People say that taking prescription pills can be a slippery slope to addiction. I guess I didn’t think it could actually happen to me. I saw all of the horrible things addiction did to my older sister, and knew that I did not want that life for myself. Honestly, I thought addiction was a choice, but I was wrong. Once addiction sets in, there is no choice—you are run by your addiction, your choices, behaviors and thoughts are fully consumed by your need to curb your craving.
I started taking Celexa when my sister entered her first round at a rehab center. Along with Celexa the doctor gave me a prescription for Xanax. I was told to use Xanax sparingly and only when I was feeling extreme panic. Initially I was nervous about taking any medication because I liked to be fully in control of my body. The idea of relying on a foreign substance to help manage my moods was not attractive to me. I trusted this doctor though, and she said that I could greatly benefit from the medication. She also told me that I probably wouldn’t be a “lifer,” meaning that I would not have to take Celexa forever. She said, rather, it was most likely situational, and that once my brain and body remember how to properly produce the chemicals with help from the medication, I would be able to stop.
It took about three weeks for the Celexa to kick in. It took me two weeks, and four panic attacks, to take the Xanax. I was nervous to take it because I didn’t know how I would respond, but I was so sick of the panic attacks. I could have never imagined its effects on me. It was like a miracle drug. Less than ten minutes after swallowing the pill I felt calm. I just didn’t care…I didn’t have a care in the world. I felt slightly clouded, but fully relaxed. It was amazing. I remember feeling that I never wanted to feel any other way.
I proceeded to take a Xanax every 5 hours for the next several days. I was sleeping fantastically, and almost forgot what my feelings of anxiety were, until I noticed only two lonely pills at the bottom of my little orange pill container. The prescription was for thirty pills and I hadn’t even had them for a month. I remember thinking—I would do anything I could to get a refill. I called the doctor and told her that I had tripped, bumped into the pill container that made it fall into the toilet. That worked—she gave me another thirty pills.
I never wanted to feel the panic of running out of Xanax again, so I began seeing another psychiatrist, who also provided me with a prescription of Xanax. Then I added a psychopharmacologist to the mix. Because I was taking them so frequently, I needed to up my dose and shorten the time between pills—to feel the same effects. I began to take two or three pills at a time. My three prescriptions just weren’t cutting it. I ended up going to another doctor, and then another. I began paying for the pills out of pocket because I did not want the pharmacies to know that I had multiple prescriptions. I also had one of my friends get two prescriptions for me. When all was said and done I had a steady eight, thirty pill bottle each, coming my way every month. This went on for eleven months.
It was surprisingly easy to “doctor shop.” Most of the doctors that I encountered did not even check to see if I had any other prescriptions in my name. Once I needed to steal money from my parents and friends was when my addiction was brought into the spotlight. I had managed to hide all of the pills well enough for such a long time, but I began to not care about keeping my stash of pills impossible for others to find. All I really cared about was making sure I had enough of them to take and making sure I didn’t run out. There were only a couple of days that I did not have enough to curb my cravings, and those days I experienced horrible withdrawal symptoms. I would do anything to avoid those experiences again. This is the heart of addiction. Continuing to feed one’s cravings regardless of the negative consequences that occur to one’s self.
Once I hit “rock bottom,” my family, thankfully supported me through a long-term stay at a drug rehabilitation program. It started with an intense medically supervised detox phase. I am incredibly grateful to the nurses and doctors through that time in my life, as the withdrawal symptoms were excruciating, but those medical professionals kept me safe and alive through it. One could look at this situation and blame the doctors for prescribing me medication in the first place, but I understand that the doctors from whom I “doctor shopped” from were simply trying to help me (and I was extremely convincing), and that I took advantage of them and the system. As of now, have been sober for sixteen months and four days.