Happy and scared…

Latter-Day Saints (you know, the Mormons) have a commandment to not partake of “harmful drugs.”

This gets interpreted variously, but for the most part it means “don’t take anything illegal, don’t take recreational drugs, and be careful with prescription stuff.” Mormons in Amsterdam, for instance, aren’t allowed to smoke marijuana, even though it’s legal there.

Intellectually, I understand this commandment. Chemicals that alter your consciousness can block your ability to cope with the “real world” around you, and cloud your ability to listen to the Holy Spirit. A drug that makes you feel happy and peaceful may prevent you from taking appropriate action in times of trouble.

That’s my “intellectual” understanding, and until now it’s all I’ve had. I’ve never been drunk, high, or had any sort of “trip” with the help of stuff that I swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected, so there was no practical understanding.

Until now.

This evening I took two Lortab. They were the first two I’d taken in 48 hours. Shortly after taking them I felt really, REALLY mellow and happy. The massive workload I’m staring at here in front of my computer couldn’t shake me from this blissful, peaceful sense of “it’ll all work out.” I’ve had that feeling before when I’ve prayed for help with a problem, but at those times I had to work for it, and the feeling came with a bit of edification. In THIS case, however, I’m just happy for no reason.

I like this feeling. I see the attraction of being able to pop a couple of pills to be happy. I was grumpy, irritable, and in pain prior to dropping a 15mg dose of hydrocodone, and now I feel like most of us probably wish we could feel most of the time: HAPPY.

The bottle of Lortab is almost empty. I’m smart enough to know that the feeling I’m enjoying is drug-induced, and the thought that I won’t be able to do this anymore makes me scared. But the scared feeling can’t quite cut through the happy feeling.

So… I’m happy, and mellow, and smiling like a fool while the little Howard in the back of my brain worries about where we’re going to get the emotional cash to pay the piper when the prescription runs out. The doctor might be willing to refill it if my shoulder is still giving me grief, but Sandra will not let me ask him to. Smart lady. Smart, and acting on the express instructions I gave her a month ago.

–Howard

20 thoughts on “Happy and scared…”

  1. After I had fractured one of my ribs, I was given hydrocodone for the serious pain I was experiencing…

    ..I am so glad hydrocodone is prescription-only, and that the doctor only prescribed two day’s worth at a time. While of course the prescription-only part wouldn’t actually stop me, or most anyone decently intelligent from managing to lay hands on it, it puts it far enough from my grasp, that my laziness counter-acts the desire for the Happy Fun Pills…

    I was told I was quite interesting to be around while on it. Everything was good. All good. Happy Fun Good.

    Schedule III Narcotics are rather potent stuff.

  2. You don’t have to let it bother you. The drugs are there to help you manage pain. So what if they make you feel happy and mellow? That’s a side effect, not their primary effect. You don’t have to feel guilty about being not-just-in-pain-but-mellow-and-happy.

    When your scrip runs out, and you don’t need it anymore… well, you won’t need it. I remember when I got high as a kite on marijuanaa. It was a GREAT feeling. But I knew that I was risking future employment and a number of consequences if I went much further down that road. So, yeah, I inhaled, I enjoyed it, anybody want to make anythign of it? I don’t do it *now* which is the important thing.

    Don’t let it make you feel guilty. I’ve got faith in you, and you have no reason to be scared of being without the drugs (if your shoulder is well healled, that is). You are a great and wonderful strong man who loves his family and what’s best for him and those he loves. I have no doubt in my mind that you’re going to be fine without it.

    These painkillers are awesome. Especially Dimerol. But there’s a time and place for it. To terribly mangle a bible story (and risk divine retribution) you’re coming up on the time to pick up your crutch and walk again.

    Got faith in ya, Howard. You’re gonna be fine.

    Loxley

  3. Speaking as a quaker, I perhaps have a wildly different understanding than you do… but maybe you’ll appreciate my two cents anyway.

    We should endeavor to hear the Holy Spirit as it speaks to us, at all times; but that which is of God in us endeavors, also, to speak to us as clearly as it can. Would you hear the Good Lord’s Word more clearly when you are preoccupied with pain, or when you are befuddled with Lortab that takes away that pain? It’s hard to say, in my own humble opinion.

    Try, most of all, to listen to His will as you consider taking the drug; He alone can best know what is best at any time. He can tell us where His best interests lie, and we can do aught but listen.

    I hope this helps you hear His word, whether in agreement or not: do not let human dogma get in the way of divine love.

    1. I think you and I are on the same page here, Brother.

      The understanding that the Holy Spirt CAN be heard through the fog of pain or the fog of medication is helpful, provided the devout take time to listen for it, and take care to learn to identify that which is From God, and that which is from chemicals.

      The problem comes in when a desired state — happiness and peace — requires no such care nor attention, and can be mistaken for the genuine article. Even the devout can allow themselves to become dependent on artificial replacements for the peace that passes understanding, and I think THAT is what I’m afraid of.

