I tried a couple of Tramadol pills last night before bedtime, thinking to ease the neck pain that has persisted despite all efforts to dispel it--and the result was a very odd night indeed. I went off to sleep just fine, and woke what seemed like many hours later, only to discover that I'd been asleep for less than an hour. That heralded a night in which I woke at least once an hour, and seemed only to doze in between times. Time seemed to stretch out immeasurably. Minutes went by like hours. I kept expecting the clock to show a much later time, but no, only minutes had passed since I last looked.
To add to this strange temporal experience, I had none of the fretful wakefulness that I normally have with time moving on in its usual inexorable manner. I felt gently euphoric the entire time, released from the kind of anxiety that often accompanies sleeplessness. My mind kept moving in and out of very pleasant dreams, seeming to connect them from one to the next; perhaps they were not sleeping dreams, but waking ones. I scarcely know.
Clearly, this was a drugged state. It was, though, nothing like a "high"--more like a persistent sense of cocoon'ed warmth and comfort. Drug addiction has always puzzled and disturbed me, but last night's experience led me to understand a little better that a person who experiences this kind of pleasure and release from physical (or emotional!) pain might want to repeat it. For myself, I'll avoid taking Tramadol again before going to bed. Pleasant though the experience was, I'd not want to repeat it. I'll get back to things like Aleve and Ibuprofin, which help with the pain but result in none of the effects I describe.
I wonder, do Buddhist monks allow themselves an aspirin once in a while? After all, the practice is about learning to live with suffering. Does that include headaches? I know that pain is inevitable as one ages. X-rays show that the pain in my neck is caused by arthritis--a condition that is not going to improve or disappear with the years. Better than drugs is a practice that teaches the avoidance of attachment to that inevitable pain--a skill that has obviously eluded me as yet!