Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ball and Chain

Todd is a big guy from the southern part of Virginia. He and his wife had been married for about a year when he decided to come to The Coleman Institute for a detox off methadone. He described how he had started using oxycontin, then heroin until he finally started going to the methadone clinic. At the time he knew it saved his life and gave him the chance to work and have a relationship. After four years though, he was feeling desperate. The doctor at the methadone clinic was only there two times a week and when he was lucky enough to catch five minutes with him, he found the doctor was more in favor of increasing his dose rather than working to wean him down.

Todd told me about trying to go to Florida to help his brother move from an apartment to a new home. He had to register with a methadone clinic in Florida as a guest. When the plane was delayed, not only was Todd going into withdrawal, the methadone clinic was convinced something fishy was going on as he tried to explain about his flight problems. They refused to work with him, and Todd was forced to change his flight schedule and return home-never having even seen his brother.

Further, Todd was driving an hour each way to the clinic. He eventually lost his job because of the reduced hours he was working due to the commute.

Needless to say, he was ready to stop.

Todd was taking 260mg of methadone, a very large amount (although not the largest amount we’ve done in an 8 day detox). On the first day I met him, he rolled up his left sleeve to show me a skillfully rendered tattoo of a ball and chain on his forearm. This he told me, represents his life on methadone. He got it about a year after starting at the clinic.

He went through the 8 day detox . I won’t say it was easy, but between his wife being an excellent support person, and our being able to work individually with Todd’s specific symptoms, he got through it. On his last day he told me his plan in the very near future was to return to the tattoo studio. He had already sketched out the drawing of a broken chain for the artist to adapt from the original.

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