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Newbie --

I am 28 days clean from a vicodin addiction that lasted over two years. Even though it was "only" vicodin and not as strong as the percocet, I was taking as many as 18 pills per day and was completely terrified and miserable. Just like you, each time I got a prescription I would tell myself I would "do better" and wean myself off once and for all. Unfortunately, and there's no getting around this, the addiction is bigger than we are, and we need outside help in some form if we are to get clean. I believe your first step in helping yourself is to speak to someone, anyone, about what first steps you might take to overcome your addition. There are various options. You are not alone, you are not to blame, and you CAN get yourself well. Please don't feel it's hopeless. You do need to decide to take the first step toward recovery, however. From tiny steps come bigger ones, etc. It's not easy, but I have faith you can do it.

Here's what happened to me. About a month ago I went to my regular doctor (I had a few doctors prescribing the meds for me since one would never prescribe enough to support my habit) to tell him yet another b.s. story about how much my back hurt and how I needed another prescription. He started asking about the pain and I blurted out, "My problem is not my back pain. My problem is that I take too much vidodin."

The moment it came out of my mouth, I was overcome with panic that I'd blown my cover -- I couldn't believe how "stupid" I was for opening my mouth. After all, confessing meant the first step toward not taking pills, and that was terrifying. At the same time though, I felt the biggest sense of relief I'd felt in two years. He put me on a schedule of gradual tapering from the vicodin and encouraged me to tell my husband. Let me tell you, I was so frightened to tell my husband about my addiction. I assumed he would be furious and not understanding at all. I don't know your situation, of course, but I learned to my great relief that my spouse had much more room for understanding than I ever would have given him credit for. Anyway, it will be for you to decide whether to tell your spouse right away or not. Perhaps he already knows about the problem?? Anyway...

A friend who is a substance abuse therapist suggested that tapering is sometimes not the easiest way to go and he told me that there are doctors who specialize in helping you detox without checking in to a facility. Inpatient detox was not an option for me because I have young kids. I saw one of these doctors (I'll bet there's at least one in your area) and he was extremely compassionate. He also told me I had to stop the vicodin immediately and he gave me several prescriptions to get me through the withdrawal. One was a chlonodine patch, to combat cravings, anxiety and jitters. The other main prescription was pheno-barbital, which makes you kind of like a zombie but prevents intense withdrawal cravings. He also gave me a sleep aid, another prescription to prevent seizures (which can occur when one detoxes, although I believe it's rare), another for nausea/vomiting and another for diarrhea. I spent 3 days in a fog, but then I realized I didn't need as much of the medicine as prescribed, so with the doctor's approval I cut back on a lot of it. Within ten days I was over 95% of the physical withdrawal. I didn't even need most of the medicine -- I had them on hand "just in case."

The main point is that, after two years, I had overcome the physical withdrawal within less than two weeks. You can do it too -- I have faith in you because one short month ago I felt completely hopeless and now things are under control. I'm still taking it one day at a time -- it's not a piece of cake -- but anything beats the madness of addiction.

In addition to all of this "medical" stuff, I went to an AA meeting right after I confessed to my doctor, just so I could encounter others who had overcome addition. I was surprised and relieved to find many others who had had problems with narcotic pills, not just alcohol. I never though I'd wind up at one of these meetings -- it just wasn't "me", but it's one of the best things I've ever done. The environment is extremely supportive and understanding. You are not alone in your suffering and the people there will help you see this and help you if and when your cravings continue. You may or may not decide staying with their program is right for you -- I still don't know for myself but I'm exploring it -- but in the short-term I think you'll find it helpful. No one has to know you're attending the meeting.

I still have feelings -- psychological and emotional -- of wanting to take vicodin and I imagine it will take awhile for those feelings to go away completely, but I am in so much better a place than I was a month ago that I thought it was important for you to know my story. A month from now, you can be in a much different place than you're in now. I wish you all the best and I hope to learn about your progress.
- Bellgirl

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