“THE RIGHT TO PETITION”(??)
The one thing a methadone maintenance patient in my situation should never ever do is make the mistake of complaining.
Periodically, over the years. The awful realization that I was more or less chained to the methadone clinic would cause me to suffer a brief meltdown. Constantly being forced to address the reprecussions that were associated with Midtown and knowing that I was miserable at the same time. Most distressing. On these occasions I’d often unburden myself to anyone in close proximity.
And although I usually felt a great sense of relief from being able to express my anguish out loud. I’d always later regret unburdening myself. My lapse in judgement. Always. And here’s why.
Regardless of how much I resented what was happening. I couldn’t actually leave the clinic no matter how strong my desire was. No matter how much damage it was causing. No matter how much heartache I endured. Honestly I wasn’t bitching specifically about the methadone addiction in itself. Although it certainly wasn’t making me feel any better-prospect wise.
What was upsetting me the most was knowing that I no longer had power. No matter how much I knew I didn’t want to continue with treatment. From my perspective it was almost arbitrary whether or not I continued dosing. If I didn’t show up, I’d suffer. And even when I did show up- I’d still inevitably suffer.
The reality was that as long as I continued to make the methadone clinic a priority I wasn’t being a good parent to my son. How could I possibly offer my son anything other than poverty and despair? During the year that me and my son lived at the homeless shelter, I still hadn’t come to terms with the fact that I was forcing my son to choose Midtown as well. Truthfully I couldn’t properly parent him while over medicated for years at a stretch. Even later when I was physically managing my symptoms somewhat better I choose to knowingly deny my son clothes, toys, food and even the fenced in back yard he’d always dreamt of playing in. For the record our apartment downtown didn’t even include a patio to enjoy. It was just one of the sacrifices I automatically made on his behalf, without any consideration for what was best for him. And I did that for the clinic’s sake. And for my own sake. From the age of five on up he would accompany me to the clinic before school started in the mornings. He would resent having to wake up and travel by car or the city buses at 5:30 am. And if he wasn’t able to get enough sleep the night before, he couldn’t sleep in like most children. (Another blind sacrifice)
It’s one of the things I’ve had to admit that I was wrong about as a mother. I expected my son to also work around the clinic. Parents aren’t supposed to sacrifice years of their children’s lives standing outside in line, etc in order to ensure that their own “needs” continued to be met. That was my responsibility, no one else’s. If this treatment had been legitimately prescribed and wasn’t constantly hurting us than it would have been productive for us as a family. Unfortunately it wasn’t. It was just TIME spent and sacrifices made. I suppose the argument could be made that I was the single mother who choose to raise a child by herself. I took that responsibility on voluntarily and alone. I’d have to agree on that one. Here’s my argument:
Before prescribing methadone maintenance one of the factors to consider should be a person’s social economic situation. After all addiction is a behavioral mental health disorder and there’s likely evidence of the problem in all areas of a person’s life. Financially my addiction hadn’t yet reached the stage that it was detrimental to our livelihoods. However once admitted to the clinic I felt the impact-hard. And ironically for the first time ever. It’s another harm generated when methadone isn’t properly prescribed. And I wish like hell the doctor had given this aspect some thought before shuffling me on over to the Midtown methadone clinic where’d I remain stuck running in place for the next seventeen years. Unfortunately once admitted the damage was done. Since I certainly wasn’t spending as much money on pills as I’d have to later spend on the price of methadone. That’s part of the overall totality of everything that the clinic should have recognized might become harmful. And it did hurt us. It hurt us both for years. Honestly it still hurts us even to this very day, financially. It was one of those so-called adverse consequences that developed from my addiction to methadone. Yet, I still continued to show up. Despite the negatives.
