How to help a friend addicted to drugs

15th December 2015: Sydney, Australia

I am feeling extremely pleased to be anonymous, especially bearing in mind the topic of the post. Prior to continuing though, I must share my awareness of people possibly drawing some contradictions in my writing. Most notably, how I have detailed my beliefs about the benefits for people who with Cancer using Cannabis Oil. My reasoning results from seeing the divide caused within my small audience when writing about Cannabis. In response, I can only highlight the fact of not touching any Cannabis for over a decade before trailing it as a means to support my health whilst utilising it to eliminate the side effects associated with my chemotherapy. Basically, my use of Cannabis is solely centred upon supporting my quality of life and survival. In contrast, drugs such as ice take a person into a completely different direction.

I am not going to detail the circumstances for my friend or provide a case summary about his life. Instead, I want to share some thoughts, and hopefully receive some tips from others who are either experiencing similar matters or had encounters in the past that they feel will help someone else.

Naturally, the lives of my friend and I have shifted in different paths of late, and each time his name is raised, a cause of worry surfaces about his latest antics. The question has always been, what can be down to help him, especially if he does not wish to help himself. When reflecting on that statement, I wonder whether it is not signal of the circumstances being too hard too deal with? If true, it seems people, including myself have chosen to ignore the situation, placing his life in a context of ‘being out of sight out of mind’. Today, my thoughts have been about the type of friend I have been to him. Yes, he is addicted to an extremely dangerous drug, however, is it not these times for friends to rise in unity? Fortunately, another close friend in my social circle cares about our mutual friend, and arranged to meet last night. In all honesty. I am not sure whether it was helpful, however, a few small outcomes were achieved:
1. A show of willingness from old friends to support him.
2. The sharing of stories, highlighting the fact that a different life is possible.
3. Reconnection with a world outside addiction and crime.
4. Future planning to meet, showing a commitment to see him in the future.
5. Advice on some criminal matters he is involved in.

I am sure we can explore this topic in great depth, however, in accordance with keeping posts rather small, I hope the post can stimulate some thinking, and lead to some discussion on the matter.

Does Cannabis actually benefit people on chemotherapy

22nd September 2015: Sydney, Australia

I feel the need to express my attitudes towards people on chemotherapy taking Cannabis to control common side-effects, including nausea, fatigue, appetite and the general mindset of the individual. It seems a disclaimer is needed to ensure I am not misinterpreted. Firstly, I am basing the entry from a completely personal experience, and am not suggesting it will suit all, however, do advocate for it to be trailed in combination with chemotherapy to limit the common crippling side-effects. Secondly, I have been fortunate enough to secure Cannabis oil, meaning it is less harmful for my body compared with smoking the plant. Finally, the Cannabis I used was all grown outside completely unaided by any fertiliser or other item to promote rapid growth or potency.

As noted, I am in favour of the use of medicine Cannabis, especially in the oil format, however, I have felt a reluctance to advise certain people about using Cannabis for fear of their response. It seems there is still a section of the population who simply view medicinal Cannabis as means for people to get high or an avenue for regular smokers to lobby government in an attempt for legalisation. A point found extremely interesting is the trust people have for pharmaceutical products compared to a natural plant that has clearly proved so effective in relieving any side-effects associated with my treatment. Personally, the matter is straight forward, and the 20 months of diary entries can demonstrate how use of the oil directly correlated with a removal of all side-effects from my life. A discussion with my Professor provides an accurate synopsis of my experience. To simply summarise the content of the discussion, I noted a removal of rancid odours from my body, an increase in energy and a return to a normal palate. In addition, the constant endless nausea has now been replaced by feelings of relaxation throughout my body prior to sleeping whilst also a little a jovial. Lastly, and importantly, I have finally been able to feel a degree of normality in my life. A feature missing for 20 months, and a point not to be underestimated. Now, considering these experiences, I would be very interested to hear from others, and to note, I simply wish to open dialogue so am open to all opinions.

 

What is Mitotane

25th August 2015: Sydney, Australia

Research was completed into the claims heard by the young person yesterday who stated, ‘the chemotherapy I am taking is a pesticide’. For anyone wanting to cross reference the above information should note, the drug is called Mitotane, and it does seemingly appear to derive from a pesticide called DDT. For anyone not familiar with the pesticide DDT, should also be made aware of the fact it was banned for human consumption by the USA in 1972.

