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Avatar universal

Chronic pain and medication addiction?

I was wondering where I could find information on the incidence of chronic pain and addiction to pain medication.  I am doing a case study on a patient who has had chronic low back pain for many years.  She is on Darvocet N-100.  She is a recovering alcoholic, clean for 5 years.  Most literature has advised against using this med for patients with history of abusive behaviors. I was just wondering on where I might find some statistics on chronic pain and addiction to medication?
25 Responses
Avatar universal
Reading through these questions I've come to realize I myself share a common bond with all of you who suffer from Chronic Pain and take pain medicine. Until I educated myself about the dangers of narcotic analgesics I didn't realize how addictive they really are. The fact is doctors don't take enough time to ask their patients about their family history such as depression, drinking,   drug abuse before filling out that triplacate for Oxycontin or Percocet. I eventually learned to stop blaming the doctors and concentrated on fighting my pain through the local Pain Clinic.
     I'm fortunate enough to have a family physician who recognized early enough that narcotic pain-killers were a dead end road for me because of the "tolerance" I built to them over a period of 6 months. For all of you out there who suffer not only from pain, but the "FEAR" of quiting narcotic pain-killers, you're not alone, don't be afraid to except things for the way they are, and get professional help from a Pain Management Clinic or doctor. The road to recovery won't be easy by any means, but In the long run, you'll be saving your own life and opening up a new avenue of opportunity for a pain and drug free life.

Good Luck To All of You,
Trust Me, It's Well Worth the Fight!
Avatar universal
I am no doctor, but anyone who in inclined to abuse drugs has other problems that drive them to seek escape.  I am addicted to pain killers due to Kidney stones.  But it is not really due to kidney stones, I have been depressed for my entire life and Vicodin cured that better than Prozac.  Kidney stones made the pain killers easy to get.  Now I am on a taper program to get off the pills and it is miserable.  I am not only depressed, but I am still in pain.
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
Am I an exception?
Over 2 decades-I have had numerous painful chronic conditions which flare and wane.
neccesitating high doses of everything from tegretol, to oxycontin-for months at a time.
I have endevoured to take these as precisely as they were prescribed. Initially & when tapering down.
In each instance when the conditions waned-I can go for months without taking analgesics.
I have never had any of the "withdrawl" symptoms -many describe on this forum.  
(I stumbled here by accident-typing names of several meds into search engine)
In fact I am rather suprised to see how many people are addicted to these medications.  Is my case unusual?
Avatar universal
Yes and no.  You are not unusual in the sense that most people who are prescribed narcotics for chronic pain, even for months at a time, don't become addicted.  You are unusual in the sense that there are many in your circumstances who would have become addicted.  Just be happy you aren't one.
Avatar universal
Just "Happy" not to be one of them is more of an understatement than you could know.
I am a former drug addict-I just didn't have an addiction to "downers". (I am still addicted to cigarettes.)

Nor did I know much about the addictive properties of these meds before I read a few articles from this site.

