option for something because they ain’t giving you pain medicine in prison right uh i’d have taken it like there’s no doubt but then i’ll i’ll use that as an example of why nobody else needs to even though i would have if i don’t have the option right like that doesn’t matter i didn’t have to yeah and uh you know then i got some years years clean after that and you know i had a sponsor that kind of said look we’re not [ _ ] animals like we don’t need to live like barbarians you know if we get injured or whatever and that had come up i was riding a dirt bike and i broke my thumb i uh wrecked and and broke my thumb and when it happened you know i i knew it was broke it was all messed up and i drove myself to the hospital and i was completely by myself when i went there and i’m i’m driving to the hospital and like it was that weird thinking started crossing my mind like you can [ _ ] get high like you got a legal high now and it’ll be fine you got the freebie yeah and that scared the [ _ ] out of me and i ended up you know breaking out my and this is one of the reasons i used to carry the little n a phone book the little blue one with me all the time it had a bunch of phone numbers in it and i literally broke that out and started calling people in my home group at the time and i stopped at a pay phone yeah stopped at a paper and i found you know one of my home group member friends he was available wasn’t even a guy i was particularly close with i said look this is what’s going on you know jen was it my wife was at work or wherever she was she couldn’t come and uh i said well you just come to the hospital with me and be there so i don’t [ _ ] you know do anything stupid or whatever i just use the home group money to catch an uber to see you he’s like it’s service work yeah it’s service work what comes out of the budget um so he came and hang out hung out with me at the hospital and it was bad i had to cut my wedding ring off and all kinds of [ _ ] yeah my whole hand was [ _ ] up and uh just i guess the idea of telling on myself helped now i to be honest i can’t remember i don’t think i got any pain medication that day i did have to go see uh a actual orthopedic doctor because in the hospital they they said you just got to go see an orthopedic doctor somebody’s got to fix your [ _ ] so i went and saw an orthopedic doctor they had actually had surgery done and they put some pins in there and all kinds of [ _ ] and i did get put out for that and took pain medication for that but again it’s that same you know they they give you the pain medication and it’s like well i better just take it ahead of time and they said i can take two so i’m definitely taking two and i did that for a day or two and then it’s like all right you know when should i stop taking it when should i keep taking it you know because i don’t trust myself i can’t trust my own judgment with that [ _ ] yeah i don’t i oh so it doesn’t make any sense to me because my idea is how would i know if i ever really needed it if i’m taking it preemptively right like i don’t even get to the point where i know if i need it or not you’re telling me i’m supposed to take it already yeah for me personally it isn’t even necessarily the the you know quote unquote needed i don’t know that that’s where i struggle what i worry about is how long can i take it before it really starts to [ _ ] with me and for me it’s been my experience it’s been about a day or two you know eight and a half hours it’s been about two days you know getting through like the severe pain and then i will stop taking it and at times i’ve been in some pretty a decent amount of pain that probably you know a normal person would want to take some medication for but i don’t like the way my where my head goes because even with a bunch of time and being connected in a fellowship with a sponsor and working steps and all that stuff like my head still goes to and you know two two the last time did okay but [ _ ] three you know it really it’s three is gonna feel way better i’m like yeah it’s gonna [ _ ] feel way better because i’m gonna be high like that’s why it’s gonna be that’s where you’re [ _ ] up you’re not taking enough to shut the voice up that says this is a bad idea you just need to take more and then uh and like that so the hand surgery so i got the surgery and then they leave the pins in i can’t remember for how long for like a week or two and then they gotta pull them out and so that doctor tells me oh what you want to do is take your pain medication before you come here like before you come in because what’s gonna happen you’re going to come in here and i’m going to rip these pins out of your [ _ ] hand and it’s going to hurt he didn’t say [ _ ] hand he said we’re going to take your pins out and it’s going to hurt and so i’m like okay that’s definitely a twofer you know so we go and again sure enough i’m glad i did because i go in there and they basically he holds my hand down with one hand and takes what feels like a pair of pliers and starts ripping these pins out of my hand i’m not even asleep oh it was miserable you know like what the [ _ ] felt like i was in some you know medieval movie the surgery i was out for when they put them in i don’t know how they put them in but he just yanked them out with pliers in a doctor’s office yeah it was [ _ ] up and uh that hurt a lot i mean it hurt but i’m sure you were in a doctor’s office yeah one of the first state orthopedic which is in delaware it’s one of the best in the country i mean they do great work and in fairness all the things they’ve done a couple things for me everything’s healed up great but that yeah that seemed pretty barbaric them ripping pins out with pliers in the office i mean he got you high first geez give him a break get good and high before you come in because but yeah it’s it’s so tricky to know like what is healthy and what’s not healthy and in all these cases i will say one for me it’s been important to like just be honest and and tell on myself with like my sponsor and my wife and you know other people that are around talk about it openly in a meeting i feel like that at least puts me in a place of accountability you know that i’m that i’m being kind of honest because even if i’m not being dishonest just not talking about it you know keeping it a secret puts me in a vulnerable place puts me in a dangerous place yeah and that being honest about it you know at least gives me some accountability makes me feel like i’m accountable to to people around to let them know what’s going on well and i think this is the confusing part for for addicts