When I was diagnosed with a rare kind of brain cancer, I thought my world was over. And, in a way, it was. The life that I had known quickly slipped by the wayside as doctors subjected my body to a myriad of tests, a surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. In the end, I was a cancer survivor. But, along the way, I’d picked up a nasty habit. If the tumor wasn’t going to kill me, then there was a good possibility that my reliance on oxycontin was.
They’d started giving me oxycontin so I could cope with the pain, but it wasn’t long before I relied on it for everything. It became my “safe place” during a time of uncertainty. After I’d worn out my welcome with doctors, being listed as a person who was most likely addicted to oxycontin, I had to turn to other methods in order to stay high. One of my so-called friends suggested heroin, which was much cheaper than buying oxycontin pills on the black market.
I loved the way heroin made me feel at first. But there’s really no way to be a functioning heroin addict. My family saved me, pulling me back from the second major abyss I’d faced in my life. The detox was terrible, probably as difficult as my cancer treatment was. But it was still better than staying on heroin. I knew that I had to make a change, enter an addiction rehab facility or I would die soon. The second you begin using heroin, it starts to weave its evil brand of black magic around you.
Detox saved me. Rehab saved me. Talking to others like me saved me from an uncertain fate. Once I was in rehab, I learned just how common my predicament was. So many people start legitimately using prescription painkillers and then turn to this seductive, life-stealing drug when their options run out.
It wasn’t until I experienced detox that I understood what a hold this drug had on me, both physically and mentally. There’s no way to drop it cold turkey—going to detox first then entering drug rehab is truly the only answer when you’re up against an enemy this big. I wish that my doctor had never given me prescription painkillers in the first place. The simple fact of the matter is that some of us are just more susceptible and resourceful than others when it comes to taking these pills.
I just don’t understand how some people can take oxycontin for a few weeks and then be fine. The minute I started taking it, I was in a death spiral. By some miracle—and with the help of rehab—I was able to stop using. But I’m afraid for others, and I’m afraid for the future.