Episode 98: She Credits Cannabis With Saving Her Life From an Opioid Addiction

– You're listening cannabis health radio Here are your hosts Ian Jessop and Corrie Yelland

– Ian: Welcome to another episode of cannabis health radio, I'm Ian Jessop – Corrie: And I'm Corrie Yelland – Ian: There are enough prescriptions written for opioids in the United States to give every adult American their own bottle of pills Opioids including prescription opioids and heroin killed more than 33,000 people in 2015 Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid

But the painkiller problem is not just confined to the United States The world drug report estimates that as many as 36 million people worldwide abuse opioids Joining us today from Arizona is Debbie Burke she was hooked on opioids for pain but now uses cannabis Debbie good of you to do this, thanks very much! – Debbie: You're very welcome – Ian: Tell us the story of your back pain and how you became addicted to opioids

– Debbie: I actually injured my back originally when I was a teenager My parents owned a kind of like a big fruit market and so I injured at them but then I completely blew it out about seven years ago and I've also i didn't i didn't have any pain in my neck but i had to have a spinal fusion so i have a lot of nerve damage and horrible I mean my pain was so frightening that I had made the decision that a large this was as I mean I was going to go dr Phil asked me to come on to show because I was a you know a chronic pain user but I didn't realize what it was doing to my life that I was uh I was completely shut down I had no emotions one way or the next you know even my family they knew but I was so defensive about it that no one would even talk to me one of my daughter said we were going to stage an intervention and I I had no idea I know I'm defensive but you know the pain is so frightening that you get to the point where you think okay fine if this is my lot in life this is what I'm doing and then my house and I we decided we travel six months out of the year and we went to Oregon and I said go get some time oh cool do something and i'll tell you it changed my life first of all in the evening we'll smoke some and we actually we use of eight pen but it calms me down I don't have that fear of pain that was you know that that has so much to do with the pain because once you've felt it then you know you're constantly afraid of it it's helped enormously and it helps so much with my nerve pain I just really I sleep well and I feel well and now that I'm sober it's it's a different life it really is it's interesting use that term now that you're sober yeah oh yeah oh yeah well I don't look at marijuana I mean I'm a child of the 70s and 80s and I've never looked at marijuana like it was something that should be illegal I think it's ridiculous I mean I the marijuana now is a little bit different than the marijuana for seventies and eighties it's so you know it's really a lot of it is cause specific and you know if you don't want to feel high you don't have to you know you can pick THC levels there's just so many options to help you it's just like picking an opal if you know how many i was on 30 milligrams six a day for seven years and I could have done I mean I was prescribed six I could have done 15 you know there's no beginning and end to it that's the problem with the old boys there's no beginning and end and all you do is none yourself over and over and over I mean the most horrible thing was that my mom died last year I left the hospital an hour before she died because i was so messed up in the head that I thought oh you know she'll be fine it's fine she's laying there dying and I leave the hospital you know there's a lot to deal with emotionally after you get off all boys it's you know it's been a real journey it really but it's it is the most wonderful feeling to be alive again that really is Debbie I realized it's pretty much impossible to comprehend the pain someone else is experiencing but how bad was it for you on a day-to-day basis oh my god hi all i can tell you is a you know they did this next fusion and i had i have actually a disc that's fused to my spine and my lower back and I have arthritis and all this other stuff that's built around it it's totally inoperable and then my neck you know I had this horrible surgery never had pain before until a G suddenly they're cutting me open and during this horrible six-hour surgery and the pain is like you know you go through this payment like stretches you out and pulls you in and unless you've had it you just it's like being electrocuted if you could imagine being electrocuted that's what it's like and it doesn't stop it comes in spasms and it's just it is it is really really horrible would really horrible daddy did this happen at night to like say when you were sleeping would you wake up with this all night long oh my I would be if I wasn't on all boys I mean I felt like I would die I would never sleep I don't know you know I just I couldn't imagine a life without them without the painters I really couldn't die and like i said i had committed myself to a life with oh boy that's i mean i wrote to dr Phil you know I'm on it I have chronic pain basically I can say this on the radio kiss my ass you know he kept doing all these shows about the dangers and I was like you know I have chronic pain what do you want me to do but i'll tell you the marijuana saved my life and really I you know and I went I went through detox and you know I did a chemical detox and you know and I felt like GM a little bit better than everybody else because you know mine was prescribed it's BS I don't care if it's prescribed I don't care if you're buying it off the street I don't care if you're shooting heroin it's all the same there's no big inning no end and it's all super addictive that's it I would just you know I know that the temptation is there it always accept the you know you get a nice little buzz except the prescription there's no end I was on 30 i could have been on 50 if there's just no end to it well in that nice little buzz that you get from opiates you require more and more to get that little buzzed right exactly i mean what i would feel on 15 milligrams I didn't feel on 60 milligrams so you know as time goes by your body just get so incredibly used to it I mean it we had to but we have to buy a safe with a fingerprint reader for my husband who would