Think professional people wouldn’t show up to work impaired? Well, think again, because it does happen. Sometimes even the best of the best of them fall victim to addiction that impairs their professional judgment. And today, you’ll meet a nurse who did go to work impaired. Annie talks with Tiffany, a nurse who started her addiction journey with Vicodin – to treat migraine headaches. Coupled with a drinking problem, it was double the fun….until it wasn’t. Join Annie as she walks through this unbelievable story of hope with Tiffany, who lived under a cloud of shame until she finally got Naked.
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I had always had alcohol in my life. I started drinking regularly when I was 15. My father was an alcoholic. That had been my go to when life got hard. I’d go home and have beers with my dad, especially over age 18, 21, that’s when I would drink at home with my dad.
Vicodin and Drinking
Eventually I was prescribed Vicodin for migraines. Initially I had limits on when I would take it but at some point that went out the door. So I found that taking a Vicodin and drinking at the same time, it was like double the pleasure. Pretty soon the pills didn’t really work as well without a drink, and drinks didn’t work as well without a pill. So I was mixing quite a bit. Quite a bit.
Hooked on Vicodin and Drinking
So from 2011 I think on, I really didn’t have any sober days where I wasn’t taking one or the other. I ran out of my prescription. I was getting it refilled once a month, legitimately by my doctor. Kind of crazy thing looking back. I think I refilled it for three years consistently every 30 days on the first. I never missed a day. And I was never questioned. I didn’t have to go back in and have a conversation. Part of that was being a nurse and having such a functional facade, my doctor trusted me explicitly. So I don’t blame her or my pharmacist. I feel I have liability in that as well. But it’s just interesting. It’s interesting, and I’m so glad that laws are changing around controlled substances and opiates and things.
So I was using a 30 day prescription by the end of three years, because I’d built up this tolerance to it, this physical dependence and tolerance. So I was using 30 pills in just a couple of days. They weren’t lasting. So then I was filling the rest of my month with either using from a friend or family’s stash and filling in days with drinking. Because drinking could help me not feel the withdrawal as much from the opiates.
That was kind of my spiral downward with opiates. But it progressed to a point where I actually diverted from my workplace. So that’s a big part of my story. And we use the fancy word diverted because nobody wants to say that they stole or they’re a thief. But that’s the truth. So I stole from my workplace. And that is probably one of the, I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing that happened really. But I’m so glad that I did something reckless and was caught. I don’t know if I would be alive, if I wouldn’t have been caught. I was so good at hiding my addiction. I was so good at it. When it was just me at home with my own Vicodin and drinking.
I live in Washington state and we have an alternative-to-discipline-program. And most states do, but not every state in America. So I was very graciously given a choice to either get treatment, or probably give up my nursing license and definitely lose my job. That was May of 2016. And by that point I was so deep in the addiction. And in so much denial.
I think I did get so reckless at work because it was such a cry for help.
In So Deep
I had progressed to injecting narcotics actually. Pills didn’t work anymore. They just weren’t good enough. It’s ridiculous to think that now. Because before it happened, I would have never seen myself as a person who would do that. Right?
I think that none of us really know what we’re capable of until we’re faced with that kind of pressure.
It’s a little crazy to think back, but that’s really where I was. And I was drinking very, very heavily as well. So before, I’d need a couple of drinks in the morning before going to work. I worked night shift, so my morning was evening. It was like five in the evening when I would have a drink but that was my waking up time. My whole life was just upside down and backwards.
Rebuilding From Vicodin and Drinking
I was given this opportunity to go to treatment and take a few months off of work, and start to rebuild my life from that point. Which was pretty terrifying time. I immersed myself in recovery. That’s when I heard the This Naked Mind podcast. I started listening to podcasts the first three months. I don’t think I listened to any music, anything other than recovery-based audible books and podcasts for three months straight. I just felt like I had to fill my brain with positive recovery messages. It was so important to me.
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Tune in to the podcast to hear how life has changed for Tiffany now that she has moved past her addiction to Vicodin and drinking.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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