Addiction: Substance Abuse Community
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Avatar universal

If I give in to taking prescribed pain medicine do I lose my clean time?

I have 18 years clean and my sponsor is also an old timer/diehard who told me no matter how bad the pain is the truth is I am and will always be an addict.  I am presently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for cancer.  Just when I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel I was informed I had a secondary cancer and now I am starting to struggle with my determination to not take pain medicine.  Up to this point I haven't and the pain has been immense but by grace I have continued one minute at a time to overcome this.  My ability to be clean and serene mean everything to me and I hear some people telling me it is insanity to keep trying to endure this pain as it is taking a toll on me and others who tell me even if I just take one shot or one pill I will be throwing away 18 years.  Has anyone else faced this dilemna and if you have can you tell me how you coped.

I live alone and I am quite a distance away from my family so my support system is actually mostly program people and a few close friends.  Thank You
23 Responses
611067 tn?1458591483
18 years - CONGRATS!!!

My personal opinion is that if you are in that much pain from the cancer - then you should be able to take something for the pain.  Doctors believe that when we have severe pain it makes it difficult for the body to heal properly.  I don't know if that's true, but it makes sense.  Maybe ask them for something that's not close to your drug of choice?  Is there a friend there regularly who can help you by keeping the medication and dispensing it for you when you need it?  

My prayers are with you!!!!
340590 tn?1290952141
hi, i am so sorry to hear about the secondary cancer.  while i do agree that once you become an addict you remain one, BUT, i dont think you should endure that kind of pain with something.  since you are well aware you are anaddictyou have to be vigilant in you guard against over using, using when the pain is not bad ortaking more than prescribed.  the best case would be if you have someone that can hold them you.  this makes you more accountable...when i had surgery my hubby held them and gave me the alloted pills in the a.m.  if o  took them all before noon, i would be hurting int he afternoon...if no one lives with you, maybe a friend could hold them and give you a couple days worth at a time....a game i played with myself (LOL) was trying to have one left when my hubby got home...bottomline is you have to be very careful...set a pain level and say i wont use until my pain gets to this level...good luck..
Avatar universal
I'm sorry to read that you are battling Cancer... Congratulations on 18 years.. Although I do not think so stringently on clean time.. In your position you have every need for pain med I do not think it will affect your clean time as long as you use as prescribed.. This is where those 18 years come in.. You know your limits you know if you need someone to dispense them for you.. Suffering from severe pain can be as debilitating as addiction.. It affects you and those you love.. There is a place for pain meds please do not let others opinions sway you away from relief.. I wish you the best in your recovery.. warmly lesa
Avatar universal
If you take something with the intent to relieve your pain and no other reason and you take as prescribed and only when needed then you"ve done nothing to alter your clean time.I"m in na and took a newcomers keytag after a 4th back surgery and multi years clean even tho I never exceeded my dose but their were times that even tho I was taking as prescribed I was taking them for the wrong reason when I didnt really need a pain pill.Only you know why your taking a pill so just be honest with yourself,maybe have a close friend hold your meds if possible.gl
Avatar universal
i actually went through chemo at 4yrs clean!! and i did take ultram 50mgs 2 to 3 times a day for 3 weeks, that drug made me wacky and was very hard to stop
then i used darvocets 2 daily for 2 weeks, it helped me get off the ultram and cope with the pain
i did not pick up a white chip
i did not relapse

key to taking medicine for legitament reasons in recovery
1. if you take a drug that is not prescribed for you, pick up a white chip
2. if you take more than prescribed, pick up a white chip
3. if you take prescription meds for purposes not intended....pick up a white chip, for example, if you are taking pain meds for depression you have relasped,

i spent a great deal of time talking about this to others in recovery
what i found is this, if you stay clean long enough you will at some point need pain medication
this maybe a result of an injury or illness, eventually we all get sick or hurt

i do have one question, because i am having a hard time believing that at 18yrs clean you have not been injured or gone through some type of illness
or atleast have seen someone with recovery go through this type illness
dont let this **** you off, i think its great to go 18yrs without needind medication
unlikley but great

the basic text addresses pain meds in recovery,,, somewhere around pages 90-100
there is also a small book that i kept beside my medication that addresses illness/medication in recovery
you can google it...In Times Of Illness

i have been there, i know exactly what you are dealing with, i was also afraid of taking pain meds
but the na basic text can explain everything you need to know
being in recovery does not mean that we are to be in an enormous amount of pain
if you break your arm, go through chemo or need surgery, it will be painfull, just because your an addict doesnt mean you should suffer

i would listen to your sponsor/network, you can come hear and ask questions but at the end of the day ,, they will know how much pain you are in, more than i would

