Hello, my name is Douglas and I am an addict.
My addiction started innocently enough. At first, I took them to ease the pain, the burning, that I felt in my gut. I thought they were harmless. After all, my mother used them now and then and she was a wonderful person. What relief from the pain I lived with! It was wonderful, I could function, live like other people.You could get them just about anywhere. Cheap, too. But they didn't take the pain away for long, you had to take more and more just to feel okay. But then I was introduced to different, stronger, versions. I never expected I would become dependent, who does?
I am talking about antacids and acid blockers. I began with Tums because they were readily available. I lived most of my life without them, eating anything and everything that I liked. Pizza, Mexican food, hoagies, you name it. It's true, there were some things which disagreed with me, I avoided them easily enough. But how do you avoid pizza or any Italian food? And, for much of my life, I didn't have to. They caused no pain, no heartburn, no acid indigestion.
And then it began. Sometime in my mid-forties I began to get that awful burning sensation deep inside, just below my chest, that stayed with me. At first, I turned to my mother's favorite "little helper", Tums. Oh, I tried the others but they were too chalky, too mediciney. Tums had flavors. It was like eating candy, not taking medicine. And they worked as well as the others.
But all were limited. The relief only lasted a short while. I needed more, I needed Extra-Strength and even that wasn't enough.
The doctor thought he was helping when he gave me a prescription for Tagamet. He was. It worked. It was amazing! One little tablet twice a day and I was normal. I could eat Italian food again, pizza was back on the menu, as were enchiladas, burritos, and hoagies. I was in heaven.
Until my health plan wouldn't pay for them anymore. First, they upped the co-pay. Bad enough. Then they decided there should be a limit. I fought against it. It was difficult. I weaned myself off the Tagamet with ample doses of Tums and other mild antacids. I suffered the pangs of withdrawal, the heartburn, the acid indigestion, the burning pain. I had to limit my diet. Orange and other citric juices were no longer an option at breakfast. Alcohol, soda, candy... all were struck from my list of "safe" things. My diet became bland and so did my life.
Tagamet was ruled safe for the public by the FDA and became an over the counter (OTC) drug. That actually made it more expensive than when my healthplan covered it. I couldn't turn back to it.
And, then, one day, I was given Zantac. The magic returned. I was free again. Though it wasn't perfect, it helped immensely. And, soon after, I found Prevacid and my life changed completely! One pill, once a day, and everything was permitted. That was when I began to realize I was hooked. One day, the health plan refused to pay for it. They said I had been on it too long. That it was not supposed to be a "maintenance" program but a treatment that would end. Oh, the cruelty of their indifferent rules! They didn't care about my suffering, they had no sympathy.
In the meantime, Zantac ( a poor substitute) was made OTC and a generic form called Ranitidine became available. Relatively inexpensive, it helped. I could take it before bedtime and not wake up at 3 AM with that awful taste in my mouth and that sour agony in my gut (regardless of what I ate).
It has been several years now and I am still addicted. There is no hope. I take my Ranitidine each night about 9... sometimes earlier... and am able to rest easy. I cannot skip a night, I have learned that... painfully. I have tried. There is no escape.
My apologies to all those who are fighting real addictions. I do not mean to make light of them.
A Night Unremembered
7 years ago