At some point, even an idiot like me has to wake up. Either you wake up or go under.
Over the years, I’ve suffered from depression, jittery nerves, paranoid feelings, drowsiness, and unexplained anger. I can’t prove that my nasal spray addiction had anything to do with these symptoms. But I am sure that slurping down a nasal decongestant every day for almost 2 decades didn’t help the situation.
And now this! I couldn’t breathe through the left side of my nose. This was crazy. And yet, there it was. I had reached the point where I couldn’t go 15 minutes without reaching for the spray bottle. And that knowledge was the key to my freedom.
I devise a plan
I knew I couldn’t stop cold turkey. My only hope was to gradually wean myself off the drug. This was not an easy thing for me to do, especial at night. The nights were the worst times. The congestion seemed almost unbearable at night. By the spring of 2005, I was lucky if I was getting 4 hours of sleep.
So, I started at just 15 minutes between a dose. I wrote down the time I took the dose, and vowed that I would add another 10 minutes before taking another. That was 25 minutes total between doses. I worked on 25 minutes at a time until my body became accustomed to the idea.
It was not as easy as it may seem. My body screamed at me after the initial 15 minutes went by. Under no curcumstances would I take a dose until a full 25 minutes had passed. For the first few days, it was a nightmare. But finally I was ready to move on to the next level.
I added another 10 minutes to my strategy. Under no circumstances would I take an nasal spray hit until a full 35 minutes had passed between doses. A few days later, it was 45 minutes. And a day or two later it was f ull hour. That was a milestone. A whole hour!
After I was well into my second hour, I began to notice the pressure in my left nostril didn’t feel quite so bad. In fact, although I was on schedule to take a dose every two hours, there were times when I could have gone longer. And I slowly began to do this. It was easier to accomplish this during the daylight hours. The nights were still tough. But by this time, I could go without the spray for about 3 hours at night. I’d wake up, take the dose, and then sleep throught the rest of the night.
This went on for about a month. I kept a record of my progress to encourage myself. I knew I was beating my nasal spray addiction because it was right there in my notes. I had gone from 15 minutes, to 4 or 5 hours during the daytime. The nights continued to be tricky, but I was making progress in that area as well.
The end came quickly. I don’t remember where I was at the time it happened. I might have been at my mother’s house. In any event, I do remember feeling a sharp “popping” sensation in my left nostril. I blew my nose, and took my first unaided breathe in 4 months.