Kicking Opiates After a Decade of Use

Life Beyond the Fray: Recovering From Four Years of Prescription Oxycontin by Valerie MacEwan, written the month of July in the year 2016, seven months after detoxing from opiates. The first in a series outlining my withdrawal from pain meds after being prescribed Vicodin, Tramadol, Oxycontin, Oxycodone for over ten years. How I did it. The Thomas Recipe and the betrayal of my pain clinic — and more. It’s going to take some time to write it all. I’ll publish it in bits.

My last appointment with Dr. Billy Smith’s pain clinic in Greenville, NC took place during the week before Thanksgiving, 2015. Dr. Smith handed me three boxes of Relistor, all labeled “Sample – Not for Sale”.

“Your insurance probably won’t pay for this but here are some samples and we’ll write a script, just in case you can get it. Since the Linzess isn’t working for you …”

I took the three boxes, along with the written scripts for Oxycontin 40 mg x 2 a day, Oxycodone 10mg as needed for breakthrough pain, and another script for Provigil 200mg x 1  day. My internist, Dr. Thomas Ellis, prescribed Lexapro some months earlier. (Each prescription drug discussed here will link to information about the drug through both the pharmaceutical industry and the online discussions about the medication.) Let me say first and foremost, I never abused pain killers. My recovery, my withdrawal, was not from overdoses or misuse. My drug use was always on the up-and-up. Pain clinics, pain contracts, no abuse — just doing my thing taking what was prescribed as it was prescribed.

Relistor. Methylnaltrexone bromide, subcutaneous injection. 12 mg./0.6 mL per syringe. That’s the medication in the boxes, the one my insurance company probably wouldn’t pay for because it hadn’t hit the mainstream oxycontin bowel effect circus of medicines yet. The latest in oxycontin “news” involved oxy’s affect on the intestines had just become available to patients by way of new advertisements on television.  Initially meant for patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the pharmaceutical company found a gold mine is constipated oxycontin users.

I’d tried Linzess, the first line of defense against oxycontin’s constipation. Why is this important? I mean, so gross a subject right here at the beginning of my story of how I kicked Oxy?

Relistor. Subcutaneous injection. That’s why constipation is important. Gross as it is.

Absorb the scene for a moment. Here I sat, on my bed, the week before Thanksgiving, with a syringe in my hand and I’d just pinched my stomach out enough to drive the syringe into my gut.

What the hell was going on? After over 10 years of Vicodin, Oxycodone and Oxycontin, my gut shut down. Linzess gave me raging diarrhea and dehydrated me. Now my only other option was to give myself an injection, a shot, in my stomach.

I was 60 years old at the time, just a few weeks shy of my 61st birthday. Planning to live at at least 80 (statistical possibility for sure), I glimpsed myself shooting up, in my gut, for 20 more years. Or what? What else was the Oxycontin going to shut down? It already rewrote my neural pathways, trying to subvert my pain into reasonable bits allowing me to function — or so I thought. It shut down my intestines. What was next? My liver? My kidneys?

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