"An hour and six minutes is how long it took to take effect," Smith said. That meant it took exactly an hour and six minutes every day before he could function or even get out of bed.
Smith says it all started in 1999 after he suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was treated with OxyContin and Morphine.
"I was downgraded to Percocet after a while, but my tolerance had become so high that if I didn't have enough of them I'd get sick," Smith says.
Went to the streets
He eventually went to the streets to find pain pills in order to keep himself well, and confided in a doctor who began to treat him with methadone.
Although methadone can only be used as a drug addiction treatment by certified clinics, Dr. Bryan Wood, co-owner of Central Kentucky Second Chance Clinic, says there are ways around it.
"They can write prescriptions as if they're treating the patient for pain, but (doctors) know what they're doing ...," Wood said.
Smith also was given Xanax for anxiety. It is among a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are particularly dangerous if taken with methadone.
Smith soon learned that methadone and Xanax could be a deadly combination, but because he was addicted, he stayed on the six-week program. When he returned for more, the doctor he was seeing at the time refused.
He began treatment with Lexington Professional Associates, a methadone maintenance treatment clinic, taking 180 milligrams per dose and never missing a trip to Lexington for more than a year for his daily fix.
Though the treatment stopped his withdrawal symptoms, he says he became heavily addicted to methadone, always needing more and more.
"I had been a loss prevention specialist, in a management position, making $30,000 a year. I lost everything," Smith said.
In 2001, he stopped treatment with the clinic because of the cost, but soon after found himself obtaining methadone off the streets however he could. After a few days without it, Smith said he walked into two hospitals, begging for help.
"I told them I was seriously ill, felt like I was dying, was in withdrawal and that I didn't know where to turn," Smith said. "I told them I was desperate, and that I was afraid I might do something drastic. I needed help."
Smith says he was turned away. That night, he robbed two pharmacies, taking only OxyContin and methadone.
At that time, his girlfriend also was an addict.
"And we had been doing things to get drugs, things I would never want to see any other decent human ever have to go through ...," Smith says, his voice cracking.
He says his girlfriend would exchange sexual favors with a doctor for pain pill prescriptions. Smith says he drove her to the doctor's residence and waited in the car while the transactions took place.
"People need to know what it can do to you, and that others can take advantage of the terrible, horrible place you've come to be in," Smith said.
After Smith was charged with armed robbery, he spent the first 11 months in prison in withdrawal and describes the first two weeks as the worst pain he's ever felt, including being shot in the stomach.
He leans forward in his chair, balled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, showing how he lived.
"It's the worst pain in the world. Your legs ache like you never thought they could, rolling stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, voices all around you, hallucinations and you can't even move to get a drink of water and then you dehydrate ...," Smith says. "I was on suicide watch. They knew I wanted to die."
Toward the end of his sentence, Smith was released to a halfway house. He was facing amputation of his right foot from a childhood injury, and a doctor put him on Ultram, a medicine that's described as non-narcotic. The medicine, however, also is noted as being a drug that should not be prescribed for anyone who has ever been addicted to narcotics.
"I went back into addiction mode," Smith said.
After he returned home from prison, he was eating about 50 pills a day. He lost weight, started hustling again and began doctor shopping, which brought him to Wood.
Smith said he did research on what treatment to enter, already knowing methadone was not an option for him.
"I do exactly what Dr. Wood tells me. I don't try to snort it, shoot it, stick it my ear, nothing. I put it under my tongue, and I don't feel sick anymore, and that's what I need," Smith said of taking Suboxone. "It's changed my life. It's wonderful."
Smith claims he has had absolutely no cravings for any opiates and has even been in close proximity to pain pills after a family member had surgery. He has not been tempted to take any, and he says this is a claim he's never been able to make before.
"The best way I can describe drug addiction is that it's like tunnel vision, in a tunnel world," Smith says. "And you don't see anything out either side. Nothing's on the other end. Nothing."