At the deepest level, one addiction is the same as another.
Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs. The more you have, the more you want. All have the potential to be habit forming.
But they don’t all have the same price tag.
Unlike some other addictions, the signs of over-using tramadol aren’t immediately obvious. There was no smell on Dave’s breath. He didn’t stagger into the house. Life was actually more pleasant when he was using.
The truth was always revealed by money.
* * * * *
I had known for many years that from time to time Dave would spend a couple hundred a month on pain meds. It was just part of the deal. Chronic pain management was expensive.
If insurance didn’t cover because it was too soon for another refill, he’d just pay out of pocket. $85 for 30. A week’s worth.
But I got tired of it. Tired of being poor because of pain.
I fought. And I made threats.
In 2000, I wrote in my journal:
I am on the edge of insanity I think. The kids have been sick all week and Dave came home sick on Friday. I am angry, frustrated and crabby and I explode at the smallest things. Yesterday, we received several bounced checks notices . . . we’ve had so many financial successes of late and now he has gotten us $500 in debt. I completely exploded and told Dave I’d separate from him if I could. I was so angry at him and he was so sick, but I didn’t care — I just kept yelling at him. I just cannot take it. I feel nothing but anger. . . I can see how women just walk away — it’s too hard. I pray and it doesn’t seem to help my attitude at all.
By 2004, rather than face my disappointment and rage, Dave had found ways to get his fix without me knowing, and without it showing up in our bank account. All perfectly legal.
* * * * *
When Dave entered rehab in 2004, he was up to 30 Ultram (tramadol) a day.
I didn’t know how hard he had been working to hide things from me . . . until he went to rehab and left his phone with me.
Dave didn’t even know how bad it was.
He had just been spinning plates for so long, managing the effects of his addiction.
But when you take the spinner out, the plates fall . . .
. . . there are some really good things about those weeks alone with the kids. Lots of praying for Daddy to get well. Many loving family members miles away who did everything they could to get us through.
But neither Dave nor I, to this day, can speak of those weeks without tears.
Day after day, phone call after phone call, the depth of Dave’s addiction was revealed to me by debt collectors.
Plate after plate crashing to the ground.
* * * * *
Amazing that either of us could dare to pick those pieces up and try again.
Spinning, that is.