Avatar universal
Thank You for your response and yes the basic text does explain everything, however, I have avoided pain medications throughout that 18 years.  My drug of choice was not pain medicine but when I gave up my drug of choice close to 20 years ago I became hooked on pain medicine and actually consider that a greater problem than what I was orginally put in treatment for.  My sponsor and yes we all have them and 18 years clean does not make me immune to relapse as she put it stresses that as long as it is in the back of my mind complete avoidance of pain medicine is necessary.  

I would not get mad at anything someone would say, working an honest program is the only kind to work.  My only battles have been with cancer or an occasional bout with flu, I live healthy and eat healthy.  The only rough times I actually have are after treatment between radiation and chemo I actually find myself weak, in pain and often not thinking correctly which I feel affects how I perceive things which is why I asked the question.  Thank You again for your honesty.
199177 tn?1490498534
You are in pain you should not have to suffer. I under stand your concerns can you have your doctors give you small script .When I had ad infected gallbladder about 8 months ago I ended up very sick and in lots of pain for well over a month my doctor gave me 10 at a time also I stayed away from my doc .I was in so much pain I did not consider abusing my med becuase I would have had othing to handle the pain.I am ery sorry to here about your illness my son has been in recovery from cancer for two years so I understand how hard this can be plz dont suffer.
Avatar universal
actually many people go thru life and never take a narcotic. My wife is in her 50s and has probably taken less then a half dozen pain pills in her life and that includes chemo which she just completed while continuing  to work ,,now on radiation,,,no pills.
372416 tn?1242665752
Go for it with the drug that is not your choice and live more comfortable.

You have 18 years clean time?  Wow!  I can't see you messing up.

I detoxed back in January and have taken about a dozen pain killers throughout the 11 months.  I don't have a script, so can't really relapse.  I've taken 1, and not more than 2 a day when all else failed.

I don't consider that as a relapse.

Best Wishes.
Avatar universal
no that is not relapse, mostly I actually think I am just getting really sensitive due to the pain and treatment and the pressures on me as it seems to be the hardest on those who come around me and have trouble dealing with me in pain lol..I am so grateful for all the feedback and think I am going to continue to try to avoid the pain killers until I am at least in a better frame of mind on it.  It is funny but it does not matter how much time one has the truth is the illness can raise its ugly head at any time and though I think I can ease the pain I also think about the feelings that arise from pain meds and that is a dangerous place for me which I am now recognizing but I am going to doc today and will discuss something that I have never taken and maybe even limit how much I am prescribed which will be less of a temptation while I step through this.
Thank YOu  All
214607 tn?1287677559
I am sorry, but GOAT have you completely disregarded that this person has cancer??? And she didn't say that in 18yrs she hasn't been injured or hurt. SHe said by CHOICE she has decided to not take anything to maintain her sobriety. She has been suffering with cancer, pain med free, to maintain her sobriety. That is commendable and I don't think you should be questioning it.

