"I would really try to have a normal life but I felt like it followed me around like a dark cloud" by Gianna Frohman
Recorded November 1, 2022 Archived November 1, 2022 16:38 minutes
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DescriptionMe: So I’m here today with..
Me: And we’re going to be doing the stigma free project interview to help break the stigma
regarding substance use and yeah, alright so I guess we can start from the beginning if that's
okay with you
Jamie: Sure, okay so um I am 58 years old and back when I was in my early thirties, I met a
person that we happen to have been in a car accident and when the police came and checked
us out after the accident, the person I was with said to say I got hurt in the car accident. So, I
did. We ended up going to a doctor who prescribed me Vicodin.
Jamie: And I had never been on anything like that before and I didn’t know how addictive it was
when you start taking it. So I became addicted to it pretty easily and then the doctor we went to
just kept prescribing it for the both of us.
Jamie: Yeah, and the person that I was with was also addicted to Oxycontin. So um He had
been in a car accident when he was in high school and was permanently disabled and was
going to a doctor for many years. I didn't know all of this at the time but I came to find out. But
um he introduced me to his doctor and I switched from vicodin to Oxycontin.
Jamie: And so I took that and pretty much was on that for awhile and I really noticed that my
quality of life really diminished while I was on it ya know?
Jamie: Because it kind of becomes ya know your whole life
Me: Kind of takes over?
Jamie: Yeah, it took over and ya know it just affects your moods and your productivity and kind
of puts you in a depression and my personal situation was also intertwined with domestic
violence. So in a way, the drugs although they were so bad for me and everything they also
helped me to escape the guy that I was with and my situation.
Jamie: And so basically that was like my life for a couple years. I ended up having three children
and um it was very difficult to raise my kids and function on such a strong drug ya know what I
Me: Yeah, I’m sure
Jamie: And so it wasn't until, I mean me and him we tried to get off it. We went to a methadone
clinic. And we tried to get off it that way and it just was very hard because if one of us would
falter then the other would be like “ okay well I guess this isn't going to work.
Me: Almost like a codependent sort of situation regarding the addiction
Jamie: Yeah definitely. So, I tried the methadone clinic for a couple months and then that didn't
work and then basically it was ya know me leaving that situation and going to a doctor to help
me get off of the oxycontin and I kind of titrated myself down. But I still couldn't like let go of that
tiny piece of medicine like it was like a mental thing.
Me: like once you open that door or flip that switch it changes everything
Jamie: Exactly, and the doctor put me on something called suboxone and that really, really
helped me so I went on suboxone and I was on that for a couple months and I remember I was
down to like a quarter of a pill every other day like such a tiny amount .but I just, it was hard to
be totally off
Me: yeah I’m sure, and what did the suboxone feel like because I know that opiates affect the
happiness receptors and they weaken and with the suboxone I guess how did that feel?
Jamie: It actually stopped the cravings, and it like I don't know if you've ever heard about ya
know kicking and stuff when you're trying to go to sleep and I had that trying to get off the oxy
and the suboxone would like really help with that
Jamie: And even when I finally just stopped going to that doctorand made the cut myself and I
knew that I was going to have that withdrawal ya know just have the kicking at nightand it took
about two weeks of taht restless leg syndrome for me to totally go through the withdrawal and
thats nothing like a bad withdrawal it was just like the restless legs keep you up at night type of
Me: Right, right
Jamie: yeah I did some counseling, I went through some domestic violence counseling coupled
with some addiction counseling to make sure I would never go back to that. And um I ended up
going back to college and..
Me: Oh wow, that's amazing
Jamie: Yeah, yeah I got some assistance from the state and I got my own apartment and I got
help going to school like financial help and I ended up getting three degrees.
Me: wow. That's amazing
Jamie: yeah yeah it's really good, and it's just my life kind of just skyrocketed its just everything
got better when I got away from the drugs and it was such a negative part of my life ya know I
would never go back to.
Me: Right, it's like knowing that. But wow, So I guess a couple of questions would be, when you
were in active addiction did you feel like ya know you could or did you ever think you would
achieve all that you've accomplished or was it not like in your mind. Was everything just kind of
focused on like the situation at the time?
Jamie: Yeah that's a good question, for me when I was in addiction it was basically I don't know
if you know Maslow's hierarchy of needs. And so I was like on the bottom rung it was about
survival and it was just like um ya know do I have a pill for the next time I need it? Um ya know
coupled with the whole violence thing that was bad but as far as the addiction like I never
thought I would be able to go to college and secure a really good job and have a retirement fund
like I literally was just thinking am I going to live to see tomorrow and are my kids going to be
okay if something happens to me.
Me: wow, well your story is amazing and its a true testament of being able to get the strength to
pull yourself out of a situation such as yours, coupled with the domestic violence and the
addiction. It's amazing.
Jamie: Thank you! Thank you so much, yeah, I’m really proud of myself and ya know I always
wanted to talk to people in active addiction to show them that there is a way out and you can
make it and just to think one day at a time kind of thing. I never did end up doing that but it is
something that I would like to do.
Me: Yeah, yeah I think your story is very inspiring, it is inspiring but especially for those who
have experienced the same or similar things.
Me: So did you ever experience any type of stigma while you were in active addiction?
Jamie: Ya know, I really did. I saw it from neighbors on our street, um its almost like I don't know
if I like imagined it Or if I really saw it but I felt like they were always looking down on us and I
would go to the store and I felt like people were always looking at us. And especially like when
he would go to pick up our prescriptions there would always be a problem like they weren't
ready or it was too soon and he would always be getting into fights with pharmacists so we'd
have to change to another pharmacy and I never knew if he was going to flip his lid about not
getting the drugs and stuff and even though it was a perstription it was still like taboo.
Jamie: and I noticed that whenever he would start a job he would always get in fights with
people because he was very irritable and it was hard for him to keep a job and for me I was
holding down two jobs, I was a dealer in atlantic city and I was an interpreter for the deaf and I
would really try to have a normal life but I felt like it followed me around like a dark cloud
Me: Did it feel like a secret almost?
Jamie: Yeah, yeah it was totally a secret. I couldn't tell anybody I worked with because they
would look down on it and ya know it was kind of like a vicious cycle
Me: I think that a lot of times people assume like oh when they hear someone was an addict or
struggling with addiction they assume oh they're not able to work or do this but in reality active
addiction can mean they are going to their jobs, raising their children, doing normal things but
also while being in active addiction. And I feel like that's why this project is so important and I
am so thankful I was able to interview you because it is all about the stigma surrounding
substance use and mental health and I'm grateful to have heard your story.
Jamie: Oh well thank you also, my family that I grew up in was upper middle class, my father
was superintendent of schools my sisters are teachers like I was raised in a great home
environment. And addiction and domestic violence can happen to anybody. It can happen to
doctors or lawyers and any socio economic status but anybody can easily get hooked on a pill if
they are introduced to it. It does not matter ya know how you were raised.
Me: Yeah no it (addiction) does not discriminate
Me: At all, its crazy but yeah thank you so much for your time. I am so thankful to be able to
speak with you. I really appreciate it.
Jamie: Oh any time! Thank you
Me: Thank you