But I know I would have taken them,anyway.
GLADLY. And still do, when neccessary.
Even with the risk of addiction.
These meds, side effects and all, are still my best alternative to living with chronic unrelenting pain. That I cannot live with.
Avatar universal
I agree with you that if faced with a choice between agonizing chronic pain and addiction to a drug which alleviates that pain and enables one to lead a more normal, happier life, the logical choice is to use the drug.  One risk however for the chronic pain patient is increasing tolerance.  All users of opiates will, over time, become more tolerant to their meds, requiring higher dosages to have the same result.  The problem comes in when doctors become fearful of losing their licenses for prescribing what appears to be extremely high dosages of narcotics.  In fact, many chronic pain patients have to travel very far (hundreds of miles) to find doctors willing to adequately treat their pain.  One such doctor in D.C./Northern Virginia lost his license because he was treating patients from all over the country with very high dosages of painkillers.  The licensing authorities didn't seem to care that his patients had a need for such high dosages.  After losing his license he obviously had to stop treating these people, and one of them committed suicide rather than living in agony.  So, beware of staying on painkillers too long unless you can be certain you will continue to get them at an adequate level.
Avatar universal
Chronic pain... chronic attention.  I managed to taper 180 mgs of morphine sulfate to 90, then to 75 mgs after my craniotomy.  In addition to that... 60 mgs of ritalin tapered clean off my charts.  I still need what I take and will continue to do so in my quest for what is considered by many as "quality of life".  Much as I detest filling my pill container, it still boils down to chronic pain requires chronic attention.  
Avatar universal
I thought Ritalin was the same as speed.  I too would rather become addicted then go without my pain medication.  I find that because I use my pain medication before I should there are weeks when I have nothing.  The pain is bad, but I think it helps my tolerance to the drugs stay low.  Could this be true?
Avatar universal
Yes.  Ritalin is speed.  Its generic name is Methylphenidate.  Unfortunately, morphine carries along with it insidious spells of trying to remain focused compounded by "nodding out" in all the wrong places.  To counteract the dilemna, ritalin is the answer.  Ironically, the morphine was easier to kick than the 60 mgs of ritalin!  It was pure hell.  I didn't puke from lack of morphine.  I puked from lack of ritalin.  Morphine still resides in my daily medication and probably will until the end, but ritalin can stay the hell out.  I've learned to control the "morpheus nod" because the dose is so much lower.  I also find that taking my meds early contributes to the tolerancy.  It's better to take them before the pain gets too bad.  There have been numerous times when I dropped all my pain meds 2 or 3 hours early solely to control break-through pain.  My tolerancy level never changes.  Dosage remains the same.  So, it is true.  (and it's also true that I love "speed"... and trying to stay off the damned stuff is just plain difficult at times) - Chrissie
Avatar universal
Chrissie, how in the heck did you get the Ritalin plus your pain meds.  Did you get them through a doctor?  I don't weigh very much and I realy doubt that a doctor would give them to me.  Staying awake when your on pain meds is a problem, but what can I do? I think if I brought up the idea of diet pills to my doctor he would not only take away my pain pills, but kick me out of his office.  Chrissie and anyone else want to reply?
Avatar universal
I have a rare case of Neurofibromatosis (NF-2).  I have networks of schwannoma (benign tumors) all located on the 5th and 7th cranial nerves plus one in the deep cavernous sinus.  The 5th CN (trigeminal nerve) is the pain nerve to your face.  The 7th CN makes it move.  I had a network of schwannoma overrun the orbital floor of my left eye that ran down my optic nerve.  All this disaster warranted a massive craniotomy that intailed removing the entire left side of my forehead.  Hence began an all day surgery to remove everything they could get.  Six months later, stereotactic radiosurgery removed the tumor in the deep cavernous sinus.  Prior to the craniotomy... I had more pain than room here to describe it.  I took it all to a certain point, then called for the cranie.  Afterward, my pain was lifted like a veil, so I had to get off all the stuff as best I could.  So, half the pain was gone, so half the meds had to go.  I still suffer from chronic pain and will until the day I die because NF-2 cannot be cured and the tumors will eventually return.  It's all damned heredity.  Not enough space here to even give an accurate description about genetic deficiancy here, but trust me... the ritalin was vitally needed at the time.  I was put on the meds by a fantastic doc at one of the nations leading Neuroscience Institutions.  It's all good.  I made it, but still have loads of pain, trigeminal neuralgia is but just one "chronic" that'll never go away.  I imagine if I would have been seeing docs in private practice outside the institute, I'd have been thrown out of the office like you said, but that is certainly not the case here.  I am being "studied" because of the NF-2.  I'm pretty much alone in my dilemna.  Like 1 in 100,000.  I hate it, but then... if I didn't give assistance, future generations would still suffer from this "rare" illness known as "elephantman's disease."  Sorry for being so long-winded but, I'm an addict and will always be one.  I only wish there was some way out for me, but there isn't.  It took me a while to accept and digest the fact.  Going up and down and on and off meds is and will always be, whether I like it or not, me.  If I didn't have to do this, I wouldn't.  Same as you and all who suffer from chronic pain... some addiction means quality of life.  Our hands are tied.  But those who become addicted via recreational abuse- tie their own hands.  I have to close now.  Otherwise, this diatribe will have to be considered a lecture and I've done many of those.  Thanks and take care. - Chrissie
Avatar universal
I have been taking a high dose of Norco for over a year due to neuropathy.  I may be addicited I really don't really know.  I do know that I only ever take the prescribed amount.  I also know that without the medication the pain (my life) is unbearable.  I believe there are trade offs in treatment.  But I will take a life that is not paralyzed with pain everytime.  I would love to not have to take any medication ever.  But I must use insulin or I will die and I must take hi Blood pressure medication.  So to those of you who MUST use medication to relieve pain don't feel guilty.  I think it is totally normal to be "addicited" to not being in life stopping pain.  I know where I would be without the relief that these medications provide me in my daily life.  I am very thankful that they exist.
Avatar universal
I am addicted to pain medication, and have been so for several surgeries (2 neck) back and both knees.  I have been dependent on Darvocet for almost 5 years.  I am now sleep addicted to Ambian.  My depression is severe - even thoughts of suicide.

I have tried to wean myself off all medication, but could not do it myself. I need help, and am willing to go anywhere and do anything to get my life back.  I do not want to be hospitalized like a caged animal going thru withdrawal, but be in an enviornment that can both medically, mentally, and spirtually support me.