amazingly he would get up and fill a little prescription bottle with six pills each gay but I'll tell you something and I been able to get into that safe I would have done them all i could do a 180 pills in two weeks no problem no problem and that's why i say you know there's no beginning no end and i'm not saying you know that somebody who shoots drunk is any any worse than I was because believe me you know sooner or later I mean there was a point where you know I would go to my doctor my poor doctor and I would you know I tend to be a little little aggressive but anyway she was so kind and I would say you know I think I need 20 milligrams so if you go to the pharmacy you keep changing milligrams at one point years ago you know they would fill up because they wouldn't see it but yeah I mean there was no end that's why we got to say but I have to do with my husband's guilt now who feels like he enabled me for you know the last 23 years because we had this safe in and he feels like I would have crashed and burned earlier who knows who knows right yes would you say that you're not a grandma of 11 of 11 Wow of 11 yeah Debbie would you say it would be sure to say that you were suffering from sleep deprivation when you were going through all of this today as well oh my I never slept for me because you know I felt like you know well I'll stay off the other words but I was taking so much you know tylenol extra strength advil or whatever there is you know over the counter I just ate up my stomach I mean I I can't take a tylenol to save my life right now and you know that was another issue if you can't take your toast you can't take something that's got an aspirin or a Talon all base then where do they go all they can do is give you a point mm-hmm and then sleep depend I didn't have anything sweet reservation comes with its own set of problems too because making it quite literally it makes you crazy and also the ability to cope with your pain if it gets worse and worse and worse it's just a snowball effect right and that's why I say that the pain is so scary because it's not like my little last 15 minutes you know that you're going to be in pain all day and it's not going to stop I mean even my feet which I know it sounds ridiculous and a lot of a lot of people with diabetes suffer from a certain kind of neuralgia where were your feet it's it's insane I mean it'll wake you up the feet tingle heard it cold get hot you and they're not they're not to call they're not so hard if you feel them but there's all this weird nerve stuff that goes through it's horrible really is in your heart of hearts did you realize that you were addicted to these opiates or were you just Leon you did no oh no while I was in denial I was in denial to the extent that you know my family was afraid to talk to me about it because I was like look you know I'm in severe pain just don't need them and I had such it I have six sisters and you know we're all pretty Gabby and I had said to them don't you know I don't even want to hear it this is what I'm on I'm on because of the bay that's it you know yet and I have a very strong personality no one would say anything to me you know I had before I got on cannabis oil I had a condition and still do called post sternotomy syndrome from open-heart surgery and I was on a crapload of opiates and looking back I was probably addicted you know I was on them for five years you know and I had a total Marcus board and and it's quite insidious when you're on opiates and you do lie to yourself or you do say hello it's okay because it was prescribed you know and the doctor gave me the prescription so you know you justify it to yourself right and you think that you're better than any other junkie or anybody else was addicted you know you're so much better than them because you went to a doctor and you got a prescription you didn't get yours on the street no no yeah no I mean I had I'm smart enough to you know I kind of played the game for a while you know with the prescriptions and then that ended pretty abruptly actually what happened is a pharmacist said you know something I've been looking at your at your records and I see that you've been coming in with different strengths and he said you used X amount had to be you know close to 200 in two weeks and he said you cannot fill this prescription for another two weeks so I went into the most horrible horrible withdrawal I don't know if you went through that but all I can tell you is it was I mean I probably lost 18 pounds really 18 pounds just from vomiting I mean I couldn't eat I couldn't drink was really awful really awful a very scary thing that's another reason why you stay on is the fear of withdrawal Debbie with your terrible pain and your addiction to painkillers what kept you going from day to day just knowing that I had pills that was really it I mean I would go my daughter lives about 80 miles away but it's a really pretty dry but I'd go down there a couple is a week to see the grandkids and I mean I would literally drive a team I stay an hour you know you're constantly it's like you're always worried where's my next fill where's this and I would have my six pills for the day and then of course I was beatified my husband at night when can you know I went to her and you know he would give me an extra pill it's it's really the kind of psychological stuff that you go through once you can actually feel is very heavy duty it really is but you know it's so incredibly worthwhile I you know I feel like I've opened my eyes for the first time in seven years Debbie you mentioned that the pharmacist refused to fill your prescription did your doctor every question how much you were using yeah yeah she did but you know I was I would lie to her it was stolen or it was dogging it ad yeah she knew I mean I would you know oh my god somebody came and they took my prescription I mean I named me I would do anything to get more pills anything and that's why we got the safe and I couldn't get in there and trust me I tried I trust my husband sleeps really soundly and one night I picked it up as real heavy of course I tried to use I tried to grab his thumb to hook up that's a great absolutely I know he's on the sleeper done you know I'm grabbing his arm on you know try to use this somebody woke up and said what and I'm not going to say the word are you trying to do it's yeah one time it didn't close all the way and of course I