in total abstinence programs or maybe you know people in recovery even not in total abstinence programs because just because you’re not in a complete abstinence program i don’t think that makes this decision any easier like you’re still possibly you know opening yourself to the idea of going back to something that feels really good by accident right um but i think it’s tricky because who do you listen to whose suggestion do you take who really knows you got people in at least in the n a fellowship that you know are completely against taking pain medication for the most part uh you know maybe some skew to the it’s okay to take it for limited amounts of time under doctor’s orders but then you got the doctors and nurses and the medical professionals telling you this is useful for your recovery time and and the process and the healing and so it’s like okay well you guys are the professionals who are supposed to know that but you don’t understand the way my disease talks to me because you’ve never experienced that and then on the other hand i got these people who understand the way disease talks to me but don’t have any idea of the medical professional side of it and it’s like how do you bridge that gap of like where’s the right amount and here’s the other i mean the the really the probably the overwhelming real question is or or problem dilemma sometimes we’re just gonna have to [ _ ] take it and we’re gonna feel like it’s using and we’re gonna want to use again yeah that doesn’t make it not the right thing to take it for your surgery or whatever you’re going through like you might need to take it right doesn’t change the fact that it’s going to awaken that thing in you that likes it and i mean to phrase it that way puts it perfectly i guess more clear maybe than i was like yes that’s exactly what’s happened for me is every time i’ve had to take it it awakens that thing in me that loves that [ _ ] feeling and wants to get high and it doesn’t matter you know where i’m at in my recovery how many years how many steps how many service commitments you know what i mean like just taking that drug and getting on that feeling and again i don’t necessarily think it’s the wrong thing to do but it’s a [ _ ] risk that comes along with it and i have never been a person i have told so i think my primary care doctor knows that i have an addiction history but i don’t [ _ ] tell doctors or emergency room people that i got an addiction problem someone had said to me one time and i believe it was someone in a medical profession like don’t tell them that [ _ ] because they’ll start making decisions about your treatment that are different than what would be the best course of treatment i can’t say whether that’s true or not i and it’s not out of any kind of shame i’m not ashamed to be an addict or anything else i just i want you to [ _ ] treat me how you would treat me and i’ll be responsible for my recovery that [ _ ] doctor doesn’t you know his understanding or lack of understanding about what it means to me to be an addict is not how i want him to start making decisions about my [ _ ] treatment you know and that’s the opposite of what the the when i say the n a people i obviously don’t mean everybody we’ve all got our own opinions and brains but in general that’s the opposite of what they’ll tell you they’ll tell you the responsible thing for your recovery is to tell them so that they can take it into account and that’s where a lot of this just gets interesting and so early on hitting a meeting in my neighborhood there was a guy who i didn’t know he just seemed a little weird to me earl oh earl uh and i heard from getting in with n a people you know talking after the meeting and stuff that apparently there was some confusion as to whether he was to be allowed to celebrate or not because he was trying to celebrate six years he also had chronic back pain and was on percocets and they didn’t know if they considered him clean or not which i guess at this point in my life i’m like it wasn’t none of your [ _ ] business but at the time that was the thing and i’m like oh so i got in doctrine to that type of thinking early right like somebody else gets to decide how they feel about pain medicine and whether it’s right for me whether it’s prescribed by a doctor or not right and honestly like i don’t know can somebody take percocets every day for the rest of their life and feel like they’re clean like i that’s a really big question that i don’t have an answer to because i mean in one sense i’m not saying you’re not i’m not saying you’re not supposed to take it i’m not saying it’s not the right thing to take it i’m not saying you don’t require taking it for your best life i don’t know that you’re as clean as the guy who’s not taking it how do you i know so but anyway i got that message early and then i remember like i think i had a little less than a year maybe a little more than a year clean at one point was working at a glass factory cut a rather large notch out of my thumb [ _ ] with the glass one day went to the emergency room uh it was pretty [ _ ] up you know they fixed it stitched it up whatever the hell they did with it and he gave me a prescription for two percocets and and i took the prescription not with the antenna filling it but as a just in case like he had just he had numbed the area before he cleaned it and i didn’t know what that was gonna do later on right i said well it doesn’t hurt to have it if i need it i can go get it if not no big deal i told my girlfriend who was in recovery she thought that made sense and then i told my sponsor and he was like you don’t [ _ ] need them and i was like well i’m not filling it i’m keeping it in case he’s like man you’re reserving a place to relapse something along these lines right and i’m like who gets to say that like right like right i mean i trust is my sponsor but at the same time the doctor gave them to me because he thought in his experience it might require them and my plan was not to fill them it was like trying to be safe and you know thorough like what if i don’t take that prescription home and it is really painful later and so it was just really i don’t know it rubbed me the wrong way that he said that to me but it definitely i picked up early on and a people don’t agree with pain medication that’s just not okay yeah and i’ve known two individuals who have suffered that one of them had cancer [ _ ] guys dying of cancer well he was in a i think he was in a i might have the story a little bit messed up i think he was in a pretty bad motorcycle accident and got pretty [ _ ] up and then got