Wednesday, November 18, 2009

addiction, brain chemistry, connections, and substances (unrefined thoughts)


This has been an alien 24 hour period for me. I really have not experienced anything so overpowering and dark in a long time. It was terrifying, but is slowly evolving into empowering.

I am highly aware that meth has long term effects on people. I experience what I can describe as awakenings.  Its sudden "aha" moments where something seems to reconnect. At the height of my meth use, when it was still fun and manageable, I had incredibly heightened self awareness. I had impenetrable self esteem.  I have learned in my recovery that the likes of Hitler as well as the psychologist, Sigmund Freud were meth amphetamine addicts. Its probably a good thing I didn't posses that information when I was actively using, or it would have given me cause to further justify how meth was going to help me realize my mental capabilities. (Euphoria is powerful, and the general effects of meth tend to make you believe that it is helping you, initially anyway- you stop running out of justifiable reasons when the high permanently goes away.)

My mental capacity slowly began to diminish. I never shot up and I never got paranoid or delusional. I spent all my time and money chasing those euphoric times where I was the grandiose star player in my new high game. Instead, I became underweight, malnourished, and sleep deprived. I really felt like I could feel myself internally and mentally disconnecting. I'd stay up STRAIGHT for upwards of 2 weeks, only taking 8 or so hours to sleep and start all over again. There was one time that my kids almost called an ambulance becasue my "tweaker coma" was so severe that I was unresponsive and barely breathing. Maybe my body was seeking eternal rest.

I was completely unaware of any mania or depression. It was just high or coming down. That seemed so much simpler. I have to work for my emotions being bipolar. Abusing meth was simply: I had it and I felt ok or I didn't and I felt like dying. Totally under my control, no work, no thoughts.

Fear, desperation, lack of hope, isolation... only drove me to want to make them go away- hence why people use again and again. I quit using in an instant. The instant my children were taken away. There were no ifs and or anythings. That was one price I was NOT going to pay.

I found myself in what a lot of people consider a dark place. In jail, withdrawing, separated for the first time in my life from my children, broke, and homeless. (jail was home for 7 days followed by literal homelessness) Amazingly for me, it was the first peace and light I had seen in months. It was so emotionally and physically painful at times, but it was REAL, it didn't cost anything, and it was the first time I had really seen light in months. Learning to take the bus was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. (can you see how I was enabled in the past?)

I immediately realized that I did not have the same mental function as I did before. Beautiful words and phrases seemed to have been kicked out of my vocabulary for more common ones of that time. I had a cheat sheet in my pocket of weights and prices of meth so that I would not get "burned" and soon I could easily tell you what "10 cents" or and "8 ball" or a "teener" were. My list of professionals included a lawyer and a bondsman, and my dealer. Who needed a Dr. or a dentist? I still feel the effects of that lost beauty and search hard for my words.

Obviously it has been a long road since those times, but I still feel like I am not fully reconnected. The urge to use has long been gone, but the damage done is still being repaired.When you forget to water a plant, parts of it die. When you remember again and you try and try and try to undo the harm you have caused, some parts just never come back. New parts grow, and the plant lives on. You have to let go of the dead parts so they do not suffocate the new growth.

I decided to look up the effects of oxycontin. As I have said, opiates have never been something I have used or know anything about. I do however remember what the chemical parts of addiction and withdrawal felt like. It was not a connection I appreciated having so recently. Especially since I wasn't breaking any rules or abusing a substance. It was given to me, easy as candy, in an ER.

According to several online sources, oxycontin can produce withdrawals as quickly as 6 hours and that last upwards of 7 days and are very similar to heroin withdrawal. I cannot say I blame my feelings of the last 24 hours on the oxyconyin exclusively, but I do feel like it must have been a contributing factor.

I think it was comparable to a plant being neglected for a very short period of time. The leaves begin to wilt; fear of past damage surfaces. The plant is watered and cared for, and it quickly bounces back and resumes a healthy growth pattern; fear subsides and life goes on.

I feel empowered by this experience. In all reality, had opiates been my substance of choice, I think this would have been equal to what relapse feels like. I realize how much stronger I am and how much I enjoy and desire a clear picture in my life.

I also feel a sense of rage that substances like that are legal and prescribed, often without a clear patient history of risk.

I cannot express the gratitude I have for the community and support I find here. I haven't been able to express anything at all related to my drug use other than on this blog and to Bryson. It was a lonely recovery for us. I feel safe and supported here and it is new and enjoyable. I feel lasting connections and look forward to future growth.


  1. Oh my how this post reached out and just grabbed me. For someone who feels she has lost the words, you sure can write a beautiful and touching description of the grip of addiction and the light of recovery. Thank you for sharing your heart here. And yes, it is quite a shame that oxy is so easily prescribed:(

  2. I LOVE your plant analogy. It makes so much sense to me. I'm so glad you are growing and learning from this experience. Addiction is hell - but we learn to appreciate some things that I honestly think a lot of people miss out on.
    Take care of yourself hun.

  3. Shawna, I know that you see a difference in your strength to connect and think, but the beauty of this is the POWER of your spirit and a higher power within you. THAT IS THE BEAUTY!!!

    I am so thankful you started blogging and you feel that you can share with us your experiences. I have not experienced addiction myself as I have said many times, but I watched my Mother go through the most awful time of addiction when she was 48 and it is SAD. It was and is one of the darkest places of my life, I can only imagine how dark it was for her.

    I can say though, that you are reaching out to a place that goes beyond where a lot of people will take themselves.

    I went back not to long ago and read some of your first is amazing to see what the act and consistency of the writing is doing for your soul and then transference to us. heart is with you. I don't understand how God connects people I just know he has and I believe in it and I am WITH YOU and supporting you.

  4. hey girl, I'm passing an award on to you. It's posted on my blog =)

  5. I can relate to this to some degree. Addiction isn't pretty in the long run that's for sure. I've lost count now on how many relationships it's ruined for me, among other things. It's awesome though, that you have recognized this and are making better choices in your life now. (:


  6. Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this post. It was
    practical. Keep on posting!