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Addict or just chronic pain? Please help!
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Addict or just chronic pain? Please help!

I have battled with chronic back pain since an L5 rupture and L4 bulge in 2006.  I had open surgery to correct them in 2006.  The rupture was simply sutured and the bulge was trimmed.  Six weeks after my surgery, I was feeling great and off of all pain meds and even anti inflammatories.  I fell off of a ladder about 15 ft.  I cracked 6 ribs but was not aware of any damage to my recent surgery.  It took me about another 6 weeks to heal from the ribs and went back on the pain meds.  I then noticed pain starting to come back in my back and down my left leg with avengence.  I continued on pain meds for most of the rest of 2006.  In 2007, I had a spinal stimulator implanted.  What a dissappointment.  My pain felt as though it was deep next to my bones and the stimulator was simply on my epidermis.  The doctor tried several adjustments with no success.  I am pretty much a manly man but I was actually crying in bed at night with the pain.  At the time, I was taking Opana.  My doctor then switched me to the fentanyl patch and Lortab 10/325.  I felt relief from the pain but knew that I was not myself.  I couldn't see myself living on the meds for the rest of my life.  I then had laser surgery in 2008.  They removed massive amounts of scar tissue.  After that surgery, I again experienced relief from the pain.  Gradually since then, my pain has increased.  It has now become like a gnawing toothache in my back and leg.  My real question is about the pain meds.  I have been on so many different ones.  I have cold turkey detoxed so many times that I have lost count.  I have felt so many times the meds really getting ahold of me.  The pain scares me.  I feel as though I am going to die when the flare ups come.  I have so many times cried myself to sleep because of the pain and because I have not taken my meds as prescribed.  Currently, I am on day four of a detox because I again took my meds too fast and I have resources to get more but I don't want to use them because I feel as though I need to give my body and mind a break from the opiates.  Usually, by day five, I begin to feel the pain returning into my back and legs and by day 7, I am in tears again.  Then, I start back up with the meds.  Do I have an addiction problem?  I can't live the rest of my life this way.  The ups and downs are more than I can take.  I have tried to explain this to my doctor but they seem to just want to do surgery or injections but they can't guarantee that either will help.  I have never been so confused in my life.  It seems as if I am so alone and that no one seems to understand what I am trying to tell them.  Please help.  
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199177_tn?1332183097
Well I hear that you are in pain but I also see signs of abuse you are running out early you have other people to get drugs from .I also am/was a chronic pain person .I have found for the most part my pain is a heck of alot less off the meds then them.  When you take opiates for long periods of time it wants more so your body sends out more pain signals so you use more .I am not going to lie it does not happen over night the first thirty days pain wise were the worst the next thirty not so bad .Just some days here and there by ninety days I could control it with aleve and zanaflex.I have been clean 2 1/2 years now. So it can be do even with chronic pain.I have been dealing with an added pain issue for almost 6 months 2 1/2 years ago there would have never been a way I could have handled it without my pills. Now even with some rough times I have handled it besides the first few days after surgery .I had hubby hold meds I took them for three days as directed then they were flushed .You just have to decide if you are ready.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much for the reply.  I can understand what you are saying about long term use and the body wanting more meds.  I noticed that when I was on heavier dosages that it took 2 to 3 weeks after discontinuing use for my pain to begin to return.  In that time period after getting through the withdrawals and not having any pain, I felt fantastic.  Enduring my pain for 30 days doesn't seem like an option.  When my pain is at it's worst, I have had thoughts of suicide to simply end the pain.  I lay on a heating pad and cry and wish that someone would cut my spine out of my back.  Sometimes I have thought that losing my lower torso and being confined to a wheelchair would be better than having the pain.  
My wife has taken my meds too.  Sometimes I think she has taken them for recreational use and sometimes it has been for legitimate pain.  I have, in turn, taken hers after a surgery.  At one point, we were splitting our scripts 50/50.  At different points, I have been on very high dosages of fentanyl, opana, lortab, and norco but I have always known that I couldn't continue that way.  When my bowels stopped moving and I almost nodded off driving my kids to school were indicators that I could not continue that way.  In 7 years, I have filled a double script once because I was referred to two different doctors and they both gave me pain meds even though I told them about the other.  I have probably called 2 or 3 times to request more meds because I ran out early.  I have taken meds from a friend 2 or 3 times because I ran out.  
The higher doses of opiate were fantastic as far as the buzz but that was not really what I was after.  I have rejected higher doses several times because I know that they are great when you have them but it is hell when you don't.  It just seems that when I have the meds, I take them too quickly.  I have probably never taken a script as prescribed but I have also never tried to get more unless my pain was too intense that I couldn't take it.
Does this make any sense?  I would love to discontinue meds but the pain truly does scare me to death.  These ups and downs are killing me though.  Thanks again for the advice.  Sorry my posts are so long.
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699217_tn?1323442300
Hello and welcome.  Don't be sorry for long posts for the first thing.  We all write books every now and again on here.  I do anyway.  What avis was saying is that they way our brains work is this:  take pills as prescribed but soon the brain sends signals to the body that the pain is too great, need more.  So, we take more.  Sooner than later, we become tolerant of this higher dose, and usually (not everyone by any means) need that higher dose for pain relief.  This continues in a vicious cycle.  Say, after a few days, you want to go back to the prescribed amount, it doesn't work anymore because we upped the dosage, so now we need that higher dosage for relief.   Essentially, our brains have the ability and are quite remarkable in fact to take care of our pain by itself.  When you use opiates for pain relief, they "kill" the dopamine and serotonin by suppressing it naturally in our brain so we cannot get any relief from our natural painkillers.

