Friday, October 29, 2010

The inconvenience of addiction

As I type up this blog post, it's 2:20 on a beautiful Friday afternoon, made even more beautiful by the fact that I took the day off of work. It would've been nice if my lovely wife and I could've gone out to lunch today or something. Instead, my wife is 30 miles away, with our son, sitting in his doctor's waiting room.

You see, in order to get his Suboxone prescription refilled, my son has to see this addiction specialist every other week. And although the doctor does take some appointments, they book up quickly and we usually miss out on getting one. So instead, my son has to be seen on a "walk-in" basis, which means really, really long waits. Sometimes three- or four-hour waits.

My son will be 21 in December, but he still doesn't have his driver's license. His life issues kind of got in the way of getting his license. As a result, we end up driving him to a lot of places: school, doctor's appointments, therapy appointments, meetings, etc. I don't even want to hazard a guess on how much time my wife and I (mostly my wife, bless her heart) have spent doing this over the last five years.

Yes, it would be great is my son could get to these places on his own, even without being able to drive. But the public transportation system around where we live is pretty awful. So for now, we'll keep playing chauffeur. And watching the minutes tick away on the clock. I'm just hoping the huge investment of time we've made pays off someday.

UPDATE: My wife and son got home at 5:00 PM. They were at the doctor's office for more than five hours. A few minutes before they got home, my other son and I got home from his therapy appointment. Thank God it's Friday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why are some people such assholes?

My kid went to an AA meeting tonight but came home early--and very upset--because an old-timer there accused him of being high and asked him to leave. Are you kidding me?! This pissed me off so much.

Addicts attending AA meetings is a very touchy subject with many AAers. Some AA members are "old school" and don't like or want addicts at their meetings. They want the addicts to go to NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings instead. "Alcohol might be a drug, but drugs aren't alcohol," some of them say.

While I can sort of see their point, I have to believe that alcoholics and addicts have more things in common than they don't. And AA and NA both use the same 12-step program. The fact of the matter is, there are very few NA meetings in decent neighborhoods in close proximity to where we live. So it's easier for my son--who doesn't drive--to attend AA meetings.

I would've hoped that someone in recovery would've been a bit more sympathetic towards another person in recovery, regardless of whether that other person was recovering from an addiction to beer or wine or vodka or Vicodin or marijuana. I guess I'm expecting too much of people, though. I guess some people are just assholes. Period.

For the record, my kid wasn't high. But the side effects from Suboxone can often times make a person look like they're high. Just another obstacle for a recovering addict to overcome.

Friday, October 22, 2010

WTF? (Part 2)

Today marked Day 7 of my son's Suboxone withdrawal. Unfortunately, Day 1 through Day 6 were pretty awful for him. Like I said earlier, it wasn't quite heroin withdrawal, but that doesn't mean it didn't suck real bad. Body aches, pains, fatigue, insomnia, sweating, dizziness, headaches, etc. You name the symptom and my kid probably had it. And there were no signs of any improvement.

Finally, last night, after seeing our son be miserable for almost a week, and after he missed a full week's worth of classes, we decided that we'd call the doctor's office today and ask if there was anything that could be done to ease the pain of the Suboxone withdrawal. When my wife called the doctor this morning, they told her to bring my son in.

The doctors at this particular office are addiction specialists, and today they were only accepting walk-ins. No appointments. So my wife and son made the trip out to the other side of town and waited to see the doctor. Unfortunately, the long wait they encountered forced us to have to miss a family session with my son's therapist late this afternoon. But what went down at the doctor's office was definitely interesting.

Today my son didn't see his usual doctor. (FYI, his usual doctor is the one that gave him the "stop smoking pot or lose the Suboxone" ultimatum.) He saw a different doctor, and this doctor was brutally honest about the Suboxone withdrawal. According to my wife, the "new" doctor said my son was weaned off the Suboxone too quickly, and that if he continued not taking it he would probably "be sick for a year." Of course, my reaction to hearing that was, "What the fuck?"

Evidently--and this is just speculation on my part--my son's usual doctor was trying to teach my kid a lesson by taking my kid off the Suboxone as quickly as he did. My kid didn't quit smoking pot, so Dr. Hardass figured he'd show him. OK, doc. You made your point. Thanks for fucking up my kid's world--and his family's--for a week. Now, can we move on?

The new doctor suggested that my son go back on the same Suboxone dosage. Then, after he stabilizes, the doctor will wean him off the drug at a much slower rate, which should limit the pain of withdrawal. Granted, the new doctor also told my son that he has to give up the pot smoking. And that he has to test clean very soon or risk losing the Suboxone again. But I think this doctor is a bit more sympathetic. At least I hope he is.

