Finding New Life in a Methadone Program

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After falling off a ladder, Suzanne was rushed to the hospital and examined from stem to stern. Her pelvic bone was fractured and she’d sprained her wrist, but the pain in her left shoulder was unbearable.

Suzanne dislocated her shoulder and suffered what’s called a glenoid labrum tear, meaning the tissue rim surrounding her shoulder socket (known as the glenoid rim) had literally been torn apart. Suzanne’s doctors agreed that she would need to undergo two separate surgeries and several months of physical therapy.

Over the course of 18 months, her shoulder was surgically repaired and its surrounding muscles continued gaining strength. During that same timeframe, however, Suzanne was prescribed high doses of the powerful painkiller OxyContin. Once she started taking a few extra pills each day, things quickly spiraled out of control and an opiate addiction was born. She’d even started “doctor shopping” as a means to get more pills.

You Just Never Know…

Frightened and consumed by anxiety, Suzanne finally confided in Matthew, a young computer programmer who lived next door. To her surprise, Matthew revealed he’d also struggled with opiate addiction. But it was what he said next that would forever change Suzanne’s world: “A methadone program literally saved my life.”

Like a lot of people, Suzanne believed methadone was only for people hooked on heroin. She had unknowingly bought into the stigma surrounding methadone therapy. After talking to Matthew, however, it was clear she had been wrong. For the first time in a very long time, Suzanne had hope – hope that a methadone program could do for her what it had done for her neighbor.

A Whole New World

Living in a large city, Suzanne was able to find several methadone programs close to home. She made an appointment and made a promise to herself that she’d see this through to the end. She was ready to reclaim her life.

The clinic she chose offered everything she needed…and then some. In addition to feeling care and concern from the staff, a few of the things Suzanne really liked about her clinic included:

  • Working closely with an on-site counselor to develop an individual program and dosage
  • Someone is available to speak with clients over the phone or online 24/7
  • Yearly physicals and blood work to evaluate methadone levels
  • Good behavior is rewarded with take-home medication, lowering daily clinic visits for dosing
  • Participation puts an end to engaging in secretive, illegal and self-destructive drug-seeking behavior
  • The opportunity to get your life back on track while avoiding opiate withdrawal
  • Methadone is regulated and never cut with other drugs or dangerous substances dealers often use on the streets

Suzanne spent a year in the program, slowly tapering her dosage down under the guidance of her counselor and facility physician. Putting any lingering worry to bed, she successfully and completely tapered off the methadone without issue. Other than a handful of “hot flashes” and some mild stomach upset, Suzanne barely noticed any withdrawal symptoms.

Paying it Forward and the Greater Good

Today, Suzanne is a happy, healthy 7th grade teacher. She’s married to an extremely supportive husband, has two children and is active in her community. Determined to help others who might be scared and confused, she openly talks about her own addiction and sings the praises of methadone therapy:

“I’m always on the lookout for anyone who might be struggling with an addiction to painkillers. Nothing makes me happier than being able to pay it forward…just like Matthew did when I was lost and scared out of my mind. There is help out there and I believe that methadone is a safe, effective option. You don’t have to suffer in silence; no one does.”

“As with any business, there are some “bad apples” in the bunch. Are there poorly run and underfunded methadone programs in operation? Absolutely. Are there clinics that don’t have the patient’s best interests at heart or focused on money instead of recovery? Absolutely. But the vast majority of them are professional, well-run and supportive.”

“A methadone program may not be right for everyone, but you won’t know unless you try. Don’t let stigma or innuendo rob you of the chance to find recovery.”


Image Source: iStock

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