cancer after that but i mean was to the point whatever where he like was getting around on one of those little scooter things like he couldn’t even walk and [ _ ] and was still coming around to n a had been a fixture i mean a staple of recovery was like the guy that was heavily involved in h and i you know going out to the jails and speaking all the time i mean was like a pillar of the n.a community and when he started struggling with his health issues and had to go on pain medication people were pretty [ _ ] brutal you know a lot of sponsees dropped them and kind of turned their back on them be like you know you can’t sponsor me or [ _ ] on paid medication and [ _ ] like that it was and i wasn’t particularly close to him i mean i knew him um just from being around and stuff but it was it same it was a bad like i thought what shitty people are we you know and i love myself right there i wasn’t excusing myself i’m like what [ _ ] shitty people are we to like turn our backs on a dying person over a technicality like but at the same time and i’m not saying turn your back on them right like if he’s your sponsor i’m not saying turn your back on him reach out love him care for him all those great things but is he going to be able to sponsor you and guide you clearly like and that’s that’s where i think the question comes in that same part of you that arises when we take a pain medication is going to arise for probably any of us right i don’t know any of us that it doesn’t so is that individual going to be able to be in a clear enough mind state to sort out the part that’s arising that isn’t the part we want to live in today versus the suggestions and guidance they’re giving me like i would question the [ _ ] out of that too sure but there’s a way to like change sponsors without you know what i mean making a big [ _ ] ugly scene about i mean like we were talking about doing an episode on when it’s time to change sponsors and maybe that’s one of them but this is my two cents worth maybe other people’s experience with their sponsors is different but every one of my sponsors has given what i felt like freely and unconditionally of their time love and attention to helping me for no you know free of charge whatever you want to call it like of their own good you know action i personally feel like i owe them a level of respect and gratitude and dignity you know that no matter what they’re going through it’s not like i i just owe them that level of respect anybody that’s gonna do that for me i know not maybe everybody feels that way or has had different experiences with sponsors but that’s just the way i feel about it so it’s okay to drop them it’s just gotta be kinder well we change sponsors for all kinds of reasons or drop sponsors for all kinds of reasons listen bob i know you’ve been sponsoring me a long time but you’re a junkie now i’m just going to have to roll out right yeah or you know and and in fairness to the fellowship there were some people that did still so because this was a guy and of course his wife and you know something and they had people that did support them people would go to their home and take meetings to them and stuff like that but like going to meetings got weird and you know what i mean it just it was it was weird and it gave me a bad it left a bad taste in my mouth for someone who had done so much and you think and again same i had another friend that was a guy that i don’t think he had 20 no he’s got the same amount of time as me so he’s got 20 now so he had 15 plus years it sponsored a lot of people been around started with the back issues and tried to avoid surgery as long as he could so they put him on some pain medications and it just seemed the same there was a lot of people you know talking behind his back that you know he’s using he’s cause whenever they put you on any kind of pain medication i mean there’s gonna probably be points where you look like you’re using i mean you’re [ _ ] on drugs and in we have a piece of literature and narcotics anonymous called in times of illness and it does say right in there and it’s been my experience you know our body does not know the difference between drugs prescribed by a doctor and drugs that we get off the street from our dealer like an opiate is an opiate now i can take a little less of it i mean i don’t have to take it to the point where i’m [ _ ] nodding out and letting my cigarette burn my fingers but you sure yeah right it’s not working which is funny i thought the eyes were still open i actually thought that one of the first times i took pain medication the way it was prescribed i’m like well this ain’t near as [ _ ] good as the way i do it you know the way i do it’s way better than this yeah this doctor don’t know how to describe this [ _ ] but you know you take a couple [ _ ] opiates or couple percocets and you’re you know you’re gonna probably look i you’re high your eyes are gonna be pinned and you might be a little sort of out of it and and so you know that that stuff is so scary you know and then like say for me my experience has been i don’t know i mean my brain tells me i [ __ ] need it all the time that’s what it wants to tell me this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org and consider donating to our calls

so this just occurred to me i just questioned this sponsor this theoretical sponsor or not so theoretically you were talking about a real guy uh but i just questioned his ability to think clearly when on the pain medication but like if we go back to before the pain medication when this guy’s in chronic debilitating pain is he really going to be able to think clearly and guide me then either i don’t know that he’s going to be able to think clearly yeah right like irrationally yeah that’s not really like go back to your your kidney stone like you’re not gonna be able to give me a good suggestion if i call you in the middle of that experience no i was literally telling jen in the middle of the night i’m like i think i’m giving up now and i really thought i wanted to die like i mean not that i was gonna kill myself i just i was like i want to be dead i don’t want to feel like this anymore after four or five hours that [ _ ] pain right because you know the hospital was terrible and that’s a whole another story i laid there for four [ _ ] hours in excruciating pain before they finally did anything but you know i was not thinking rationally or clearly at all you know all my thoughts were irrational and the truth is i i mean i’m sure at some point my head thought if i knew somewhere to go get some [ _ ] heroin i probably would