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A (Hopefully) Sobering Recount of Opiate Withdrawal

Clonazepam pills in persons hand

One of the most painful parts of going through withdrawals is knowing that – despite the pain and agony – if we don’t seek help, we’re more than likely going right back to our drug of choice.

That's exactly what happened to Barry, a young man who's on his third attempt at recovery.

Barry hopes that, by sharing his frightening and painful opiate withdrawal experience, it will encourage others to seek out sobriety.

The Trouble Sets In and Takes Hold

In college, my best friend and I were addicted to painkillers. Once he introduced me to them, I was enamored.

The trouble started when we would run out. Such was the case one hot afternoon when I found myself fading in and out of consciousness on my best friend’s red futon. I was covered in sweat, writhing in pain, and only getting up when stricken with violent diarrhea.

As I attempted to force-feed myself tepid sips of tap water, I wondered how long I would feel this way. I had spent only one day sober...but withdrawals from the opiates were unfathomable.

Needless to say, the prospects of making it to class that week were not looking good.

Addiction is Never Satisfied

Earlier that week, I sat on the same red futon, getting up only when I needed to go outside and vomit in the plants – the nausea brought on by taking a few too many pills.

We had been playing board games, sipping wine, and eating painkillers. Earlier in the night, I had laid my pills out on some butcher paper, drew a circle around them, and labeled them with my name. Thanks to a massive opiate tolerance, I couldn’t get I took a handful of pills at one time.

I spent nearly 14 hours bouncing between blacking out and vomiting. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I realized I had made a mistake. Each time I nodded off, I feared it would be my last moment of life, yet my concerns were strangely assuaged by the waves of euphoria brought on by the drugs.

I clearly remember absentmindedly considering that the circle I drew on the butcher paper was going to outlast my own life. And yet, I felt strangely at peace.

Seizing Another Chance at Sobriety

By some miracle I made it through that night. When I told my friend what happened, he seemed more disgusted than anything.

“You have vomit on your chin,” he said as he looked at me with a mildly repulsed look. Sadly, this episode was not my rock bottom; a few days later I was taking more painkillers.

Even as I sit here today, I can’t say I’m free of my addiction. But I’m working a program and taking it day-by-day. My hope is that the truth of my experience will shed some light on the anything-but-glamorous reality of prescription drug abuse and allow others to make informed decisions.

Learn more about the available treatment and recovery options for opiate addiction.

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