Friday, 8 May 2015

Opiated Then Hatin’ It

“An addict is someone who uses their body to tell society that something is wrong.”
— Stella Adler
When I was run over by a car while biking last week in Venice Beach, I went to the ER to clean my wounds and get some pain killers. After almost four hours, I was finally discharged, though I was asked to pay a wacky $400. Yeah. You can read the full story Here.

Having been given a 5 mg Percocet (Oxycodone) half an hour before I leave the hospital, when I went later to get the meds I didn’t feel the need to take from the Hydrocodone they had prescribed me. It was already 10 pm and I was going to bed soon. They also prescribed a muscle relaxant (Flexeril) and Naproxen. So I only took one Flexeril and dozed off. 

I slept OK that night, but I woke with more pain all over my body. This was the day I thought I have every right to get opiated — or more colloquially, medicated. This was going to be the first time in quite a while. For an opiate connoisseur who has delved to the guts into this class of drugs for many years, this may seem like a lovely reunion.

After my early coffee I had eggs a little later, getting myself mentally ready for The Day. In a weird turn of event, I decided to look inside my toiletry bag and found a long lost 1-mg Xanax pill. Due to my high tolerance to pretty much everything, I wanted to potentiate the effects of the pain killer, so I thought I would take it. Even though years later after my heydays, this is not the dose that would really affect me. But since it has just appeared out of nowhere on that specific day, then let’s get it over with. I also took three Flexeril.

Another 45 minutes and I took a few pills of 5/325 Hydrocodone. The reason behind this wait time is that the benzos and muscle relaxants are better taken before the opiates for full effects. The opiate is strong that it usually blocks the effects of the potentiators if taken afterwards, which ends up by not really feeling the effects.

In Egypt, the street name for this procedure is called  (تبطين - يبطن ), meaning ‘coating’.

The main problem with those specific pills with the low doses of opiates is that with every 5 mg of Hydrocodone you ingest 325 mg of Paracetamol/Acetaminophen. Generally, most medium-strength prescribed opiates contain an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to prevent abuse and to, in some cases, aid the intended purpose of the medication.

Stronger opioids, however, like Morphine, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Diamorphine (heroin), Oxymorphone, Levorphanol, Buprenorphine, Fentanyl do not contain APAP.

Carfentanil at the very end is tens of thousands of times stronger than morphine and is used to sedate large animals like elephants. After that there is (3R,4S,beta-S)-13-fluoro ohmefentanyl, which is almost double the potency of Carfentanyl. 

It is known that large quantities of acetaminophen are bad for the liver and totally unwanted in case the dose requires a large number of pills as well as in the case of recreational usage. This was exactly why I didn’t take more H.C, since it’s not advised to take more than 2000 mg of acetaminophen at one time. The FDA sets the safe 24-hour dose limit at 4,000 mg per adult, but some doctors say that it should be reduced to 3,250 per day.

I had heard many times about CWE (Cold Water Extraction) but never needed to do it myself. This is the procedure of removing the acetaminophen from the pills. It is actually pretty simple and there are videos on YouTube showing you how it’s done.

Harm reduction is a healthy concept when we really think about it. Some pain patients are easily prescribed 10 to 12 pills per day... mainly here in America, many of whom are still young. And that’s only one medication, most are prescribed a cocktail of pharmaceuticals. So, not wanting all these fillers to damage their livers, they perform the CWE to get the pure pain killer.

In my case, I knew I wouldn’t take the meds for more than a few days, so I thought not to dabble with those druggy ways and just swallow them fuckers. Though living the conscious life made me think twice about my liver and all this amount of acetaminophen I’ll be ingesting in those coming days.

Then, in a sheer moment of self-mockery, I remembered how less than 20 years ago in Egypt we used to sometimes take a bottle or more of the Alexandria-made magical cough syrup Codaphen (containing both, codein and ephedrine), followed by 20 pills of the cough med Broncholase (Codeine Phosphate) coupled with 10 pills of the muscle relaxant Somadril (Carisoprodol). Yes we did.