I am consciously aware of the limitations I have in interpreting the information surrounding how the drug was derived from the pesticide, and what possible implications could be associated with the continual use of the drug. Therefore, an email was sent to my Professor expressing an interest in discussing the matter at the next appointment. Basically, my intentions are to make an informed decision, weighing up the risks versus the advantages, especially considering the original form of the drug is now banned in most parts of the world. Furthermore, the limited research on the drug compounded by the fact of the reoccurrence makes me feel inclined to see no separation between the effectiveness of the drug in comparison to other options. Most notably, use of the Cannabis Oil on planned intervals throughout a year combined with an overhaul of my dietary and lifestyle choices. Obviously, I will not be making any rash decisions, however, my current thinking seems to be fairly evident within the writing thus far.

Desicions about chemotherapy

24th August 2015: Sydney, Australia
Today, I made contact with a young person who is also overseen by my Professor. The young person had a reoccurrence of Adrenal Cancer (ACC) that spread to his lungs, however, now, approximately five years since finishing a course of Mitotane (chemotherapy for ACC), he is completing his first year at University. It is excellent to hear he is pursuing his studies, especially after being forced to face the journey at such a young age.

Interestingly, the conversation left me more confused about what actions to pursue in the future, namely, whether the course of Mitotane should continue. The young person had strong negative views about the drug, labelling it as a pesticide. Honestly, there is no surprise about his views after hearing the difficulty he endured over the period of 18 months. In terms of my own body, it is a decision I need to make, and whilst seemingly appearing to continue living without major disturbances from any side-effects, there appears to be a safety net associated with taking the drug. There is some irony in seeing the drug as a safety net, especially when bearing in mind my levels were so high, they were actually within a range deemed toxic before the Cancer resurfaced. The question surely becomes why is it viewed a safety net, especially when little success was achieved? I believe the matter could be debated long and hard, particularly being aware a lot of people would proclaim the drugs may be detrimental to my immune system and overall capacity to heal. In response, the only point coming to mind is the thought of not giving myself every opportunity to life should the drugs discontinue.

Tomorrow is not D-Day!

8th July 2015: Sydney, Australia

One more sleep separates my current life to the new normality awaiting me. I feel as prepared as possible for surgery, with my mindset playing a crucial role in maintaining overall homeostasis, however, the surrealism of the entire experience is still difficult to comprehend. Namely, the actual details of the reality awaiting me. I must mention, my predictions entail rising from surgery heavily sedated, with weeks to follow stuck within this incapacitated state, however, ultimately I have no idea of what they may find or whether any complications are associated with th surgery. Admittedly, my intentions were to reference tomorrow as D-Day, however, when thinking about the connotations, I did not see the tittle as fitting to the day ahead. Yes, I will have a procedure, and will be experiencing temporary pain, however, on a permanent basis, I have belief in being stronger in a physical, mental and emotional sense. Therefore, tomorrow is not D-Day. Instead, just another day, and the beginning of my new normal.

Why time makes me want to morph into a bear to hibernate till everything is finished..

12th May 2015: Sydney Australia

My Professor and I discussed several points, including all the details surrounding my upcoming trip. The other matter discussed was the expected period of time on the Chemotherapy, and it seems I have become victim to my own beliefs. I have advocated from the very beginning of all this that no timeframes would be established for when my treatment would stop. Admittedly, since hearing I would be on the medication for a whole another year deflated my mood. Yes, it is only a few months more, and seems essential so will be adhering to the planning. It has just made me down, angry and somewhat frustrated. I recognise this chain of thought is unhealthy and needs to change, especially considering the current fantasies running through my mind. I would never follow through with such actions, however, in being honest, I am inclined to numb myself with prescription drugs to fall into a deep sleep like a bear to hibernate till it is all finished. I can see perspective is required, particularly in how fortunate I am in many ways, it just hard to take that on board at times.

