Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This is your Brain on Opiates
"This is your brain..... This is your brain on drugs.....Any Questions?"
In 1987, Partenership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) launched this anti-narcotics campaign ad. I still remember, even years ago, frying your brain was making yourself slow and stupid, forgetful and dopey...... "Any Questions?"
I suddenly had a lot of questions. I discovered that unfortunately it is a little more complicated than a fried egg. The first time I heard what these opiates were doing to my son, I was sitting in a drug therapists office. The first 'regular' counselor had strongly suggested we seek a specialist in drug addiction. He had pissed me off knowing he was wrong about Robby.
But finally, feeling defeated and coming to the realization that maybe Robby did have a problem with drugs, I found one and made an appointment. (Was I still in denial up until that day?)
I sat there listening to the therapist explain to me what these "opiates" had been doing to Robby. It was so shocking, so sickening, and so hard to take in, the tears swelled in my eyes. I could not control them. Robby snickered at me.
He went on to tell me that all Robby's natural feelings, love happiness, pleasure, laughter, contentedness..... all these 'reward' receptors had been taken over by opiates and I had no other choice but to let it sink in. It really sank in as I looked over at my beautiful son through my tears....and he was rolling his eyeballs at me and smirking. This was not my son.
"He does not have the natural ability to feel these things on his own anymore" When he was not taking some form of opiate, for a day or maybe even a few hours, his brain was not able to produce these feelings without the aid of the drugs.
Not only did I learn that day that Robby's brain was not functioning properly, but I also had to understand that to come off them would most likely be a long and painful process. The withdrawal that I had seen that night was just a preview of what was ahead. And that was if he was willing to stop. He had to want to stop.
My heart was breaking like I never knew it could......But I was ready to do whatever it took to get him through this. I would now be going through my own necessary steps. It would be some time before I discovered this. The realization that I could not save Robby anymore was far from my thinking.
It was not a little boo boo,. It was not a lost football game.... and this was his life now. He was a young man and he was in charge. I would have no choice but to sit by and watch... and pray...and wait......