Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day eighty nine ... What's in a name?

I take a few prescription medications.

I don't take anything psychoactive or mood altering. I had my time with those.

At this present time I don't want to dive too deeply into that part of my magnificent crash that occurred last year, but let's just say it was fueled in part by a little green pill called Klonopin. Clonazepam. Poison.

Due to my recent upswing of health (knocking on wood) I take fewer meds now than I used to but I still have a few that my doctor and I feel are helping in my daily maintenance.

Today I had to go to my pharmacy to pick up one of them. I had called it in earlier in the day and they said it would be ready by the early afternoon.

I was enjoying the fine independent task of doing my laundry when I decided to walk on over to get the pills on order.

I walked into the pharmacy that I have been going to for a while now. I stepped up to the counter and was greeted, as always, by the friendly face of the pharmacist. I had the ten dollars in my hand which is the co-pay for this particular med.

"Can I help you?" he said.

"Hi. I'm here picking up a med."

"What's the name?"


"All right. Just a minute please, Mr. Johnson."

I watched him flip through a few of the bags in the "J" section and pull one out. He took a look at the label and held it up in front of me.

He looked at me and said, "One dollar."

I gave him a puzzled look and said, "One dollar?"

"Yes sir, Mr. Johnson," he said. "for the Clonazepam."

Oh my god.

I looked at the sheet in front of me that had the sticker the pharmacist had peeled off and affixed to the pickup sheet with a name and Rx number. It had my correct last name but certainly not my first. It was there waiting for me to add my scribble to it and complete the transaction. All I would have had to do then was to give the man my ten-spot, wait for the nine dollars change, and stuff the bottle of benzos in my bag. He hadn't asked for my I.D. and I know for a fact he wouldn't have.

This, of course, I would have been arrested for eventually. But not before I would have been able to shove enough of these green babies down my throat to make me forget all about it.

Hmm ... that's an awful loud knock on the door ... .

Relapse, as you may or may not know, is a process not an event. It is preceded by predictable behavior and thought processes. When these thoughts and behaviors build up to a boil and are not checked and dealt with, a lapse occurs. When a lapse occurs, the relapse is over and one has two choices: regroup and deal with what has happened, or continue using.

From my experience in self-help groups of many colors and stripes, I have been given a few tips on preventing a relapse from occurring.

One of the suggestions they offer is to change your whole room around. This is an inside joke that only a few of my friends will get, but such is life. In essence, I mean that professionals and volunteers will tell you to get a whole new circle of friends, find a new occupation, pick a different route to travel home, and generally create a whole new environment for yourself. Because the people, places, and things you had when you were using may trigger you to fall back into old habits.

In my line of work there isn't much chance of that happening anytime soon. I have no desire to change my surroundings. I like where I am. I like who I know. I love what I do and I love that it's so inextricably linked with a risky way of life. Excitement is born from risk and desire. Desire is an unpredictable beast and that's why it gets many of us into so much trouble. I wouldn't have it any other way.

But the difference in my life now is that I can watch people engage in risky behavior and appreciate it from afar. I am neither jealous nor judgemental. This is how I remain at peace with myself and keep in good standing with my friends, family, and associates.

The triggers are all around me everywhere I look. They'll be there until the end of time. And unless I buy an island off the coast of Indonesia there's always going to be somebody dangling one of my former vices in front of me on a string.

But I'm going to bet that they probably won't call me "Mr." when they do it.

Thanks for reading.


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