Opiates caught me from day one, hook line and sinker
It had been about 15 minutes since I swallowed that Lortab 10/500 when a sudden rush of warmth came across my entire body. I was working at the office after a long Friday lunch with my friends. This was the time of day when I usually started to drag and would struggle to stay awake until quitting time. That warm feeling, like my body was butter and I was melting into the floor, now I knew what they meant by feeling no pain.
Holy shit this was good and at that very moment my brain made the association between that big, beautiful Lortab tablet and this new feeling I was experiencing. At that moment I recall thinking, “Finally, the perfect drug for me. One that gives me energy and allows me to focus on work. One that takes away my pain both physical and otherwise. One that makes me feel normal and outgoing. Things were going to start going good for me now”.
As I write this now I realize that it was this point in time when my life started to go downhill. Many of us that have taken this path truly believed it was one that would make us a better person for our family. How could something that helps us work harder, feel better be a bad thing? Gone are the days when my daughter asks me, “Dad do you want to play a game.”, and I say, “No, maybe next time”. I’ve found something so great that it is going to make me the best husband, father and person I can be!
Opiate Dependence and Denial – The Downward Spiral Begins
This stage can go on for a long period of time, for my personal situation it lasted about 3 or 4 years. During this time-frame usage went from two to five Lortab 10/500’s per week and peaking at around four Lortab 10/500’s per day. At this level the problem usually comes in the form of Liver pain and/or Liver problems. The government chose to load painkillers with deadly Tylenol to curb usage, but what they ended up doing is killing a lot of unsuspecting people. Tylenol in high doses (over 2 grams daily) and especially in combination with any amount of alcoholic drinks can be catastrophic to the liver.
What usually happens is that a typical pain-killer abuser will find themselves going to the doctor for more general ailments and finding themselves failing routine blood-work with high levels of liver enzymes. What this means is that the high levels of Tylenol along with alcohol usage are slowly destroying the liver, and the byproduct of the liver damage is liver enzymes .
Around this time the smart addict (yes addicts are smart, in fact they typically have IQ’s considerably higher than those of non-addicts) realizes that Tylenol is bad and they start shopping for the best bang for the buck, so to speak which are Lortab/Lorcet 10/350’s, so for 10mg of the opiate you only need to poison your body with 350 mg of Tylenol. 10/350’s usually have the highest street value for this reason, this is for hydrocodone products anyway.
This is when the brilliant addict justifies switching to Oxycodone which contains none of the toxic liver destroying Tylenol. At first the careful addict will try to keep the number of ‘opiate’ milligrams close to what it was but without the Tylenol. The jump from Hydrocodone to Oxycodone is a major step towards full blown addiction and dependence that is second to none other than Heroin. I recall starting out with Oxycodone 15’s (aka Roxy 15’s, Greens, 15’s) which are 15mg Oxycodone with no Tylenol. Making the jump to Oxy’s is a big one and having solved the nagging Tylenol problem it won’t be long (maybe a year) before the addict in denial is up to five or ten Roxy 30’s per day.
I personally peaked somewhere between five and ten per day so that works out to 150-300mg Oxycodone per day. At this level your friends and family know something is up, and they
likely have a pretty good idea what. Your co-workers already notice your up-and-down mood and energy levels. Another difficult burden at this level is the financial cost, at 10 Roxy 30’s per day you were looking at about $100-$130 per day and that is if you were getting a bulk discount. Prices have since been slowly increasing as the war-on-drugs takes it’s toll on the supply side to the point that Roxy 30’s are costing nearly $15 each whether you buy quantity or not. An addict at this level puts a good portion of energy into making sure he/she does not run out because it is very painful and scary. You pretty much need one or two 30’s just to function in the morning and another two to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
So todays addict needs half a dozen Roxy 30’s (Blues, 30’s, Roxy 30’s, BB’s, blueberries) just to keep the pain away (6 * $20 = $120) and ten to feel comfortable (10 * $15 qty discount = $150). This is all assuming you can find supply, and from what I am hearing supply is dwindling and price is rising. Somewhere along the line the addict knows he/she has a problem but is in some form of denial, for example they do NOT belong in an AA or NA meeting. At this point many lose their job, lose family and begin the path towards rock-bottom.