You can find a full list of my A to Z challenge posts here. :)
Back with another narcotic.
He called it hillbilly heroin. Never heard of such a thing before my dad's addiction, but it's a common term and a problem all over the country. On the black market, it's expensive stuff. With prescriptions in hand and decent insurance... not so much. Either way, it's potentially deadly.
I can't remember when he first started using Oxycontin, probably after an angioplasty about a decade before he died. It's a pretty powerful opiate based pain killer and I know he was in quite a lot of pain for a long time. I vaguely remember him taking Percocets, some Vicodin, but once he got the Oxycontin, that was it. No other drug would do.
I totally understand the need to stop the pain, I do. Instead of one pill every so many hours, though, he'd take three or four at a time, all day long. I remember him having several huge bottles of the stuff, all prescribed by different doctors, there on his nightstand. He'd wrestle one open, scoop out a few, and chew them all at once. Half an hour, maybe an hour later - or whenever he happened to wake up - he'd do it again.
It bothered me that none of the doctors, especially his primary physician, did anything to limit his access. I suppose it was a case of 'we know he hurts, so let's let him stop hurting'. Frankly, I can accept and appreciate that, but it was obvious to everyone around him that my dad wasn't taking the pills to stop the pain in his feet or belly or whatever, he was taking them to stop the pain of his ever increasing addiction. And he did it for YEARS. An end of life decision to limit pain is one thing, encouraging a long term addiction is something else.
He ultimately lost the ability to think, to reason, to play guitar, to do anything but sprawl twitching and passed out in bed. He'd burn though a month's supply in a day or two. He'd get the shakes if he didn't have pills within reach. It was a horrible thing to see, and I learned that you cannot negotiate or reason with an addict. The screwy thing was he knew he was an addict and, despite a lifetime of badmouthing drunks and druggies, he wasn't at all interested in changing.
My dad's decline from diabetes was inevitable, but becoming a heroin addict along the way was sadly unexpected and added a tragic footnote to an otherwise talented life.