      In geek-speak (for the non-religious types out there), Don’t underestimate the power of the Dark side of the Force. It is attractive, it is easier to learn (in some ways), and it comes complete with a Sith Lord Master who cares nothing for your long-term well being.

      1. Mostly on the same page, yeah 🙂

        I’m not entirely comfortable saying that “happiness and peace” is the desired (or expected?) state, but I’m having a bit of difficulty putting it more clearly than that… I may try again later.

        1. Spider Robinson ref

          I think it was in Callahan’s Lady, the main character is talking about Ray Charles’s drug use. How the music was wonderful and just flowed because Charles wasn’t distracted from the music by the distractions of the body (stubbed toes, hunger, thirst, and so on).

          I think the expected state is satori. Enlightment which is not the same as happiness and peace. At least it isn’t in my world view. Enlightment is the knowledge (my Gnosticism speaking) of God’s will, even if it makes you unhappy, and the acceptance of it.

  4. The extreme tiredness plus the megapainkillers might be the reason for the extra mellowness…..
    It’s that back to the womb comfort feeling….

    I wish you strength to overcome the scared, and for when the pills wear off….

  5. I’ve sometimes half-joked that opiates are one of the purest expressions
    of man’s humanity towards man: compounds derived (and/)or synthesized for
    the purpose of alleviating pain and suffering.

    (I speak from no small amount of experience… suffice to say that kidney
    failure and the treatments thereof are less than pleasant. I’ve had pretty
    much every painkiller in common use at one time or another, from hc up
    through iv morphine. There were times when 750mg pills of hydrocodone
    every four to six hours just felt like nothing. In my experience, none of
    the things I took had physical dependency effects and I only continued to
    seek them out as long as the pain stimuli were present, so imho the addiction
    potential is fairly low. But, of course, people’s reactions to drugs vary
    wildly and particularly to anything that is CNS-related.)

    On the one hand, I don’t see any value in pain. There’s no glory in it,
    and why experience something that is not only optional but quite possibly
    impairs the healing process? I view pain killers as being, themselves,
    just another tool in the medical arsenal that we’ve evolved over the
    centuries, no different in their virtue than antibiotics.

    On the other hand, of course, what use tools are put to also plays a strong role
    in their ethical value. (Examples are trivial and easily constructed,
    e.g. firearms.) Unfortunately, the ethical evaluation process is highly
    individual and context-dependent, virtually unquantifiable. I think what
    worries you is not the drugs themselves or their immediate effects, but
    rather what you perceive your reactions to them being (e.g. dependency).
    I can only tell you that as long as you’re worried enough about it to ask the
    question “Am I sure that I’m doing the right thing?”, at least you’re probably not
    straying from your path. At least in my experience and watching the
    actions of others, I was always far from correct action when I was
    certain about something, and farther still when I had gone beyond the stage
    of self-questioning.

    (I’m an atheist and have walked many, many paths away from the commonly trodden ones,
    so perhaps my analysis means little in your context. In any case, I hope your recovery continues
    to go well and that the happiness you find is the happiness you want.)

  6. My experiences with drugs

    That is the wonderful thing and the horrible thing about drugs. They can be a short-cut to temporary bliss. On the downside, they’re a short-cut to temporary bliss. If someone isn’t careful, they wind up chasing the dragon for a long time.

    I believe that drugs can be put to good use recreationally — they offer a temporary escape and, at best, a view of what you should be attempting to achieve through harder means. They can give relaxation and they can give new insight — but it’s easy for them to become a crutch as opposed to a rest-stop.

    Strangely enough, the drugs that gave me experiences that I got the most out of weren’t entirely pleasant, and weren’t something that I would do again without necessity and deliberation. They did, however, allow me to solidify my view of myself, the world, and the universe, and eventually brought me to a closer connection with God. I somehow find that that’s appropriate, given that they were substances that God placed upon this earth.

    That being said — there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with deriving pleasure from a drug, even a prescription drug, so long as you’re not abusing it. The fact that you -are- deriving pleasure from the experience, however, means that you don’t need the dose that you’re taking any more, to block the pain; when you’re really in pain, the opioids are mostly used up
    blocking pain, and there’s not much left over to get high on. I have faith that you won’t have significant problems with any lasting addiction, however; you’ve made sure the drug won’t be easily available, and that’s 90% of it right there. Sure, you may have some restless nights and jangling days, but you’ll manage.

  7. Howard,

    A little story:

    When I was pregnant with my youngest, I had an OB/GYN who had a very high energy level. This was fine until one appointment where he looked like he was run over by a semi. I made comment that he didn’t seem to be himself. At that point he admitted to me that he discovered that he was addicted to his allergy medication.

    It sounds like that you could be going down the same path, and that bothers me.