They’d have my full cooperation. And it was my willingness to surrender that made me so angry with myself. Clearly I was suffering. There was not a single advantage by remaining in treatment. The only benefit was that I didn’t have to tackle the devastating withdraw symptoms. (Another “positive” checkmark where Midtown was considered ✔️)
Yet I remained loyal as ever. Midtown’s agenda ultimately meant more than my own. And even today I have trouble convincing myself, psychologically, that they didn’t use the implied threat of not being able to dose as a means of control. In my mind I was powerless to do anything about it. Especially later on once the Shelter Plus program compounded matters further. But even before then Midtown’s overall approach concerning some of the issues I occasionally had the courage to mention was basically -damage control. They provided suggestions that would support methadone maintenance. They we’re all too willing to let loved ones know that it was a legitimate based form of treatment! They couldn’t see the bigger picture. They were focused on making treatment happen. They had tunnel vision where methadone was concerned.
Now I don’t honestly believe that this was intentional. I think most clinicians meant well. They just didn’t understand that treatment wasn’t ALWAYS good for all of the ones who had been admitted. Guidelines clearly state that anyone being admitted must be opioid dependant for at least one year. And how would the clinic verify that medical fact for a certainty?? Obviously they’d ask you on the admitting assessment to tell them how long you’ve been addicted to opiates! (Gosh problem solved…. NOT.) That’s not exactly a scientific or reliable source. I know me personally, very well. I’m not always reliable and I’m never scientific. Otherwise I’d probably have no need for medical professionals whatsoever.
Occasionally after a meltdown a good Samaritan would step in on my behalf. Usually it was a member of my family. Not always.
In actuality it made things much harder when someone else tried to manage it. It also confirmed my worse suspicion. That there was nothing that could be done to help me. If I truly wanted to exit I’d have to suffer without medicine. I felt as if I had two choices in front of me. 1) continue to manage the suffering you’re familiar with(evictions, poverty, discrimination, depression loss of self respect etc.) The usual. Or I could face another daunting prospect. 2) Attempt to experience suffering on an unknown level(methadone withdraw) Deal for the very first time with opioid withdraw. Do it without medication or much community support. And risk hurting your son even more.)
Who would consider my options vast at that point(??) Or reasonable? Bottom line was I wasn’t getting out of this situation unscathed.
Least I was surviving the way it stood. I wasn’t in physical distress for the time being.
I understand why people assumed they were helping me as opposed to interfering. But truthfully they weren’t. They didn’t comprehend I was hysterical about the fact I couldn’t do anything. I was upset because I realized I had been harmed. Who was going to help me get back on my feet while in withdraw? Noticable lack of “Good Samaritans” where that area was concerned. Approximately eight years into my treatment (or 2,920 doses) despite all the negative consequences. I was still a “client” at Midtown. From all outward appearances I didn’t seem to care or acknowledge how much I was getting hurt by my addiction to methadone. Most people assumed that I was enrolled in a legitimate treatment program by choice. A medically necessary treatment. It appeared to be voluntarily. No one put a gun to my head! They didn’t understand that in my mind, that’s exactly what was occuring to me each day. Didn’t matter if the gun was loaded or not. I didn’t check for bullets. Of course anyone who knew and remembered me back from before the days of methadone maintenance realized just how far I’d fallen in those eight years. It didn’t make any sense to them. Why on God’s green earth was I still on methadone? The pressure to get off methadone was enormous. Especially from my own family. My father in particular couldn’t understand how addicted I had become. He just couldn’t imagine the problems at that point. I lost track of how many different times I’d flat out lie to my parents about tapering off my dose. I had simply caved under all that constant pressure. It was much easier to tell them whatever they wanted to hear. Particularly on Sunday evenings. If I seriously expected anyone to hand out cash for my weekly fees then I had to tell them what they wanted to hear. I had to make them believe that there was an end in sight. I had to give them false hope. Definitely couldn’t afford to make them angry with me as I begged them once again for their help paying my fees. I needed them to believe that it wasn’t a life sentence so I’d tell them anything they were hoping to hear. And reassure them that I was working on a plan. Anything but the truth- That in six days time, almost down to the exact minute. I would appear before them again making the same exact plea as the week before.
