Aug
15
2017
Tiger Woods had pain, anxiety and sleep medication in system during DUI arrest
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

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I have a lot of mixed feelings about writing this post for a variety of reasons, but since I’ve already been triggered on Twitter, I might as well expand beyond bytes limited to 140 characters.

ESPN is reporting that Tiger Woods had Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC in his system when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in May.

Last Wednesday, Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving on the condition he participate in a diversion program, which will allow for his record to be wiped clean if he completes the program. At the time of his arrest, the police obtained a urine sample, and since there is no longer a criminal investigation, the toxicology report was released on Monday by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the ESPN.com story, the toxicology report revealed that Woods had the following five substances in his system:

Hydrocodone, the generic form of a painkiller branded as Vicodin.

Hydromorphone, a strong painkiller commonly known as Dilaudid.

Alprazolam, a mood and sleep drug commonly known as Xanax. (The report also listed Alpha-Hydroxy Alprazolam, which is what Xanax becomes when it breaks down in the system.)

Zolpidem, a sleep drug commonly known as Ambien.

Delta-9 carboxy THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Ambien is the devil and that is one drug I knew with the most certainty I possibly could have (which really is not a lot) that Tiger would show up in the tox report. I’ll explain in more detail below.

But we don’t know if Woods was prescribed all these medications. Medical marijuana is legal in Florida and chronic pain is a qualifying condition for treatment — or more specific, “nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition,” according to Florida State’s Department of Health. In other words, four back surgeries to try and fix the problem that is causing Tiger’s pain would meet the requirements per state law.

There are a lot of misconceptions about medical marijuana, but this isn’t the time and place. Just a quick FYI: States that aren’t Colorado or Washington, where it hasn’t been legalized recreationally, have really stringent laws. Also, CBD, the compound of a marijuana plant that is used for therapeutic purposes, is the non-psychoactive component. Translation: It doesn’t make you “high.” (Which is kind of a shame.) In fact, most medical marijuana states prohibit dispensaries from selling flower products. This means the medical marijuana isn’t in the form of a bud or what you traditionally think of as weed, so you’re not like, smoking a joint or out of a pipe/bong, etc. In NY State, the law restricts the forms of delivery to ingesting or inhaling via capsules, vaporizer (oil), and tincture.

With the growing opioid epidemic in this country, medical marijuana is being used as an alternative to treat pain and reduce dependency to prescription opioid drugs. And trust me, it’s by far the lesser of the two evils.

But back to Tiger’s situation, I don’t know the circumstances nor do I have knowledge of how he obtained these prescriptions or whether they were even prescribed. Please don’t tell me that wealthy and famous people can obtain these drugs regardless of whether it was prescribed by a doctor or not, because actually, the demographic for addicts and overdose victims in this country’s opioid epidemic is primarily white working class.

I got more personal than I was planning to and/or even perhaps comfortable with my experience of living with chronic pain yesterday in the post I wrote with regard to Rory McIlroy’s injury, so I’ll point you there for more details since I’m not writing it again and it’s available here.

Right now, I already tweeted it, so I might as well expand on it, but feel free to check out my Twitter timeline *and* the replies in case I forgot to mention something. In general, this is all definitely pushing my comfort zone and something I haven’t really discussed in the past. This topic(s)/issue(s) actually requires more thought and context than I’m comfortable with getting into right now, but I hope and want to reach that point and I’m working on being brave enough — all in due time. But the main reasons that prevent me from writing about personal experiences of trauma and bringing to light issues that impact millions endure in society include the following:

1) Shame.
2) Stigmas.
3) Fear.
4) Judgement.
5) Being labeled a “victim.”
6) Pity from others.
7) Unsolicited advice

The reasons I would and want to speak out are because these are traumas and issues that millions endure daily from all walks of society and the world. They should not be stigmatized. We should not be ashamed to discuss them openly because they are real societal ills, “guilty” parties should be held accountable, and people need to know they are not alone.

Whenever I come across a story written by someone brave enough to share something deeply personal, I thank them for having the courage and use it as inspiration to continue working to reach a place where I am healed and strong enough to do the same. It matters because staying silent empowers the predators and the bullies after they’ve already taken away too much. It’s also about reclaiming our power and dignity. It can also change or save someone’s life or simply prevent others from enduring similar unpleasant and deeply traumatic experiences. Because no one — regardless of any qualifier — should ever have to go through any of these things or feel such shame.

So, please read this remembering you don’t know everything that’s going on in anyone’s life. I don’t think it’s fair to attribute judgment and/or blame to whatever Tiger’s dealing with. By that, I mean his health. At the end of the day, it sounds evident that Tiger drove under the influence per the law, but because I know how dangerous these medications can be, especially when taken together, I don’t assign complete blame to him. It’s too complicated to be that cut and dry. It’s not fair to say, “He got behind the wheel” or “He should’ve taken an Uber.” Anyone who thinks that has never suffered from severe, debilitating chronic pain and/or insomnia, among other things.

I’m speaking solely on my own personal experience, but I wasn’t at all surprised that Ambien was one of the substances found in Tiger’s system. When details came to light about the arrest, including the videos, it was obvious to me that the cocktail he had ingested included Ambien. I’ve been prescribed this medication at various points in my life.

I’ve suffered from insomnia or sleep issues dating back to grade school. It worked for a period of time in my early 20s, but I learned that it had scary side effects. For example, if you don’t go to sleep right after taking it, you can have full conversations with people and not remember them, you can do things you don’t remember (kind of like sleepwalking, but to those you interact with, you seem completely awake and normal), and you can basically blackout. For example, it’s not uncommon to wake up the next morning and find a bunch of text messages or back-and-forth conversations you had with people and not remember them. It’s like you’re blackout drunk texting, except you haven’t had a drop of alcohol.

There are other more serious and dangerous effects, like, getting in your car and driving without realizing or being cognizant of your surroundings or what the fuck you’re doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tiger had ZERO recollection of what happened that night.

Then you throw in the Xanax (anti-anxiety) and the super strong painkillers, and that’s a disaster. In fact, it’s dangerous and you’re not “supposed” to mix Xanax (benzodiazepines) with Ambien. I’m not even talking about the super strong painkillers, either.

Over the past 17 years, I’ve been treated or prescribed all five of the medications that were in Tiger’s system. (Thankfully) I currently don’t have prescriptions for the four pharmaceutical drugs listed above. But one of the various treatments/tools I use for my personal pain management involves a procedure that requires the doctor to sedate me with Dilaudid. To my understanding, it’s similar to Morphine. I’m actually in the minority of his patients because 90% of them are sedated with Ketamine instead (which I was initially but didn’t like the side effects). Basically, I’m conscious for the invasive and painful treatment whereas Ketamine knocks out the patient briefly. I’m rambling now.

It’s late, and I’m tired and triggered from all the experts on Twitter who have never experienced severe and sometimes debilitating chronic pain, yet know exactly everything about Tiger’s health, actions, intentions, and medications. Feel feel to check out my Twitter timeline and replies!