ripped off 20 pills you know associated well maybe you know I'll make it out stretch it out and you know use I used it in a couple days like I said there's no beginning and no end you know you're an addict and that's it when did the light go on i know i couldn't quit I knew I couldn't what I really did i just knew i couldn't put i justified it by the pain i justified it I you know the fear withdrawal I you know I'm a great justifier and it's just it's a really hideous thing it really is I and and I would have been the first person to defend it but no it's a really horrible thing when did the light go on behind Debbie that you had to get off these painkillers and you and you went to detox well my husband got really sick last year he's a young man I mean I don't know if you're 2850 sounds really old but you know we're both in our in our 50s and he got congestive heart failure and almost died thankfully his heart rallied a bit and he's on disability now and we we gave away everything we were in a 4,000 square foot house I mean we gave away everything to either kids or to charity and we sold the house for basically what we bought it for and we bought a 40 foot RV and a Fiat that we can yank behind it and we travel now I mean we get to we've been all over and I had to fly back I think this is how ridiculous it is I didn't apply back every month to come and see my doctor get the prescription go to the walgreens that I knew would you know not question anything I mean I would drive 25 miles out of my way to go to one certain one and then um you know I would fly back and I mean we spent like probably four or five months in Pennsylvania where my husband's people are from and I was flying back every month and I just thought you know my husband and I spoke about it he said you know it's tough I mean he's on disability that's what we live on and you know it just became more and more stupid and so my twin sister who who she's a town and she knew of someone who had used this place that I went to for the chemical detox and actually the detox was crazy you know was a chemical detox they kept me hydrated and real kept me asleep basically for a few days and once the ovoids were gone they were gone that's it they're not your system but you know then you have to deal with the litany of emotional stuff in the guilt but like I say the journey is well worth it I know that a lot of people relapse and and I appreciate that but I don't know I think that if you turn around and open your eyes and you know go get your medical marijuana cards like you you need it here in Arizona there's a whole girl to live my husband and I sit around and laugh all night long I have peace literally and it's not like you know we're teenagers but I mean we watch movies we let fleet you know we have a life I'm not tethered I'm not tethered anymore Debbie what was it like the first time you used cannabis for your pain I just couldn't believe it I just really i thought there's just no way there's just no way and it's funny we tried you know sativa and whatever edition and i really really like the sativa for during the day and the industry at night and it was just amazing I mean weeds it has changed so much in our relationship and we've always so you know we've been married for 14 years and and you know we just have a wonderful wonderful marriage anyone would fare that it's a hundred times better now it really is my husband no longer is my pill pusher and you know he is completely out of that role and and we sit around we relax and we have fun and it's it's a hundred percent difference now is your pain I'm just trying to think of you being on painkillers and the degree of pain you had when you're on the painkillers and the degree of pain you had or have when you're on the marijuana what's the difference the differences i don't have the fear that is that's probably you know I remember after my after my spinal fusion and I had told everyone I'm a pain patient this is what I'm on this is what I'm on well of course they didn't read anything and I got out of surgery and you know when you're dependent like that you need a lot of pain drugs after a surgery so I had this hideous surgery and they gave me like they would a normal person and I woke up screaming and I do not a date my husband was standing bed Zach screaming they got so worried upset frightened that they loaded me so full of drugs that I actually my heart stopped for five minutes yeah very interesting and then I had the neurologist he said to me he said a lot of what's going on here is fear so you know then they put me on valium including the oxycodone well you know let her just shoot someone in the head the valium I was only a 1 milligram and I thought well no big deal no big deal and and so I just didn't refill my prescription and then I went through you know attend a withdrawal with that it's a really I'm telling you this is I have been through quite a bit and it it's you know don't start if you haven't don't and don't buy into the garbage try the try the marijuana now if you're if you're a little bit older like I am you know just go and read about it and examine everything that on the internet and and really take your time and check it out and you'll see I mean there's really nothing to be afraid of I think when you get older you know older than I am you know you feel like I and I'll get these marijuana whatever it's really really helpful it really for chronic pain and and to calm you down it's a wonderful wonderful thing and occasionally I have to take like a lyric or something else just because you know my nerve they would just really crop up very bad but I I haven't I haven't taken anything since we sure of the marijuana and that's it like I just haven't needed it Debbie what would you say is more effective in handling your pain with the opiates as effective as the cannabis no because I needed more more yeah just right and the thing is is you know the last few years I was snorting it and you know I told my husband all that gives me faster relief well you know I was out fast relief I wasn't on time I was snorting them seriously I was snoring um snorting sick still could have done 10 no issue yeah what ya inta attention go ahead as you can say what's the marijuana you don't have to deal with the the psychological aspects that you do with the opiates oh yeah I mean there's just so I mean I I like here to go through and think okay you know I mean I