April's Story

Published in the SLFNHA Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 4 - April/May 2010

By Irene Dube

When April Tuesday was in her 30s, she discovered the allure of oxycodone, found in perocets and in the pill known by the brand-name OxyContin. After years of working through alcohol abuse, which included treatment in Thunder Bay, the pills came quietly into her life and before she realized it she was addicted.

When she first came across them at a party, she asked what "that" was. "That" was a pill-crusher, used to crush the pills into powder. Soon after, she tried them for the first time and she felt nauseous. She started craving them and going through withdrawals that she never expected.

"I noticed I would get sweaty and I didn't know what was happening to me," says the 38-year-old mother of four from Mishkeegogamang First Nation. "My bones even ached. I would constantly be looking for more pills. This would be a day-long ‘job' some days. I'd run into the same people looking for them too. We'd all be searching the city for them."

Tuesday says that she would spend whatever she had, and with pills costing $20 for 20mg and $80 for 80mg sometimes this would cost her hundreds of dollars in one day.

"I wish someone had told me they were addictive and how I would feel after. I had no idea what I was getting into."

Tuesday hid the addiction from her children and family but soon it started to become noticeable. She describes herself at that time as being super thin and pasty. She didn't really see how she looked to other people, but recalls that it definitely didn't look good and the only way she can describe it is "sick."

Living and working in Thunder Bay at this time, the pills took over her free time and she started calling in sick more and more often.

April got tired of the addiction and wanted to stop. She came to Sioux Lookout to be with her parents and went to the local clinic to talk to a doctor.

She was checked her into the hospital, where she spent three weeks.

"It didn't help at all. I was being given one Oxy a day, with the idea that it would wean me o ," she explains. "There was another person in the same room as me who had access to them though, so she would give them to me and I definitely wasn't being weaned."

April walked out of the hospital and started hanging out at a local bar. After she started drinking again she realized what she was doing and told herself she really needed to stop.

After talking to a doctor again she was checked into a methadone clinic in Dryden. After her initial visit she returned to Sioux Lookout and over the next two years she would take a weekly trip to Dryden for drug tests and daily trips to a local pharmacy for methadone.

"They would put it in an orange drink and you'd drink it right there," she recalls. But for two years of methadone treatment and anti-depressants, she didn't feel like anything was really "fixed."

"I was tired all the time and I was tired of still being ‘on' something," she says. She was also experiencing insomnia, but after being given a sleeping pill and Valium from the doctor she threw them both out. This past December, she quit it all cold-turkey.

"It was harder coming o of methadone than the pills. After a few days I just wanted to end it all." April then contacted someone she knew was a traditional healer and asked for help. She spent almost two weeks near Thunder Bay, living with a healer and another woman going through a similar experience.

"He mixed medicines from the bush together and we drank them. They're blood cleaners. I felt so good, I could feel it going through my body and cleansing me. I actually glowed." April also says that she was taught how to find the natural ingredients herself, so that she could continue making the medicine.

"I had a horrible headache during this time," she recalls. "I never had a headache like that before, but knew it was a result of everything being cleaned out of my body."

April is working in Sioux Lookout and continues going to sweats and consulting with a traditional healer and Elders. She wants to tell her story to more people. "I want to let young people know what it's really like. I know some people won't listen, but to even help one person is something."

She is opening her story and experiences with prescription drug abuse, methadone treatment and traditional healing to youth and any community or school who would like her to come to speak. If you are interested in talking to April and having her speak to a group, she can be contacted at (807) 738-0434 or by email at aprilstarrtuesday@hotmail.com.

April's story is just one of many.

Martha's Story, a documentary on one woman's journey with prescription drug abuse, is available to watch online YouTube.com or at www.slfnha.com.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL94dJXW_x8

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