Am I a drug addict?

December 12, 2011

That’s a provocative question, I know. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of late and I’m finding the line has blurred between relying on a drug for health reasons – and what is said about drug addiction. Let me explain.

About two weeks ago my rheumatologist and I decided to start tapering off my prednisolone (steroids). This was welcome news as for two years I’ve been on 5mg (a very low dose) but I have relied on it to get me out of bed in the morning.
You may remember the miracle of a day when the drug first kicked in – you can read about it here.
Now steroids can do all sorts of awful things to you long term, osteoporosis, hump back…make you fat. Clearly, I remember all the important ones, there are others. So it was always the plan that once the Plaquenil and Methotrexate started working we’d taper off my prednisolone.
And it was this tapering that got me thinking about whether I’m addicted:
* I need the drug – if I don’t have it around the same time every morning I rapidly feel myself going downhill. Pain, confusion and a lack of being able to function. If I were to skip a day or two my body would literally not be able to cope (so I’ve been told) and cold turkey would make me incredibly sick.
* Prednisolone doesn’t actually make me feel ‘good’ it just makes me feel normal. Is that not an addiction if I need it to feel like my normal self?
* I rule my life around it – making sure I have enough stock at home, if I’m going out making sure I have my next dose on me and never allowing myself to go without.

I suppose the main difference is the fact that I want to get off it and I can clearly make the decision to do this. Psychologically I’m not dependent. Just physically.

Weaning off
So I’m going without – just down to 4mg and I tell you want…I feel that 1 mg missing. I have come up in welts again, my knuckles are more swollen than I’ve seen them, I feel imaginary bruises all over my face and I’m so lethargic.
But I just have to think….one mg at a time, I will rid my body of this poison it has come to rely on. And that will be a great day.


6 Responses to “Am I a drug addict?”

  1. lisakamphuis said

    And that day will come! I had to take Prednisolon for a period of time – I started off with 60 mg, in fact. I hated all the side effects.
    I have been Pred-free for some years now. I am still alive and don’t need it anymore, yay!I hopefully won’t need it for a long time to come. In short: don’t give up!

  2. Sean said

    Naomi, it sounds like you have come to terms with your condition and are determined not to to let it control you, that is so good to hear, I wish you all the strength you need.
    My daughter has recently been diagnosed with MCTD, she is only 12 years old and up until a year ago she was an elite gymnast, in the national squad and the fittest young girl amongst her peers. After a terrible period for her of pain and fatigue we got a diagnosis of MCTD. At first we were relieved to at least know what was wrong with her, but now we are fearful for her future. She too is on steroids and after starting on 20mg a day she is currently reducing weekly and is now down to 8mg. She seems to be coping and it is the most difficult thing as a parent to know when to protect and when to encourage her to push herself. I hope we can get her off the steroids soon.
    It is very difficult to get information on MCTD and it seems the information out there is so variable as the condition affects everyone differently. Anyway thanks for putting your thoughts out there as it is so useful to hear how others are coping.
    Best of luck

    • Sean, I’m so sorry your daughter and your family are having to go through this. I can’t imagine being diagnosed as a kid. To this day I really miss basketball, which was my sport of choice. I so hope her condition is mild or she goes into remission, but if she doesn’t I hope she learns to find joy in something less physical. I’m 28 & my Mum still struggles with how much to push and when to let me go. My problem is I often like to push hard and mum wants to protect me. Where are you based.?traliaI’m in sydney

      • Sean said

        Naomi, we are on the other side of the world to you, in Wales.
        At the moment Megan still goes to gymnastics, but it is now more recreational than anything else. I suppose once the steroids reduce further, she may stop. As you said she will hopefully find a new activity that suits her better in the future, but first she will have to finally let go of the gymnastics.

  3. lisakamphuis said

    Hi Naomi, I would really like to interview you for our Dutch patient organisation, the NVLE. We have a quarterly magazine in which we always have a page with interviews of foreign MCTD/SLE/Scleroderma patients. It is important to know we do not stand alone, especially us young people! If you are willing, could you dm me your mailaddress via twitter? My twittername is: @Lisakamphuis. (Sorry for the indirect way; I do not want to post my mailaddress here). And if not: no problem!



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