030921 A firsthand account of how I kicked opioids after suffering a traumatic lower back injury in the line of duty. By Russ Cox, Retired SPD Sgt.
This is a firsthand account of my friend, and fellow Law Enforcement Officer Russ Cox experience with the opioid drug Tramadol Oral. It is not about victimization, instead it is about one mans self-awareness of the drug’s potential for addiction and his journey to escape from this medically induced hell. He worked closely with his medical doctor and freed himself and he has all my congratulatory praises for doing so. He is a strong man!
Danny asked me to write this so that it may help or encourage you or someone you know to make some positive changes. You can lead a horse to water… Good luck and like Larry says “git er done”.
This is my story of how I kicked opioids. While at work during the winter of 2008 I fell and crushed the vertebrae in my lower back. The pain was incredible. It felt like the air went out of my upper body. That was in December. Since L& I was involved all the I’s had to be dotted and the T’s crossed so due to the waiting time for the claim to be processed. I was not operated on until April 15th.
The operation worked, but my spine was now crooked, and my nerves were affected.
The pain was intense to the point I passed out from it. Walking, sitting, and standing for any period caused pain. My doctor then prescribed Tramadol. I was not on a large dose, but enough that I became dependent. I could tell because when I was late with my dosage, I had withdrawal symptoms.
I could not return to my job of thirty years and was given a 100% Labor & Industries (L&I) disability. Fast forward about 10 years. I began to have extreme symptoms like hallucinations, and I could not sleep more than five hours in four days. It was triggered by being stung twenty-four times by paper wasps. Sounds funny, but it was not.
The light finally came on and I asked my doctor to help me kick the Tramadol. He put me on a gradual schedule. It took a month to finally get free. Was it easy? No, but I am a person that quit tobacco, salt, and several other addictions cold turkey.
It takes will power, but the damage this drug does to your liver and kidneys is no joke. A little willpower now beats having a machine to keep me alive later.
Tramadol is a synthetic opioid and is at the bottom of the opioid scale. OxyContin and heroin are at the top end of that scale. I should mention I worked for SPD as a Sergeant and I really loved my job and the heroes that I worked with. You cannot imagine how much I hated being addicted to a drug. I even hate having to take high blood pressure medicine. I have always been a guy who values the benefits of good nutrition and exercise. I am better at the exercise part. I replaced Tramadol with regular visits to my chiropractor, massage therapist, and acupuncture. Those, along with exercise, work for me.
If you are getting advice from Danny, you are on a correct course of action. The back, like all-body joints, needs exercise. My phrase “use it or lose it” so true. Now that I am, I’m the winter of my life, my goals and practices have changed to less intense workouts lifting less weight, but maybe more repetitions.
Russ Cox, retired SPD Sgt
 Russ Cox Retired Spokane Police Department, Sgt., Spokane, Washington