Here continues the fictional account previously mentioned; the narrative has now fleshed out, the characters are taking their places on the stage, and the drama is ready to be played out. The people we need to get to know are, in the main, Patient X, our hero, Good Angel (the voice of reason and clarity and all things good for patient X's long term benefit), and Bad Angel (the voice of Patient X's addiction). Various other characters may or may not drift into the narrative depending on how the writers' trance is weaving the words at any particular time.
Prologue: Eve of Detoxification
Today is the eve of Patient X's latest attempt to quit the magic opiate pills called Oxy. How long it will last is a good question, for there are 2 stages to this "quitting" - getting off and staying off. Where one blurs into the other is a topic of much discussion, but it is often said that getting off is easy, whereas staying off is the hard part, although this is disputed. With opiate addiction a word like "easy" never seems appropriate - and Patient X likes to say that "getting off" and "staying off" are two different beasts and need to be treated accordingly. Getting off is relatively short term, but can seem like a lifetime compressed into a few days or weeks - whereas staying off really is a lifetime. As a side note, Bad Angel likes to say "Getting off is great, no matter how you do it or what the cost, getting off today is what matters, and fuck tomorrow..." Bad angel has been a constant companion for Patient X, and in general has beat the crap out of Good Angel everytime they have a dispute...
Today has been a strange day for patient X. He had a stash of the magic pills left, and as this was the Eve of Detoxification, needed to dispose of them in some way. Of course, this being presently a story of addiction, Bad Angel won out, and rather than throwing the pills or vastly reducing as preparation for quitting, Bad Angel persuaded Patient X to have one last day wrapped in the opiate blanket of carefree oblivion. Good Angel kowtowed, and said sure, why not, Patient X could stave of withdrawal symptoms for one last day, but as for carefree oblivion - well, when was the last time that happened, apart from maybe the first few times using the magic pills?
Good Angel is the rational, wise one, no matter how much she gets crowded out. Good Angel spent the day reminding patient X that nodding into an oblivious stupour on a train on the way to a business meeting, and almost missing the planned destination, is not really the way to be at peace with oneself and the world. Good Angel pointed out that suddenly coming round just before the train doors are about to close, jumping up, and running off the train in a blind panic just in time, does not really cut it as far as carefree oblivion goes. Good Angel pointed out to Patient X that almost nodding to sleep again during the actual meeting is not the way to great productivity or a wonderful client relationship or rewarding interaction with other people. Good Angel emphasised to Patient X that spending most of the day on a knife edge between feeling normal, comfortable and free from withdrawal symptoms, and slipping into a danger zone approaching overdose, is not exactly living in a blanket of stress free oblivion. Good Angel made Patient X memorise this Note to Self: "As of ten pm tonight I feel sick, agitated, down, depressed, stressed, anxious, miserable, tired and lost and I my blood is so diluted with OXY that I don't know where the blood ends and the drug begins and I can barely stand up I am so wonderfully opiated (hit that irony-meter, right!). When I have made the first few steps towards quitting, and the road maybe gets a little rocky, and I feel a little sick, agitated, down, depressed, stressed, anxious, miserable, tired and lost - am I REALLY going to listen to Bad Angel when it says, "But you will feel so much better if you take some OXY. You needn't take much, just enough to take the edge off. Remember how fucking wonderful you always feel on your amazing drug of choice!" Good Angel pleads with Patient X to remember that's how it might start - 10 minutes of total relief, freed from the pressure of trying to quit for...
(...Oh, let's just go back on OXY for another 3 weeks, but use it sensibly, and then you will be ready to go try quit again...)
(...Oh, you can just use when things are really bad, aside from that you can just use a bit to relax now and then, why not, you don't deserve to feel like this you deserive to feel good and OXY can do that for you...)
...but whatever happens you end up with the reality of chasing the first brief and blissful high again, and taking more and more, as you think you might find it this time - until the only "high" you experience is brief relief from cravings/withdrawal anxiety/symptoms and you always want just that little bit more and if you're unlucky enough that little bit more than is actually safe...
Good Angel is sensible and wise and rationally pursuasive, very reasonable and has Patient X's best interests at heart, but Bad Angel is a fucking mental pugilist and a master tactician, and will lie, cheat, and otherwise manipulate Patient X in the vilest and most corrupt, devious and deceitful ways, because all Bad Angel wants is OXY and it doesn't give a flying fuck what is good for Patient X, but will cajole, con and bully the poor guy any way it can, be his best friend, his mentor, his big buddy, and if that doesn't work just start hurting him, torturing him, just to get Patient X to use - and it's funny how Bad Angel just gets louder the more Patient X uses.
But for today at least, Good Angel has not had her sweet voice drowned out and patient X has not wavered in his resolve, even though Bad Angel has tried to plant doubts ("Why bother buddy, when you know you will relapse sooner or later anyway, why not save yourself a whole heap of trouble and pain tomorrow?")
There will be many occasions to come when Patient X must choose whether to go with Bad Angel or Good Angel - but today he feels that at least Good Angel has a chance.
That it will be tough, there is no doubt - otherwise why did Patient X take the last of his stash in search of one last fix, rather than flush it down the toilet?
But Patient X didn't say he would quit today - that is his task for tomorrow.
To be continued...