Home > All things MAT > Methadone doesn’t define me-does bitterness define you?

Methadone doesn’t define me-does bitterness define you?

I have been thinking a lot lately about my advocacy efforts.  First, let me say that what I am about to write is not a direct representation of what  Advocates for Recovery through Medicine is “about”.  This is just a personal post about why I do what I do.

About a week ago I was attempting to talk to a mother of an addict on another blog who had  written that she wished her junkie daughter would just “go get hit by a bus already, and do us all a favor”.  It broke my HEART to read this, as I tried to picture her daughter (who is now doing well on methadone) someday coming across this blog and reading it.

During my attempts to talk to this woman (because the thought of a woman being so cold and callous about her own flesh and blood STILL gives me the creeps and makes me cry for all of us) she posted not to bother to talk to me, because “ARM-ME is all about methadone. She thinks it’s a miracle drug!”–(or something along those lines.  Actually, she called me he/she because she doesn’t know what I really am–but that is a post for another time!)

So I am looking around this blog today and I am thinking–yep, she’s right. It looks like I am all about methadone, but that’s only if you think of ARM-ME as a person! This is a blog for an organization in Maine. This blog IS all about methadone and Suboxone (and any other medications that treat addiction)…..but I, me, little ole Kristan, is NOT all about methadone.

What am I really all about?  Why do I help with this organization  even though I have been in recovery for almost five years, have a career, an honor role student teenage daughter, my own house and people who love me NO MATTER THAT I AM A JUNKIE? Why am I working for this organization that is all about “methadone” ? As though it was an insult, not a testament to how much faith I have in the future of addiction treatment?

Methadone is a treatment.  It’s an inanimate substance that has only one purpose in my life-to quell my addiction beast so that I can live as normal a life as possible with this illness.  I neither love nor hate it. I LOVE Oxycontin and heroin (and other opiates) in a way that that is un-natural, tainted and all consuming. I am grateful for methadone, but if some other drug worked as well I would just as soon switch.  I have no false allegiance to methadone, as I do with opiates that actually make me high….I wish I wasn’t an addict, but since I am, I am damn lucky that there is a treatment that works so well for me.  Methadone is not perfect, no treatment for ANY disease IS…if there was such a treatment than people wouldn’t mind having diseases!

See, I got LUCKY.  I was a very functional addict, up until the bitter end.  There are lots of us, although the mom [who writes the blog I spoke of before] thinks that just calling someone a “junkie” tells you ALL you need to know about them.  Like the term junkie is synonymous with terms like: low life, thief, slug or degenerate. As if all one has to do is call someone an addict to tell you everything you need to know about them. Wow, is THAT naive or what?

I got through college (as an adult with a child and a job, no less) during the HEIGHT of my active addiction. During college I worked WORKED as an office manager of a traditional addiction treatment center– I used  (and eventually abused) illicit (and licit) drugs the entire 7 years I worked there. I was so good at hiding it that when I finally DID get caught people were IN shock. To this DAY people say to me “OH you must have been one of those poor people who got hooked because you got some pain pills from some evil (aka “caring”) doctor!”  HA! If they only knew that the real me was buying pills, heroin and cocaine long before I realized a doctor could supply my opiate habit…That I sold drugs to DO drugs.  That I didn’t do drugs quietly at home like the soccer mom down the street.  I did drugs in basements, in bathrooms at parties, hiding in closets or getting “junked” in the bathroom at Irving Mainway’s (a gas station) bathroom. I did drugs at work, at home and in the car. I stayed up for days and crashed for days.  I have been through so many hellish detoxes laying on my couch at home, that I honestly believe I have PTSD from it.  But I got caught  and my world ALMOST fell apart….but I got LUCKY because I found a treatment that didn’t require I reach some arbitrary wretched bottom.  All it required was that I be sick, and I was!

