If you suffer from chronic pain chances are you’ve taken addictive pain medication or at least talked to your doctor about finding pain relief. With limited alternatives for those looking for consistent pain relief, many are faced with the tough decision to take addictive medications.
If you read about drug addiction, you’ll often run across the saying dependence is not addiction. To me, addiction means I can’t stop taking the medication without withdrawing and major side effects. Medically addiction is explained as someone who abuses, I agree that is also addiction. I don’t buy into the saying dependence is not addiction.
I have taken addictive drugs most of my adult life for mental illness and have been through withdrawal more times than I can count. My guess is the feeling I’m having while going through withdrawal is very much like a drug addict wanting a fix. It’s ugly!
I also live with chronic pain and have made the decision to take addictive pain medication. The decision was one of the easiest I’ve had to make since the onset of chronic pain in 2013. The biggest mistake I made was not starting or increasing doses sooner and dealing with my General Practitioner instead of a Pain Management doctor.
I took several pain medications while undergoing Lyme treatment but the one I took the most often was Tramadol. After my Lyme treatment stopped I continued to take Tramadol through my General Practitioner, at one point taking 10mg tablets eight times a day and still not getting consistent relief.
I found a Pain Management doctor and now receiving the most comprehensive pain relief to date. He addresses all of my pain each month, we talk about pain levels, exactly where the pain is, what’s changed and is the medication providing me the level of relief I’m comfortable with. I don’t expect to live without pain, I don’t want to take that much medication and I don’t want to increase my addiction level which in turn increases my withdrawal time when stopping a medication.
I struggle with Fibromyalgia, Neuropathy, Arthritis, a bum knee in need of surgery, Lyme, and Osteoporosis. My surgeon gives me a steroid shot every three months for my knee and I see a Pain Management doctor for the rest of my pain.
I’ve tried several drugs for Neuropathy and now manage with 600mg per day of Gabapentin. My doctor prescribed 900mg, which is the maximum dose but I work on the philosophy if fewer works go with less. I always have a higher dose to go up to.
I take Percocet 10mg tablets three times a day
Belbuca (buprenorphine hydrochloride) film strips 900mcg twice a day (oral not skin)
Zanaflex 4mg as needed for muscle spams
I’m addicted to drugs, several drugs and I have to be responsible for not taking too many a day or I have to skip one the next day. When the time comes to decrease or stop taking the medication, I have to work with my doctor to withdraw responsibly, I won’t go through it without medical attention.
The medical community has left many people without medication and no withdrawal plan. It’s completely irresponsible. If your doctor cuts off your medication without a withdrawal plan, first find another doctor or go to the hospital for urgent care, and secondly file a complaint with the Medical Review Board. Together we can end this reckless behavior.
Here is a resource for drug addiction if you’re left to find resources on your own.
I hope you never need to use the above resource. I pray you have a responsible doctor who knows how to slowly and safely taper you off of each medication. It’s important to remember if you are addicted to more than one drug, each has to be dealt with separately. Don’t be pressured into withdrawing off of two drugs at one time without medical attention, often hospitalization.
What do you think of Dependence or Addiction?
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