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.

Drowning in opiates…

12th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia

I am writing in a dazed and confused state from the events endured last night. The circumstances seem evidence of the obstacles to be faced over the coming period. It commenced at approximately 10pm when a sensation of being utterly lost in a cloud of opiates became overwhelming. Consequently, a negative mindset surfaced whereby I felt extremely vulnerable, and when reflecting it is difficult to describe, however, basically my pain increased to an almost intolerable degree, and it was not till 5am when my medication was changed, knocking me asleep.

I am now awake, have had blood collected twice, feel heavily dazed, and not in a position to do anything except lie in bed focusing on past quotes to keep me balanced. The feeling is a perfect example of what I have been trying to explain to staff members about the need to find the balance between having the capacity that allows me to engage in activities whilst keeping the pain away. Hopefully, someone will soon understand this predicament!

Complete intoxication is not the right coping mechanism

29th June 2015: Sydney, Australia

I once made reference to a quote stating, “some people in the world need a tap on their shoulder to make changes in their lives”. Initially I played with the phrase, adjusting it to my own circumstances by adding, “some people in the world need a tap on their shoulder to make changes in their lives whilst others needing a gigantic push”. Now, I pose the question of what happens if nether the tap or push is sufficient to lead to sustainable change? Does it then just signal no other chances at living will be provided? I ask these questions following a night of behaviours and lifestyle choices I thought had been in my past. Just to note, I am not referring to anything malicious. Rather, complete and utter intoxication over a period of two days. Interestingly, it happened in the midst of all this waiting. I ponder whether some significance is associated with the decision? If so, will the direction be an inevitable death at a much earlier age than I ever hoped? Alternatively, will it be a moment, recognised as a coping mechanism, implemented unconsciously to block out all the uncertainty awaiting me? Finally, could it just be evidence of me changing on a permanent basis, and the night was a singular necessary step backwards to ensure the long lasting life does in fact become a reality.

Family and friends

12th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

I am still in Bali with the dynamics shifting since the large groups of friends I was staying with decreased to four. Included within the four is my brother who booked tickets at the last minute to join for a week. I’m so happy he made the decision, and importantly, was able to surf quality waves with me whilst generally spending time together. Two of my other best friends come in on Wednesday, so after two days alone, there will be a return to constant laughter and good times with those close to me.

I am uncertain how to interpret my feelings at present, and the two days alone may be testing. The support my friends and brother have provided is outstanding, and the departure of all has become a point more pivotal since hearing news about my Chemotherapy levels. In summary, the therapeutic dose in my body should be between 14-20mg. Therefore, you can imagine the news was not well received when hearing last night that I should immediately stop taking the drugs due to the reading of 28.8mg places me at extreme risk of toxicity. Moreover, it should be remembered that I increased my dose before the last set of blood samples were collected. Ultimately, meaning the results were inaccurate, and I would actually be scoring higher than 28.8mg.

In response, I questioned my doctor why it has only been the most recent period whereby limited side-effects have been experienced. A point difficult to understand when levels deemed dangerous correlate with the resurfacing of a tumour. Personally, it only reinforces the previously proposed thought that now the Chemotherapy is attacking the tumour. Furthermore, with no disrespect to my doctor, it shows the limited knowledge the medical professionals have in treating this type of Cancer. Again, another point making me consider my options post Radiotherapy. Most notably, whether I will remain on Chemotherapy. Hopefully the arranged PET scan will be able to assist the understanding on the tumour, namely, whether it has increased during the five week period or disappeared completely as hoped. To conclude, as you can see, I completely don’t know what to think or how to interpret the situation, and I am just wantmg to continue feeling better than when last posting 😀

Medicinal Cannabis…..

14th May 2015: Sydney, Australia

Last year a friend introduced me to a documentary called, ‘Run from the Cure’. The story is follows a Canadian by the name of Rick Simpson who promotes the use of Cannabis oil for treating ailments, including Cancer. I currently do not have a stance about the matter, however, am increasingly seeing the area gain traction in all forms of mass media, and interestingly the NSW Sate Government of Australia has recently passed legislation in order to conduct trials.

I watched the documentary, and explored other material on the matter to become better informed about the option. The quarrel in using the oil stems from the limited research on the matter, a fear of whether side-effects would be experienced and the implications involved in using the oil. Namely, using the oil would suggest I see myself as unhealthy, and needing the oil to kill Cancer. Obviously, a belief I do not hold. Now, I can understand taking Chemotherapy is somewhat similar, and honestly when thinking about it, I am yet to come up with a strong argument for taking the Chemotherapy above the oil, particularly in my circumstances because there is no evidence to support the type of Chemotherapy I take. So unfortunately, I will need to leave it here for the moment and revisit the topic over the coming months.

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.