In fairness they (family) assumed that the pamphlet from orientation day was medically accurate.
“Anyone can ween off methadone..” (paraphrase)
I wanted to know on which planet that was a reality? Perhaps there was room on board the space craft for me as well?
No one understood. That’s why I’d breakdown to begin with. Time and time again I’d become overwhelmed with shame and helplessness. The Desperation, stealing and lying constantly to the people I loved most in the world. It wore me down. It went against my nature.
On one occasion a social worker from the homeless shelter had been the concerned “bystander” during yet another breakdown. Happened to be in the path of the tornado, so to speak.
After crying in her office for nearly an hour and revealing how bleak my future now was. (typical Sunday nervous breakdown, still hate Mondays for this reason). She wanted to help me! (I do still appreciate her compassion) She immediately picked up the phone and dialed Midtown’s number. Then I realized suddenly that Midtown was only TOO willing to cut me loose before I had a chance to remedy the problems that methadone had already caused me. I couldn’t risk having my dose rapidly decreased against my will while simultaneously trying to rebuild my life. I didn’t know if I’d be physically better off either. She left a voicemail but I never returned to follow up. As a general procedure matter, patient consent would prevent anyone from Midtown communicating with a social worker. Just as long as I didn’t sign off the release of information. And of course I wouldn’t. I had a reprieve for my lapse in judgement. Which meant Midtown wouldn’t have to find out what I had done. I knew Midtown wouldn’t be overly concerned about the withdraw from methadone. I knew I’d be obliged right away. Remember it was my first experience with opioid withdraw on this level.
That was the scariest part.
In fact according to the clinic’s brochure. I could make an exit anytime I was stabilized and READY to do so. I’m still not sure what kind of person suddenly wakes up after being stabilized and decides that they’re ready to endure methadone withdraw(?) But I didn’t attend medical school.
Besides not dosing wasn’t going to magically fix all of the problems generated by my addiction. Making a request to exit would complicate things further. It Felt reasonable to slap on a band aid every morning until I could figure out any course of action. Or until I died from natural causes. I’d resort to dosing out of necessity. Only one thing I was sure of. I wasn’t better off in withdraw.
I was still living in a homeless shelter back then. Certainly didn’t wanna experience methadone withdraw(opioid withdraw, first time) while living among strangers and raising a child. Plus there was always the possibly of failure where detoxing was concerned. How could I know if I’d be able to do it? I wasn’t opioid dependant on arrival. I didn’t know what to expect from methadone withdraw. I couldn’t be absolutely certain that my very survival as well as my child’s, wouldn’t one day depend on obtaining methadone through the Midtown narcotics treatment program. Midtown NTP was the ONLY methadone maintenance outpatient clinic in Marion county Indiana. As long as I had a son to care for I couldn’t risk closing that door forever. It was hopeless. Hadn’t the social worker yet heard???
YOU NEVER BITE THE HAND THAT’S BEEN FEEDING YOUR ADDICTION! (Junkie 101)*
It was back then while living at the shelter I was finally pushed to the breaking point. I don’t think anyone else could experience guilt on the level that I did. The main reason I felt guilty was knowing I was to blame for everything that had happened to my young children due to being a patient at Midtown. The heartbreaking adoption of my baby girl then the devastation caused by discrimination. It had been excruciating.
Added to the load was knowing that everyone who did agree to support me (weekly fees, transportation, housing) was subjected to some form of manipulation. No one helped me voluntarily. No one who truly cared about my well being wanted me to stay at the methadone clinic. I had to make them believe that they wanted to. I had to lie. Not just once or twice but literally hundreds of different times. I could never just ask someone for money based on the fact it was important to me.
On one occasion I ingested a handful of pills, benzos, opiates along with a methadone take-home bottle. It was unusual that I even had take-home medication bottles since inevitably at some point something would prevent most patients from being eligible for the privilege of take home bottles.