It’s easy for me to be all about “methadone”. I am like the cancer patient who was given 20more years to live because the doctors caught my cancer early and TREATED IT MEDICALLY.  I could have been LIKE the patient with cancer who goes to see all the WRONG doctors, gets all the WRONG treatments and is still sick and dying. I could have been the cancer patient who didn’t get the right treatment until it was too late. Methadone saved my life….and I don’t mean that just literally,  I also mean it saved me from having to live the “junkie” life that many opiate addicts eventually find themselves living because their families falsely believe if they hurt the addict enough, they will learn their lesson.  These addicts live to hustle for cash and drugs, without a thing to live for but those drugs.   I found methadone BEFORE I lost my world.  Before I had nothing to come back from that abyss for.

So while I do believe in methadone treatment, I am definitely NOT “all about methadone”. Neither methadone treatment or  addiction even remotely DEFINES who I am.   In fact, that is what is so WONDERFUL about methadone and Suboxone for many opiate addicts is that it gives us the freedom to care about other things. The only people I know that have to live and breath their  treatment are the folks that go to NA–because many of them HAVE to live and breath NA, AA  just to make it through each day without using.  No thanks!  I will take my dose in the morning and forget I am an addict for the day.

SO this is what I am REALLY all about:

-I want to help people to understand that addiction isn’t “using drugs”–its the CRAVING and pathological need to use drugs.  You can be very much in active addiction even if you are “clean”….and you can be very much in remission/recovery from addiction even if you need to use medications to keep it that way.  There is no choice about addiction; once your an addict there is no turning back.  It’s something you AND your family have to come to grips with-and then GET OVER IT ALREADY!

-I want to be a part of the FUTURE in addiction treatment.  I have been a part of the past.  I worked in traditional addiction treatment.  I watched as people with this illness spent a years salary to be “cured” only to find out that they were just as sick after rehab as they were when they went into rehab.  I want to be a part of CHANGING that.  I want to be a part of a future that treats addiction like it treats any other brain disorder….with medications, support and REAL MEDICAL TREATMENT….not with prayer, shame and guilt.

-I want to be a part of people getting BETTER…having LIVES….accepting their illness and not letting it stop them.  I want to see things CHANGE for the better…….and that, my friends, is what I AM all about.

Kristan H.

Director, Advocates for Recovery through Medicine-Maine Chapter

  1. Gina
    January 22, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Good post. Thank God for sites such as this one and http://www.addictiontreatment-helpline.com . If it wasn’t for these sites I might not have been able to help my son before it was too late. Keep up the good work.

  2. mrmichael
    January 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    The way I see it, patients who are maintained on either methadone or buprenorphine are going to be more stable than the average opioid addict new to treatment in a twelve step environment. I mean, even some of the not so new members (opioid addicts) of xa are going to be riding the white knuckle highway. If you were to look at it logically, one would be more nervous having jonesen xa members around their neighborhood than stable opioid maintained patients….if they actually stopped and seriously thought about it. And, I don’t believe having xa around is dangerous either. But, really. If so many people would just stop being led like sheep and actually start thinking for themselves, much of the stigma can be lifted and the number of active opioid addicts can go even further down.

  3. George Clarke
    January 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    It is a good question for us all.

    I am here because I think all approaces to recovery need to be honored for the good that they do and known when found lacking.

    For example, when I see a buprenorphine tribute that does not mention the 32 mg ceiling effect and/or that it is not just for detox, I ask them to be more truthfull. I ask them to not put down methadone maintenence because their patient may very weel have to go on methadone when buprenorphine just is not able to help them. I ask them to make a connection to a local methadone clinic. I ask for methadone clinics to do buprenorphine and I have recentluy asked for methadone clinics to be granted the same regulations that the approved MD’s are usinh in theit treatment. I ask for th Stigma af some 12 step groups against MAT to be changed. I ask for people in communites opposed to having a clinic to look at why they treat a clinic so different from the XA programs which are treating the same people.

  4. January 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks, M. I appreciate you taking the time to read it–I know it’s a long one!

  5. mrmichael
    January 11, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Excellent blog, Kristan. You put it all so perfectly.

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