Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pain Meds When You're a Drug Addict

If you read this entire blog from the beginning, then you know that I am a drug addict.  Specifically, I was addicted to cocaine for 3-4 years and nearly died from it.  I am now in remission, have been clean and sober (I believe alcohol is a drug) for 3.5 years.  I am active in recovery (although there have been long periods of time that I am not) and I follow a 12 Step Program (Narcotics Anonymous).  So I believe that I suffer from a disease of addiction, that can be contained but never cured.  It is like having diabetes- you can't have too much sugar. You have to do a number of things to make sure your blood sugar levels are safe, you have to maintain your disease by doing certain things- some of which may be uncomfortable.  And you will always be a diabetic.  That's how it is for me.  I have to do certain things so I don't relapse.  And I will for the rest of my life.

So what happens when a doctor says to the drug addict, I will give you pain medicine (narcotics) to help deal with your chronic pain?  Do you do it?  At what cost?  It scared me.  I wasn't really addicted to narcotics, cocaine was my "drug of choice..." but it really doesn't matter.  I am a drug addict and should avoid any mood/mind altering substances. Some people in NA are hard core, and believe that an addict should NEVER take anything addicting or mood altering; as in no anti-depressants, no drugs that help reduce cravings, no other medication to help through initial drug detox, and no pain medicine.  I believe it is a personal choice for each individual to make, along with help from their sponsor. 

I had become lax in maintaining my disease...it doesn't matter how many days or weeks or months I have clean- the addict inside of my is alive and well.  It tells me that I am doing great and don't need those meetings.  It tells me that nobody gets me and that I am different from all those other addicts.  It tells me that a sponsor doesn't really know me.  And when I feed that voice, I start to think I am normal and stop all my recovery stuff.  Usually, I tell myself that if things get bad, I know where to go.  Well that is also addict-talk.  It took some comments from my parents to help me see where I was headed.  So I got my ass back to meetings.

My sponsor and I discussed my situation...we decided that I did not need to be a martyr.  I could find a way to take the pain pills safely and as prescribed.  My fear was that if I did not get control of the pain, then I would get more and frustrated and tired and hopeless and eventually start using my drug of choice for some relief from all the discomfort.  Far better to take narcotics safely and control my pain so I don't go wacko.  Some addicts that take pain medicine have a non-addict hand then their pills.  I did that at first- my father would leave only enough for me for a few days at a time.

Honestly, my addict is so strong, that she even told me that I couldn't go to meetings if I was taking pain pills.  And then I lied and told my mom that's why I didn't go to meetings. Not true.  My addict will make me lie to myself and anyone else nearby.  My sponsor helped remind me that what I do regarding this is MY business, and I don't have to share all the details with everyone in the program.  And I don't.  I share enough to get support and to give support.  I have an instant family when I am active and go to meetings.  People that do know me and how I feel.  That is the truth.  The other things my addict tells me are lies.

When I started seeing the pain management specialist, The doctor told me how proud he was of me- that I came on my own for help, and was honest about my disease and recovery.  The doctors in his office make me drug test occasionally and bring in the pills I have left over so they know exactly what to prescribe.  They speak to me about limits.  They have me try other medications other than narcotics for pain.  I feel so much better, knowing I have someone watching me, monitoring me.  It doesn't show my weakness, it shows my strength and wisdom. I am strong enough to take the right precautions, knowing that I have a disease of addiction that can kill me.  And I am not going to let my battle with AVN take me there.


  1. Love your blog! We provide drug addiction treatment and alcohol rehab in Surrey (UK). I've found your article to be really helpful, thank you!

  2. Glad you got around it. I guess, this really is a precaution to anyone, you know: drug testing. It's difficult to own up to it, even tougher to know it's there. It creeps into you without you knowing it; like an artificial second nature. So better to track and arrest it first, before getting into any medication. Wise decision there!