Malane, you have a huge accomplishment behind you. And I do NOT think that you will throw it all away now. But I mean, you have to be suffering. Do your dr.s know you are an addict, just not in active addiction? Because if they do and still think your need pain meds, maybe you should listen. If you managed to get 18yrs under your belt without having touched a pill, then I think you have enough will power to only take the pills as needed now for pain. I am sure you are suffering greatly. And its time to put the past in the past. If you feel you are starting to abuse them, then stop and try to deal with the pain. But maybe you won't abuse them this time. And maybe you do really need them. I mean, we are not talking about a tooth or a broken limb here...I say do what you have to. If it gets out of hand, then you start again. Good luck.
371980 tn?1276740809
Just because we are addicts does not meen we deserve to suffer and be in pain. Talk to your doctor. Be honest and they will help. I hope all goes well for you! Best of luck to you and i hope you have a speedy recovery.
Avatar universal
malane, i did not over look the fact that this user is going though chemo
infact i stated that i also went through chemo at 4yrs clean
not sure what you are getting at here, but i would suggest that you contact me via private message, so this thread does not get high jacked

i agree with bandnmom, just because we are in recovery it doesnt mean we deserve to be in pain

i have seen so many people relaspe with many years clean because of this very situation, its a difficult topic to give advice, so i will stick with my experience with chemo
i was in so much pain that i knew that if i did not do something to take care of my pain, i would end up self medicating, i was in alot of pain, and i knew that i could not make it with out the pain meds i mentioned
i started my recovery when i woke up in a bed in icu, i was sick from the beggining, then i got better, then i got sick again, and i know that in 18 years i will be really sick again, and if at that time i need pain meds, i will take them as prescribed, give them to someone to dole them out, talk aobut it with my sponsor, be honest with my network and doctor, and pray that i make it, just like i did before
while i was sick i actually wrote a step working guide "illness in recovery"
i wish na would take the in times of illness book and write a step working guide
the main issues i delt with in the guide, was how to deal with pain and not let it take over my life
my life had become unmanageable as a result of my pain and i had to work the steps to get over it

malane, i wish i could tell you that you will be fine taking pain meds, but i cant, all i can tell you is to search deap within and find your motives, weigh the risk vs. benifits

please let us know how you are doing, and when you feel bad, some on here and carry the message to others, this site has as much oppotunity to carry the message,
401095 tn?1351391770
In my opinion..people can get a bit technical with the clean time stuff....are u supposed to suffer thru all of this because u r an addict? u have the right to be comfortable just as anyone else does...we are not morons..we do not deserve a torture chamber when we are in pain...i think using as prescribed for something like what u r talking about is admirable cos many would abuse with so much going on...i would double my clean time if i were able to use responsibly and get thru an episode like u r going thru...well not really double it  i guess cos that wouldnt be fair...but dont cut urself short..u deserve ur clean time!
401095 tn?1351391770
and it is so strange as i had this same exact discussion with someone today....weird!
Avatar universal
i am so sorry to hear the state you are in.

so i surf around alot and came accross this site that claims to have discovered the cause of cancer. they say it is a deficency of vitamin B17. it has almost disappeared from our diets because we have perverted our food so bad and replaced our staple foods over the years. such as wheat from millet.(which is high in B17)

the evidence is pretty convincing and probably worth a go see for you. they claim that cancer can even be turned around with including the vit. in our diets. it would mean simply eating those foods. just google vitamin b17.

as far as the pain meds go. you are clean now and your time is always good as long as you are not abusing??  i would not like to ever take them again either, but i think if i was faced with some pain that i could not handle maybe i would take them.

you are much smarter about it now and scared of getting addicted again. maybe if you never took them for 2 days in a row. like every other day or longer???
hmmm- kinda like the way the doctors told us many moons ago.

hope you have a change around and things get better soon.
Avatar universal
I work in the cancer field and see the ravaging effects of cancer and the toll it takes on a person. You do what you feel is right for you. Seems confusing in your post b/c it seems that you want validation that it is ok b/c of the severe cancer pain, yet you think your sponsor is God and has all the answers. He/she does not. My answer to you is.. YES it is ok to take as prescribed. Be honest with yourself, doctors etc. Set up a plan and do not vear from it in ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM. If you are sad and mad b/c you have cancer this is not an excuse to take more. If the cancer has God forbid spread, even more , still no excuse to take more. If you body is paralyzed  in pain, take the pills. I think this part of addiction is crazy when one truly needs pain meds b/c their life is unbearable without them. She has tried, and by her tone, seems like she needs some relief. If I had cancer that caused me recaltriant (constant and unrelenting ) pain, I would take the meds. No medals here. Take care of you. After 18 years, you seem like you have a good head on your shoulders.
I will pray for you. May the Lord bring you comfort. Cancer is  a terrible disease as it seems to sadden me more every day. But.............. new drugs cocktails (chemo/radiation) are being developed everyday and survival rates are skyrocketing every year.I have actually 2 close friends that should not be here today and are b/c of all the advances the drug companies are making. The most important thing is to keep a positive attitude and pray a lot. Studies are proven that those who do have much better outcomes. The mental part of ANYTHING is half the battle. I will think of you often and please, please keep posting. We are a family here and worry for our brothers and sisters on the forum.

