Are You (Secretly) Addicted to Opioids?

Disclaimer: I am not licensed or qualified to diagnose, prescribe, advise or even render a professional opinion on addiction other than my own (personal) experience and those who’ve agreed to be interviewed.

Are you (secretly) a part of the invisible epidemic that has hit baby boomers? Are you addicted to opioid painkillers? Were they prescribed by a doctor? Are you self medicating from chronic pain? Mental illness? Emotional anguish? Lonliness? Divorce? Aging? Have you tried to stop and can’t? Have you lied to the doctor to get more? Bought them on the street? Convinced yourself taking the pills outweighs the potential for abuse? Been desperate? Have the pills taken over your thinking? Are you always anticipating and planning out when the next dose will be taken? Looking forward to it? Or are you dreading it?

Opioid addiction is the best kept secret among the baby boomers that is about ready to explode. And in more ways than one.

We are a group who experimented in youth and early adulthood with illicit drugs and alcohol. We also experimented with sex and doing things our way.

We participated in high-impact aerobics, we grounded in repetitive motion sculpting our abs, triceps and asses. We spent long hours running on treadmills going nowhere.

We lifted heavy weights, tried steroids and loved the glamour women and the lifestyles of Dynasty and Dallas. In the seventies and eighties we had little respect for our bodies and even less for our minds.

John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever had us dancing in stilettos into the wee hours of the morning fueled with whiffs of white powder, gulps of Harvey Wallbangers and smoking Marlboro Red’s in the box.

As we grew older and matured we began having children, honing in on our careers and planning for the future.

We quit smoking, hanging out in bars all night and no longer associated with our buddies from back in the day. We experimented with green drinks, cut out red meat and did yoga.

And then it hit: “Seniorville.”

Our bodies were breaking down. Obesity skyrocketed. We began landing on the couch after work for a night of mindless TV, drinking red wine to relax after being hunched over a desk all day with a headset in our ear that had begun to take its toll.

Knees started to hurt, hips were letting us down and backs were giving out. Rotator cuffs gave us fits. We hurt all over. We went to our family physicians and demanded relief. Doctors in the nineties started prescribing Loracet, Percodan, Vicadin, codeine, and prescription strength cough medicine.

 

We were prescribed a rainbow cocktail of little blue, white and yellow pills that took away the physical hurt. We found the painkillers also temporarily veiled the stress and disatisfaction in our lives from the poor choices we’d made or maybe the consequences from living other peoples lives.

The little colored caplets dimmed the disatisfaction and disappointment that was slowly unraveling, revealing the truth: life is difficult and navigation is sometimes non-negotiable. Not everything turns out like the fairy tales read we believed as children. Life doesn’t always end “happily ever after” and more importantly they forgot to share the in between. There was more to life than a beginning and an ending.

Today there are millions of boomers who are medicating real physical pain and secretly finding relief from mental anguish and emotional disturbance through opioids and alcohol. The painkillers are prescribed (in most cases) for legitimate (chronic) pain. Alcohol is the complimentary ingrediant that enhances the sedative effects of the opioid that lulls one into a hypnotic calm and in many cases breathing stops. Forever. 

Inside this dreamy state there lies a perfect storm brewing.  When the rainbow becomes the sole support of your every waking moment you are careeneing down a highway to hell. There are only three outcomes from opioid addiction: jails, institutions and death.

The painkillers fuel us through grueling work days. Opioids help us focus and keep us working like automated machines. The painkillers hit the mu-receptors and hijack the reward centers of our brains. They numb our pain (mental, emotional and physical) and mask fatigue. We can work 12-hour days and train for marathons and help our kids with their homework. And we can sleep.

Opioids perform double duty.

At night they help us calm down and sleep deeply for long periods of time. We aren’t awake all night stewing. We gently fall into a restful sleep and wake up looking forward to the first dose that starts our day.

Opioids mask themselves as Nirvana.

Over time Nirvana stops working as efficiently to ease the pain and mask the fatigue as our bodies develop a tolerance.

We pop more pills and wait for that first response from the mu-receptor to connect to the rainbow reactor. We take more and more to ease pain, feel Nirvana and recapture the feeling we found in the beginning But we can’t ever seem to recapture. It can be a slow process, other times the bodie’s tolerance rapidly increases like a runaway train, out of control.

If you think you might be out of control, you are. If you ruminate about  the feel good and what you have to do to get there, you are in trouble. If you try and stop taking the pills and anxiety, nervousness and lack of concentration seem to dominate and you can’t find another source of relief, you’re in trouble.

Painkillers are thought a panacea to take the edge off life’s mental and physical hardships. They chemically kill mind, body, and spirit.

What is your life really worth?

Think about it. 

Finding a Health Club (Part 3)

And the winner is: Sports West Athletic Club!

One last trip around town and it paid off in spades.

The health club was a storefront nestled inside of a old shopping center looking rather benign from the outside. I didn’t let the exterior deceive me.

I stepped inside the front door and was immediately transformed by the energy and ambiance. The front desk was bustling. There weren’t any guests being waited on, the staff was just busy. They were folding towels, reassinging locker keys, shuffling paper and all were animated and focused on their jobs. Great first impression.

