I am so happy to be able to tell you that I am now six months sober! To be more precise it is now six months, twelve days, one hour, eleven minutes and seven seconds. I am using a free app called ‘I Am Sober’ to count the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes. My abstinence is that precious to me that literally each and every second counts. I cannot tell you how much the quality of my life has improved since I embraced sobriety. The app requires you to make daily pledges and reminds me exactly why I continue to be clean and sober. Also, providing small affirmations so that I stay motivated and focused on the task at hand. If you are on the same or similar journey then it is definitely worth checking out.
I understand that being sober looks different for everyone but for me it took the form of ‘treatment in the community’. So to give you a better idea of what the last six months has looked like I will detail my journey in terms of key milestones. Although I should note that I didn’t just seemingly breeze into sobriety, I’ll have to go back a little bit further than six months but this is basically how things transpired for me. I’m doing this to really raise awareness around the subject of self medicating and addiction, hopefully help rid the stigma that is very much associated with it and to provide information should anyone else find themselves in a similar predicament to what I was in. By no means am I telling you what to do, I’m just describing my personal experience and how events unfolded and manifested for me.
So I officially went into my local Drugs and Alcohol Service asking for help in September 2018. The records indicate that I underwent the initial assessment but then lost touch for a few weeks. Back then I was increasingly unstable and very much unreliable. My addiction had a hold and I was just not sure that I could do what was going to be asked of me. However, I knew that things were different for me this time, things were really serious. At this stage I was overdosing each and every day, putting my head on the pillow at night not knowing whether I was going to wake up the next morning. I would probably say that at this point I had hit my rock bottom and had nowhere else to go.
After my sporadic hiatus I became reconnected with Drug Aid in the October and since then my presence hasn’t faltered. Thinking back, I’m not sure what did it but I finally found myself calling my appointed caseworker and once more asking for help. Never under estimate the ability and the freedom with which we have to ask for help. She outlined a number of approaches that were available to me, namely, ‘cold turkey’, tapering down, treatment in the community or going in to a rehabilitation centre. Together we decided that the best way forward for me at this stage was to try the tapering approach. Cold turkey was just too dangerous and given my mental health, too hard to tell you the truth. Going into rehab for three months, I just had too much to lose. There was the option of treatment in the community but there was a four month waiting list. So for me tapering down was the best way forward.
I started attending sessions but things were just so difficult, I couldn’t taper down how much I was using, the addiction had a hold and was just too strong. I knew deep down that I couldn’t do it and that I needed treatment and so pressed my caseworker to get the relevant information so that I could approach my family and ask for assistance. It pains me to say but things had really got that bad. I spoke to my mother and my grandmother about my situation that very same day and we were all in agreement that I needed help. However, if I wanted to pursue this private line of medical assistance then of course it came at a price.
Wanting to furnish myself with all the appropriate information, I called the number that my caseworker had provided me with. The nurse talked me through the treatment process and then I can only note the speed with which everything moved. I made the call on the Friday afternoon, my grandmother and I went to the bank on the Monday morning and the private doctor was sat on my sofa that same afternoon. She described how I was required to go into withdrawal for at least twelve hours before I could commence treatment. The more into withdrawal you are the better the dose of Bupranorhine aka Subutex works and I was desperate for it to work. I went into withdrawal on the 3rd of December 2018 and was then issued with my first dose of Burpranorphine on the 4th. I started treatment on 8mg but this was then increased to 16mg the following day. A dose that I have now consistently taken every day since and will do for the foreseeable future.
As a matter of procedure I was put on supervised daily prescriptions, taking my medication with the pharmacist each day throughout the week. On a Friday I would take my daily dose and then I was given my medication to take home with me for the weekend. I was required to do this for twelve weeks, within which time I also had to produce three clean urine samples. Fortunately I was able to do this and so the doctor then put me on prescriptions ‘three times weekly’. As time passed and I progressed this was then changed to ‘twice weekly’. I understand that I will pick up my prescriptions twice a week for some time now and that this is just policy and procedure for anyone on this form of medication. Of course I continue to produce clean urine samples and so things really are going very well.
This may not be the right avenue for everyone but it has certainly served me well. Going down the private route has been costly but very much worth it. The medical professionals and mental health practitioners were absolutely amazing. I would say that if it wasn’t for Bupranorphine I wouldn’t be sat here today, it has literally saved my life. Although, I have to note the valuable support services provided for me by my local Drug Aid. My caseworker has been very instrumental in my road to recovery. My family and friends have also been a tremendous support. I realise that I am a very lucky girl and feel very grateful for all of the people who have played a part in my recovery. So yes a big, big thank you to everyone involved.
I’m going to leave it there for now as I appreciate this piece is quite lengthy and I do want to keep things light and upbeat. But now you know a little bit more about my sobriety and what it has entailed for me. Always curious and forever intrigued I would love to hear your thoughts on my posts and page. Please do say hello and drop me a line, I would love to hear from you!