My name is Tracy, and I am a 54-year-old single mom in Connecticut.
I was in a car accident in 2000 that resulted in back surgery, and subsequently taking a prescription of opioids and Xanax which lasted 25 years. I took them as prescribed as I thought I needed them for pain and anxiety and trusted the doctors.
Over the years I had thought about getting off oxycontin and when I would try, I would feel so sick so fast, and too ashamed to cope with it. This was especially difficult as a single mom, busy trying to raise a son alone. I just kept going back to the medication. In late 2017, I landed in the hospital with a bowel obstruction. The surgeon informed me that it was due to many years of opioid use — Opioid Use Disorder — and it was imperative to stop taking them.
On January 1, 2018, my journey of detox began. I thought about going to a center, but I figured, “how bad can this be?” and decided to continue the journey at home. I started weaning myself off each week by dropping 10 mg weekly, until after twenty weeks I was done with the full prescriptive dose of 60 mg. I never thought about them again after the day I knew I had to stop taking them. As each day passed, I was gripped by complete fear. I was so sick I kept reaching out to the prescriber. She barely spoke to me, had nothing to offer but a name of a therapist, and was happier when I went away quietly, so I did. I felt like an addict, and even believed that I was one. I thought because I would feel “dope sick,” I must be an addict as I adapted society’s view and the stigma I accepted as my identity. I felt alone, ugly, and ashamed just as the years of use had made me feel.
Without education and support how is anyone able to truly understand?The days and months, nine to be exact, that followed were beyond anything I was even close to imagining. It was an inhumane physical torture on both a mental and physical level. It forced me to reach for determination and resilience that I had no idea was in me. Every day I was sure that I was going to die but I didn’t. I have now watched my story be uncovered through documentaries of who the Sackler family are (the owners of the drug company who manufacture Oxycontin) and how they stole twenty years of my life, but more importantly, my mothering, for the sake of money.
I have not being using opioids for over three years now, and I recently deprescribed safely off Xanax. I am still living with effects of detox, which through my own research, I found was called “post-acute withdrawal syndrome,” a diagnosis I was forced to uncover myself. I kept waiting for the pain to return but it didn’t. Most importantly I never wanted another pill again and if it weren’t for some divine intervention in the form of a hospital visit, chances are I’d still be dependent on opioids, unaware that there was different life out there and that it was achievable.
The shame of detox and the lack of tools and education are what kept me on the medication because being sick didn’t fit into my life and I was too ashamed to tell anyone. Without education and support how is anyone able to truly understand? Instead, we live in the closet with the shame of being sick because no one wants to be seen going through it. Detox and withdrawal are not usually talked about. My story is just mine and we all have one.
However, I created my own website and have completed over 100 interviews since August 15, 2021. I have 43 episodes launched on Spotify, Apple Pod and other platforms. I have 4000 followers on Instagram and Twitter and almost 1500 downloads since launching my podcast on November 25th. Since launching my website and podcast, the conversation has definitely started!
The healing that this has given me is incredible and the community truly saved me. As I continue on my journey, my truest mission is to educate the kids. To give them a platform where they feel important and heard and respected, not as a kid but as an educator as well. They will be the decision makers in twenty years’ time, and if there is ever going to be change of the stigma of drugs and addiction and detox it needs to start with them. This is my truest purpose.
Thank you for reading.
Tracy Lynn has spent her career working in Affordable Housing and as a Paralegal. Her drive to educate about detox and withdrawal from substance or prescribed medication has put her on the journey of a lifetime. She is sharing her story in the hopes to help others share theirs. More from Tracy,
Last Updated on September 9, 2022