Prescription Opiates Are Often Gateways to Heroin
If you’re a heroin user or recovering addict in the year 2018, you didn’t start out like people used to in decades past. You didn’t shoot up with those same drinking, smoking and partying friends, who eventually found their way to the next herculean high. It’s unlikely you ever smoked a blunt. Why would you? You probably started by experimenting with the gateways to heroin, prescription opioids, dispensed by a pharmacy. A doctor, with all of his top-shelf education, even wrote prescriptions for your first hits. And, don’t forget that the pharmaceutical manufacturers may also share some of the blame. After all, they allegedly got carried away with their promotional puffery–many states suspect as much. It was so suburban, so white collar. And, if your narrative bears any resemblance to any portion of this storyline, you’re not alone. More than 80 percent of today’s heroin users start out by using fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone or one of the other prescription opioids as their gateways to heroin.
You swore you’d never traverse the opioid-to-heroin chasm. But it happened. After all, it’s all pretty much morphine. And your addiction grew deeper and deeper. Every time you used, the heroin freed the dopamine cooped up in your brain, allowing it to gush with such plentiful serenity. The pain was gone, and the euphoria was lightyears beyond delicious.
And yet, here you are. Now you know the odds. You’ve heard about the thousands of overdose deaths each year. You’re surprised there aren’t more. There’s plenty of room for error in the whole ritual you observe before shooting up. After all, when you’re cold-sweat frantic, in a desperate panic for that rush, your mind’s too consumed with the lust to even consider double checking the math.
Yes, you’re considering rehab. Sure, everyone considers rehab. A lot of people try it once. Come to think of it, a lot of people attempt rehab two or three times. You’ve listened to the stories about withdrawal symptoms. With heroin it’s the worst; the experience may strip you of your sanity. You’ve heard about methadone, Suboxone, and naloxone, the medications doctors often prescribe to take the edge off the withdrawal symptoms. They call it a tapering strategy. But, then you’ll have to live to fight another day. A few weeks later, you’ll be stair-stepping down from one of these USDA-approved smack-derivatives to full sobriety.
Still, you know it’s time to face it. Bring on nausea, dry mouth, and vomiting. That stuff’s no big deal. It’s the utter terror of abandoning this substance that occupies your thoughts, even cocoons your very breath these days. The desperation of closing the vault on sweet serenity and filing for divorce against your most profound love. It’s depression that could re-write the book of Job.
But, the doctors know, don’t they? They have their ways of helping people through this, right? And the therapists know the perfect words to soothe you, strengthen you, even distract you. At least I hope they do.
They say it gets better. After you go through three days of purgatory, you rise from the abyss, a broken soul ready for restoration. There will be weeks of counseling, psychology and group therapy. There will even be recreational therapy. But, how can any ping pong, hiking, painting, gardening, skiing, skydiving, mountain biking, base jumping, running with the bulls or lottery winning ever displace the sensational sensationless? None of it ever can. Yet you know, this chapter must end lest the whole story evaporates. So, it’s not a perfect choice. You may not even find enough evidence to deem it a good choice. But, by a narrow margin, you begrudgingly settle for the sound alternative.