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I Need Help And Am At The End Of My Rope


After having had several surgeries, I have become addicted to Lortab. I have had 8 years of college, come from a great family, and no one knows about the problem except my immediate family. I recently told them about the problem and admitted myself to a 2-week rehab program where I was able to detox and receive counseling. My family has been very supportive, but they expect me to be “well” now.

Disgustingly, I have started to use again. I can’t believe it myself. I can’t let my family know. I want to “nip it in the bud” now. I have been able to keep this a secret from work. I am a teacher, and need help without it interfering with this. I was told there is an outpatient program in Pensacola, FL where I can receive detox meds and detox on my own. Is this true? Please help me….I don’t know where else to turn, and I am becoming dangerously depressed. Thank you, Lucy

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Lortab is really Vicodin, one of the most addictive pain relievers on the market. That does not mean that the drug is evil or bad. Also, that does not mean that You are evil or bad. Your problem is one experienced by countless numbers of people who inadvertently become addicted to pain relievers originally prescribed for the relief of post surgical pain.

Clearly, you are very ashamed of yourself for this addiction. That speaks well of you and your intentions. Addiction is something you fell into and nothing more. It is important that you look past your feelings of shame and into getting yourself some serious help.

I am not implying that you have not gotten serious help. It is terrific that you entered a drug rehab program. However, as happens more often than not, you suffered a relapse because, unbeknownst to you, your neurons or brain cells were yelling at you, “We want more, get us more.”

No, in my opinion, you should NOT attempt to detox on your own or with some unknown drug. Withdrawal from this drug is very serious business and you would be setting yourself up for more misery and self blame if you attempted this alone.

My first suggestion is that you speak to your physician about the addiction to the drug. More likely than not, he may be able to help you end your addiction.

My second suggestion is that you either speak to that same doctor or speak to a psychiatrist about being prescribed one of the new drugs that helps block the craving for this type of substance. I am NOT speaking about methadone, another addictive drug, but about drugs such as Naltraxone, and others, that block the craving in those neurons. By the way, the psychiatrist will be able to help you with your depression.

My third suggestion is that you begin attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Those meetings can be helpful. I am not suggesting that you believe all that they will tell you but that you use them as a fellowship who can help you feel less alone with this.

By the way, your depression, besides being caused by your guilt, is also caused by the Vicodin.

Best of Luck and Have Lots and Lots of Courage. People can and do recover from this.

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • Catmom

    Hi Allan-

    The drug you refer to is "naltrexone" and it does not block craving but blocks the narcotic high from drugs such a hydrocodone (the active ingredient in Vicodin and Lortab, among others). There are other drugs available to help with the withdrawal & craving.

    The original poster should seek help from a physician specializing in addiction treatment. I understand her desire to hide her addiction, but it will just add to the problem if she doesn't seek outside help.


  • jc

    Lucy....your family supported you through your last detox, I'm guessing they would want to support you through this one as well. If you're seeking help, seems to me that's the first place to start. Good luck.

  • Mona Lisa

    Lucy, as someone who has overcame an addiction 12 years ago, I fully understand your frustration over still being addicted while your family expects you to be fully healed after your two-week treatment. I urge you, though, not to continue to hide your addiction from your family. Relapse is a common, though not inevitable, part of recovery, and your family simply needs to be educated about this. Your continuing to "live a lie" will not help either them or you.

    I will also speak to Dr. Schwartz's suggestion that you attend AA or NA. I agree that you should give NA a try (probably not AA in my experience you will not be welcomed there if your sole problem is prescription drugs). If, however, you do not like what you find in NA, please know that 12 step groups such as AA or NA are not the only peer support groups available. SMART Recovery, to which I belong, has over 500 weekly meetings around the world as well as 16 online meetings, and a wealth of materials, online forums, and other resources on our website. SMART Recovery does not believe that addiction is an incurable disease or insist that members label themselves as "alcoholics" or "addicts", and our program is based on evidence-based approaches geared toward helping people find the motivation to change, recognize and deal with urges (there are many ways to deal with them besides using!) and learn healthy ways of thinking and approaching life. Even if you like AA, give us a look. Many of our members utilize our program together with AA. Here's a link to our website:

    Best of luck, and remember: you can do this!


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