In the UK the use of methadone is legitimised simply by the volume of individuals trapped in addiction and the limited resources of the healthcare service to meet demand.
The process begins to feel a little automated, or, like a factory-line approach, as local services struggle under the sheer numbers of people they’re dealing with.
It’s no different in the States or beyond.
The heroin epidemic has exploded as a result of legislative crackdowns on prescription medication, meaning that many users default to heroin in the absence of pain meds.
These are people with skills, intelligence, and in many cases, who have left behind functional lives with a spouse and children, as a result of being gripped by the addiction.
Most never intend to allow things to happen this way.
Maybe they’ve had an operation, and were prescribed too many pain meds, and withdrawals kicked in after leaving hospital.
Some have been involved in an accident which compromised them physically.
In many cases physicians don’t gradually reduce doses of pain medication after a procedure, it’s a cold and sudden withdrawal that leaves individuals looking for help from the pain.
It’s difficult to blame people for this. They didn’t ask for an accident to happen. They didn’t ask for very little medial attention to their case.
But they were left with chronic pain or severe withdrawal, without any recompense.
There’s only so long anyone can go in this level of pain before seeking substances to alleviate it.
We suffer from a chronic lack of resources, and lack of attention to ourselves, that exacerbates the likelihood of addiction occurring in the first place.
You’ve probably seen on Youtube the studies on rodents with heroin.
The short version – they give rats the choice of 2 forms of water – one has opiates in it. The conclusion is that the rats only seek the opiate-laced water when they are in pain. When all their needs are met, and they still have the choice of regular or opiate water, they choose the regular.
We saw the same thing in Vietnam (and all the wars tbh),. When soldiers are traumatised, isolated, and have no support, they will seek relief from the pain. It’s natural.
Nowadays, the ready availability of street alternatives to pain medication, make it all too easy to access and score and stay in addiction instead of taking responsibility and making the right choice.
If support were as easily available, and fully supported, would we have less addiction, and less need to rely on methadone as a substitute?
What’s even scarier is the additional bulking agents being added to street drugs now, that are actually more potent.
Case in point of course is fentanyl, and other synthetic opiates being added in to street drugs causing users to become even more addicted to higher potency opiates and leaving little chance for realistic recovery unsupported.
I consider myself lucky, that I was out of active addiction before this became the issue that it is today. Because it is causing catastrophic levels of death and destruction in the streets and neighbourhoods.
So how to resolve all this?
Well, the authorities have some problems to look at.
But let’s consider it at a personal level.
How does anyone every get out of addiction, whether it’s increasing methadone prescription levels, oxycodone, or anything else?
By taking responsibility, and getting help to do so.
Recovery nowadays translates into life change.
That means, a raw and stark look at the key areas where your life has to improve, and some emotionally difficult, yet essential, decisions that have to be made.
Now, no-one is saying that you have to do this alone.
Quite the opposite actually.
Those who are succeeding in recovery have done so by making dramatic changes in their lives, with the support of multiple other people and agencies.
We’re talking huge changes here that in themselves can involve trauma, that needs to be processed, e.g. moving home, cutting ties with enablers or dealers, finding employment that generates less revenue than you may be used to, gaining better living circumstances, and being willing to put the work into all of this.
As I’ve mentioned before, none of this needs ot be with a message of blame, or persecution.
We focus on responsibility a lot in recovery, and sometimes I feel too much – to the extent that it doesn’t help someone’s self-esteem – especially those just starting out.
It’s enough to understand your part in things, apologise to those you hurt, then take a health amount of responsibility, and move on with life.
And the steps will keep you on the right path with all of that.
Blatant and profuse self-blame will not help you.
You didn’t ask for methadone addiction. You didn’t ask for the circumstances that led to it. Everyone, without exception, would have chosen something different, if the option had felt like it was available.
But for a number of reasons, you’re at where you’re at. And that’s ok.
Beyond the initial methadone detox, it’s time to do the work. Take a look at your life. Understand that no-one else is responsible. Forgive yourself. Move on.
Do a thorough life analysis.
Document the addiction events of your life. Lay out on a timeline, all the relapses, all the benders, all the times you’ve went off on one, along with the triggers that made that happen.
It’s like taking an inventory. You’re writing down here, the event, and not how you felt about it, or anything else.
Now, alongside the events, add 2 columns – one labelled “what I gained from using” and “what I lost from using”.
Be honest with these. Some boxes might read ‘I gained a feeling of being powerful or important’ and others ‘I avoided having to do task X’.
Now, once you’re all done and up-to-date, look for the common threads among the reasons.
When you use, what battle are you trying to win? Whose approval are you seeking?
Look at the losses too – what are you trying to avoid? What aspects of life are you making every attempt, to not deal with?
Look for the common elements that run through all the events. Look at them without judgement.
We’re trying to get to the meaning behind your addictive behaviours here.
This takes some work, but this is where the gold is, believe me.
Once you know what pattern you’re stuck in, well it becomes much easier to cope with something, once you know what it is.
Then you can start looking at the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours, that drive the pattern. This is the classic behavioural therapy stuff that they teach consistently in an alcohol or drug treatment clinic.
Or you can pick out an event and de-energise the underlying event, by seeing it differently.
“I thought, at the time, I was avoiding responsibility by using, but I can see now I was actually accruing more”.
Try to get some insights and ways to interpret the original event, and the circumstances around it, differently.
Now you’re on the way 🙂