I had I vote to one of my daughters and I said I'm so sorry this is this is really the worst story ever and I'm going to admit it to everyone but I was babysitting three of the my daughter seven kids and the little ones and they're a baby who I mean you he was about nine months old and then a two year old and a three year old and I started panicking because I was out of pills and they went to her and her husband went to a school to start their kindergartner in school and they were you know during the orientation and all of that and I started freaking out there were going to be back at one and I started freaking out about 10 and i wrote you know I never offered to babysit all day and and so I'm writing to them in hassling them and my daughter said well I'm coming home right now and I looked out and I could see you know where she was at the way end of the block I have to Kurenai left and that is that to me is you know the kind of guilt that you really don't get over all that easily it was the pills taking precedence over everything oh my god I couldn't I all I could think of I mean I had flown in on the on the you know on a plane for five hours right so you know on the plane of course I did a couple and blah blah blah and you know that kind i was in a lot of pain so you know I managed to I should have saved a couple but instead I did them and in the in the morning I was babysitting I'd stopped at my daughter's caption the morning I was babysitting I freaked out I freaked out and I think anybody who's ever been as addicted as I was can understand that you freak out you don't think about you know your kids they're like you don't think about anything you think about where that pills coming from I went to my doctor two hours early and SAT and waited until I could get that prescription and that was it that was it that's what I add the funny thing I went to the doctor I said my daughter's called me every name in the book you know and she told me oh my god it's horrible to have a mother that's addicted and and my doctor said you are not addicted you are it's it's a it's a dependence based on pain and you know that was it that was my justification that's why i said to her is that you can be as mad as you want I'm in pain I need my pills that's it it's almost like your doctor was a form of enabling them well you know I i have i have records i mean you should see what they got at the at the poor certification place i have years and years of records and surgeries I mean I I had huge cortisone shots I had 12 shots in my back and I mean I would lay they lay you on a table with a hole in the middle I would just lay in my tears were just puddle on the floor I went through a lot and I mean this is pre old Boyd I went through so much that you know by the time I decided okay fine I'm living my life on them you know it was it seemed like the same decision ever really dead I mean I was going to a doctorate he you know where one doctor said to me haven't you ever had a child you know because of the pain you know they shoot you right into a disk and they hit all those nerves it is it's horrible the treatment is as bad as a diagnosis it really is it was just so horrible going through that and then physical therapy and then more shots and then you know I do shots different and you know then they give you propanol or whatever that stuff is you know to so that you don't feel the pain I always felt the pain it was it's horrible Debbie really is with your with your cannabis youth are you just vaping it or do you do tinctures or edibles or oil I actually the doctor that I went to is a for my certification was a holistic doctor and he and I said to him you know I my issue I told him you know I was addicted to upwards and all that and he actually I bought a thing of some some hemp oil and you know he showed me what to do Sablan goal and it really does help let's just clarify that you're talking about cannabis oil not hemp oil per se well when I went to that doctor he prescribed a hemp oil but the cannabis oil is completely different it's good just it knocks it out it calms me down my nerves aren't you know just shooting pain I'm fine I don't need anything for sleep like when I was on the old boys I always had to take you know I called sleepy asprin isn't that nice or you know something to knock me out because I couldn't sleep cuz you know basically I was just even though I didn't realize that others just kind of speed in my butt off you know Debbie how do your kids feel about you being on marijuana they really they're just so incredibly proud of me and they have no issue with the marijuana in fact it's I was down visiting with my one daughter with all the kids and we were talking and she just said you're like a different person she said I used to walk in and I was always very closed up you know being defensive that's what you do and so I was always very closed up but you know I could only stay a little bit because you know what if I ran out of pills or god forbid you know something like that happened and we just I actually had the best time with her that I've had in years it was I really and they're very open to it there you know going to date they've heard all the stories from high school you know but dirt they're very very open to it they understand they're both they're both really smart people debbie has been a pleasure to talk to you it's great that you are off opioids and you're on the road to recovery and the things are looking fine for you and your husband even though you even though you haul the safe into the bedroom try and get it I love that Corey you still with you so fun you know that the poor I loves me I mean I don't know I don't know what I've done to deserve it she is I for him to have guilt it's like oh don't have gills I enough for both of us yeah you'll carry or so much yes thank you so much for letting me air it out yep thank you very very much you're very welcome take care thanks Deb bye bye bye there you have it another edition of cannabis health radio don't forget to subscribe to us on iTunes and help us out on that platform we welcome your comments you can send comments to us at info at cannabis health radiocom wherever you are in the world thanks very much for listening you've been listening to the cannabis health radio podcast sistar website cannabis alt radio calm and follow us on Facebook and Twitter bye

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