Being street drugs in such parts of the world, most of those medicines were expired. The same could be said about the Rohypnol (Roche’s Flunitrazepam), the Clonazepam (Roche’s Rivotril, Epitril, and the blue Amotril in Egypt), Dihydrocodein, Tramadol, Parkinol (Trihexyphenidyl), Ketamine among other pharmaceuticals illegally sold there. 

That was even before delving head first into opiates in general and heroin in particular; though I never shot it, or anything else — the reason why I required massive doses. And now I’m concerned about the FDA daily dose of paracetamol. OThe Times They Are A-changin’.

Codaphen was huge in the 80s and 90s before they stopped producing it. However, the one that got
you high was without the (D) seen in the picture. Somadril (Carisoprodol) is still big in third world
countries and it is more potent than Flexeril.

So, don’t play sissy on me please”, I said to myself. Besides, I am in pain after all, and those meds I’m prescribed are here to kill that pain.

Alright then, time to chillax. All pills swallowed, followed by a smoke, tea, and some music.

I stayed in my room, awaiting the effects which must have started at some point. I was mid writing a new piece and didn’t really feel the time. Maybe an hour later, I got up from my chair to find that my body wasn’t aching as it was in the morning. Aha. Opiates. Bloody Magick!

I spent the day around the house writing and listening to Pink Floyd’s Animals and some Dire Straits — trying to relive the memories of those smokey years that seemed so distant, almost like an earlier life in my incarnation. I attempted to go that place, and I did. Though due to the moderate dose it was only a short visit. And that means no itching or nodding, which in my case as I found out, only happens when the dose is over 40 mg of H.C. 

The next day, I woke up by 11 am, that is three full hours later than my usual. Then I pretty much did the same thing with slightly lower doses. And this is where I kind of went wrong.

The following day, I woke by 10 with sticky eyes and a body not in much pain but feeling lethargic. This was when I decided to drop all the meds and go back to my healthy lifestyle. There was still some aching from the accident, but I chose to just deal with it naturally.

Mind wise, I was still slightly buzzed till mid day. I didn’t take anything later and went to sleep by the usual 11:30. I went to pee by 3 am then back to bed but I stayed awake for a while. Aha...Withdrawals. Really? Waow.

Hey there, bitches. I haven’t missed you at all.

I then gathered that including the single pill I had taken at the ER the night of the accident, this would be the first night after three days of sleeping opiated. Oh well, I certainly didn’t plan to get into some kind of cycle.

I must say that at the time in bed I was not in any kind of pain or suffering or sweating or any of that serious shit. I was also not worried about my next dose. It’s just that, having been there tens, if not hundreds of times, I’m quite familiar with the procedure of withdrawals. And now being clean and healthy for a long time, I’m highly sensitive and can detect the slightest of changes when it comes to my body or health in general.

I remembered then the Naproxen which I had not even tried. I knew it’s for pain, though having doubled the doses on those two nights, I didn’t see any need for it. I got up from bed, searched for it the darkness, and took one. Then, a flashback invaded my mind...

This time of the night... waking up in the dark sweating, anxious and uneasy... reaching for anything that could ease my pain. A memory deeply engraved in my mind that I thought I had discarded somewhere up there.

Interestingly, I then remembered how I was just telling a buddy of mine who have had a similar path that people who have never experienced opiates withdrawals wouldn’t really feel them as much as we do. That is because the addicted mind usually makes the symptoms much worse by linking it to pain and suffering, which triggers more pain and suffering.

Consider someone who never got hooked on opiates took the same dosage as me, and they woke up sleepless in the middle of the night, they will not register this as a “withdrawal symptom”. They will simply perceive it as someone waking up in the middle of the night like it happens to many people. Consequently, their symptoms will pass much faster than in my case. Simply because they will not obsess about them. 

You see, the simple action of thinking about the withdrawal symptoms triggers more symptoms. And it’s all about chemicals in the brain.

