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This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Rick Klugman, Recovered Addict.

Mine actually started before surgery when I blew the L4/L5 disc out in my back. It gave a whole new meaning to the word "pain."

Before I knew it I was in excruciating pain. I prefer not to go to doctors, so much so that when it happened I didn't even have one. At the time my wife was a nurse/office manager for a rheumatologist and had free, ready access the various medications for the treatment of pain except for narcotics. Those needed to be approved and signed off on by her boss, an MD. She gave me various NSAIDS. Viox... nothing, Celebrex... nothing, Ibuprophine... nothing. The only other painkillers she had access to was Ultram (aka tramadol). Ultram had recently come on the market as a synthetic opioid and was touted as a viable option for narcotic painkillers. Since I was a recovering addict we thought it would be safe. So did her boss and the family practitioner I would eventually go to.

Once my newly acquired family physician properly diagnosed me he was honest enough to tell me that the disc had ruptured beyond what he felt comfortable treating, my wife pulled a few strings and got me an appointment with a prominent back surgeon who was willing to take on my case. After he looked at the MRI he quipped, "Wow, that's gotta hurt!" and offered me hydrocodone, a narcotic painkiller. I told him about my addiction problem and told him I was using Ultram, which I had been acquiring from my wife. Even he said that was good enough.

Post surgery, I recovered quickly but continued using the Ultram because of the euphoria and sense of wellbeing it gave me. It wasn't long before I started stealing them from my wife's sample closet at work. Because, at the time, it wasn't a controlled substance nobody was any the wiser. This went on for months in ever-increasing doses post surgery and long after it was clinically necessary.

When I tried to quit, I went through the worst physical withdrawal that I ever experienced and ended up seeking medical intervention to wean me off of them.

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