If you wanted to, and I know it's hard to do, you could try it.  Taper with your doctors off your medicines, get them to help you and try to let your brain and body heal from the toxins of the pills, and see how bad it is, say after a month or more.  I understand you have serious pain.  My husband has an MRI from hel!, each and every one of his L-s and T-s (sorry, dont know that lingo so well), is torn, herniated, nerve damage, the works.  And after being off pain meds since November 09, I have only heard him complain of pain maybe 3 or 4 days.  When he was on them, every single day he would say man my back is killing me!  And I know it is true.  Now, his dopamine/serotonin center or whatever it is, is working properly and killing his pain (enough that he doesn't need more than Advil).

So, essentially, all I am trying to say is this - if you think you would like to try to get natural help from your own pain medicine center, it may be worth a try to see if it can work.

Another book from me :)  Just my opinion and suggestion.
Great luck to you in whatever you decide to do, okay?  
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1264863_tn?1391121793
This will be a very hard question to answer and I know this because I run it through my head everyday.  Do you or did you ever have one of your proceedures to get the pain meds after?  Try to be honest with yourself.  I am not accusing you in ANY way I just know that I have and that scares me.  I always tell myself that it is for the chronic pain that I in fact do have but you have to remember doctors get paid to do surgeries it is their job.  They are also paid to perscribe medicine.  Now I understand that it is their job but mine is to be a mom and to be a mom that is alive.  On the dose my ONE doctor had me taking and the perscriptions filled at one pharmacy and at exact doses I could have ended up dead.  They actually told me that when I went in and told them I wanted help weaning off.  Of course the day after I asked to be weaned I called and begged for more and then the nurse said "honey at that dose you were lucky you woke up to take care of those kids everyday"  I know if doesn't seem fair but they are paid to keep you out of pain  They are pain doctors.  You are responsibly for taking the meds.  I know how hard it is.  I live every minute of everyday in pain.  I can't say I will every be off pain meds for good.  I hope I will!  I pray I will!  In reality I am both a valid chromic pain patient and an addict.  And that is the very first time I have ever said that.  This forum has helped me to wean to a dose that I hope to continue to wean down from more an more and helped me realize that not every single pill I took was for major pain.  Sometimes it was the fear of the pain and that simply can't be enough reason to take the pills.  This forum has kept my children from lossing their mother!  
When you wrote about falling asleep at the wheel I started to cry so hard.  I have been their so many times.  My kids are only 7,5,and 2.  
I hope I didn't upset you that is not my intent.  But we have to pull through for our children.  I understand the pain I had a proceedure yesterday and will have another as soon as I have weaned.  Lower back trigger point injections again.  Acupuncture has doen me worlds of good.  Have you tried that?  
Good Luck hang in there
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks so much for the reply.  I hear what you are saying.  I go to the doctor on a monthly basis and usually by the time I make it to my next appointment, I am 2-3 weeks clean.  Then they write that script and I'm off again.  I currently am prescribed 90 5/325 percocets a month.  In the past 7 years my highest script month was 10 20mg fentanyl patches, 120 Lortab 10/325, and was still running out early.  That was when I felt completely out of myself and it scared me.  The pain was definately gone but so was myself.  I have done tapers before but my pain continues to draw me back to the meds.  The longest I have gone without opiates in 7 years was about 3 months and I had to return to them simply because the pain was too great.
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Avatar_m_tn
It is so funny that you would ask that.  I have actually had to ask myself the same question before a procedure or surgery.  I have to say that I honestly went into each one with the hope that I was going to be able to go back to work and that this hell was going to end for my family and I.  I can, however, remember looking forward to the iv bottle of joy afterwards.  There is something that I haven't shared yet.  Shortly before my first back surgery, I discovered that my wife was having an affair.  Approximately 6 months after my first surgery, I also learned that my 3 year was not mine but the man's that my wife was having the affair with.  I have to be honest and say that I was definately using opiates as a comfort tool to help me through that whole ordeal.  My heart was broken and I had to face many hard questions and I did lean somewhat on the meds to help keep my head up.  My wife and I chose to work things out.  I adore my little girl who is a gift from God regardless of who donated the sperm.  All of this has made me wonder though if possibly some of my pain is symptomatic of inner turmoil that has yet to come out.  My wife and I are truly in love again and the whole mess seems like water under the bridge but I still have to wonder if somehow my body is still recovering.  I don't know if that makes any sense.  Thanks so much for your honesty and the reply.
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Avatar_m_tn
try methadone
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1269714_tn?1274224588
I had an ankle surgery a couple of years ago, and while in the hospital, nothing would help the pain.....I was released and put on oxcycontin for about 6 weeks. The script had to be picked up at his office, and on a Friday, I realized that I would run out the following day. I knew that the pain would come back when I woke up the following Sunday morning. Didn't even want to open my eyes. But I was very surprised to see that I wasn't having much pain. So in other words, I didn't know what I was feeling.

