Last night was the first night hubby slept without the assistance of pharmaceuticals in, (counts on fingers, takes off shoes, adds toes) 14 years. Has it really been that long?
It started out when he was at the height of his Chronic Fatigue illness. The doctor put him on a sleeping pill, hoping that regulating his sleep would ease some of his other symptoms. Didn't work, but he got good and addicted to the pills.
When we brought our concern to our primary care (odd term for this man) doctor, he said, "Do you feel like you'd like to knock over a pharmacy to get an Ambien? No? Then you're not addicted." I suppose he was referring to the emotional aspect of addiction, but our issue was with the physical reality that if he didn't take a sleeping pill each and every night, hubby simply would not sleep. After four or five days of not sleeping, he would begin having other physical problems, hallucinations and the like. Nasty.
When hubby was laid off, we started cutting back every single expense as close to the bone as we could, and that included our prescription drugs. Hubby takes pills like an 80-year-old. A sleeping pill, a high blood pressure pill, a cholesterol pill. I've gotten him off the pre-diabetic pills because he has yet to take a blood sugar test that is even in the high range of normal. The primary care (??) doctor saw a man with a bit of excess about the middle (not even a lot, mind you) and must have thought something like, "Hey! This guy needs drugs!" Forget the healthy diet I have him on. Forget the regular exercise regimen. Anyway, we're cutting back as much unneccesary expense as possible, and prescriptions we can live without are high on the list.
I mentioned to hubby that now would be a great time to quit the sleeping pills. He isn't working during the day, so he can nap if he needs to. We can't really afford the prescription, and wouldn't it be great to be able to do something as simple and essential as sleep without having to induce it with a pill?
It's been a very long, very difficult six weeks for him. But he did it. Last night is proof it can be done. It's also proof that he was physically addicted. Six weeks of withdrawals, I believe, should be proof enough for any reasonable physician.