After the buprenorphine ran out, I became even more of a hermit than before – if that were possible. I had almost no friends left and had trained (or frightened) my family into staying out of my increasingly miserable basement dwelling. I was relieved to be left alone; I was becoming ever more agoraphobic. I ventured out of the house only to walk to Bud’s Liquors (a Green Hills liquor store) for whatever amount of cheap vodka I could afford that day, usually a pint or half-pint – almost always paid for with whatever loose change I could pilfer from the house.
The only time I felt reasonably at peace was that space between two and four drinks. I was once again a chronic insomniac whose only escape from reality apart from the vodka consisted of watching movie after movie. What little sleep I did get was plagued with uncomfortable dreams or even nightmares.
To prevent myself from venturing down the ever-alluring opiate path as I had in Atlanta, I started taking Suboxone®. A friend of mine in hospital management had recommended Suboxone, so I took his advice. I knew the buprenorphine would fill up my opiate receptors and prevent me from going Suboxone tabshog wild on pills again. And so it did… sort of. I snorted Adderall® and drank vodka instead.
In July of 2012, after more than five years on Suboxone®/Subutex® and Adderall®/Vyvanse®, my shrink sent me a letter saying he was no longer seeing patients. I may have been the only patient to get such a letter; after all, I’d owed him money for some time. I was later told by my pharmacist, a close friend of my shrink, that they both knew I was full of crap. No surprise there; I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone – it’s just that I no longer cared. In fact, I had quit caring long ago.
I tapered off the Subutex over a period of almost two months; I thought my gradual tapering would make it painless, but it did not. Lacking both health insurance and work ethic, I lapsed into a deeper depression as I’d predicted in a self-fulfilling prophecy upon quitting the prescription drugs. I went to a few AA and NA meetings but did not manage to put together more than a few days clean & sober, usually one or two weeks at most.
By 2001 or so, I had learned how to put together quality web sites and have them rank very well on Google. Web development, content writing, and SEO had become my thing. With so much practice and a growing passion for all things web, my BestWeb Atlanta website soon ranked among the top three results on the coveted first page for Google searches relating to Atlanta web development and design. In order to help fuel my impassioned webbery, I had a list of reliable online pharmacies around the globe which kept a steady stream of benzos, opiates, muscle relaxers, and stimulants arriving by mail, UPS, and FedEx. I had more work than I could handle, but I was in no way running a sound business. My favorite concoction of hydrocodone, benzos, vodka, and Ritalin washed away my serious inhibitions when it came to selling my web services to prospective clients, both on the phone and face-to-face. I seemed unstoppable, often working in 36-hour shifts. When the drugs were depressed manclose to running out I would force myself to wean off the benzos and opiates over a few days, staying in bed anywhere from one to three weeks at a time where I watched daytime television and nursed vodka until my supply of pills resumed. Although I knew my drug use was far from normal, my self-diagnosing, self-prescribing, and self-weaning seemed to work for a time.
Around 2005, my Atlanta experience was completely played out. My girlfriend had left me a year before; even worse, I was out of money, drugs, and passion for web work. A deep, dark depression chock full of all-too-familiar suicide ideation had once again overwhelmed me. I moved back to Nashville where I would somehow eek by for another eight years doing odd jobs, web work, bouncing in and out of the rooms all the while. I lived for a short time in a dilapidated, roach-infested house and eventually moved into the large basement of my parents’ home in Green Hills.