Now I find myself in much pain all the time with lower back problems, and am a little apprehensive about getting addicted to pain medications, but I am not functioning that well and have so much to do, but can't physically with the pain.

So what do you do? Live with the pain 24/7 and a poor quality of life due to the pain or get into this vicious cycle and possibly a poor quality of life due to the potential addiction?

This is where I am.......Trying to figure out what route I need to take.
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1264863_tn?1391121793
I am so happy you were not upset about my post.  I thought you were going to really let me have it.  
I am so sorry to hear about your problems with your wife and child.  That must be so much to handle.  I give you both so much support for staying together and working it out.  
I have a very similar situation.  My major med use started after my third baby.  My husband was traveling a lot and I had three babies under 4 years old.  I was in constant pain (labor type pain) for months after having my third child and still today.  I know now that it is Pelvic Congestion Syndrom (syndrome).  It will be Chronic for the rest of my life and will only spred and get worse.  Has allready spred to my upper stomach and back.  Anyway, I had major Post Pardom Deppression after my third baby.  I started taking meds for that for the first time in my life it never really helped.  After about a year I was starting to wean and then the mother of all hit us.  My brother in law was killed in a boating accident with us.  We spent every weekend with their family for as long as I can remember at the lake or snowmobiling.  His kids are the same ages as mine.  I took a HUGE step backwards then.  Instead of weaning at that time like I was trying to do I took a dive into the pills.  It was pain I had never felt at least not since I lost my dad in a very similar accident when I was 10 years old.  So the answer to your question is YES our emotional pain does manifest itself in areas of our body and cause actual true horrible PAIN.  When I get stressed about my dad or my Brother in law I am in the worst pain imaginable.  But I have good news.  Last year I started going to acupuncture and oh boy did it help.  It helped more than any of the surgeries, needles, and medication.  When I go to acupuncture I am out of pain for days and sometimes close to a week.  I found a great guy that deals with stress, depression, detox, pain, you name it.  They are out there and I would suggest it to you for sure after what you told me.  All the painful things that happen to us in life have to find a place to go.  We can't just keep it inside and figure it will not harm our bodies.  It is like drinking pioson and expecting our body to just digest it like regular food.  You should talk to a pain phycologist as well.  Not one that gives you meds like a phyciatrist just a pain based phycologist.  I saw one after my brother died and was able to work through that time and get the pain OUT and also talk about loosing my dad at a young age which I had never done.  Bottling it up never works as hard as we want to try.  You don't have to tell anyone in your life.  Go to a acupuncturist one time for me.  One that will not charge much (mine is only $25 for 2 hours) and try to at least think about a pain pyscologist.  One day I just sat in her floor and cried for 3 hours and it was the best thing I could have ever done.  To this day you are the only one I have ever told that too.  
Good Luck!!!!
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363110_tn?1340924019
other posters are right. The pain while on the med isnt the same as when you've been off it for a while. after that rebound pain stage passes it gets so much easier. after 1w off norco and 40 days off soma today was my first FREE day!!!!!!!! You can do it too. I deal with chronic pain from a fall down the stairs shortly after my first son was born.... it *****.
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Avatar_m_tn
I just joined the board to ask pretty much the same question you have; how to know what is real pain or just withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms. So I am very much interested in following your discussion and talking between us if you like.