    I think you may need to find a better peace right now. Go to the temple; consider getting a priesthood blessing; or at least listen to some uplifting music(Michael McLean and Cherie Call are two of my favorites). Sometimes you need outside help.

    I’ll try to keep you in my prayers.

    1. Nose spray

      Maybe 25 years ago when I was little, my mom got hooked on some nasal allergy spray. She had a special place for it so we’d know where to run and get it when she got really irritated and wanted a hit. I did it often enough that I can still picture it in my head. She figured out what was going on, though, and went cold turkey. Strangely, I don’t remember her “rehab” period, but she says it was awful. Anyway, she got over it and has been much more careful ever since about medications.

  8. Hate drugs.

    Prozac just doesn’t smooth out bipolar cycles, so my doctor added some new thing — Doxycone Lexabarbitcebo, or somesuch — but that makes me kinda sleepy, so I’m downing caffeine in the form of Diet Dr. Pepper.

    But wait! I have acid reflux, too, so now he’s put me on Nexium. And I have high cholesterol, so they want to medicate that, too… but I’ve said I’ll start exercising as soon as we have Mr. Brain reined in. (For those of you who want to tell me that exercise will HELP me rein in Mr. Brain, and produce lots of endor-funs, etc, I submit that la la la, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you.)

  9. From my experience of dealing with addicts, I don’t think you’re getting addicted, Howard. You can still say “I don’t need to do this” and enlist someone to make sure you don’t, and in my experience, people stalking addiction don’t do that so much. You want to be not-addicted more than you want the temporary feel-good, and that puts on the brakes, especially for someone like you, with strong character and strong beliefs, and with a strong support system.

    (IOSchlockN, I think “Indiscretion is not the same thing as brain damage” should be the tag line of my life.)

  10. And that is precisely why I don’t like such medications and am more cautious about them than a long-tailed cat is about old-fashioned rocking-chairs. Yes, they have a purpose, and that purpose is for the most part a good thing, but they come with a huge downside that I, for one, simply don’t want to get involved with. And really, the attraction is minimal for me. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, the dentist prescribed some painkiller (years back, so I don’t even remember what it was). I took one of them and did not like the way it messed with my emotions. The next morning, I handed them to my mother and told her I didn’t want them, but that she should hang onto them in case the pain took a turn for the worse and I couldn’t, in her opinion, cope without them. Two weeks later, we disposed of them with no more having been used.

    Do I think you’re becoming an addict? No. You don’t have the correct character to become addicted to such things. I suspect that it’s partially tied up with your religious beliefs, but also partially with your personality – which, to be fair, may be connected in some greater or lesser degree. In any case, once the prescription runs out and you don’t refill it, you may go through a couple of days of physical and/or emotional discomfort as the last remnants work their way out of your system, and then it’ll all be over. Or you may just run out and never feel any discomfort at all. (I rather suspect there will be a few moments – or more than a few – when your shoulder twinges. Such things don’t go away quickly. But I also feel that the relief of being off of the Lortab and back on certain ground regarding your emotions will be more than enough to overcome the physical twinges.)

    We don’t share a religious background, but if it won’t bother you, I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. We don’t share a religious background, but if it won’t bother you, I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

      It doesn’t bother me at all. Thank you.

      –Howard

  11. I agree with some of what the others are saying, and I can sense your fear in your words.

    You fear that you’ll get addicted to the stuff. I’m sure that’s a normal reaction to something you’ve never taken before. 🙂 Because of my crazy condition (ADHD), I always find out what a drug is, what it’s supposed to do –and noting every single side effect in case I turn out to be allergic to the stuff. (So far that’s only happened with Sulfa; having arms that itch is not fun.)

    You and I don’t share the same religious viewpoint either, and so you may not believe me, but I am psychic. I need certain of my psychic Talents to keep me sane as well as safe. If any drug interferes with that part of me, the psychic Talents shut down in self-defense. Usually that only happens with certain drugs that KO me as well, but there’s been one that did that to me while I was awake. For me, any drug that interferes with my psychic abilties doesn’t get past the first dose as I’ll know. I find that out, I won’t take the drug. Period.

    I have also found that the “connection to the Holy Spirit” that you speak of is, to me, the 7th sense we humans have – the physical five senses, the psychic sense(s) –many folk think of them as a “gut reaction”– and that connection you told about, which I feel is more of a connection to the Divine. I am sensitive to that 7th sense, and neither I nor my deity care to see that interfered with at all.

    However, Doctors also know that folk can get addicted, and many times order a sequence of a particular drug to wean the patient off the drug and keep them from getting addicted. You may want to ask your doctor (if the shoulder still hurts) if there is such a sequence for the Lortabs you’re taking.

    But I know where you’re coming from, Howard. That cautious streak towards drugs will keep you out of mischief….. if your wife doesn’t do that for you first. ;>

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