have because i just wanted to stop feeling that way i just wanted to stop being in that level of pain um i also i think i’ve told you this i had an issue where i took medication that wasn’t prescribed to me one time you did yeah so i know people who’d say you used to i yeah and i’ve thought that too um now i don’t care back then i cared more i think i had well i probably had eight to ten years clean and i was all defensive of my clean time now i’m like i don’t give a [ _ ] you can think what you want i really don’t care um and that was so i’ve been through also a couple tooth aches i went through uh at least one route i think two two root canals now because i had terrible teeth i’ll say it’s genetic but a lot of it’s been i never [ _ ] took care of my teeth when i was using for a long period of time um and so i’ve been through some pretty bad toothache pain i’ve been through the point where i didn’t take medication or anything where i like laid there up the whole night to the next day waiting to get in to see the dentist where i was just putting ice chips in my mouth you know so that it would stop hurting for five minutes and didn’t sleep for like two days until i could get into the dentist to get them to do something about my teeth now i went through the root canal surgery the the first time went through the whole thing and afterwards i had a similar what you said they said here’s a prescription for pain medication you may or may not need it but here’s a prescription and i took the prescription and after the surgery i didn’t need it like i didn’t get it filled and i never needed it but it hurt [ _ ] bad before that surgery and i had gotten pain medication the even out because you didn’t take the prescription yeah afterwards it counts so the time that i took it that it wasn’t prescribed to me there’s a whole scenario here that i want to lay out to justify my situation which i don’t know maybe i told you the whole story but i think so so i had been dealing with a toothache for a couple days i had an appointment to go see a dentist it was in a couple days it hadn’t been that horrible yet but this was after my first one that was really horrible my mom was really sick we were in the emergency room with my mom it was me and my sister in the emergency room with my mom who at the time had copd and would go through all these uh really i don’t know what you call it she would get into these weird like couldn’t breathe panic attack copd type of situations and her heart would start freaking out and then she would end up we’d take her to the emergency room so we’re in the emergency room and my tooth started hurting and it’s hurting and it’s you know it’s getting worse and worse and i took some tylenol and it’s getting worse and we’re [ _ ] sitting there with my mom and i’m like man this is [ _ ] killing me and my sister’s like oh well here i got mom’s you know she had some kind of pain medication because i don’t even remember what some it was an opiate for sure you stole your mom’s pain medications oh my mom’s paint bill and my sister’s like well here mom’s got this pain medication for whatever she had it for do you want to just take one of these and i said yes and i took it you know and it was i want to say like impulsive it wasn’t like yeah i’m gonna get high it was like i’m [ _ ] hurting and this will fix it and there was all this other crisis you know we’re in the [ _ ] emergency room with my mom who thinks she’s dying and you know it just was easy convenient not very well thought out kind of thing it was like impulsive it was almost like taking tylenol like oh here i have these you want to take one yeah sure i’ll take it and i took it and then afterwards you hear that kids tylenol and pain medication no difference swallow them down so afterwards though it sort of it got to be one of those things where after it happened i was like wow this is something i probably don’t want to talk about like this should probably be a secret because what are people in n a gonna think what are people my what’s my sponsor gonna take think you know am i gonna lose my clean time like all that stuff started to matter yeah and it started to be something i didn’t wanna share or didn’t wanna talk about with anybody and uh you know i i pushed through it i ended up sharing about it and now i i mean i don’t just go blurting it out all the time but it’s come up i think i’ve shared it at anniversaries in case people wanted to take my cake away or [ _ ] not let me celebrate but uh if i take it away do i get an extra piece yeah that’s the time yeah the only justification i got i’ll take it back if i can have it right but uh at the time like i talked to my sponsor and we sat down and talked he’s like what you know what was your real motivation for taking it i said man that [ _ ] toothache pain is bad and it was really really bad and you know could i have walked out to the emergency room people and said hey i’m having all this toothache pain and checked myself in and went through all that process probably you know i i mean not probably yes i could have done that seen what they’d had done if anything you know to take care of it um and in fairness like that would be if that situation ever comes up again that’s what i would do like i after having that experience i set a a boundary or whatever you want to call it for myself that it’s not okay to take medication that’s not prescribed to me ever never you know if i’m gonna be in that situation i need to see a [ _ ] doctor if it hurts that bad i need to go see a doctor and that’s just a line that i now have for myself that i you know wouldn’t do again um but yeah there’s people that would say that’s that i used and that i would have to give up my clean time and my okay maybe we need your opinion right maybe we need a mulligan every 10 years or something you get one one whoops so when you were in the hospital for that that kidney thing right you’re two hours into your your four or five hours being there and uh somebody you know that used to be in recovery ends up coming in they see you they like pop in and say hi they’re using now they got a script to oxies they’re like bro you just you want one do you take it or not oh i mean of course right now sitting here i’m gonna say no you’re so full of [ _ ] but yeah in that moment i think i’m ready i might you know yeah i would have my wife was with me so i would have had a justification ally if she would have justified it she might have said what do you think did you ever what does she think about the tooth time the tooth time um she’s the one that helped me to kind of sit