10 truths about taking opioids for chronic pain

10 truths about taking opioids for chronic pain

Being on opioid medication because of chronic pain is practically a criminal offense these days. You spend a lot of time defending the decisions you and your doctor decided was best for you , and usually you’re defending these decisions to people who don’t actually know anything about pain. There are substantial misconceptions going around about pain and the use of opioids, so here’s some basic truths about what it’s really like.

  1. Pain medication makes you feel like a failure even though you’ve nearly bankrupted yourself paying for alternative treatments that didn’t work.

2. You hate disclosing your medication to another doctor, even if it’s for an unrelated illness. The second you disclose that information you know the doctor is going to judge you and your quality of treatment will suffer.

3. You dread trying to fill your prescription. Because of the opioid crackdown pharmacies don’t always have enough stock, but they can’t share that information over the phone so you have to run around to different pharmacies trying to find one that will help. Plus, you can only fill pain medication with a one day window, so if if no one has it in stock then you are without any medication until they get something in (and they won’t tell you when that happens because you might be an addict looking for a fix). Then you worry that someone will accuse you of pharmacy hopping, because people have had their medication taken away for that offense.

4. You worry about permanently being labeled as an addict. Even though your dependency on your medication is not an addiction, many doctors don’t know or don’t care what the difference is between dependent and addicted. Once you get labeled as an addict you’ll never get treatment for your condition.

Being on opioids for chronic pain means you get treated like an addict and told to take Tylenol when all you want is a break from the constant, overwhelming agony


5. You’re always wondering if your pain is bad enough to take medication. Should you save it until it gets worse? If you take it now, will that prevent your pain from getting out of control? What if you are in more pain tomorrow but you’ve used up your medication?

6. You constantly feel the need to justify your reasons for taking opioids. You remind people all the things you’ve tried. You tell people about all the doctors you’ve seen. You make sure you’ve followed all the advice your doctor has ever given you so it looks like you aren’t a slacker. You have to prove that you are not an addict.

7. You worry about what will happen to your quality of life when your medication is taken away. Because with the current opioid hysteria it’s not if, but when. At some point your doctor will retire and no other doctor will be willing to take you on because doctors won’t take pain patients. Or your doctor may become too afraid of losing their license for prescribing pain medication and cut you off cold turkey. It’s happened to so many people that you wonder how long  before it happens to you.

8. You hate the way painkillers make you feel, but nothing else you’ve tried has worked. You reluctantly use pain killers because that’s the only way you can function and have a life.

9. You feel angry when people suggest that you do physical therapy and massage instead of taking pain killers. It would probably reduce your pain levels to have a weekly massage, but you don’t have the money to pay for it and it’s not covered by insurance. Physical therapy might also be helpful, but you’ll never know because you insurance only pays for therapy with a temporary injury. None of the people who give “advice” seem to care about these facts.

10. More than anything you wish that you could have a healthy body like everyone else. You never set out to be on pain medication, it’s something that happened because your body won’t work the way it should. You feel jealous of healthy people that don’t have to deal with being in pain.

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8 thoughts on “10 truths about taking opioids for chronic pain

  1. True, true, ALL TRUE. I am an advocate of tougher monitoring of pain medication. We all know the abuses out there, and the untimely death of people who had uncontrolled access by incompetent doctors. BUT, for patients with valid pain issues, these new laws have reduced us to feeling like we have to beg for pain relief. The doctors continually want us to try other medications with awful side effects, and will rotate us through them ALL. The SSRI’s, the SNRI’s, the tri-cyclic’s, and so many more, I can no longer keep up with it all. And believe me, I have tried them all.

    The plain honest truth is, I need pain relief. I also know that your body adapts with time and more will always be needed to control the pain. And I also know that your body can become less pain tolerant with increasing amounts of pain medicion. All of this frightens me to no end, so I had managed to decrease the amounts I took to the lowest dose manageable. But now find myself at a point again, that I need to increase my medications because the pain is becoming intolerable.

    With that said, I now find the doctors reluctant to adjust my dose back up, after having managed to reduce it. So once again, I feel bad for having to ask, feel guilt even. Instead of acknowledging my struggle to deal with pain at the lower dose, I find myself once again batteling for relief. I have tried all the other options. And I can no longer get out for alternative treatments. I am in bed every day. Showers are a major struggle let alone getting dressed, and trying to get out.

    The one day window for pickup is nearly impossible for us debilitated by pain. I have to have someone pickup my medication for me. If for whatever reason, it’s not filled, the pharmacies and technicians have a tone with you that makes you feel like a drug addict when you call demanding that someone help you track it down. These days the response back is “This is out of our hands, it’s an issue between you and your doctor”. I am not sure how I am to take that? I know how I do take it!!! I can not get to my doctors directly without practically making an appt. to talk with them. So it becomes a frienzied attempt at trying to get medications without looking like, or feeling like an addict. BUT, if I do not get them on my allotted day, then my body will start withdrawing, and the pain becomes a whole new animal, driving me to become less than kind about obtaining them. Not only do I take oral pain meds daily, but I am also on a pain patch, that waits for no one.

