Last night, Carole and I went to a meeting where the topic was taking medicine. The man who brought it up had a very strange, drug-induced, odd condition, caused by an excess of Tylenol. The woman who spoke next is having surgery soon, and she was concerned about taking pain killers.
Through the hour, every aspect of taking drugs was discussed. This included antidepressants or other psychotropics that may, in addition to other things, prevent a person from committing suicide. People talked about anesthesia and pain killers.
I like hearing this talked about at meetings as a topic. There are those who think it may be dangerous, as some impressionable newcomer may be driven down the wrong path to destruction by being encouraged to take drugs when he shouldn’t or by being discouraged from taking drugs when he should. I’ve also heard it suggested that people, “Ask your sponsor,” or “Do what it says in the book.” I’m dissatisfied with those avenues because A) some people have crazy, bad or ignorant sponsors and B) the book did not imagine us and the choices we face.
I’m very hard line when it comes to taking drugs or having anything to do with alcohol “flavoring” or the dishes in which, I am assured, the alcohol as “cooked off.” Why use it then? For the taste? I’d better not.
I’ve had surgery and I’ve taken pain killers in sobriety. I’ve found that pain killers, when I’m actually in pain, aren’t nearly as much fun as they were when I wasn’t in pain. I’ve also found, and this is vital for me to remember, that I LOVE being drugged. Love it. It feels to me, when the drug hits my system, like that is the natural state of my being. Like I have once again found the key to the universe.
I haven’t taken any anti-anxiety drugs, tranquilizers, sleeping pills or other happy pills, ever. I have been sorely tempted, especially when I faced something like my fear of flying, and the idea that I can get more frightened than I can sanely manage. Or when I was worried about my daughter to such a degree that I felt I couldn’t handle it.
I honestly believe that I shouldn’t do that. I have two very important reasons. One is that if I take a drug to cope, or get me through, I will NOT increase my ability to handle the fear, stress, or situation sober. I believe I will increase my ability if I live through it unmedicated. Two, I believe that to take a drug like that is a risk, for me or for any alcoholic. It may not lead back to drinking now or twenty years from now, but why take a chance?
That’s what I thought about last night at the meeting. I’ve known my ideas about not using alcohol to flavor food and not getting a doctor to prescribe me something to help me through my distress are extreme to some. I’ve always known I can be extreme, and I never much thought about why. Last night it occurred to me that the reason I’m so against taking drugs is that I fought so long and so hard to get sober.
Since I got sober so young, it may not be obvious that it was a very difficult battle. But really I tried to get sober for six difficult years. I tried again and again and again. I sunk lower and lower and lower and at the threshold of where I just could not function any more, I finally got it. I truly was like the survivor of a shipwreck and no matter how much time goes by, I cannot see a reason for flirting with disaster ever again. I hope that when I truly need drugs, I can see that, and I can take them. I hope that when I don’t need them any more, I’m able to stop.