Journey To The End Of Night
Adventures in Active Addiction and Recovery — A Philosophical Perspective

Cash Reckonings

I’ve been using drugs for approximately twenty years, since mid spring or early summer of my fifteenth year. I utilize the present tense because today I still use one – Suboxone, the opioid agonist/antagonist preparation combined with Nalaxone. I’m grateful for the fact that today, when I speak of drugs, I use the word “drug” in the singular and not the plural form. I limit my intake to a single eight milligram tablet of Suboxone, one half in the morning and one half in the afternoon. For the purposes of this article, the why and wherefore of my drug use is not so important. I will mention, however, that my motivations have always been twofold: 1.) to manage and, when possible, eliminate chronic pain, ( 2. ) to get straight fucked up, real high, trip, have visions, ‘turn on, tune in, drug out’, see shit move, ( 3. ) to compensate for painful inadequacies.

Dope is expensive stuff, some of the most penny precious shit on planet earth. Excepting the more exotic phenythalamines, synthetic narcotics mostly unavailable in the U.S.A, and the rarer botanicals, I’ve used just about everything – in most instances extensively. There’s no street drug I haven’t been into at least briefly, though my crack fling was blissfully brief – just a couple days. Street drugs aren’t really my thing, however, although I’ve done my share. My true specialty consists of psychedelics and prescription drugs, schedules II, III, & IV – primarily narcotics, stimulants, and minor tranquilizers then anti-depressants, major tranquilizers, and synthetic testosterone preparations to support, synergize, enhance, and control effects and side effects.

Needless to say, I’ve spent a great deal of money courting the ghost of that beautiful oxycodone/amphetamine honeymoon near fifteen years ago today. It lasted about two to four years at the end of which period I had amassed four large cardboard beer cases chock full of empty prescription bottles. I kicked my first major habit at this point and, as I had been contemplating a lawsuit against the doctor I intended to claim had ‘turned me on’, I had the Pharmacy in Schedule II-Ville print up a record of all prescriptions I had filled within that four year period. The resulting paperwork filled over an entire ream of standard twenty pound bond paper – that’s a shade beneath five hundred pages of data. I’ll compensate for my tendency toward exaggeration with a conservative bias – as I don’t have the records before me, I can’t verify the facts ( and I shared like the overly generous motherfucker I’ve always been, didn’t take it all myself ) but it’s reasonable to admit to filling well over five hundred prescriptions in a four year period.

Co-pays varied over the years from a low five bucks to anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars and because I always managed multiple fills per month often paid straight out of pocket. At five bucks a pop it would have been a reasonable three or so grand. In reality it was likely more than ten. At full price, minus insurance coverage, I’d easily have spent between half a million and a million dollars. Compared to the Rx’s, the grass, hash, acid, psilocybin mushrooms, Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds were just a piss in the wind, financially speaking. Let’s say, maybe, four grand. Factor in drinks to a grand total of say $4500 bucks or less, likely less. As I said previously, I’ve, like most addicts, a tendency to exaggerate my consumption.

I managed to graduate with an honors degree in philosophy in the mid to late nineties. At that time I kicked the vicodin, percodan, and the amphetamines while ramping up the marijuana and my alcoholic intake. I worked as a bartender and a liquor store clerk/stockman and I devoted every penny to getting and remaining intoxicated for as long as humanly possible. I drank for free before, during, and after work at a Brew Pub but habitually purchased round after round for others. I skimmed the till and handed out free beers in exchange for large cash tips. I loved my job. The cocktail waitresses were pretty, the beer was free ( high grade micro-brew ), and pills were everywhere.

I discovered Methadone and the good times ended. Over a two or three year period Methadone, Ritalin, and dextroamphetamine probably cost me a few grand. Say three. This run lasted about five years. By then, I really knew how to work over a doctor. I set my sights high, always wanted the best. There’s probably another ten or fifteen grand here in costs – without factoring in associated medical expenses and associated costs.

It’s important I mention here that although I often enjoyed the fringe benefits of being on all these drugs – until my health declined to the point that life became hell — I have a legitimate chronic pain condition and so far as opioids are concerned was exercising my right to the treatment modality of my choice. Drugs were at the time the sole effective treatment for my condition. I am not so puritanical as to feel guilty over the fact that quite often I enjoyed my medicine. I’m living a different choice today but insofar as doctors and insurance companies, etc. are concerned, my conscience is entirely clear. Years ago I made inquiries regarding Suboxone at some of the most prestigious pain clinics. I was told the side effects were brutal, the pain control mediocre. These guys are so poorly informed. I not only control, but for the most part eliminate, with 1 Suboxone tablet the same degree of chronic pain for which huge quantities of other opioids proved inadequate. It’s unfortunate (and very ironic) that in order to finally obtain it, the other narcotics had to bring me within a hairs breadth of the grave, landing me in a treatment center run by a physician who does not believe it has any worthwhile pain killing properties!

As for how I’d have spent the money if I’d had it all to start with in one lump sum? On some extremely shady ( drug free ) shit most likely. It’s not something I think about though. I believe the real world is the sole possible one. That is, I don’t believe in possible worlds or any other possibilities apart from those that actually have manifested. This belief makes reality a lot easier to accept.

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2 Responses to “Cash Reckonings”

  1. Just imagine if you had put all that cash in the bank instead, you could go buy a house now 😉

  2. I don’t regret a gram. My health broke down. It was time to move on.


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