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.
- 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.
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.