I am Tracey Helton Mitchell, Author of "The Big Fix- Hope After Heroin" and one to the addicts featured in the movie "Black Tar Heroin" Ask me Anything

Yup. Been there going on 7 months next week. I know some people consider it trading one drug for another but IMO those people are being close minded, judgmental, and aren't looking at the big picture.

The first month was more about getting to a stable dose and adjusting to life without H. And honestly, I originally went because my hookup got busted and it was either try to cold cop, hit up "friends" I hadn't spoken to in around a year or so, trying to go through a dude from my area that I'd talked to on reddit, or deal with the sickness; or I had literally just enough money in my wallet to put enough gas in my car to get down there and pay the fees to join the clinic. I didn't feel like spending that last bit of money on a "maybe" and end up getting robbed or worse (if I had tried cold copping), and I was a functioning addict so literally like two people in my life knew I used H (aside from the dealer obv heh), so the sickness and weeks/months of Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS for short) weren't super viable if I wanted to keep my job and car, among other things. Honestly I could do the 4-7 days of regular withdrawal, it's the PAWS that I've always struggled with, those God damned invasive thoughts about cravings.

So, I made the choice to begin treatment. At first I was just going to use it as a temporary fix until I could get a good connect. But then I thought about the money I'd been spending. I thought about the close call from 3 months earlier when I'd gotten pulled over about 20 minutes after doing a line and smoking a little bud and had stuff in the car (so I wasn't like faded/nodding out or anything, but was just high enough for the officer, supposedly on the drug task force, to know something was up. I didn't consent to a search and thankfully passed my field sobriety test, and since I never IV'd was able to show him the lack of track marks), which I walked away from with a mere infraction for my license plate light not functioning properly; I would never survive jail, I'm a humongous puss. I thought about the fact that I was content hanging at home alone getting high and had lost touch with my friends, who I loved. I thought about how I'd started trying to think of ways to get more money, and about when I found myself even contemplating stealing in any form. All these things made me realize that my guy getting busted at that time was one of the best things that could've happened to me.

I found a med level that worked for me, relieved me of my withdrawal symptoms and made it so I wasn't thinking about opiates at every dull moment. I started actually utilizing the counseling and groups that the clinic offered. And as of about 6 weeks ago, I even quit smoking pot (mainly because I have to since it's illegal here, but it was easy because I realized that smoking during my treatment may be counterproductive haha). Shortly, I'll finally start receiving my take homes! And I also did my first medication reduction this past week. I stabilized originally at 88mg dally, and went down 1mg/day three times last week, so now I'm at 85mg daily with no noticeable effects. I think next week I may decrease a few more. As I get lower, I will begin slowing down on how quickly I decrease, because while I don't want to let myself become stuck in the clinic for years, I'm also in no hurry because the last thing I want is to get overzealous and put myself in a position where I'm tempted to use illicit drugs again, especially because the lower my dose gets, the more I'd be able to feel a "high" from other opiates. Right now the methadone is preventative in that, the amount of money I'd need to spend and the amount of drug I would need to intake is ludicrous, thanks to methadone's blocking properties. But honestly the groups and the counseling are helping me to recognize and work on my triggers and underlying reasons for wanting to self-medicate (even with pot). I can't speak for future me, but present me has realized that the fleeting euphoria and high aren't worth all the trouble and risk. I'm thankful that my heroin use only spanned 1.5-2 years, and that I only started opiate use in my mid 20s, because I feel like if I'd used them earlier and with more regularity, that I'd be struggling much more than I am.

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