The most frightening phone call I have ever made was the call to the Caring Dental Professionals program to disclose my addiction and ask for help. That phone call to the CDP saved my life and turned out to be the best thing I have ever done.
Soon after entering treatment for hydrocodone addiction, I heard some truths about myself that were hard to accept. I was told to look around the room to see where I was sitting. My best thinking and seven years abusing hydrocodone had landed me in Atlanta, Georgia, in a behavioral health and drug rehabilitation hospital. I was also told that the degree to which I had spiraled downhill in my addiction was proportional to how far removed I was at this point in my life from being the person I thought I would be. That one really hit me……….who and what I thought I would be at 43 and who and what I had become were very different! I grew up in a good home, private school, played sports, college, dental school, married, kids. I had what seemed to be the perfect life. Why was I sitting in a room with other addicts in rehab?
In my thirties, I suffered a shoulder injury and it became a chronic problem. I managed it with NSAID’s for a while. It would stop hurting for a while. It would flare back up and become painful and eventually it began to limit my ability to work. The doctor prescribed hydrocodone and it relieved my pain. However, what seemed to me to be justified reasons for taking hydrocodone in the outset eventually turned into lies and excuses to continue to use. At the same time that my shoulder became a problem, so did my life! I was dealing with a failing marriage. We were in tremendous debt and missing tax payments to continue our out of control lifestyle of overspending. Spending always exceeded income. I could not say no to anyone. I wanted everyone to have everything they needed and wanted to a fault and I wanted them to know that everything was okay! In comes hydrocodone! I began self prescribing to fuel my need for the drug. For a little while, for a few hours with each pill, hydrocodone made things feel a little better. The drug fooled me though into thinking everything was okay or at least the bad feelings ( guilt, fear, shame) were out of my mind for a little while but It also allowed me to continue in this deeper and deeper downward spiral of lies and hiding and over-spending by clouding my ability to see or care about anyone but myself. As my problems became bigger, so did my need to escape and hide and it seemed hydrocodone fixed things. Initially, it seemed that hydrocodone was my best friend. It was the miracle cure for everything that was wrong in my life but it soon became the enemy. My addiction evolved to the point that I could not imagine a day without it. Hydrocodone was in control. My life became the perfect struggle of, “I can’t continue doing what I am doing but I can’t quit either”. In that last year before treatment, I had made 3 good attempts on my own over the course of 9 months to stop taking the pills but each time I failed. In the end, I did somehow manage to have enough clarity in my drug fogged mind to understand that I couldn’t continue any longer. I was killing myself and I was hurting many people around. I did not know about recovery. I did not know what I could do differently and I did not know that I would be able to stop taking the pills but I did know that something had to give even if it meant suicide. I had hit the bottom!
In the fall of that year, I was finally able to disclose to my family the whole truth……..the pills, the debts, the tax burden that I had created and with the love and support of so many people, I called the Caring Dental Professionals and I entered treatment. I have just celebrated 12 years of recovery from hydrocodone addiction. Today, life could not be better. During my drug use, I could not imagine a day without hydrocodone. Today, I cannot imagine a day with it!
Recovery requires change. The same old person doing the same things will get the same results over and over. I had to learn that I was the problem. I was a sick person that had done bad things but I felt like such a bad person! I had become someone quite different than I thought I would be. The person that I had become I also came to hate the most! One of my hardest challenges early in recovery was forgiving myself for the things I had done. I firmly believed that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t possibly like me. Recovery required stopping hydrocodone. It required facing the people that I had hurt and making amends. It required that I faced my debts and became responsible for repaying them. And most importantly, it required that I clearly understood exactly who and what I had become in my addiction and know that I never wanted to be that way or that person again.
“The Man I am Supposed to Be”