Saturday, November 05, 2005

Snapshot of a Dilaudid Addict, Part 1

Tom and Carrie are a young couple who both grew up in a rural community about 45 minutes outside of the city. Cleancut, polite and friendly from the get go, I was not expecting to hear what they had to tell me. With no reluctance, Tom and Carrie shared their story with insight, feeling and hope.

Until recently, they were both single parents struggling to care for their children. Tom has a 7 year old little boy, and Carrie has a daughter whose 8 and who was born with Cystic Fibrosis. They connected about a year ago, gravitating towards one another because of similar circumstances and eventually falling in love. Yes, they were both single parents, but they were also Dilaudid addicts. Since moving in together, they have been successfully taking part in the Methadone program in the city, which means that they have to travel here everyday to receive the methadone needed to eventually kick their addiction.

Tom has never been in receipt of social assistance until this fall. He was receiving employment insurance and EI sick benefits for the past several months. When that ran out, he had no choice but to apply because he is not fit to work yet. His resume is impressive. He obviously has many marketable skills, and more importantly his resume indicates that he is able to maintain his job status. He started falling off the rails about 3 years ago when he was in a work accident and hurt his back. It happened at the same time that his partner left him with a pre-schooler to care for. He felt abandoned, which he indicated is a feeling that he knows well from his own childhood. Because of his physical limitations, and his personal upheaval, he went into a depression.

The doctor prescribed Dilaudid for Tom's back pain. Initially, he took it as prescribed, but found the medication promptly took away all emotional pain as well. The high was magnificent. He felt that he could cope while on Dilaudid AND he felt that he had control over the drug. It was a matter of weeks, and Tom was hooked so severely that he was in deep trouble. His world spiralled, though he somehow managed to return to work. Then he was laid off. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. He sunk into a deeper funk and fed it with Opiods from a street trafficker.

Carrie's story is similar, but her emotional pain and stress was far more prevalent than the physical aches that she was feeling. Every day, Carrie and her daughter live with a timebomb. Since her daughter's birth, Carrie has spent months in the hospital with a sick little one. Emergency trips to the IWK...........rushed trips into town to the nearest hospital.............any type of cold or chest infection and all hell breaks loose. In fact, Carrie and her daughter had just spent the month of September in the local hospital getting treatment. There isn't a cure for CF. Her daughter's life expectancy is short. And, she has been told that her daughter seems to have an aggressive form of CF.

Carrie was offered Dilaudid for stress pain. It took the aches and the heartaches away and for the first time in years, she felt bliss. Carrie believes that she was hooked after the first time taking the pill. It took her meeting Tom and sharing her heart story with him to make her realize that she was in trouble and needed help.

They are on the road to recovery. I believe they will beat the odds and eventually wean themselves off the Methadone. That is their goal. They have one another and they are determined. I was so impressed with their insights. It was obvious to me (and I told them this) that they had really thought out their plan, and that they are surrounding themselves with positive support in order to have a healthier coping foundation to rebuild from. Carrie has a new perspective on her daughter's health.............she was adamant that she will never take her own health for granted again.

I told them that I wanted to be included in their support and to keep in touch over the next months, especially if they find a few roadblocks along the way. I wished them well, and felt a sense that maybe the Methadone program can work...................for some.

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