I’m in treatment. Again. This time it’s my elbow. Fell on road bike, shattered the olecranon, a body part that apparently I don’t need anymore, so it was taken out during surgery.
Surgery led to the question of opioids, for pain management. Codeine makes me sick. So does being in excruciating pain. This caused a major dilemma for me, even 25 years into recovery from drugs and alcohol. The ethical conundrum was simply this: Take pain medications which made some percentage of my addict brain start to salivate and drool, or take what my addict brain considered to be a placebo–over the counter pain meds—and be in pain and not sleep. Neither choice resolved my problem in an acceptable fashion.
And so the calls to the doctor began, seeking codeine free pain medications with a kick. As my ethical brain and my pain wrestled with one another, the emotional brain kicked in, not wanting to be outdone. At this stage in the game my emotional brain was closely allied with its sidekick depression. Spurred on by an occasional glimpse at Facebook, a sense of isolation, loneliness, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) festered.
About a week into this building tempest of negative thinking, I got a call from a dear friend that her husband had a heart attack. He survived, thank God, and is looking at each new day in a profoundly different way. Another friend called wondering if her son had an online gaming addiction, and a neighbor opened up about her struggle with depression and anxiety over the years.
As part of this human race, we all have struggles. With my elbow, the doctor re-moved the problem as he saw it, which brought forth for me an internal struggle for which I am now thankful.
I found that I am indeed still allergic to codeine, that I am still an ad-dict at heart, and that I am not impervious, 25 years in, to feelings of loneliness and sadness. I was reminded that others struggle too, in so many different ways, and we often are completely unaware of this as we go about living our own day to days.
Most of all, I was reminded of the need for gentleness, patience, and compassion, to others and sometimes most importantly for ourselves. Like our body parts to one an-other, we are all connected, in one way or another. Talking to one another, sharing our struggles and our joys, is perhaps the best medicine of all.
This issue of The Phoenix Spirit is about Treatment Centers, and we are blessed with a lead article by writer Cynthia Orange. She illustrates that as there are many paths that lead us into addiction—environmental, physical, genetic, circumstantial—there are many paths out of the insanity as well.
Thankfully, professionals working in the realm of mental health and addiction are now more interested than at any other point in history of treating the whole individual. Thus, a team approach often includes psychiatrists, counselors, medical personnel and family education.
Pages 7 and 8 of this issue give some local suggestions for treatment options, and Emily Piper’s article on page 1 informs us of the Minnesota Department of Human Services Fast-Tracker website. This online service provides real-time availability of substance use disorder treatment programs and services.
We’ve come a long way. Enjoy this issue and be well!