Does anyone have any ideas of any such place.  I have looked on the web, and cannot find my nitch.
Avatar universal
If you can afford it, you may want to try Betty Ford or Hazleton Clinic.  Both have great reputations and are probably much better than your local detox ward.
Avatar universal
I have a sister who is addicted to pain medicine.  She does have substantial injuries and several surgeries on her neck to justify some type of pain intervention. However, her dependency on the pain killers which do not really even help her much anymore is destroying her.  She really needs medical help but will not even consider going into a hospital because I think she is afraid they will take away her medicine.  I have looked at the information on the Betty Ford Clinic off the internet but see mostly alcohol related programs. Financially she can afford whatever help she needs, does anyone know of a place that deals with addiction to prescribed meds. She is on extremely high doses of oxycontin 160mg 4 X/day, and percocet as well as other meds. Any info would be appreciated.
Thanks, Kenneth
Avatar universal
I have a sister who is addicted to pain medicine.  She does have substantial injuries and several surgeries on her neck to justify some type of pain intervention. However, her dependency on the pain killers which do not really even help her much anymore is destroying her.  She really needs medical help but will not even consider going into a hospital because I think she is afraid they will take away her medicine.  I have looked at the information on the Betty Ford Clinic off the internet but see mostly alcohol related programs. Financially she can afford whatever help she needs, does anyone know of a place that deals with addiction to prescribed meds. She is on extremely high doses of oxycontin 160mg 4 X/day, and percocet as well as other meds. Any info would be appreciated.
Thanks, Kenneth
Avatar universal
I got hurt real bad in 77 in a motorcycle reck.I have a knee that causes me terrible pain 24 hrs. a day.I have been taking hydrocodone since the accident & could not work or enjoy life at all without it.I've spent a lot of money & gone thru a lot of hell getting as much as I need, but have never been without.There are ways to get them on the web & I have found them.I get my liver & kidneys checked every 6 months & they have never caused a problem.Its the only way I can get a good quality of life.
Avatar universal
my sister has suffered for some time now ,of various illnesses,of which vicodin,hydracodone,and other like meds. have been given.I feel she is causing subsequent disorders from the prolonged use of these drugs. What can you tell me about the long term side-effects of these drugs,and could they cause other problems?

  e-mail: ***@****
Avatar universal
I agree with your comments completely so maybe you can help, over the past 7 years I have had 13 surgeries , I have been given everything for pain from morphine to methadone for chronic pain, for the last 2 years I have taken percoset 2-4 times daily, I recieve my treatment from my local vetrans administration who have now given me a new primary care physician who has decided I am nothing more then an alcoholic drug abuser and wont prescribe me any more, I have no doubt I am dependent on these drugs in order to live even a close to normal life, any advice from anyone would be helpful
273135 tn?1195010470
hey there!  welcome to the forum, but you've posted on an old thread from 2000 ... you might want to repost this as a new question ... sometimes these will get overlooked ... you will get more responses that way ...
Avatar universal
I have chronic pain and have been on opiods for 6 years.  I know that I am addicted and it has been causing problems in my life, ie. depression, running out of meds early, obsession.  I am afraid to get help  because I need pain medicine to function-because of my pain.  I need help with the addiction part, does anyone have any ideas?

390416 tn?1275188687
Repost this as a new question. This is an old thread and may not get many answers.
Do you want to stop the pain meds?
How much do you take and what is your DOC (drug of choice.)?
More people will be along to help.
Welcome to the forum.
Avatar universal

Percocet contains a narcotic and, even if taken in prescribed amounts, can cause physical and psychological dependence when taken for a long time. Because Percocet may be habit-forming, it should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Percocet should never be given to another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction.

Keep the medication in a secure place. Keep track of how many pills have been used from each new bottle of this medicine. Percocet is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if any person in the household is using this medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Avoid alcohol or other mental depressant medicines (tranquilizers or sleeping pills) while taking Percocet. Alcohol use combined with acetaminophen (an ingredient of Percocet) may increase your risk for liver damage (symptoms include yellowing of skin or eyes, stomach pain, dark urine).

You should take Percocet cautiously and according to your doctor's instructions as you would take any medication containing a narcotic. If you have ever had a problem with alcohol addiction, make sure your doctor is aware of it.

Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to Percocet. Percocet may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, or drowsiness; these effects may be made worse if you take Percocet with other medicines or with alcohol. To minimize dizziness or lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a seated or lying position.

Before you have any medical or dental treatments, emergency care, or surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using Percocet.

To prevent constipation, maintain a diet adequate in fiber, drink plenty of water, and exercise. If you become constipated while using Percocet, talk with your doctor or pharmacist; a stool softener or bulk laxative may help.

Percocet contains acetaminophen. Adults should not take more than a total of 4 grams (4,000 mg) of acetaminophen in a 24 hour period (3 grams [3,000 mg] per day if you have liver disease). Check with your doctor before taking other pain relievers, cough-and-cold medicines, or allergy medicines as they may also contain acetaminophen. Acetaminophen may cause liver damage.

You may have withdrawal symptoms when you stop using this medication after using it over a long period of time. Do not stop using Percocet suddenly without first talking to your doctor. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.
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