16 Aug

My sleep was filled with wild dreams of hallucinating on all kinds of drugs and the nightmare of an overdose as I hovered over my lifeless body shouting at myself to wake up. I woke up shivering and shaking as if I had been in a bath of ice. The feelings of losing control freaked me out and I could not get back to sleep again so I decided to wrap myself in my duvet and do some research on the withdrawals that Jess would be going through. If my dream was anything to go on, an overdose was a scary place to be. I was super grateful that it was only a dream and that I was getting warm again. The knot in my gut was slowly easing too.

It didn’t take many clicks to get to the subject and I was eager to learn. There was a lot of information on assistance with withdrawals to ease the effects and the cravings. Suboxone and Methadone are two common controlled substances prescribed by doctors. The downside is that prolonged use can lead to dependence. The use of these drugs must be supervised by a doctor and will need to be reduced gradually to avoid further withdrawal as they are also addictive. The purpose is to block the opioid receptors in the brain and make the use of heroin less enjoyable.

I was wondering what they were doing with Jess?

There are strong warnings about long term use and the dangers of suddenly stopping the use of these drugs. The shock to the system can lead to the same symptoms as heroin withdrawal, like anxiety, agitation, sweating, nausea, upset stomach, itching and trouble sleeping.

I baulked at the idea of having to deal with any of these. I could not imagine what it would be like knowing that I could stop any of these symptoms by using heroin again. This was going to be a rough ride for Jess. My eyelids were drooping and my concentration waning to the point of a dream state. I closed the browser on my phone and made sure it was on silent before I turned over to succumb to slumber.

My sleep was interrupted by dreams again as I debated with an unknown person on the difference between drug addiction and drug dependence. I had no idea where my arguments were coming from. I was suddenly an expert on addiction.

“Addiction happens when you have uncontrollable cravings causing you to keep using a drug. You lose control and cannot stop using the drug even though the consequences lead to disastrously harmful results.” I said with an air of confidence.

The unknown debater weighed in with his definition of dependence, which I had believed until then was the same as addiction.

“Dependence is as bad as addiction, only worse.” He said “It happens when your body physically adapts to a drug, which leads to it becoming tolerant to it and forcing you to need more of the drug to create the same effect. You end up using more and more and often overdose.”

I woke up again, this time without any sweating or shaking, but an urge to research this topic to confirm the content of my dream. It was uncanny how a dream could be so accurate in revealing knowledge about something I had no clue about. The research confirmed the definitions and I drifted off to uninterrupted sleep until my alarm buzzed me awake.

As I brewed my morning coffee I dialled Jess’s cousin Claude to get an update on Jess. She had not woken up since they sedated her on admission to the clinic the day before. He suggested that I should visit her at lunchtime and tell them at the reception that we were a couple. That had a ring to it that struck a chord with me. I wasn’t sure yet if my motives were sympathy or romance, but I was willing to go with the ‘couple’ theme for now.

Arriving at work Josh called me as I got out of my car and waved me over, holding the elevator door open for me. He never said a word, but simply asked the question with his raised eyebrows.

“It was a great meeting boss. Thanks for insisting.”

He raised his eyebrows again. I nearly asked him if the cat had got his tongue, but remembered that he was my boss and continued. I told him about the meeting Phil, my new friend. He laughed about my dream and told me that recovering addicts often had dreams of using and asked me if I was sure I hadn’t used drugs. We were both laughing when we got out on the tenth floor and made our way into the office.

I decided to call the clinic and arrange the visit to Jess, my newly Claude-appointed partner. They agreed and lunchtime could not come soon enough. I was hyper-productive until it was time to leave. It suddenly had a new purpose in life and I was thoroughly enjoying it. My nerves got the better of me as I pulled into the clinic parking and I thought of Jess possibly objecting to my visit. The receptionist frowned at me when I signed in and asked if I was not the person who had said I was not related to Jess the previous day. I made a lame excuse about being in shock and avoided eye contact with her as I hurried off in the direction she had shown me to where I would find Jess.

She was sitting in a chair next to her bed gazing out of the window of a very comfortable looking room. I wasn’t sure if I should knock, or just walk in and announce myself. I chose to knock. Her voice was soft and a little rough in reply to the knock.

“Come in.”

My heart was pounding and I felt like a twelve-year-old on my first date. I ventured in and she turned to see who it was. Her face was pale and drawn. She looked like a wax figure.

“What are you doing here?” her monotone reply felt like a punch in the stomach.

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