I've been on rather large dosages of (120) oxycontin & (40) oxyfast for 4-5 years now since being injured in the war, the end result is a bunch of nerve damage in my legs. I have had times were I've taken dosages that I probably havent needed and my oxyfast usually runs out about a week early each month but I have never fully run out of meds in that time.

For ahwile now it doesnt seem to be so much sharp pain as much as symptoms similar to restless leg syndrom (syndrome) and/or my legs feeling numb/asleep. In the last few months i've been having my doc lower my dosage each month and have attempted to stop taking them for a few days at a time but the leg annoyance has been to much to bear. Down to about 30-50mg total per day now.

I think the hardest thing for me to fully to stay off the meds is wondering whether its just withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms that will eventually go away of whether it's due to the nerve damage and will be permenant. I know after year 2 of being on the meds I came off everything for a bit but then went back crying to the doc a couple months later and she was pissed, also took me forever to get rotated back into her monthly line-up so I also worry about a recourrence of this again where I come off everything and wont be able to get back into see her if needed.

So my big question really is if it is just withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms that is causing the leg problems, how long should I give it with no meds?





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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks so much for your honesty and your story.  It all helps.  It takes a lot to get me upset enough to let someone have it, face to face, or even post to post.  I think upon your recommendation that I will look into accupuncture.  Thanks for the advice.
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Avatar_m_tn
Isn't it amazing how doctors act as if they are doing us a favor?  I mean, I thought they took an oath to help people regardless of how inconvenient or risky it was.  I have gotten so disgusted with doctors that I really don't have anything good to say about any of them that I've seen.  You see them with chronic pain and all they want to do is get you out of their office.  Chronic pain has so many layers and I know they were taught it  but it takes too much time to truly assess someone.  Well, just a little rant.  Sorry.  I can tell you that I am on day 10 without anything but tylenol pm and naproxen.  My head is beginning to clear out and I love that feeling but I can begin to feel the pain returning in my back.  As I lay on a heating pad right now, I am trying to decide when I return to my doc at the end of this month if I want to get back on the opioid train or try something else to deal with my pain.  I am so sorry but I don't know what the answer is.  I am sure that I have a serious addiction problem when I have the medication because I don't take them as prescribed but in 7 years, I have never been to a point that I wanted to rob a CVS to get more.  I have heard from other chronic pain friends that addiction is different with someone who is truly in pain.  I'm sure that the recreational user and the chronic pain patient are both addicted to the medication but the recreational user most times develops an incredible appetite for the medication simply for the high and the chronic pain patient only wants relief.  Now, whether the pain is simply real or psychosymptomatic is a much deeper question that requires a true professional to answer.  Hope some of that helps.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Dukie,I hope you keep posting as well as disable vet!! I am in the boat with you guys, Pain, addiction, questions, I want to be clean, but i am in to much pain to leave the house without meds, I tell myself the pain is real and the oxy is medication meant to help, I'm not sure now if any med, that the patient can't quit taking,should be given? Where's science with all my tax money? Figure out a med that works as well as opiates that doesn't put fishooks in me. I'm with you, whether you see me or not! I'm am very glad you are making it! I wish you both pain and drug free!!!!!!
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1264863_tn?1391121793
I am also starting to feel the pain return and that nice feeling of getting my life back and feeling better and happy it is gone for me now.  I have found myself taking more again.  Not many just a couple more a day.  I am very disapointed in myself and pissed at the doctors and at myself.  I am in pain from the time I wake till I go to bed again.  It *****.  I was finally OFF the vicoprofen but it only lasted two days and then I went back to two a day.  I am taking 8 instead of 7 Percs and trying to stay at 3 Soma.  It is still a lot but not nearly what they had me on the last few months.  I see my pain doc again on Monday.  I don't know what they will say but I am scared because in order to make it through the day with my kids to avoid major pain I am taking that extra Perc and I will run out early.  I have time release tramadol that the doc gave me when I asked him to wean me but I am torn on starting another drug.  Last time I got of Percs it was with tramadol and I had very little whithdrawl getting off the Percs.  Maybe when I see my doc I should ask to just not refill the percs next month and go with Tramadol again for one month and then wean off those the next month.  What do you think???