More on the Placebo Effect and the remarkable power of our own minds is covered in my upcoming book.
Early 1900s

After a total of one hour of this mid-night self-talk, I fell asleep. I woke up fine on Saturday morning and it was Drum Circle time.

I took my drum, my chair, got on the bike, and headed to the beach. On the way, I felt my leg muscle hurting a little. Not from the bruises caused by the accident. Not that sweet pain caused by exercise. But a certain weakness coming from inside the muscle itself.

It is like I was conscious of the cells in there and could feel they are tired; it is like they had a mind of their own and I was in touch with this microcosm of an inner world. And the signals it kept sending me was that it was not happy.

Even though hate is a strong word that I seldom use, but I really did hate this low frequency I was left with. 

Not only that, but there was an overall fatigue and I was slightly out of breath, too. Hmm. I have been jogging a few times a week for several years now and use the bike daily, and haven’t felt this shortness of breath in a loooong time. I did miss my jogging this week but it’s definitely not enough to make me feel weaker or out of breath. Hm. Of course it’s the opiates. 

This brief “Muscular dystrophy” sensation coupled with the foggy mind felt so familiar that in those 12 minutes from home to the beach I relived almost seven years of my life.

And you were living opiated like that for years? Waow. You must have hated your reality to want to alter it in such a way. Was there so much pain that you needed to block by self-medicating with pain killers?

Some questions came to mind as I reflected upon my wild past.

Fruit Cocktail

Later on, being here in the U.S made me think of the millions who are hooked on doctor-prescribed Big Pharma pills. Whether it’s Oxys (essentially synthetic heroin), Dilaudid, Opana, Percocet, Norco, Vicodin; or Xanax, Klonopin, Valium; or even those muscle relaxants. All these substances are addictive.

In fact, the U.S, which consists of five percent of the world’s population, consumes 80 percent from the world’s prescription drugs! Actually, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), in 2010 alone enough opiates were prescribed to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month. No wonder there are so many zombies around. 

So would some of those people be ‘lucky’ like myself and be able to beat their addiction? Or because it’s funded by the government and the dealers are wearing white coats they’ll just live with it... perhaps all their lives?

I further pondered the distinction between dependence on a street drug like heroin, which you have to score, and a pharmaceutical — or alcohol — which you legally (or not) buy and keep on your shelf.

Having gone both ways, I can say that having to score every day from the street is a huge risky setback. However, because of the junkie lifestyle, most people usually don’t stay in it much. They either die, go to prison, or quit.

The luxury the pharma addicts have is that they don’t get to experience any of that. They lack all the adventure and the thrill of the street-life scoring. They wake up and take a pill or two or six. The pills never change potency and, usually, there are no different types or strains. Also the dealer doesn’t cut the shit up. And certainly, there are no different highs, for tolerance is tolerance anywhere; unless of course they mix with other pills or sneak every now and then by doubling or tripling their usual dose.

Much more about addiction is covered in a full sub-chapter of my upcoming book.

Right after accident before going to the E.R

Back to the aftermath of those few days. The following night I got myself ready by taking one Naproxen and a muscle relaxant right before bed. Again at 3, I woke up to pee and, hm... I stayed up for maybe 15 minutes before dosing off again.

Having only been the second night I spend un-opiated, this made sense. With lower doses, the physical cycle of the withdrawals stays around four nights — the second night being the worse, then the third, then finally the fourth. You wake up the fifth morning clean and ready. Now it’s time to score again! This is how the psychological cycle makes addicts take again and again and again.

Remembering William Osler’s quote: “The person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease, and once from the medicine.”

With opiates, the serious physical symptoms of the ‘medicine’ are usually gone by five days to one week. It’s the ‘disease’ that causes all the trouble, because many users don’t heal from it. They believe that it’s all about the substance. So they detox and quit the substance, which is not the hardest of things. But then they relapse again because they never reach the bottom of the issue of why there is a ‘disease’ in the first place. Without this step, there is no healing, and most probably they will keep going around in circles. Depending on the case, full recovery may sometimes take up to a year. 