down and and come up with like a this is not okay thing um that’s because she couldn’t date a newcomer again yeah right she couldn’t get back to dating a newcomer we’d have to break up until i got a year we’d have to get divorced i can’t remember if we were married then or not i think we were but anyway yeah wait i had to get divorced and i had to get a year um no i i mean again she knew who i was and where i was and it wasn’t like i was like looking for some excuse to use or looking for you know hey i don’t like the way that i i mean well i wasn’t liking the way that i was feeling physically but it wasn’t like i was trying to get on some kind of drug to chase away some emotional pain or deal with some issue it was like i was in physical pain and i had taken regular over-the-counter medicine and it didn’t help and again was it the most responsible thing to do as an addict no because again if i start making that stuff okay and then who knows what would have happened if i’d decided you know what i’m not gonna tell anybody i’m not gonna because my wife wouldn’t have known my sister probably wouldn’t have told her my mom was basically unconscious in the bed the only person that knew would have been me and my sister and my sister she didn’t care yeah i mean i don’t know she doesn’t care i don’t mean it that way but to her she’s the one that suggested it so it’s probably her fault she was trying to get a new customer yeah she didn’t give a [ __ ] trying to sell my mom’s pain

but uh no i i mean i don’t know like say it’s it it happened you know it was like a reflex to a fear of being in pain you know and and again having not been in that situation before it’s hard to say where i would how i would act but now that i’ve been in that situation like oh this is an area that i need to kind of be careful and i think this is where the the old idea of extended uninterrupted clean time and how much pedestal we put that on is just not really relevant anymore right i think the more we learn about the idea of addiction alcoholism whatever you want to call it it’s really not about that like that’s not the definition of success right the more we find out through research like it’s not that relapse needs to be a part of your recovery but it is that like this is a disease where we just want more and more extended periods of time of relief right it’s that’s not if you go to therapy for for using drugs their goal is not complete abstinence right off the bat like they could that’s not even really a lifelong goal i mean if that’s what you want great but like their goal is like hey let’s try to work on getting clean let’s try to make these slip-ups less often right it’s like that’s the goal if you slip up and and smoke weed you know once a month and then they move it to once every three months and then you get to through the work once every six months and then once a year like they’re probably considering that pretty [ _ ] successful or even if you start building in some ways to deal with emotional pain that aren’t resorting to drugs you know right right i just i think we actually in n a hold the concept of uninterrupted clean time much too high right like who gives a [ _ ] if that was using or not honestly is where i’m at like who why does that even matter when you’ve got this consistent working towards recovery and being a better person or that this 100 percent abstinence is like you know the most important criteria right we say what what’s part of recovery well 100 abstinence right completely clean by the drugs we define as using and clean uh and then we say well you know you want to recover you want to live a spiritual life work these 12 steps blah blah blah what right why is the clean time the most important part of that like if if we rated them all equally and it’d be easy to look at your life and say well you’ve got 20 years of continuous trying to be a better person you work steps you got sponsor you help people like you live this kind of lifestyle where you practice these spiritual principles like yeah okay whatever that was that one mistake not a big deal but we don’t we look at the clean time as the only that’s the primary purpose of the [ _ ] measurement of recovery right and then the rest of it’s like well is he a good person or not no but he’s got 30 years god damn it right that [ _ ] is a straight [ _ ] but he is clean as hell doesn’t help nobody like the new right i mean that’s how we look at it really it’s stupid it is i mean so my experience there has helped me to be more empathetic towards these people that like say that end up on medications for different reasons whether it’s mental health issues maybe it’s mental health issues that come up later in their recovery maybe it’s healthier issues that come up you know after they’ve had substantial clean time i mean that’s you know in the case of the the one guy with his back like that’s what it was he had you know a good 15 years being in the fellowship completely abstinent helping all these people and now he you know he didn’t go out and [ _ ] put himself in back pain on purpose you know what i mean he wasn’t like hey i’m gonna find some loophole for getting high and [ _ ] you know [ _ ] my back all up and be in pain you know so do we really need to place a shitty judgment like he’s you like is that what we need to look at in this person or do we try to love and support and help them through what they’re going through as a member of the fellowship right and so my experience with pain medication was similar that voice was awakened in me right i had a surgery i followed what they said i i took the things afterwards whether i needed them or not and then when when there wasn’t no more i was like i need more i’m you know and i’d text my wife and i’m like yeah called a doctor like i think i’m still in pain i don’t know if i was or not but i think i’m still in pain and it happened to be later in the day and she was like and i don’t even know she called the doctor or not but she said uh you gotta wait till tomorrow when a doctor’s in and by the next day i had changed my mind i wasn’t in pain but i i mean so what i’m clean because the [ _ ] doctor wasn’t in at that point in time like ah yeah and one thing i’ve always and i used to kind of joke about this and i i mean some people probably don’t like when you share it but i still share all the time like i loved [ _ ] getting high you know you hear people say oh getting high didn’t work for me anymore oh it [ _ ] worked for me i loved opiates heroin that feeling i mean i was in the only reason i stopped the only [ _ ] reason is because the