Drugs

15 March 2015: Sydney, Australia

It has now been two days since my wisdom tooth was removed. I was amazed at the promptness of the process. Honestly, the entire procedure was completed in 20 minutes, however, the pain that was later felt acted as reminder of past experiences whilst also providing motivation to become well again. For the past two days, I have been in a bit of a medicated haze, particularly on Friday when the local Anaesthetic stopped working. I am not an advocate for taking excess drugs, however, I did not appropriately use pain relief when in hospital recovering last year, so this time opted to apply a different strategy to avoid enduring any unnecessary pain. Consequently, the combination of both Panadeine Forte and Endone sent me to bed with a towel necessary for the excess dribble coming out of mouth. An exact amount of medication consumed on Friday would total 18 tablets, including the regular Chemotherapy, additional Cortisol for recovery, a Valium pre-procedure for the needles, antibiotics x3, Panadeine Forte x3 plus Endone x2.

The excessive amount of tablets brought to surface thoughts about my place in the modern world, and the almost certainty of my death already being a reality without medical assistance. It also brought back memories of thoughts had when I saw my grandfather taking the massive amounts of daily tablets he consumed to remain alive. The contraction once again showing in my life is the very fact of my existence being dependent on the consumption of tablets. To conclude, it is the fist time in two days any sort of mental energy has been used, and consequently, the blue curtains called my eyes are starting to close. Therefore, I will hope to continue with this theme tomorrow.

Drama, over-reaction and a whole heap of stress!!

6th March 2015: Sydney, Australia

I write this in a Endone haze, en-route to the dentist. At 5am last night, I woke to a throbbing agony coming from my mouth. I was only able to endure roughly five minutes of pain prior to taking 5ml of an opiate based medicine called Endone. Another five minutes past before a consecutive tablet was consumed. Subconsciously, I think a comparison to the last time I woke in agony from my sleep triggered the decision to take the tablets, and I honestly believe the pain-relief has eased some anxiety linked to a fear of whether the pain is a new Cancer. In addition, the decision acted in accordance with the recommendation of the Anaesthetist when last in hospital whereby I was informed it was better to get on top of the pain before it escalates rather than waiting till it gets stronger.

On reflection, my response this morning was probably over dramatic, causing unnecessary stress for my parents, and situations as such are still an area I am yet to conquer. In typical circumstances an ache from my mouth would have been associated with a need for dental appointment, and when taking the time to sit back to analyse the situation, it seems probable of this outcome proving to be accurate. The difficultly is the slight niggle of wondering whether it is Cancer related. Therefore, a sequence of highly rushed events follow, leaving a trail of destruction around me, including panic, stress and associated expenses. If one point was to be highlighted it would be a vulnerability evident in my life, and it appears at these certain times, a crack in my armour can easily be be made, resulting in an over-reaction. As mentioned, it is an area I am yet to conquer, and very similar to the incident whereby I called the ambulance due to the blood coming out of my mouth whilst brushing my teeth. There is an irony of the paradox existing in the attempt to support others implement a plan in their lives for similar moments, yet, it is the very area I am yet to have confidence in applying myself.

I am hopeful it is just an ache associated with my teeth, and a massive over-reaction, however, it reinforces a number of keys points. Most notably, my reliance on the support from parents; the immediate seeking of attention from the Professor overseeing my care for advise when struck with a cause of concern; the negative effects of Endone after consuming the tablets, and the reality of the Cancer experience still heavily effecting my life. The positive to draw from these points is the fact that the Sunflower Framework covers all these topics, and although I am aware no script for all people can be devised, it seems probable others would experience similar concerns. Therefore, a strength in the content seems to shine, and hopefully an opportunity is provided for a pilot to be operated over the coming year to truly test the benefits for other people with Cancer.

Am I drug addict or just reliant on drugs to survive?

25th February, 2015: Sydney Australia

Prior to sleeping last night, a chain of thinking brought to surface a reality in my life about a perceived reliance and newly formed rigidity resulting from the need for pills to be consumed at set intervals throughout the day.

