I knew I didn’t want to go back to rehab, but the methadone wasn’t working for me anymore. I hated having to get up at the crack of dawn and stand in line with the worst junkies in the city who always seemed to comment on my tan and expensive clothes. I’d heard horror stories from people coming off of methadone, and I wasn’t willing to feel even a day of discomfort. I scoured the internet for solutions and eventually stumbled across The Coleman Institute, which was a convenient 10-minute drive from my apartment. It was an outpatient clinic which performed a rapid Naltrexone detox over a two-week period in which you were kept comfortable with Valium and Clonidine. After the two weeks, they inserted a small pellet of extended-release Naltrexone under your skin which blocked opiates’ effects, ensuring that you would stay clean for the next two months. Very Clockwork Orangey. After the two months you would return and have them insert another pellet. This could be continued indefinitely. I’d heard about the procedure in Pittsburgh because a girl who went to my high school had tried to overpower the Naltrexone implant and died from an overdose.
The idea of an implant made me squeamish but the fact that it was fast and did not involve attending a bunch of 12 step meetings was appealing. The only real problem was that the procedure was not covered by insurance and came with a price tag of $5,000. Paul was starting to grow weary of my insatiable spending and my bank account was consistently overdrawn. This left my parents. I was surprised when it took minimal convincing and they agreed to take the money out of my dwindling college fund. My mom even agreed to come stay with me to take me to The Coleman Institute everyday and help with the dog.
Visa card number in hand, I call the clinic on a Friday and schedule the procedure for the second week of March. My birthday happens to fall during this period, and I look at it as a 21st birthday gift to myself. Time to get off the opiates and get my life in order.
I take Methadone for the last time on my 21st birthday, and my mom shows up in her green Mountaineer later that evening. I am looking forward to not having to see Paul for two weeks and getting to spend time with my Mom. I’d spent two days in an Adderall induced frenzy cleaning every square inch of the apartment. Bentley meets her at the door and she immediately begins to fawn over him. She’d had trouble finding a spot on Monument Avenue since she couldn’t parallel park and she’d had to park four blocks away since my Mercedes occupied my one allotted spot in the back of the building.
“Why is there a litter box on your balcony?” my mom inquires as she peers out the french doors illuminated by the setting sun.
“Oh…right…I taught Bentley to pee in it so I wouldn’t have to take him down the steps all the time”.
She gives me a concerned look and makes her way into the airy living room. Thank God I’d cleaned up the mountains of puppy poop that had accumulated on the porch. Corey and Lindsay, the brother and sister who lived next store never complained about it, so I saw little reason to be on top of the situation. They had even invited me over to play drinking games to the new season of Jersey Shore. You wouldn’t do that if you were quietly seething about the stench of feces wafting in your balcony windows
The next few weeks remain a blur. My mom drives me to the clinic in the morning and feeds me liberal amounts of Valium and Zyprexa, so mostly I sleep. She amuses herself with teaching Bentley how to fetch, trying to clean the decades-old dirt off the wood floors, and doing work on her company laptop. During a brief moment of lucidity I give Bentley his first bath and my mom and I find a glass and bamboo coffee table for the living room advertised on my favorite trade site.
I meet the doctor for whom the clinic was named on my second to last day of treatment. There was a new BMW 5 series in the parking lot with a vanity plate that reads KYHOOYA.
“What does your license plate stand for?” I ask when he introduces himself as Dr. Peter Coleman.
“It is the secret to life” he replies cryptically.
“Keep your head out of your ass?” I ask with a smirk. He looks astonished that I guessed so quickly and my mom beams with pride. I was always good with acronyms. Under “occupation” in the intake form I’d written Junior Executive Marketing Director of Fletcher’s Enterprises Inc. God knows where I got that title from, but the physician assistant asked me where I got the fancy job title.
“A former fraternity brother’s dad owns the company” I’d answered.
The last day of treatment they hook me up to an IV bag full of Naltrexone for a couple of hours and encourage me to sleep. I am nodding in and out when I overhear my mom talking to the female physician’s assistant.
“He has always cared too much about what people think. See the blonde highlights in his hair?”
I’d gotten them because I rarely went outside, but that did not negate the fact that she was right. After the IV is finished, they escort me to what looks like an operating room and tell my mom to wait in the lobby. The PA cleans the area directly to the right of my navel and applies a cold glob of antiseptic. Shortly after, Dr. Coleman comes in with gauze and a gleaming scalpel. I watch as he slices open the layers of skin and crams in a pill sized pellet of Naltrexone before stitching the incision back together. I am sick to my stomach, and when I stand up the area bulges grotesquely like some sort of man-made tumor.
We thank the doctor and make the short trip back to my gleaming apartment. My mom has refused to drive my car because she is afraid of wrecking it, even though I’d insisted. Paul is coming over that afternoon to give me “my work” so that it looks like I have an actual job and so my mom can finally meet him. I lay down so that my $5,000 wound can heal as my mom packs her clothes and Bentley tries to get in the suitcases. I wake up when I hear Paul knocking on the kitchen door, and I’m sure he is pleased I can’t ignore him this time. My mom gives him a hug and they sit in the living room talking about me as I leaf through the stack of driver’s reports Paul brought me while inconspicuously trying to text the dealer that Daniel had introduced me to. I want a handful of Xanax and am anxious for my mom and Paul to leave. After a prolonged and tearful goodbye my Mom finally leaves to drive back to Pittsburgh. The stitches in my stomach are a free pass not to hook up with Paul, and I pretend to be more tired than I actually feel. I even manage to get some cash off of him before I convince him to go.
I count to 100 after hearing the downstairs door shut before I change into jeans and leave to meet Brian at his mom’s Section 8 apartment. I park a few blocks up the road in case I had to make a quick getaway. He meets me outside on the crumbling stoop and informs me that he is out of Xanax bars but that he has some really good ecstasy. I haven’t done any since Sammi and Lauren picked me up at the airport after a family vacation in high school and given me a small green pill. It had hit me just as we were emerging from the Fort Pitt tunnels, and I almost rubbed the finish off the dashboard by the time we got back to the North Hills. It was the best I’d ever felt. My anger towards Brian about having me drive to the ghetto with fresh stitches when he is out of benzos quickly subsides. I give him five crisp twenties and sit on the stoop to light a Marlboro Menthol as he disappears across the street. I am on my third Marlboro when he finally returns and puts six chalky blue pills in my palm. They are star-shaped which is just so much fun. It is going to be a good night. Time to celebrate my sobriety!