The brief taste of the toxic lifestyle my friends and I were living brought back many memories I haven’t pondered in quite a while. They made me feel so grateful to be where I am today. I don’t need to hide from my reality because I’ve created one that I love. I love being conscious of each and every moment. I love waking up fresh in the morning without fuzzy thoughts and without pain in my joints like an old man. I love not needing something so obsessively. I love not having any pain to feel the need to “kill it”. And I sure love being free.

I certainly do not miss the overall tiredness, the pain in the muscles and joints, the shortness of breath, the feeling of being drained, the lack of energy, waking up in the middle of the night breakdancing in bed for hours, the white face, the occasional shivering cold down your spine, the lower back pain, the chills, the goosebumps, the hot flashes, the runny nose and eyes, the selective appetite, the constipation/diarrhea, the feeling of being barely alive and of alienation, the mood swings and depression. I don’t miss any of that. At all. Who would, really. And I could have kept going on with more horrid stuff.

So despite the possibility of being fun for one night, numbing myself may not be that much of a thrill anymore. Largely, and honestly, because of the nasty after-effects.

Fortunately, two days were more than enough of a reminder that such habit or lifestyle do not suit me anymore. Not that I still had any doubts after these years, but sometimes life seems to offer us little reminders along the way to reinforce our belief in ourselves. Looking back at my own life as I write these lines, I couldn’t help but to feel proud of myself and of the journey from where I once was to where I am today. I also couldn’t help holding a few happy tears flowing down my cheeks.

Not only is my current healthy, natural lifestyle good for me, but it also makes me happy. Because the primary purpose behind eating healthy, exercising, and living the conscious life in general is feeling good rather than looking good. Now I have found ways to get naturally high, like running, drumming and meditation. For natural highs don’t have lows. Now I vibrate at higher frequencies. And if I can do this, anyone can.

What a ride that I would never exchange for ANYTHING.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
― Lao Tzu

EDIT: (January, 2016):

After publishing this piece I received a message from a reader, Sherif, asking for help. I wrote about it here: My Correspondence With a 31-Year-Old Reader Before He Passed Away. I guess the title gives the heart-wrenching story away.


The LSD Experiments of the 1950s and 60s [Videos & Documentaries]

Surviving the Madness of Sakarana — Hyoscyamus muticus

Out-of-Body Experience and Ego Death on a “Heroic Dose” of Mushrooms 

My Correspondence With a 31-Year-Old Reader Before He Passed Away

Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, and Crystal Methamphetamine — A Psychonaut’s Review 

Dealing with High Awareness and Empathic Accuracy
Funny Drug-Related Stories

Funny Drug-Related Stories 2
The Couple Who Couldn’t Handle My Honesty

Placebo Effect & The LSD Prank

Animals Getting High: Weird Nature ― Peculiar Potions [Documentary]
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  1. Thank you so much for that! :'-( I've been opiated for 17 years now... And I've realized thaThe person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease, and once from the medicine.” I've realized that i can't use successfully 7 years. I've been really trying to quit getting high for maybe 8 yrs, fail. And with my nearly 2- decade needle fixation, it's a complete miracle I'm still alive. I could really relate to what you were saying regarding the 40-50 pill meal along with the codaphen(yes, Egyptian) , as well as our hypersensitivity towards changes in our bodies with w.s. ... And the sheer rush of going to the desert to h under the noses of the Egyptian police. Still fixing, i feel much older than my age, i just got hit by a car last month too ! Im really giving up. Being lonely goes hand in hand with our disease, and THAT FEELING is worse than jail or sometimes death to me thank u. U give me hope

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      If there is a will there is a way, always. Even though now you may not really see the way, but know that it is there and it is doable. Life becomes worth living and every single thing changes.

      You can reach out to me in private if you would like to talk about it, also anonymously if you prefer. Stay safe, positive, and hopeful.

      Love and Light your way.