Interestingly, a link to this perceived reliance stems to the corresponding period last year whereby the drug Endone, an opium based pain-relief medicine was essential in managing the period following my surgery. A number of vivid images come to mind when thinking of the time when I was taking Endone, most notably, the ability of the drug to quickly take away the intense throbbing pain associated with the weeping wound. For many weeks post discharge, a typical day would commence at approximately 3am whereby I would painfully reach over to the tablets next to my bed before going back to sleep. The next moment of pain were experienced in the morning when a dishevelled version of myself would be seen to walk upstairs with a sour look on my face. At the time, it seems the face signalled a chain of events to occur, starting with my mum immediately giving me the necessary pills whilst also starting a massage on my back to help reduce any pain. It should be noted that a husky grunt or groan were the only noises heard till I was able to verbally communicate. Usually, the primitive form of communication would last forty minutes till any sort of food would be considered, and just like now, planning would then centre around the timing for having my next set of pills whilst in complete contradiction a battle was ongoing in my mind based on timeframes for when I would no longer be taking any drugs.

I opt for the term reliance, due specifically to both a physical and mental need to consume my current prescription of drugs. Personal observations have brought to mind the switch when recognising I am late taking the pills. It is apparent a psychosomatic reaction is triggered, particularly in relation to the required dose of Cortisol. For instance, any sign of fatigue or nausea is always represented to be directly caused from not adhering to the scheduling of my tablets. Consequently, a sense of urgency rushes throughout my thinking till I have consumed the drugs. I do see some merit in my reaction, especially as my body only obtains the necessary Cortisol in an artificial form, however, I have difficulty accepting the concept of the seemingly adept ability of my body to perform at a usual level till it registers that I am late taking the dose, and that very knowledge places me in the position whereby I see my life revolving around a routine of drugs. A point I do not wish to feature for the rest of my life.

Serious questions need to be asked about whether the easiest option is necessarily the best option?

10th February 2014: Sydney Australia

The events last night stained me with memories forming the basis of this entry. It all started with the ever familiar feeling of a nausea crippling all thoughts, motivation, strength and focus. Moreover, these thoughts were compounded by a repulsive odour that was passing throughout my system. An odour, toxic enough to test the fine line between feeling nauseous and vomiting (sorry if too much details). I recall thinking, ‘just one more year’. Fortunately, I soon realised this chain of thinking was not productive, so I pushed through the discomfort in order to complete some mental exercises enabling me to switch the thought process into a state of acceptance. I need to acknowledge the indisputable fact that side-effects will occur whilst also recognising the many flaws that exist in setting a timeframe for when the side-effects will finish, hence, the reason to instead seek for a degree of acceptance with my circumstances.

I stated many flaws could be outlined, and two main limitations will be explored. To commence, the most obvious point surely must relate to a possible scenario of being placed in a situation in a year from now where the recommendation to continue with the course of treatment is received. The reality of the outcome mush be highlighted, especially bearing in mind the mixed input received from varying professionals who have been involved in my care. An overview to portray the previous point entails a recommendation from the team of doctors in the UK who believe I should remain on the medication for a period of five years, with an indication of a maintenance dose for the entirety of my life. Secondly, my case was presented to doctor from the USA who is a specialist in the area, agreeing with a timeframe of no less than five years till review. Thus, as noted, a continuation of the treatment for more than a year could be a very real possibility. If so, what happens when I am feeling like this next year? What sense of hope can be derived from a situation when faced with another loss, especially with no finish line ahead. It is for this reason why an acceptance of uncomfortable and upsetting situations needs to be found within my life. It is not easy, however, it seems a far better approach than setting in place potentially harmful timeframes.

The second point is the growing inclination to use some form of prescription drugs to just sleep at night as a means of taking away any discomfort. A temporary solution in extreme circumstances, however, if taken on every occasion I feel nauseous, then I believe a reliance could easily be integrated into my weekly routine. Furthermore, serious questions need to be asked about whether the easiest option is necessarily the best option? In addition, I am unable to shift my view of seeing the action of taking a pill to relive any suffering as truly not doing all I can to overcome this situation. Again, this point would be contentious, and all people would vary in their approach, however, I feel a testing of my mind and body is definitely in process. Therefore, what reflections can be drawn from me taking the easy option? I am not advocating for suffering, yet, I would prefer a period of difficult is worked through by building my internal resources rather than a temporary remedy is taken in the form of a tablet. Finally, and is probably the primary reason for not considering use of any substance at this stage is due to very likely sedated effect on my body and mind th following mornjng. Therefore, I actually see the decision as counterproductive, and prolonging the period whereby I am incapable of undertaking routine tasks.