Prelude to where the heroin epidemic truly starts—>
So herein lies the problem where the heroin epidemic starts before the first pick up off the streets… it’s happening in our hospital rooms and doctor offices. So whether your youngster is in a sports injury, or has chronic migraines it’s no reason for their doctor to be prescribing narcotic painkillers as a FIX. It’s not a recycling station, “Let me fill your prescription to keep your mouth quiet, and mind fogged… NEXT!” This is where–for most–the heroin epidemic is starting. The heroin epidemic doesn’t start when the needle drops, it starts when the pen drops on that new age medicine prescription pad… In our doctor’s offices, pain clinics, and emergency rooms.
-Now… to my story, my beginning, my personal heroin epidemic.
For those of you who don’t know, Dilaudid is hydromorphone; in short… much stronger morphine). In fact, 4X stronger than morphine. I Was only 17 and started on an addicting drip of something comparable to an injectable 80mg tablet of Oxycodone, for a simple injury; a herniated lumbar disk.
I was only 17—almost 18—and I had graduated high school, out living on my own. I was your typical teenage binge drinker and pot smoker. I’d do the random doses of cocaine when others would bring it to my parties, followed by a cocktail of muscle relaxers and ecstasy. It’s sad to say that in some metropolitan areas that this is your “typical,” not normal, teenager. But, that’s me.
Today out of all days was another typical day. I mean, more typical than the others. I was more “normal” than typical. I had woken up around 11am, went outside in my boxers to the garage and smoked a bowl of resin. I was supposed to be feeling good from a previous day at the chiropractor, but I still felt out of whack. So, I continued to the shower with a beer to clear my head and the shit hit the fan.
I was showering and singing, drinking my beer while belting out some death metal screams. The only scream to be heard by the end of the shower was my shriek of pain, though. It felt like a good shower, things were “loosening” more, although this ended up being not such a good thing. As the shower concluded I turned off the hot water and pulled back the curtain. Completely in the buff, door open and roommate in the other room, I bend over to pick up the towel off the ground and you could hear it, “POP!” I was bent over, in a pain I’d never felt before, like a thousand searing daggers in-between my L4-L5, unable to move from a standing fetal position.
As I screamed, bare ass naked, my roommate was in the other room smoking a bowl. Good thing he was a 320-pound wrestler, MMA fighter, and power-lifter or else he may never had been able to carry me—still naked—to my bed where the true fetal position is enacted and recreated. As I try to move out of this position, it was completely impossible to do. He asked what comes next, so he phones my father with a room smelling like dirty pot and beer bottles under my pillow. But, what other option did I have?
My father rushes in and my ogre-ish roommate carry me to the backseat of my fathers SUV where I would be carted off to the University hospital in downtown Lansing, claiming they had the “best” staff to deal with this issue.
We arrive and I was immediately rushed back because they couldn’t handle my insessant screaming. I was put directly on an IV and pumped full of muscle relaxers one moment, and the doctor rushes in and screams for a high dose of Dilaudid the next. To a 185-pound teenager, already with an addictive past, present, and future he didn’t ask much about my consent. The Dilaudid wasn’t only shoved down to wear I was in a fear of vomiting from the rush, but the warmness my body encounter prompted a high dose of Benadryl to follow so we could call off the body itching.
Every time the doctor came in—while pertaining to the slow service—he would ask my pain level. Of course I was already building a tolerance, to an already had tolerance of other substances… it was all the same. I’d reply, “A 10,” because I simply had never encountered that pain before, I was a youth, what did I know about it? Today I feel that pain would be more like a 4 or a 5, but nothing worthy of what came next.
The doctor was convinced I had the back of a 65-year-old man, as he had given me Dilaudid every hour for my 14 hour stay, lowering my blood pressure to dangerously low levels and an accidental overdose in hospital to be a grand possibility. Why was he giving me so much of this, stronger than hell, doctor prescribed heroin?
Again, me being the youth I was I didn’t know much of a difference. And as we concluded I was given a prescription to 750 mg extra strength Vicodin 1-2 every 2 hours, high dose muscle relaxer every 4 hours, and a valium every 6 hours. I never knew this was “as prescribed” because he told me to take it as I was in pain. I was always in pain now, either it be emotional or physical. So what was this unknowing youth to do?
What ensued was no help by rehabilitation months later, by an overprescribing after-care physician. The physical therapist said no progress was to be made while on pain-killers and muscle relaxers, but I was already too hook by then. My life was in a whirlwind, until one day I almost veered off of the freeway (more than once) killing someone.
A day later my mother gave me an intervention that led to Suboxone abuse as well. Finally cut off from the Suboxone, my best friend was a chronic heroin addict today, and from the 5-years prior in our friendship. I’d known it, he knew my pain. So what comes next is only to be expected. And herein lies, the creation of my youth heroin epidemic. This is no joke. This is happening to hundreds of thousands of people, loved people, and youth. So my question is… Why was I given so much Dilaudid?
Where does the problem lie? Our health system, the rehabilitation and intervention system, or does it lie somewhere that still needs to be found? All I know is that all of these played a factor for me, and happily five and a half years clean and sober I can somberly reflect on the disastrous epidemic I was thrown into; at the beginning of it all. I feel like a founder to a lost system. And all I want to know, to this day is, why was I given so much legally prescribed, heroin?
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