There Are Bad Drugs and Good Drugs, And You Probably Aren’t Qualified To Decide Which Is Which

This Memorial Day and all those following will have a special meaning for us.  The 29th of May marked the one-year anniversary of our granddaughter's suicide.

The death of a beautiful 19-year-old is always tragic.  Cadi's was especially so, because it almost certainly didn't have to happen.  She suffered from profound depression, had gone off her medication (which had been working well), and had been drinking.  The details don't matter.  She's gone, along with a piece of the hearts of everyone who knew and loved her.

The point here is that there are definitely good drugs and bad drugs.  I bring it up because in my correspondence and other contacts with people in recovery I often run across their expressed desires to get off all drugs, not just their drugs of abuse.  This unfortunate impulse is often supported by people who consider themselves to be well-versed in recovery issues but who, in actuality, are just people with opinions, not facts.

We have to keep a couple of points in mind here — important facts about addiction, depression and recovery.

  • Addiction causes changes in our brains that take from one to two years to return to “normal,” (if they ever do).
  • Depression is part of withdrawal, and “post acute” withdrawal can last for many months.
  • Antidepressant drugs can help, but they have their withdrawal issues as well.

As all addicts and many other folks know all-too-well, withdrawal symptoms are, generally speaking, the opposite of whatever pleasurable effects the drug may have had.  To put it another way, we took drugs or drank to feel good, then we did it to feel normal, then we did it because we had to — but in all cases, when we stopped taking them we felt discomfort ranging from icky to “Oh My God!”  If we used uppers, we were depressed when we stopped.  Quitting downers made us feel agitated, have blood pressure spikes, etc.; and our digestive systems' reaction to the removal of opiates, which cause constipation, made us throw up along with all the other withdrawal symptoms that we know and appreciate.

Well, folks, antidepressant drugs cause withdrawal too, and the major one is — you guessed it — depression.  The return is often sudden and profound.  It can also be fatal, especially if we combine it with a depressant like alcohol.  That's what Arcadia did, not too long before she jumped from a 200-foot bridge.

If you are on antidepressants, for heaven's sake don't stop taking them without careful detox by medical people who know what they are doing.  This is especially true if you are in early recovery, or if you are actively using other drugs.

It can stop your recovery.  Dead.

What A Perfect Excuse To Get Wasted!

A young woman I knew killed herself last year. The details don't matter, but for the sake of anyone dealing with depression in themselves or a family member, I will mention that she had gone off her meds and was drinking.

That's not why I'm writing, though. The anniversary is coming up two weeks from Saturday, and I was just thinking about how easy it would be to use that as an excuse to pick up.

Let me hasten to add that I feel no desire to use. I haven't felt those little monkey feet on my back for several years now, but the point is, it would be such a great excuse! What an opportunity for Angst! Self-pity! Posturing! Seeking sympathy! The “poor me's!” Screwing up my own head! Justifying! And finally, for using, and then making excuses for using, and using some more.

That's the way we addicts operate. Relapse comes before we pick up, and then we look for ways to justify what we already wanted to do anyway. Grief is a wonderful excuse. People “understand.” “Oh, he was under such stress! You know, this time last year…”

We're folks who will try almost anything to keep from feeling bad, whether emotionally, physically or spiritually — until we finally learn that it's impossible. For many years we kept that wolf at bay with drugs, including alcohol. Fact is, there is nothing about the death of a loved one that requires the use of drugs.  People have been grieving successfully, cold turkey, for thousands of years.  That is, unless we're looking for an excuse.

On the 29th I'll cry, and I'll hold the people close to me, and I'll grieve the way humans were meant to deal with sorrow, loss, and anger. I'll probably hit a meeting. Maybe a couple. One thing's for sure: I won't insult my granddaughter's memory by trying to forget.