Once I actually had mine confiscated due to what’s known as a diluted urine screen. I had no idea why the urine screen came back as officially “dilute”! But it wasn’t intentional on my part. I was informed that there’s plausible explanations. Merely drinking too much water could cause this reaction. But It didn’t matter to Midtown’s staff what the reason was. Better safe than sorry. My bottles were immediately revoked without notice. I had rightfully earned my take homes at that time. I was clean and attended all the required groups. Probably unecassary to mention I had virtually perfect attendance as well. It was painful explaining to my family that once again, Midtown called dibs.
And this meant that once again I was forced to return to begging anyone who was willing to bring me back and forth every single day of the week. Just as I had been getting used to the idea of only having to beg five out of seven days. Nope. Nothing I could do about it. Especially complain. My son was away from the shelter visiting his grandparents and I swallowed as many pills as I could easily fit into my mouth in addition to drinking a methadone take-home bottle. I collapsed right outside of my room in the shelter’s hallway where I was discovered by another resident covered in my own vomit. I was taken to a hospital. It might have been Eskenazi hospital or formally known as Wishard. I don’t remember where I wound up that day. (For record I think it was my pancreatitis that probably saved my life. Throwing up was something I was constantly doing. (Check ✔️ Midtown).
Truthfully I can’t even remember what year that happened since most of those years weren’t distinguishable from one another.
My mother had received a call while she was at work and dropped everything to drive into the heart of downtown and be by my side. When I finally did regain consciousness, the first thing I became aware of was the sound of my mother sobbing quietly near by.
“Majority tell me you didn’t do this to yourself on purpose did you? I love you and I need you here with me. You didn’t did you? The doctors are asking questions.”
The only time I recall speaking with a physician during my “foggy” period had been during some kind of memory exercise. The doctor read off my medical history or facts as they were presented on a print out with my mother sitting in the room. The doctor would confirm my answers by looking over at my mom who would nod her head to say, yes that was true. At one point as she inquired about various medical procedures that I’d had over the years including the details related to childbirth. She had asked me to confirm that I had two children. She hadn’t asked me if I had given birth two different times. She asked specifically if I had two children.
She’d probably assumed that two live births meant I had both my babies at that time. And instead of answering her I felt my face crinkling up as I stuttered trying to explain to her that I couldn’t be with my daughter. The words got stuck in my throat and I became visibly upset trying to sit up. My mother then jumped to her feet and held onto my hand. She took over from there as I passed back out. My mother. My co-pilot. My dear, dear friend.
Hours later in typical Majority fashion I told her it was a stupid accident and then apologized to her for causing so much trouble. I assured her that I was fine. After all the good Lord knew I had plenty of practice telling her and everyone else- exactly what they wanted to hear. She seemed to accept me at my word. I’m sure mother’s intuition told her I wasn’t being honest. And just like all the lies I told each week in order to pay for methadone. She was courteous and willing to believe what I needed her to believe. Face value. (Thanks mom)*
It was awful knowing by the time of my discharge I still hadn’t found a way out of the methadone situation. It was as if nothing in the universe could prevent me from showing up on Monday mornings, money order in hand. Not my own free will, not a cocktail of prescriptions. Not even the hospital treating me. I’d be released back to the hell I had been burning in a short while later. Fortunately I had no idea that eight years in treatment was only about the half way point. Just a tad over EIGHT MORE years to go. Thank God my crystal ball was in the shop when discharged. Only 2,920 doses more to go. Thankfully I didn’t realize that part back then. Not too long afterwards our names came up on the list for the Shelter Plus program. I decided that finally there might be some hope for a meaningful future. That was just the type of opportunity that had brought me to the homeless shelter to begin with. (Remember it wouldn’t have mattered where I was. I ALWAYS had the same problem) I convinced myself that maybe now I could make something work out for the best? I put one foot in front the other and kept going.
In other words I told myself, “Shut up and dose. You’ll figure something out”