    I have to pee in a cup now at the drop of a hat, to validate I am taking my medications as directed. This is stuff addicts have to do to be monitored. But I do it without complaint, so they have no reason to even think I am hoarding or taking more than I should.

    It’s hard enough defending an invisible illness. Now I must defend my right for pain relief . AND, many times, this is how we may become an addict. If I am forced, I will look for alternatives to how I get pain relief. Pain is a terrible burden, and it should not have to be so hard…..😪

    I am no longer able to live an active life. I suffer with pain. I am trying desperately to get thru this with grace. I am finding it hard…

    1. Yes, I also feel like I have to beg for pain relief, and if I do beg then I get labeled an addict. It frustrates me to no end. I try very hard to avoid taking pain medication because I’m afraid of my body getting used to it, but sometimes I just have to so I can function at a minimal level.

      I’m so sorry you’re having trouble getting the relief that you need. I wish that doctors could just take our pain for a few minutes so they can understand what we live with. No one in their right mind would choose this life, we just want to be allowed to function without constant debilitating pain!

  2. Great post! It’s so very topical these days. It’s frustrating that it seems to be harder to get pain meds through proper channels than by illicit means. From the get go we are treated like criminals and drug seekers – making us sign a contract and get refills not even one day early. No wiggle room, so if there’s a glitch of any kind you’re in trouble. My days are unpredictable pain-wise, so quite often I’m not able to get myself to the pharmacy – either I find someone to do it for me, or I’m out of luck. Anyone else see the irony in ill people who need pain meds not being well enough to go out to get them?
    You’re right – none of us set out to be in chronic pain or to be on pain meds. It’s awful that this added stigma has been thrust upon us. Thanks for this post!

    1. It really is ironic that people who need medication for pain are forced to run around all over the place in order to get their pain medication. I’ve started driving to a pharmacy 25 minutes away just because they won’t jerk me around. If I can’t get my prescription they’ll at least call me and tell me.

  3. Hi! I was so validated when i read your posts! I, as many of you, have difficulties accassing pain meds. I have been in pain for some years and after surgeries , procedures, shrinks, so many tests i cant remember, that was finally told, meh, well, you’ve done everything possible, so, you will on opioids for as long as you have pain! Well, isnt that great? As you say, you feel as somehow You have failed! Talk about made to feel like a drug seeker! So, what do you say, how to say it without offending or sounding like a drug seeker? We are looked at as , oh, you get what? Oh, she just likes drugs. What? At one point i was rxd the patch, was in grocery, when a lady, says, oh you have the good stuff? I thought huh? Do you realize what i have gone thru to get to this point? Let me count the ways! Now we are labeled and find ourselves Extremely fortunate to have a dr that will go against the grain, possibly be looked at by dea , and have their licsence taken away? After 15 years of being treated wel) enuf for my many issues, whoa, hit the skids, back up, change of laws! Screech! Full stop, because my bp skyrocketed had panic attack, yes, unfortunately in pm dr office! Oh hell no, thats obvious drug seeking behavior, no more for you! After all, dr says no one ever died from pain, and laughs snidely! So, ended up in er 3 times, bp so low, lost 15lbs in 3 days, malnourished, to name a few of the things that having no meds, which goes without saying,more pain! Not only did he cause pain, but, put in my records for all to see forever, drug seeking behavior, and I broke contract! So, yes, near impossible to find a dr for sure! Add to this, the new opioid climate and you have recipe for continued untreated pain. It has taken nearly 3 years and numerous appts with so many drs, until, yes, until a pd said, you need to be on pain meds, why arent you? Lol, ! So, he doesnt rx, but reccomends to pcp, which finally got thru, and after such careful consideration and thought, and of course Another drs say so, finally says, uh, ok, ill give you 2 pills a day, of hydro. Omg, at this point, i was willing to kiss her feet, just forthe admiitance i had documented pain! Of course, i knew this after all the 15 years of documentation, but, after going thru hell, it was a light, at end of tunnel. Im sure that so many here can understand my feelings. But, a tiny bit of relief tho great, is not what im hoping for, as my life is more than the small amount of relief. Life is 24/7, not one hour out of 24. My time has not been wasted tho. I research until my eyes burn, have found answers of what i already knew , documented! Amen! But, now what? There are what over 100 million like me, so, when i look at a site for like minded, why do i see such small numbers? That goes with petitions signed to help us? I know that the nature of our condition , good days bad days, inconsistantly being able to stand up for ourselves! The cdc’s newest guideline, uh, rulles to live by, who they kidding? Are designed by people that skew the facts to fit their agenda? Who knew? My opinion has changed since the rose colored glasses came off. My final question is, how can we spread the truth, get together as one entity, and have our voices heard? Any suggestions? Things will only worsen, and those lucky enuf to still get meds, be very aware, until it happenes to them, only then will you ask, why, and what can i do to change this? We need to be LOUD enuf to be heard. I do thank ya”ll for letting me vent! Im up for Any ideas! Thanks and be as pain free as possible!

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