Citation: Persistent. "Into Rehab and Lessons: An Experience with Opiates, Buprenorphine & AMT (exp37884)". Erowid.org. Mar 22, 2006. erowid.org/exp/37884
A few months ago, my journey through the world of psychoactive substances finally led me to an inpatient rehab. After years of responsible (well sort of) experimentation I finally fell into the hellish trap of opiate addiction. This was not brought on by recreational use. I was suffering from a severe dental abscess without recourse to expensive medical treatment.
I was living with my sister, who had been an opiate addict for some years. It was all too easy to slip into pain-killer addiction under such conditions. Having a heroin dealer living next door did not help. My sister constantly warned me of my dangerous position, but I was driven insane by pain and cared little for consequences, if the pain would just go away long enough for me to work and sleep.
After about 2 years of barely managing to survive with this monkey on my back growing into a baboon, then a chimp and finally a 500 lb gorilla, I was on the verge of total collapse. I was sick almost all the time, barely able to work to support my habit, and beginning to dabble in the typical male junky occupation of theft. I could tell that the end was approaching.
Luckily, one of the best rehabs in the country is located in my city and has a program allowing for free treatment if I survive the extended waiting period. During the week before being admitted, I was on 35 mg methadone plus $20 of heroin and 5-10 mg of a-MT per day. The day before admission I took my 35 mg methadone and 300 mg tramadol.
Now this rehab primarily uses buprenorphine for opiate withdrawal. Bupe is an unusual partial agonist opioid that can precipitate severe withdrawals if taken too soon after the last dose of a real opiate. So basically I had to wait until I was in full withdrawal to take the bupe. Generally this takes 6-12 hrs for heroin and 20-24 hrs for methadone. The tramadol, however, kept withdrawal at bay for over 36 hrs and I was able to make the transition to bupe without experiencing any withdrawals whatsoever.
In my opinion, buprenorphine is nothing short of a miracle drug. It completely eliminated my withdrawal symptoms, and due to its unique receptor binding profile and extremely long duration, there is no yo-yo effect typical of other opiates. By yo-yo effect, I mean the never ending cycle of high-sick-high-sick. I felt sober and stable, as if I were not even an opiate addict.
My month in rehab turned out to be one of the best in my life. The program was a balanced mix of spiritual and medical approaches. Weekly chi-gung classes and daily classes on a wide variety of recovery-related topics kept me busy and interested from 7 am to 9 pm. I met many fascinating people in rehab, and got to know some people I already knew better. Through meditation and chakra excercises, I was able to enter profound states of enhanced conciousness and had several very intense experiences of a transcendental/spiritual nature.
Unfortunately I was not able to stay as long as I needed to, and ended up walking out of there sick with no home, job or money. No follow-up meds, nothing, just see ya later if you survive. I managed to stay clean and sick until about the fifth or sixth day. The sickness and pain continued to increase until I just snapped and essentially just totally lost it. I entered a highly dissociated state in which I was barely aware of the pain, but was wandering the streets hallucinating, talking to hallucinatory friends and periodically losing conciousness entirely. Having no other choice, I opted to go back on methadone so I could function and work.
The first day back on methadone I took a 20mg dose of a-MT (a large dose for me) and met a similarly burnt-out, tripped-out temporarily clean junkie fresh out of jail and we hit it off. We went to an NA meeting, me tripping pretty good and that night we slept in a grove of trees on an empty field. Over the next couple months we lived together in a motel room provided by his PO, ate out of dumpsters and trash cans and slowly we both managed to get jobs and work our way towards a stable life. My new-found friend was a very bizarre and interesting person like myself and at first we seemed to share similar goals of achieving stability and going back to school. But opiate addiction is a tenacious disease, and before long we were both back in the thick of it.
My friend ended up having to flee the state because of his PO and I ended up living alternately with my sister and my mother. I now am working regularly and only shooting up occasionally and sporadically, so I guess I am somewhat better off than I was. I apologize for the rambling and brainless nature of this report but I hope it contains some info that may be useful or at least entertaining to someone.
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