I asked for the membership coordinator and a lean, muscular blonde named Roger met me at the front. He led me to his office first for a bit of qualifying: what was I looking for in a gym? Was I interested in classes, hydrotherapy, personal trainer, TRX, Pilates, Yoga, spinning? Did I play racquet ball? And finally, he asked, did I like socializing? He looked me in the eye and seemed interested in my responses. He didn’t write anything down, we interacted nicely together. He questioned and I answered. So far, so good.

We walked around the weight room(s) and I spied my favorite piece of equipment.

It is a must have for anyone with weak hips, especially those who work sitting down hunched over a desk all day. This contraption flexes, extends, abducts and adducts the hips, stregthening and helps increase range of motion. Physical rehabilitation facilities typically have it, rarely do I see it offered in a gym or health club but when I do it’s a deal maker right out of the box.

We continued our stroll into the main area of the gym where the TRX station was located. It had Bosu balls, sticks, therapy balls, steps, tires, ropes and bands. Everything needed for a functional fitness routine or a high intensity workout.

We hit an area dedicated to abs and core next, and I was excited when I saw this piece of equipment. It looked like I could get a bit of hoop practice and coordination in with my ab workout. And doing it was harder than it looked. Another fun way to work on the menopot that won’t melt away.

 

And finally we came across what I’d been coveted all along and diligently seeking: an indoor heated pool that was open 25-hours. Added bonus: it was a saline pool, mostly eliminating the dangerous chemical effects of chlorine.

 

The Athletic Club West also had a designated Pilate’s Studio complete with reformers, yoga and fitness class room, basketball court (full sized), and raquetball courts.

The health club offered a dry sauna, steam room, therapeutic spa, towel service, lockers with keys for daily use, a sitting room, juice bar with free coffee all for no additional cost. It was like being in spa heaven with a workout area on the side.

  • Cost: $45.00 a month
  • Open 24-hours
  • $40 value coupon on a visit to the spa they own next door
  • Two free personal training sessions
  • One month for free
  • Close proximity to the house, so no excuses
  • Wine tasting and social gathering everyThursday night at the juice bar

One of the most important components of change is having the vitality and energy to seize the day. Working out is no longer an option it is a necessity. If you don’t use it you will certainly lose it. I don’t know about you but I’m going down fighting. I don’t want to shuffle around at sixty because my legs are weak with my chin on my chest from osteoporosis and all the other stuff that comes with aging. We are in a battle people.

Change is all about having the courage, energy and wisdom to follow through. It’s the first step for living a radiantly inspired life. Go find a health club today. No excuses. Just do it. You will save yourself untold amounts of grief later on down the road. If you have to justify the cost think about all the time and money spent sitting inside a doctor office  being treated for heart trouble, diabetes, cancer and whatever age-related maladies  that start happening about now in late midlife.

You are building sweat equity (now and forever) to have a quality life for entering into the golden years.

 

 

It’s Birthday Time (Post Mortem)

Dad and Grandpa

Happy Birthday Dad!! You were the best father I could have ever had…I remember the words of wisdom you lived by:

Be courteous, find a need a fill it, hustle, and always be yourself.

All duded up at nine years old.

He grew into a man and became a loving father.

Taught us to take calculated risks.

He came from generations of working men who influenced his work ethic.

Five generations of wisdom, courage and backbone.

He had a sister who was 12 years younger and he didn’t get to know her until much later in life.

Aunt Janice and Dad

My grandfather and great uncle who were two of dad’s greatest influences.

My grandfather and his brother, two of dad’s greatest influences.

He fought in WWll. He was a hero who fought for his country.

P 47 Thunderbolt Pilot. WWll

He was my dad and I will never forget him.

My hero, father, and best friend. My dad.

Finding a Health Club (Part 2)

Fitness Connection was the one. Or so it seemed. On the surface it had all the trappings of the perfect health club:

  • It had a lap pool and a dry sauna
  • Group classes that were all included in the membership
  • The membership coordinator insisted on including $50 worth of supplements (no additional cost)
  • Location wasn’t terrible, but it was still a 15 minute drive pillar to post
  • It had basic (machine and free) weights, also included TRX, the Bosu and therapy balls
  • It had a flexibility room where yoga, Pilate’s and Spin were held, no extra cost
  • The club was not open 24-hours, so limited hours were a drawback and something I considered as a compromise.
  • Total monthly fee: $9.99 (Too good to be true.)

Sign up, enrollment, and processing fee: a whopping $300!!!

Unless of course I signed up for a personal trainer for another monumental $280 a week for the duration of the contract!!!

I was so bummed out I almost gave up the hunt. Fitness Connection was the last hope around Reno for less than $64 a month and having to get roped into a contract…and no matter what verbiage they used (contract, enrollment, committment, arrangement, blood) it all translated into being locked in by signature and bank withdrawal for the duration.

The membership coordinator used the Zig Ziglar sales pitch.  He asked me, “What is stopping you from signing up today?” He smelled the desperation I felt.

“Ah, I don’t want to spend $34.99 a month for a half-assed gym.”

(I didn’t say this directly to “Joe,” of course I didn’t have the nerve to say what I really felt.)

I waffled and hedged and sat through a lecture from a personal trainer (read the closer) trying to convince me it was the right place and perfect time for me to join as Joe sat at his desk staring off into space and picking his nose, waiting for me to fall over and sign the contract.

I got out of there, debit card still intact and told them I needed to check out some other clubs in the area.

I gave it 24-hours and decided to sleep on it.