Let me stress that I totally understand the doctors' ultimate goal here: to get my son to stop smoking pot, which has been the gateway drug for him since he first started experimenting with drugs way back when. I certainly applaud that. But as a doctor, shouldn't your first concern be the health of your patient? You can't prescribe a drug to someone and then suddenly take it away as a punishment. A punishment that makes that person so physically ill that their whole like pretty much comes to a complete halt for a lengthy period of time. What sense does that make? Needless to say, I'm pretty pissed off at that first doctor.

So that's where things stand right now. My kid is back on Suboxone, and says he's committed to giving up the marijuana. Let's hope so. If not, the pain and misery of Suboxone withdrawal will re-visit his world again in the not-too-distant future. And that's something I don't want to be around to see.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A clarification

I want to clarify something: I love my kid. More than life itself. In fact, I've often said--probably at least once or twice somewhere in this blog--that I would give my own life in a heartbeat if it meant having my son "cured." So if anyone ever reads something here and thinks I don't love my son, they're dead wrong. Am I angry? Hell yes, I'm angry. I'm also disappointed, terrified, worried, sad, frustrated, exhausted, emotionally drained, and a whole lot of other adjectives. But that doesn't mean I don't love my son. Loving someone doesn't mean you can't feel all those other things in connection with that person. And I do. Lord knows, I do.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


My wife and I certainly didn't sign up for the situation we're in. But there's really not much we can do about it. There's no magic wand, no time machine (hot tub or otherwise), no special pill to make everything better. I wish there was, but there isn't. We just try to make through life one day at a time. This weekend has been a bit of a challenge, though.

Friday night, right before dinner, our son tells us that he owes money to the guy he buys his pot from. That the guy gave him pot the last couple/few times "on credit," and that Friday was the day the money was due. Fuck. The last time this happened was a couple of years ago when our kid owed his heroin dealer money. I must say, it's kind of surreal when your kid drops this kind of news on you.

So my wife and I had no idea what to do. Give our son the money so he can pay the guy? Don't give him the money and risk trouble for him (or us...or both) because the guy gets pissed off? And, of course, there's the wondering if our kid really did owe the guy money, or if he was just making up that story so he could get money out of us and go buy more pot (or whatever). I can't tell you how sad, disappointed, and angry I was. I took Friday off of work because I really felt a need to de-stress. And then, right before dinner, this shit hits the fan.

To top it all off, our son is pretty much going through withdrawal because he's stopped taking Suboxone, the opiate "substitute" he's been taking for the last couple years. His addiction specialist wouldn't refill the prescription for Suboxone. Why? Because our kid is still getting high by smoking pot. That was the ultimatum from the doctor: Stop smoking pot or lose the Suboxone. Well, he didn't stop using pot, so the doctor cut down his dosage of Suboxone and then finally stopped it altogether. I don't know what this will do to my kid. He was sick all day yesterday. It's not as bad as when he kicked heroin, but it's no fun.

So that's how the weekend has gone so far. Such is being the parent of an addict. Oh, and by the way... We gave our kid the money. And he supposedly went and paid the guy. But who really knows? We told him he'll be drug tested in a month, and if he tests positive for anything...Well, then he's in for some heavy duty shit. Assuming my wife and I don't wimp out again.

It's incredibly hard having a person who suffers from addiction in your life. It's about a million times harder when that person is your kid.

Monday, October 11, 2010

20 years smoke free

Today marks exactly 20 years since I quit smoking for the final time. It was at 11:40 a.m. on October 11, 1990--7,305 days ago--that I had my final cigarette. I was 29 years old and had been smoking for about 15 years. I had quit a few times before, but those nasty cigarettes succeeded in luring me back each time. But October 11, 1990, was different.

I had gone to the doctor that morning because I had a cold. The doctor looked in my throat and asked me if I smoked. "Yes," I answered. He responded with, "Quit. Now. Not tomorrow, not a week from now. Now." That doctor's directive, coupled with the fact that my first-born son was 10 months old and starting to watch the things I did very carefully, was exactly what I needed to quit for good.

I left the doctor's office, went back to my office, went into the men's room, and lit a cigarette. "This," I told myself, "is my last cigarette." And that was it. Not once in the 7,305 days since then have I touched a cigarette. From somewhere within, I mustered up all the willpower I could imagine and stayed a non-smoker.

Quitting smoking is one of the accomplishments in my life that I'm most proud of. That might sound a bit hokey, but smoking is one of the hardest things in the world to quit. Nicotine puts its grip on you and doesn't let go. Even now, 20 years later, I still get cravings for cigarettes. But I will never ever give in to them. Smoking is a dangerous, nasty, dirty, expensive habit that I'm glad to be rid of.

Ironically, my oldest son, who was a big part of the inspiration for me quitting cigarettes, is a smoker. I hope and pray every day that he will see the light someday soon and join me as an ex-smoker.