consequences sucked you know i was sick of going to jail sick and not having any but [ _ ] i love the way it made me feel and so even now i am like when that when i take that pain medication and that feeling hits me it’s [ _ ] scares me how much i like that feeling it’s tricky right so we go through life in this like attachment style where we get in relationships that remind us of home right oh this guy uh screams at me when i text people because you know uh he’s jealous and and rageful and [ _ ] well that feels like home that feels like what dad did to mom right and we don’t recognize that but we’ll stay in these unhealthy relationships just because they feel like that ease and comfort of being a child and it’s the same thing like when i got high it was because there was nothing else in my life that i loved i hated everything about my life and then getting high felt good well now i do have a lot of other things that i love and that’s great doesn’t change the fact that that you know using a pain medication takes me right back to that comfortable easy feeling that i i used to be the only joy in life at one point right yeah and and recognizing like that still feels good but a lot of things feel good and that doesn’t mean they’re good for me or healthy or whatever and that’s just one that tends to [ _ ] wreck things quick yeah you know it turns me into someone i don’t like and now i like the person that i am today i like the life that i have i like the things that i have i work hard to keep them you know does that mean i have to live with some limitations yeah you know it does um do i think you know i should have to practice a 12-step fellowship uh it definitely helps you know it definitely gives me a quality of life that i want to have but boy it feels good you know being out of my mind out of my head whatever that whatever that does for you you know when you take that medication i don’t know i i still struggle i’m like if we so we use because life was terrible at first and then we got accustomed to that feeling and i thought having my senses back and enjoying life would kind of rid me of enjoying that feeling but it hasn’t completely obviously at least the last time i had to take pain medication which was [ __ ] i don’t know 12 years ago 11 years ago it’s been a long time but i’m just curious like is there a point to where kind of like when we talked with y12sr and it was like if you put enough good things in and this stuff doesn’t serve your purpose anymore you’ll stop right because you’ve got these other things to fill your life up with and i’m like do we get to a point is it possible and i’m not testing it or nothing but is it possible i can get to a point where i like myself enough i love my life enough i love a lot of the aspects of what i do that every so often i could enjoy that feeling and not want to do it all the time is that even a possibility or am i just going to turn into the guy who now wants to enhance all these other things i love by doing that too oh man i love bonfires but can you imagine a bonfire on pills

i could see the both be impossible i just don’t yeah i don’t know how to find out yeah i i wonder that too and i have decided i don’t want to find out i don’t have that there is a way to find out without taking just too big of a risk right the risk isn’t worth the reward that’s exactly the way that i look at it it’s like because i think i probably could you know like there’s a part of me that says look man i’m almost 50 years old i’m pretty stable in my life i mean probably taking heroin isn’t going to end well that’s probably i don’t see that going in any kind of good direction but could i smoke weed you know could i for my anxiety because i think i have anxiety issues um would that help you know probably would but if i play it out in my head like okay there’s a possibility that could help there’s also the possibility that even if i only smoked weed at the end of every day when everything was done i was responsible the next day i would wake up and just look forward the whole day until i could get to that spot of smoking weed again you know if you google it apparently there are recreational heroin users i have heard that’s crazy isn’t it how yeah i i don’t know about that either the risk isn’t worth it for for those types of pills for pain medication for the the opioids i’m right not can’t say that about psychedelics i’m still like ah that might be a risk i’m worth taking well and i talked to a guy ran into a guy in a grocery store the other day who came around to meetings for years i think two or three years you know celebrated a couple anniversaries decided he could drink and he seems to be doing great i mean according to him i don’t really keep in touch with him now but you know he says yeah you know wife keeps me on a tight leash i drink a couple beers every now and again but everything’s good you know family’s doing great and like oh that’s amazing you know that hasn’t ever been my experience you know any times i’ve tried to stop so i can’t say the people i know who only drink once in a while and oh maybe i don’t maybe i’m not thinking of every case here maybe i shouldn’t even say this they don’t really seem happy when they’re not i i know that’s kind of a shitty thing to say they seem to like like like a light bulb snaps on not not like like a light bulb where you’re having ideas and thoughts like a [ _ ] party strobe light snaps on a black light and flashing disco lights snap on when they have a drink or two right and they are instantly enjoying like really [ _ ] enjoying themselves and then the rest of their life like that might be once a month once every two months the rest of their life they’re kind of very harmonies were dull but just very medium i guess very not like excitable or interested a whole lot and that’s hard to say right because i feel bad saying that but i’m like that does does it how often you use it make you an alcoholic or does it happen to be like that’s the only time you’re happy right i don’t know i don’t know you just seem kind of depressed all the rest of their life and most of these issues i’ve kind of come to the conclusion for myself that it’s really about me and what i want i you know whether someone else is using or not i mean personally unless i [ _ ] sponsor them it isn’t really up to me you know do i have an opinion of course i have an opinion i have lots of i mean i’m an opinionated son of a [ _ ] is there something to have an opinion about because i surely do and it’s definitely a good one yeah give me a minute but i’ve sort of also learned to take a step back and