Let’s give a warm, sunshiny welcome to Rose Lockinger. Rose is a true inspiration. She continues to win the daily battle against addiction as she puts the painful experiences of her past to good use. Rose has become a passionate advocate of the recovery community who uses blogging and social media to raise awareness, not only about the disease of addiction, but also about treatment options now available to those seeking help. I’m so thankful that she’s generously offered to share her story of recovery with us here! Be sure to show her love, comment and share! Her words will help many people.
by Rose Lockinger
I am an addict. This is something that I knew early on. However knowing and accepting are two very different things. Fortunately, I am an addict in recovery. For me, this means that I live a life free from addiction of any kind. I am a mom, I have a job, and a life with highs and lows just like anyone else. Thankfully, as a result of treatment and a self-help program, I have the tools and awareness to live free from addiction.
My drug of choice was prescription painkillers. Actually, I think “drug of choice” is a poor term for my relationship with painkillers. I fell in love the first time I took one. I distinctly remember the euphoria and ecstasy that flooded through my body. Initially it was more of an occasional use but I always came up with a medical reason for why it was necessary. Towards the end of my use it was no longer a choice. I needed to take painkillers to function, to be able to get up in the morning and do my job, to be a mom, to perform basic tasks. I couldn’t even take a shower or eat without them.
It didn’t start this way, of course. I actually started out with an eating disorder. That quickly escalated to the point that within the first year I was hospitalized. I never thought that 16 years later I would end up in treatment for substance abuse.
I always enjoyed drinking, and occasionally used recreational drugs although by 18, pot was a daily habit for me. However, because it was just pot, I didn’t think it was a problem. That changed as I began to have consequences for my use. My life was beginning to unravel slowly but surely.
Painkillers: The Beginning Of The End
I was prescribed Vicodin and Tramadol to help me cope with pain from chronic migraines and Fibromyalgia. The medication worked for the pain as it was supposed to, and in the beginning I took it as directed. I broke my tailbone with the birth of my second child and was prescribed Percocet for the pain. This was the beginning of the end.
Initially, I took only what the bottle said, but over time I began doubling up on doses. I got a rush and a high that I loved, I felt at peace and my stress disappeared in the beginning, that is.
To make a long story short, my painkiller use quickly escalated and the doctor I saw for pain management began to notice I would always call in my request earlier and earlier. It was not until I went to treatment that I understood that the reason I felt so awful when I ran out was because I was going through withdrawal. When I had gone through my prescription I would supplement with alcohol to get me by. At the end, every time I called in the refill request, I was secretly hoping that this would be the time my doctor would say no and refuse the request. Unfortunately he never did, although he would ask me to come in and examine me. I usually was in a lot of pain because I was withdrawing so acting like I needed them wasn’t really hard.
Eventually, my family confronted me. I was so relieved when they did, I finally had another reason to seek help.
Fighting To Get My Life Back
Initially, I tried to stop using on my own. It was suggested that I go to 12 step meetings and I vigilantly did every day for six months. It was suggested I get a sponsor and I did.
Trying to detox from opiate painkillers on your own is a horrifying experience. I wanted to tough it out and do it, unfortunately no matter how much I wanted to stop I couldn’t do it. Living without them was worse than with them. I was a mess on painkillers but without them I was completely miserable. This misery and my inability to maintain any length of sobriety finally brought me to my knees.
Getting Help In Treatment
I was lucky that the first treatment center I called accepted my insurance. I made the call at 9 a.m. and was on my way there by 5 p.m. First, I went through a medical detox process. Medication was dispensed to allow me to detox more gradually and with less trauma. The initial detox only takes a few days, but the reality is that the detox process takes much longer than that. Getting your body and mind back to “baseline” takes time. After 30 days they informed me my insurance deemed me able to go back home. I was hysterical, telling them I was not ready, that I would just go back to using if I had to go home. I was terrified of having to face life right now and I knew I wasn’t ready.
Luckily they were able to find a treatment center in Florida that would accept me with no copays. By God’s grace I was allowed to stay there for 5 months in a Partial Hospitalization Program. The owner even scholarshipped me the last two months when my insurance refused to cover anymore treatment. I was able to complete 6 months of inpatient treatment and this is a gift I am forever grateful for. It gave me a fighting chance. I was physically healthy and my brain was slowly healing. Emotionally I still had a lot of work left.
This, in my opinion, is why so many people aren’t successful when they detox cold turkey or go through extremely short-term detox programs. You can’t just overcome addiction after a couple of weeks of detoxes and meetings. You need longer-term support from professionals in the addiction recovery field.
The first month or two I was miserable. I had no energy, I was depressed and lethargic. I had panic attacks and I felt as though I was walking around in a fog. Had I been at home, I would have relapsed.
During my treatment, I learned a lot about myself, addiction and the way opiates work. I received counseling and learned some useful tools that help me cope with my anxiety. Mostly, I was given the gift of time to heal.
After I got out, the real work began. Living in a halfway house is challenging to say the least, thankfully I had built a healthy support system and survived. After six months, I moved into my own apartment and completed intensive outpatient treatment. I continue with individual therapy today and am close to completing my 12-step program.
I believe there is a tremendous amount of value in 12-step programs. It provides me with support and a sense of community that was missing in my life before. It gives me an opportunity to be of service to other people who are struggling and I believe that it helps keep me clean and sober. Through daily practice I have developed a personal relationship with a higher power that is unique and individual to me.
Today, I can say that for the first time in my life I am truly happy, but it goes deeper than this. Today I am at peace, I am comfortable in my own skin. Something I never dreamed was possible. The best gift sobriety has given me is the opportunity to be present for myself and those I love. I have been out of treatment for some time now, and I continue to maintain an abstinence-based program of recovery and regularly attend 12-step meetings. However, I don’t think that I would have been able to achieve sobriety without the help of a long-term program.
The pull of painkiller addiction is incredibly strong. Opiate addiction is something that millions of people are simply not able to overcome. People are dying every single day. Something different needs to happen. Too many people are spending their lives tied to a maintenance program because they are unable to break away from opiate use.
Again, 12-step programs are an amazing tool, and provide a great deal of support for people who struggle with substance abuse. Short-term detoxes and “spin dry” rehabs may work for some people, but the statistics speak for themselves. Relapse rates are ridiculously high, with many people resuming their drug use within days of leaving detox or treatment. Studies also show that the longer people remain in treatment the better the long-term outcome. When you add some type of aftercare to that, along with the support and fellowship of 12-step programs, you have hope. By the time your average opiate addict finally seeks help, he or she has often been using for years. A 10-day detox isn’t going to fix that. Neither are a couple of meetings. Medical care, combined with intensive, behavioral therapy seems to produce the best outcome.
——- Rose Lockinger
Rose is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children, she has learned that parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Rose is currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.