I am an alcoholic. I came to that conclusion really years before I admitted it and stopped drinking. I may not have drunk alcohol for a little over 12 years now but I’m still an alcoholic and I’ll always be an alcoholic. That is my position on it – particularly after my last year or so of drinking which had periods of respite but then when I started to drink “normally” (It never was normal frankly … ever!) soon it was back, way off the scale, as bad if not worse than ever before. The simple premise behind the AA programme that the first drink is the one that gets you drunk allows me a simple way to deal with my addiction. Don’t drink, I don’t then crave the next and the next and the next and therefore I don’t get drunk. Simple.
If only it were that easy. My drug of choice was alcohol, it did the trick for me in numbing me from emotions, fuelled my delusions and allowed me to abdicate my responsibilities to myself, my life, my family, my friends, my career etc. But having listened to all sorts of addicts talk about why they used whatever mind altering substance they chose I relate to it all, apart from the drug of choice. I’m an addict who chose alcohol.
For me this was drilled in my earliest recovery at a 12 step rehab with people with a plethora of first choice addictions. We did some complicated questionnaires whilst I was there. From this it was shown that alcohol was my number one issue with addiction (no shit Sherlock!) but also food was up there, I food binge when stressed or alone I know, there were others. However for me drugs were never much of a feature in my life or in my addiction.
But I now know that I’m an addict and am very wary of my clever addict brain finding a way to trick me back into active alcoholism of something else. Exile of Pain Street asked me about this in my current recuperation from my operation. The answer is Yes I am wary, very wary. Perhaps too much so. Here’s my experience in recovery.
You’ll be aware if you’re a regular/long term reader that I’ve suffered with tinnitus and vertigo problems for ages, since shortly after I got sober. There is a good chance I suffered before with the vertigo but never noticed just blaming it on the booze! Anyway. First diagnosis was Migraine Associated Vertigo and I was prescribed a combination medicine with paracetamol, codeine and something to help the nausea of the vertigo. Codeine. I’d heard about that from many alcoholics in recovery about how as a prescription medication that became their new love, Achilles heel. etc. It is an opiate, in the body it is converted to morphine… so essentially has the same effect as heroine.
The box had loads of warning about not using for more than so many days at a time. I was worried. Petrified actually! I avoided taking it at all. That was considered dumb by some of the doctors. So I tried again using it only as prescribed. I’ll be frank here I only took it when I was feeling somewhat spaced out in an attack anyway but realistically for me it didn’t seem to do very much. I’ve taken it sparingly for that condition over the last decade with no need to worry about it. I can happily not take it for months and months then just for a couple of days. However with the new diagnosis of Ménière’s Disease that isn’t considered an effective treatment anyway.
Up to date. I come around from my operation last week. I felt bloody awful. I had a memory of being violently sick which the nurse confirmed. Was I in pain? Well yes but not the worst I’ve ever know at all. They rigged up an IV of a paracetamol solution. After an hour or so on the recovery ward they transferred me to a ward for overnight care, removing the iv before doing so. On the ward they asked again and checked my notes. They asked if I wanted paracetamol or codeine. I went for paracetamol.
I was on a ward with a bunch of generally younger guys, most in 20s/30s. They all asked for oral morphine. One was refused as the prescription on his notes had run out. He was offered codeine instead until he saw a doctor in the morning. A while later they are waking me up, wanting me on my feet moving and going to the toilet. The question of more pain relief was asked as I winced getting back on the bed. I said paracetamol refusing the oral morphine. The nurse took my notes with her. She returned with tablets and water. She asked again if I didn’t want the morphine. I declined. She said this was codeine and that she’d monitor my use carefully. She slipped my notes back in the holder at the foot of the bed and asked or more stated really “Alcoholic?” I nodded. “Don’t be too brave. Take the medication”. I have to say I was impressed. I know I always tell medical folks when they ask. It clearly is in my notes then and someone can put two and two together.
I was discharged with some codeine, enough for about a week. I’ve taken the lower dose as instructed and tomorrow a week after the op I’ll stop.
Sorry Exile a long ramble from me (as ever!) but this is like a bunch of things for me in recovery a topic I have to be cognizant of at times like this, always vigilant about and honest about to myself, my family, my friends and to medical professionals.