Preferred Name: Nadia
Nadia is currently studying for a tertiary qualification. She’s single and lives with her two children. Nadia describes her ethnic background as ‘Australian’: she and her parents were born in Australia.
Nadia began smoking cannabis daily in her mid-teens. She says this helped her cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She was referred to alcohol and other drug counselling by staff at her high school, and later completed several residential detox programs. In her early twenties, after further counselling, she stopped smoking cannabis. Then in her late twenties she sustained a back injury, and developed chronic and debilitating pain. She initially had difficulty accessing prescribed pain medication because of her history of ‘cannabis addiction’ but has since been prescribed Endone® (oxycodone) and Valium® (diazepam), which she takes occasionally for pain management alongside practising yoga and meditation.
In her early twenties she began seeing a youth alcohol and other drug counsellor who had a focus on natural medicines and astrology. Around this time she also began smoking DMT and having ‘profound spiritual experiences’, which she says ‘showed’ her that her ‘lifestyle wasn’t working for [her] any more’. Soon after, she stopped smoking cannabis and DMT, and began practising yoga and meditation.
In her late twenties Nadia sustained a back injury at work as a result of an undiagnosed spinal condition and heavy lifting. Not wanting to resume taking drugs, she didn’t take any medication over the next year. She says she was in ‘constant pain’ and had great difficulty performing everyday tasks, so she consulted a chiropractor but found that muscle tension made the chiropractic adjustments impossible. Prescribed Valium® during a hospital visit for her back injury, Nadia discovered that it relaxed her muscles and enabled her chiropractor to do the adjustments necessary to improve her condition. When she consulted her doctor about treatment options, he said that she would normally be prescribed Endone® and Valium®, but was concerned about doing so because of her past history of ‘cannabis addiction’. Nadia was instead prescribed Panadeine Forte® (a combination of paracetamol and codeine) and an anti-inflammatory medication, but she says she’s allergic to both and had adverse reactions to them that aggravated her back pain. She then decided to consult another doctor who did prescribe her Valium® and Endone®.
Nadia prefers to take as little medication as possible and manages her pain through yoga and meditation, ‘good sleeping patterns’, regular walking, acupuncture and strengthening exercises. However, she also feels that taking Valium® and Endone® occasionally alongside her other strategies contributes to her being able ‘to live [her] life in a peaceful manner’.
She plans to return to work when her back gets stronger, but in a role that doesn’t require heavy lifting. When she completes her studies, she hopes to share the knowledge and experience she has gained in ‘holistic’ care with ‘other people who are in need’.
Nadia (F, 32, not working due to injury, prescription painkillers) says she found it hard to access adequate pain medication for her back injury because of her ‘history of addiction’.
[I have] two prolapsed discs in my back. One of them is ruptured and it causes […] my posture to be quite out of kilter, and my spine sort of sags over to the side, which means it presses on all the nerves […] Doctors can’t do anything for it […After my first injury] I was just in agony, my eyes were red with pain, and I could not function like that […] When I went to see my doctor […] I said, ‘Look, I just need something to relax my muscles, I need something’. He said, ‘The only thing that’s going to do that is Valium [and] I can’t give you Valium because you’ve got a past history of addiction. You can’t have that. What I can give you is Panadeine Forte for the pain’ […] But when my doctor gave me Panadeine Forte, it blew my stomach up because I’m allergic to it […] and that caused more pressure, more pain […] My back was stuck on an angle like that for months and months […until] I made an appointment to see this other doctor who was what I would term a dodgy doctor […] but you know what? He listened to me, and he gave me Valium and Endone and […] it’s really helped me so much […] I have to be made to feel like a doctor shopper, and go to one particular doctor to get my medication, and then I go to another doctor if I’m actually sick. He’s a very good doctor, but he will not prescribe me something that I need.
A regular routine of meditation, yoga and Reiki (a Japanese therapeutic technique) helps Nadia cope with chronic back pain.
The yoga supports me through [the pain associated with my back injury]. If I didn’t have that, I’d be in pretty bad shape, but yeah, it supports me through it. I can’t do all the fancy [yoga positions] anymore, but it’s still [….] really good to have that tool for healing.
You know, I put up with [the back pain] to a certain extent […] But if it’s 10 am, you’re better off to just take one [Endone®], or take half of one, or just do something, you know. So you try everything else first and that’s sort of like the last option that I take.
I do about two hours’ worth of yoga, meditation, Reiki. I don’t know what you call it. It’s sort of a mixture of everything, every morning. That’s really great for my physical health, it’s really great for my mental health, it sort of ties me together as a person, and it allows me to feel, I guess, the same open-mindedness and sense of exhilarated awareness that I felt when I was taking other kinds of psychedelic drugs years ago, but this is true, this is real. This is not something that’s chemically induced. This is something that I’m doing, like I am doing this all myself.
Having a good diet and enough sleep is crucial to Nadia’s health.
I believe I’m doing everything I can for good healthcare. I believe that diet is extremely important, and it’s at the forefront of everything. Also, good sleeping patterns is something else that’s massively important. If you don’t get up at a reasonable hour, and that includes weekends, and if you go to bed too late, how are you ever expected to be in good health? You’re not.
I believe cigarettes are the devil and that’s something that’s a bigger problem for me than any other drugs because of the way I feel when I smoke […] I don’t always smoke and I feel terrific when I don’t. But when I feel sad, yes, sometimes that’s my thing that I go to. Then I have a whole bunch of them and I feel sick, and I don’t want to do it anymore and I stop. You know, that’s it until next time, so I believe that it’s vital that someone with a bad back, because […] you’re putting so much filth and rotting out your body with this toxic stuff [prescribed opioid painkillers], it’s important to keep your body as pure as possible […] It’s also important to keep your environment and your life as stress-free as possible.
I found that when I look after myself, and I don’t work in jobs where people are draining my energy all the time and being just bullies, then my spine is in much better health, and I have more energy for myself and my [children]. Yeah, but I do believe that taking these pharmaceutical medications [prescribed painkillers: Valium and Endone], they’re invented for a reason and this is probably the reason […] These drugs were made for me, and people like me.