Mike's Triumph: Rediscovering an Opioid-Free Existence Through Natural Wellness

Mike's Triumph: Rediscovering an Opioid-Free Existence Through Natural Wellness

As I celebrated my 58th birthday, a significant milestone marked more than just another year of life; it symbolized a renewed commitment to an opioid-free existence. This decision wasn't made lightly nor without deep introspection about what pain and healing mean in the context of my life. 

My journey through pain management, addiction, recovery, and ultimately, embracing alternative medicine reflects a broader narrative shared by many but often discussed in hushed tones. But the fact is we shouldn't stigmatize pain medication because it's frequently needed after surgeries or in procedures. There are a lot of people who wouldn't be able to sustain their life or lifestyle without them.

We must put a border between proper use and abuse; I believe that's what the harsh regulations are attempting to do - but instead, we're seeing drug dealers from all over the world take advantage, flooding the streets with powdered death. 

The Tumultuous Path Through Opioid Addiction
My battle with opioid addiction began in the late 90s, a time when OxyContin, a drug we now know to have devastating addictive potential, was first introduced to the market and prescribed by a well-meaning doctor to alleviate the discomfort from a pro-racing accident that put me in a wheelchair for a year and a half.

The racing wreck had many different elements of pain to it; paralysis caused phantom pain, the emotional duress of never being able to drive again was overwhelming, and the headaches coupled with whole-body pain were so overwhelming that I found solace in Morphine.

The opiate from the plant type drugs can't be used as quickly as the addictive fully synthetic pharmaceuticals on the market, as you're always offsetting the nausea that Morphine causes - weighing whether or not it was even worth taking the drug.

But once the Sackler brothers produced their Purdue Pharma death trap with Oxy that triangulated the FDA which led doctors astray, and my charming older doctor was misinformed about the potentials for addiction and kept on increasing the dose - well guess what happened? I was addicted.

Then came the debilitating effects of cancer treatment in 2003 that put me back in that chair for three more years; this medication quickly became a central part of my life. What started in the late 90s as a 20mg dose escalated to 80mg, launching me into a 24-year struggle against the chains of addiction like many of those who got caught up in the Purdue Pharma gig. 

This period was marked by immense challenges, including multiple fights against cancer, starting in 2003 with a Non-Hodgkin's diagnosis that severely impacted my mobility and quality of life.

The recurrence of cancer in 2015, with three different late-stage diagnoses, prompted me to seek alternative treatments, leading me to the therapeutic potential of cannabis oil. This shift was not just a treatment decision but a life choice that has since evolved into my career and passion as a cannabinoid medicine researcher.
But when I look back, I've always had this craving for those types of drugs despite when or why I got them. No matter the reason that Opioids got prescribed in life, from dental work to destruction on a racetrack, they made me feel good.

I have to admit that to myself because no matter what anyone says about me being 'dependent' - anyone who has used a Heroin drug for 2.5 decades and knows it can kill - taking it as prescribed and also when lousy news hits is an addictive tendency, so labeling myself as an 'addict' isn't that out of range. 

When I look back to Oxycodone itself - the drug used to come in 5mg capsules when it first came out, and they were effortless to open. So, you can only imagine what some guy who was the central figure at his frat parties in the coke-crazed 80s might have done with them.

I can remember getting 1080 pills per month between the capsules and the OxyContin, and that didn't include the 30 100-mic patches of Fentanyl I'd also get. 
It's a miracle I'm even alive to talk about this, to tell the story of being a Purdue Pharma guinea pig, of being able to put a tiny dose down decades later after watching so many I know perish. I'm fortunate, no - I'm lucky to be alive. 

The Decision to Embrace an Opioid-Free Lifestyle

On March 3rd, my 58th birthday, I chose to recommit to living without opioids. This choice is not a judgment on those who need these medications for acute pain but a personal rule to avoid the pitfalls of dependency that have haunted me and claimed the lives of countless others, including family and friends. When there's no harsh pain that requires the use of a potent drug that we all know can kill us, we simply shouldn't use them.
My brief return to using a minimal dose of Norco at night, despite being prescribed much stronger drugs for legitimate pain, reminded me of the thin line between use and dependency. The realization that I was veering towards old habits prompted a reflection on my values and the promise I made to myself to pursue a life of resilience, managing pain without reliance on opioids. 

I decided last week that it's been nearly a year of taking that small dose at night, as it's become a massive issue in my mind. When you're spending more time contemplating whether or not to take a medication, then you are working on the next hot topic or an important project for your future business - you know it's an issue, and that was happening. 

I had to bring this to an end, and it's uncomfortable; I don't feel well today - and I haven't all week. My family watched me get the Shingles and get sick, even have a few seizures last week - and I hid the fact I was exiting from opioids - again. These drugs have harmed too many people and caused too much damage to society for us to use them without extreme caution. 

The Challenge of Withdrawal and the Path Forward

Choosing to eliminate opioids from my life again has not been without its challenges. Even stepping away from a relatively low dose of Norco has led to withdrawal symptoms, a testament to the powerful grip these medications can have. Yet, this physical and emotional struggle reinforces my commitment to a "grin and bear it" approach to pain management, reserving opioid use for truly acute situations.
As a cannabinoid researcher and advocate for alternative medicine, I believe in the power of natural remedies and the importance of understanding our bodies' needs and signals. My journey is a testament to the possibility of recovery, the potential for alternative therapies, and the importance of making informed, healthful choices.

I also feel that people in pain are suffering right now due to the abuse of Opioids and that the provision of pain management is, without a doubt, significantly diluted by doctors afraid to treat. The stigma on opioid abuse shouldn't cloud messages sent to patients, as in December of 2022 and even in early 2023, I needed help beyond what a plant could give me, and I had a hard time.

It was either too much or not enough of the drug types offered. It didn't matter if I flexed my title in life or not; the patient simply wasn't listened to - so I had to turn down the help I needed as they kept offering me the same drugs I quit - Oxy and Fentanyl - the same drugs that have killed my best friends, and even brother.
Then, instead of listening to 3 minutes of patient input, hours and hours of costly therapy over denying the drug were given. Then, Opioid Use Disorder was somehow erroneously added and then removed from my chart to try to get me to retake them.

It seemed like a setup to me; it took three different doctors and a therapist to convince me that I wasn't an addict. Then, to boot, they labeled me in the system as an addict - and de-labeled when I caught it to convince me that It was okay to use what they offered. With a clear mind today, it's safe to say that we all deal with a very evil system. 

A Call to Reflection and Action

My story is shared not for sympathy but to inspire reflection and action. The opioid crisis has ravaged communities, families, and individuals, leaving a trail of loss and addiction. By sharing my journey, I hope to shed light on the complexities of pain management, the potential for dependency, and the alternatives that exist for those seeking a different path.

As I move forward, embracing an opioid-free life, I admire the strength found in vulnerability when others tell their tale, the importance of self-commitment, and the ever-present potential for renewal. Let this story be a beacon for others navigating the tumultuous waters of pain management and recovery, and may we all find the courage to choose paths that lead to true healing and balance, as not everyone can follow my lead. 
In sharing this narrative, I hope to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about pain, addiction, and the search for holistic wellness. As we continue to explore and understand the complexities of the human body and the substances we use to heal it, let us do so with compassion, curiosity, and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of all.
I'm alive, I made it.

-Mike Robinson, Global Cannabis Educator and Creator of ECS Balance Control, The Researcher OG

Mike Robinson Global Cannabis Educator

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