In order to overcome your addiction to painkillers or opiate based medications you are probably going to have to the following things.
First, you need to admit to yourself fully that you have a serious problem, and that you cannot fix this problem by yourself. If you question this then you should, of course, simply quit by yourself and move on with your life. If you are finding that impossible to do then that should bring you back to the original problem: You need help and you cannot solve your own problem.
After trying for weeks, months, or even years to self regulate and control your opiate intake, at some point you will want to recognize that you are fighting a losing battle.
And it is a losing battle. Tolerance will adjust for the true opiate addict to the point that they are constantly increasing their dose while getting less and less of the effect that they truly want.
The fantasy in the mind of the addict is that if they only had enough opiates supplied to them, and if the rest of the obstacles in their life would just magically disappear, then they could finally be happy while continuing to self medicate. What they fail to realize is that many of their problems in life are a result of the addiction itself, and that getting high doesn’t really make them happy.
Getting high on opiates may give instant pleasure, but that is not the same thing as deriving real happiness. The idea that drugs could make you happy is false, because the instant pleasure is always going to fade at some point and you will be left “unhappy.” Taking more and more of the drug can fix this temporarily, but at some point you have to return to baseline.
In other words, if you get “high” on opiate pills for one day out of every month, that is likely to feel pleasurable to you because the other 29 days you are just “normal.” But if you abuse opiates every single day, then getting “high” just becomes your new normal, and there is nothing special about it any more. It is no longer a party, nor is it even a reward any more. It stops being fun because you do it every day just to avoid feeling sick. The party is over.
We stay stuck in denial when are telling ourselves that we have to live this way, that we have to keep medicating with opiates in order to function in life, and that this is the only way that we can ever really be “happy.” That is denial.
The truth is, any opiate addict can go to treatment and figure out how to live a clean and sober life just by surrendering and following a recovery program. Sound simple? It is fairly straightforward, and thus we could call it simple. But it is by no means easy to pull off. The problem is much more than just acute opiate withdrawal trying to suck us back into our addictive behaviors.
If the opiate addict surrenders and goes into rehab, they will likely help the person get through the pain and discomfort of withdrawal by giving them certain medications. If you have access to this path then I strongly urge you to ask for help, go to rehab, and go through a medical detox. This is the scary part, at least initially–getting through the physical withdrawal symptoms that make people feel as if they have the flu.
But once you get through the initial withdrawal symptoms, you have the rest of your life to deal with. And the opiate addict will quickly realize that they were not only medicating their physical pain when they abused opiates, but they were in fact also medicating their emotional pain.
And everyone has emotional pain. Some of us more than others, sure. But everyone deals with some amount of stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, and so on. We all have our share of negative emotions.
And if you abuse opiates for a period of time, what you are really doing is medicating those negative emotions in a way that you do not really have to deal with them and process them like “normal” people do. Instead, when you are feeling sad or mad or whatever the negativity may be for you at the time, you simply self medicate with opiates and you numb that particular form of emotional discomfort.
And therefore, when the struggling opiate addict finally decides to get clean, they are suddenly overwhelmed in those early days of their recovery by the weight of negative emotions crashing down on them.
This is the case whether or not anything particularly bad is happening. Life has ups and downs, and every day has at least a tiny bit of “drama” to deal with. The opiate addict is used to medicating all of those unwanted feelings away, and suddenly they have to relearn how to process those emotions and deal with them in a responsible way. It’s tough.
But even though it is difficult, it can certainly be done. And you will have help. If you choose to go to a rehab center, you will have quite a bit of help. Not only will they help you through the physical withdrawal symptoms, they will also help you to start learning how you can deal with stress, anxiety, and negative emotions without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
You will also get a lot of support from your peers–the people in rehab along side of you that are all trying to achieve the same goal of recovery, just as you are. This kind of kinship can be especially powerful in early recovery because it also allows you to identify with other people. We need other people in early recovery. It is important to realize, and accept, that we cannot do it alone. The true addict needs help in order to recover successfully.
Now you may be worrying about what is going to happen in your world when you are clean and sober and living your day to day life after rehab. You may be worrying about how exactly you will manage physical pain in the future. I can assure you that this is not an impossible obstacle, and that many addicts with very serious chronic pain conditions have been able to recover from opiate addiction without living in constant pain and misery. But in order to reach that ideal you have to be open minded. If you want to stay stuck in denial then it is easy to argue that your pain is impossible to manage without opiates and therefore you just need to keep yourself stuck in addiction forever–but this doesn’t really serve you well, nor is it the truth.
The truth is that an opiate addiction is a losing battle anyway, and the way out involves going to treatment, getting professional help, and then exploring your options for pain management with a team that includes your doctor as well as a substance abuse therapy team. In that way you can find a solution that allows you to live a life of freedom from chemicals.
In short–go to rehab if you want to start your journey to a life of freedom from painkillers. That is the best step that you could take in order to begin the journey to recovery.