realize that it’s not really about me and what i want it’s you know i should be doing what i need to do for me and not worrying so much about what other people are doing for them and you know appreciating i mean we’ve had some people that i know fairly recently there was someone on uh what’s that one suboxone yeah suboxone that has like two years on suboxone and wanted to celebrate at nna meeting and you know they were talking about it in their home group and you know again of course i have my opinion about it but i’m like i’m not in that home group i don’t sponsor that person i i’ll start a meeting so they have somewhere to celebrate [ _ ] it let’s do it and it’s not really up to me and like that’s tough sometimes that’s that’s hard to stay in your own lane yes worry about myself but you know if i again if i just focus back to me like what what’s most important is i look at my reactions the way i deal with you know pain medication or my recovery or what my red flags are or what my you know triggers whatever are and like for me definitely physical pain is one that triggers that i mean my first thought is man this is doorway to pain medication like i think it’s always been sold to me as we had to monitor what happened in the meetings because the newcomer might get the wrong idea and uh i think i bought into that for a long time you can’t let people who are doing that celebrate because then the newcomer gets the idea that we’re not serious or that that’s okay and like i don’t know at this point the is already probably using anyway so [ _ ] it yeah or they’re going to see what they want to see bad information from as many people that have been clean for 20 years as you get from people that aren’t even clean right i mean we let the guy with with 30 years celebrate and he’s trying to [ _ ] pick up prostitutes on the way home and [ _ ] and like what message are we sending there like that we’re really about something haven’t ever got past the second step you know again it’s all about the priority we put the priority on the clean time instead of anything else we don’t make it a whole experience it’s just oh you’re clean you’re doing it yeah wow now in fairness i do think as far as narcotics anonymous i mean my and again my obviously educated important opinion is that you know we’re a program that is abstinence-based and what that to me means is that you shouldn’t be on a drug that treats addiction like if you’re on a drug to treat addiction this probably isn’t the place for you if you’re on other drugs for other reasons you know that’s between you and your sponsor and you know your support group but if you’re on a drug to treat addiction that’s not what n a is what about vivitrol i don’t think that’s mind-altering is it it treats addiction what’s the difference well i mean mood or mind-altering so if you’re honest so we can be on a medicine to treat addiction i don’t know if n a stance would agree with you on that it’s interesting again there’s i don’t think they have a clear stance although people would beg to differ lots of individuals have lots of individual points of view well i think they had that pamphlet or whatever we read at one point that said you can’t take things to treat the addiction like that was pretty clear in there vivitrol is definitely taking something to treat the addiction or to stop you from being able to use i don’t know yeah but we take caffeine and nicotine and they both definitely affect your mind and mood all right so it’s all made up and it doesn’t matter just say you’re clean that’s what i got can we talk about steroids does that fit into this in any way i don’t know why i just i yeah i don’t know a lot about them but i’ve never taken them i’ve so here’s my beef right we came to this idea basically what’s your motivation like you mentioned that your sponsor asked you that when you took that pain pill what was your motivation and i think that’s what relapse is all about what was your motivation if somebody kidnaps you i know we always go through this it’ll never happen but if somebody kidnaps you and puts a gun to your head and says shoot this speed ball you obviously did not intend to relapse it doesn’t have to be considered a relapse in my head i don’t care if you shot heroin cocaine or not right like you didn’t mean to you were forced to same way i went to take benadryl instead of sudafed my doctor recommended sudafed i thought they were kind of similar but i also thought when i read the benadryl box it talked about itchy and scratchy and uh tired and it sounded like heroin to me like mild i was like yeah let’s take some of these uh and so i i actually took that with the intent in my mind of hoping to get some of those feelings and my sponsor said that wasn’t a relapse and i’m like i don’t know man i’m pretty [ _ ] sure it was like i know what my motivation was taking this [ _ ] um and i ended up relapsing after that anyway so it didn’t matter i didn’t have to count that time but so i agree all about motivation right so people say steroids is using and i say i don’t think so the motivation is not to get high the motivation is to look better be bigger i’m not saying it’s a healthy way to deal with the way you feel about yourself or your insecurities i do not think it’s getting high it just doesn’t sound like a relapse to me i would have to i mean i i’ve again i don’t know that much about steroids i’d have to see how that affects your mind and mood on a daily basis like does it have a lot of people out of their cars and [ _ ] beat them to death yeah that’s definitely a bad side effect i mean i’ve heard all those things and i’m sure there’s different ones that do different things um i i guess what a more what i mean is is this something that’s altering the way that you think and act then you probably shouldn’t be taking it i don’t think there’s a high to it yeah in any way uh and then i would challenge you know whether is that really necessary like are you a [ _ ] trying to be a professional bodybuilder or no are you trying to be jacked yeah so i was working out i was really into working out for a lot of my recovery um i still work out pretty regularly but obviously i’m a little older and not getting those kind of results anymore but anyway after you know eventually the human body hits a point where you just can’t get much bigger right like you’re kind of at your limits there and i was like i would not if i was to take steroids i would not be taking them to [ _ ] get high i’m not taking them to change the way i feel i’m taking them because i want to increase my performance in the gym same way i take