I am also VERY frustrated with the docs as I think I was pretty clear about in other posts.  Hang in there.  Try those heating pads that you wear.  They are great and will last a full day and night.  I wear one on my belly and one of my back 3-4 times a week all day.  I am small only 110lbs and nobody ever really notices them.
Try to remember  that if you have the meds in the house you will take them.  So if you think you will need them ask for less.  You have done so good getting off I hate to see you (and I) go backwards!
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Avatar_m_tn
Don't be too hard on yourself.  I know you want to stop the meds.  From the previous posts I think we all want to.  Unfortunately, there has yet to be a magic pill invented for people like us so maybe we just have to do what we can.  I have a confession, I took two tylenol3 tonight.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  My wife has them hidden and I am not even going to try to find them.  I am pretty certain that I am feeling real pain and not just withdrawal at this point.  I can't begin to tell you how much your posts and others have really helped me.  Just reaching out to this forum is a slice of hope for all of us.  Should you use the tramadol to quit the opioids, I want to warn you not to discontinue use of those immediately.  I did that one time and the withdrawal from the tramadol was so much worse than any opioid I have ever taken.  Like you, I went from opioids to the tramadol and had no withdrawal at all.  I simply should have tapered the tramadol though.  That is too funny about the heating pads that you wear.  I use them too.  I thought I was a freak because sometimes I have had them on my back and all the way down my left leg.  Thanks so much for the encouragement and all of your honesty.  You hang in there as well.    
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Avatar_m_tn
What was that song, "I want a new drug".  I hear what you are saying.  There has got to be a better way.  Unfortunately, I haven't found it yet.  I am seriously going to look into accupunture.  That is about the only thing that I haven't tried.  I talked to one of my chronic pain buddies today and he said that he actually got 2 or 3 days of relief from a few sessions.  At this point, 2 or 3 days without the pain sounds pretty good.  Thanks to my fellow poster lov2bmomjen for that suggestion.  Thanks so much for the encouragment and I hope for pain free days for you
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Avatar_m_tn
That's great.  You are an inspiration for all of us.  I understand what you are saying.  Thanks for the post.
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Avatar_m_tn
I understand where you are.  I have been there so many times.  The more I read these posts, the more I see that we are not alone.  
I have three kids and I know all about having too much to do.  My body has to function.  I can't let me 4 year old take care of herself while my wife works.  My pain has to be dealt with.  I was having this pain way before I got on the meds and I know from m.r.i images that my back is not right.  So what do we do?  Until science comes up with something else, I guess I will spend the rest of my life on this roller coaster.  It is just so bleak and horrible going through the withdrawals that I feel as though I'm never going to get a grip on my life.  Today was day 11 for me to be clean and I just couldn't take the pain anymore and took two tylenol3.  Now I don't know what tomorrow will bring.  I hate living day to day according to my pain but at this point there's nothing else.  Playing the piano has been a great release for me as long as I can stand sitting.  I guess looking at the small things that can soothe us can help as well.  Thanks so much for the post.
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1264863_tn?1391121793
You have come a long way.  Dont be hare on yourself about the tylonol3 just try try try not to fall back into the habit.  It should not set you back to far.  I also have three kids all under 7 so I get it.  I am a full time stay at home mom and my husband travels so I have to be on my game.  They need me.  It is very hard.  All of it is hard but worth it.  Try to be strong for the kids.  I have not been doing as good either.  My pain is bad and I am back up to 8 instead of the 7 Percs.  I hate myself for it.  
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1264863_tn?1391121793
Hi, just wanted to let you know I am moving over to the Pain Management Community.  I upset someone here and they moved my post there so I guess maybe I should take the hint.  I think it might be better fitting for someone like me who is tolorant and not an addict to the point that I go looking beyond my doc for meds.  I only take what is perscribed to me from one doc so not sure if I belong here or not.  For some reasons I do but for others like my chronic pain I don't.  Feel free to come check it out if you want.  Might be good for you too.  
Good Luck whatever you do!
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