creatine same way i take protein right it’s like a supplement yeah and i just couldn’t understand and then and i never got around to doing it like there was a lot of reasons why i don’t right i already had some anger didn’t want to be one of those like wrestler guy stories where they take out their family or something that’s awful um but i i did really i’d get annoyed at the people who say it’s a relapse and i’m like for [ _ ] what like i i would be taking it to change my physical appearance change my physical abilities not to get high i don’t know and so this is the one that really bothered me right so a guy comes into recovery wants to you know feel better about himself look better on the outside i i know that’s not all the way to do it but that’s what he wants right then right takes steroids gets in the gym can’t say i’ve seen this be very successful for very long for many people either most of them do use again so kind of shooting myself in the foot but anyway he does this and he changes his physical appearance to to look better on the outside and possibly feel better right they say he’s using woman comes into recovery decides she wants to alter her external appearance goes and gets a tit job right takes literal pain medication in the healing process took actual drugs she didn’t use [ _ ] what that seems ass backwards so she can change her outside appearance take actual drugs during the healing process of the surgery that was completely unnecessary and she she’s still clean but a guy comes in to alter his outside appearance doesn’t take any actual opioids and he’s not clean and i’m baffled by that interpretation of error well yes i think we aren’t very educated on most of those issues as a as a society or as a fellowship i mean i’ve heard vaguely heard not dug in deep but uh some people talk about like why are steroids illegal in the first place like we should just let [ _ ] athletes who cares about a baseball player if he wants to take [ _ ] hgh and get jacked aren’t we watching it for this who gives a [ _ ] like they take all these other supplements they take all this other [ _ ] like what’s the difference you know when does it cross the line like all these other supplements and vitamins and all these other things like hgh is just a hormone like so i’ve heard all those you know discussions again i’ve never i mean i’ve thought briefly like yeah i want to be jacked i’m going to get some steroids and be jacked but then i’m just too lazy and like uh because i know you got to do the work to get there and then you got to do the work to maintain it and that does not interest me at all but yeah i’ve i’ve heard you know people say you know being on steroids is using i don’t know i’d have to like say i’d have to really dig it for me it would matter of like all right are you on a supplement that’s like really [ _ ] with your mind and mood if you are that’s really dangerous and you need to stop you know how would you ever know if you never took them though well i mean just like research why like i would look into like the effects of this medication like you can look up the effects of how heroin affects most people and get a general idea of how it affects people have you ever talked to people who used to take suboxone and don’t anymore not i mean not specifically about it no i have because i it was the whole does it get you high or not because i had a sponsee who was on it and i wanted to know like is this [ _ ] them up or no half of them will say yes definitely gets you high sucks it’s not a good high but you definitely get high you feel it other half say nope never felt the [ _ ] thing i don’t know like yeah i know i’ve never taken it and and i got a half and half story here of like whether it actually gets you high or not and none of the people really have a reason to lie about it none of them were trying to count the clean time when they were on it or none of that they were just people who i just asked like so let me know like did you really feel it or no all right half say yeah half say no so how would you like i guess and i would think it’s probably the same with steroids like how would you know and even if it worked on your body one way how would you know for anybody else i don’t know i just wanted to make the point about the boob job versus the steroids i’ve been wanting to make that point for years and i appreciate you giving me the space to do it yeah i don’t know if it really fits definitely it definitely seems backwards yeah i agree sensibly i try to not make all these emotional these are emotional decisions people get to and i i believe it comes back to it’s [ _ ] hard to be abstinence all the time you know it’s hard there are times that i would love to go out and [ _ ] be able to say it’s okay to have a couple of beers and be this normal person that can use in some rational way and so i don’t i maintain my abstinence or close to it over my 20 years you know if you want to count the medication i took that was prescribed or not prescribed or whatever yeah sort of sort of yeah and but it’s hard and so we want it i don’t know specially noted how hard it is it deserves an extra credit because it’s [ _ ] hard the definitive answer about whether steroids is using is it depends on how big the guy on steroids is that’s asking you if he’s [ _ ] huge it’s definitely not using it no man you clean this up because he might bash your head in right right you look great you are super clean i could tell right cleaner than me yeah most cleaners uh i don’t know what else you got about pain medication anything uh no that was about it beautiful uh so look in all seriousness we do a lot of joking around if you’re in a situation where pain medicine seems like the thing that you need to do um be really careful include people in the decision making not totally but include them at least in the in the being honest about it right um don’t feel like you got to hide it be open and honest because even if in the long run you decide you don’t have the clean time or whatever because of how you took it it’s still i think you’re in a safer place to come back and be a part of the group if you’ve talked about it and been open and honest and just take it seriously it’s a scary thing even when it’s the right thing it’s still scary yeah definitely have people that you can talk to that will support you and love you in that decision-making process and and hopefully some people that understand addiction and your addiction you know so that they can guide you a little bit yeah awesome see y’all next week

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