Avatar universal
Hi...I'm by no means a medical professional but I used for 5 years and almost one year clean (on my own).  I read a few things about how immense pain can actually place you in a more vulnerable state; meaning your body can actually turn on you and begin to exacerbate other benign conditions.  I believe cancer requires a synergy of activities to combat this devastating situation, meds, nutrition, spiritual, positive thinking, supplements and probably more.  I think when you're in that much pain, other activities as above, would be difficult if not impossible.

I sincerely wish you the best and hope for your speedy recovery.
Avatar universal
I am aware I am in a bit of a chemo fog right now and maybe this is affecting how I am trying to put my words done but I looked back at my post and I am unsure what I said that has caused some of these responses but I want to address them all in this one post. Being program most everyone knows we take what is useful with us and dump the rest on the table so to speak.  The sheer genius of the program is the fact that actually time is irrelevant as we must continually work an honest program one day at a time and face our addiction head on which took control of our lives in the first place. Facing a second cancer which to clear up some oversight on my part is osteosarcoma and it is in two of the pelvic bones. (secondary cancer)     No matter now much clean time we have we must always ask ourselves our intentions when reaching for something that can threaten our addictive illness which is basically what I am doing.  The pain seemed to increase tremendously when I learned of this latest development which is definately my brain trying to give me an easy out.  Someone talked to me about the desire for the euphoria when taking a pain med and I am very grateful for that as this is the part that I keep thinking about and the reason I have choosen to continue to suffer so to speak.

Being honest with myself is the most important thing and I do recognize that I have in the back of my mind more than simply getting out of pain as I am trying to find an escape from dealing with this devastating news.  I hope no one gets offended by what anyone has posted on this forum as I have not.  Enlightenment comes from the ability to both speak and listen to what others say and though we may not always like it this aids in our recovery.  I have never felt attacked in any way in the forum and I greatly appreciate the honesty and the warm wishes.  My secondary cancer does not have a great prognosis but I am very optomistic without kidding or lying to myself as I have learned by working the steps that each and every moment that we have is a blessing but it is up to us what we do with those moments.

My support system has decreased substantially as I know live a good distance away from family, and my few friends are mostly program but definately wonderful people who often get stuck in the fundamentals and forget the human aspect side.  We each deal with our own burdens in different ways and we open ourselves up to the other ways of thinking we often find we not only grow but gain strength both through the sharing of others and learn another way to view something. As for the last thing I think I still have not covered is my addiction and the doctors knowledge of it.  Yes all my doctors are very aware of my past as I am completely honest about it and they are also aware of my choice to still abstain from pain meds.  I have both doctors who are supportive and one feels my program should no longer be a priority.lol.... I am only focusing on what is best for me right now..that is the selfish part of the program and very necessary at this point.  When you face the darkness it is comforting to hold on to that ray of light which helps you to continue to see where you are going.  I am so grateful to my higher power which actually helped me find this site as I know sharing is often the greatest key of all for me.  

I wish all you health and happiness.  Today I have my serenity and that is what is important.  Thank you again.... all of you for your honest replies and remember sometimes in forums what we type is not always percieved in the way we intend it...lol..as we do not have the ability to witness body language.  
Joy and Happiness
Lanie  (marlene)
Avatar universal
I think you will do what is best for you, you sound very knowledgeable about the steps and I do believe your higher power will see you through this. I was going to post today to see what other people have used when in pain and for surgery because I do not want Lortab..I do not want to go through the cravings again when meds are stopped. But compared to what you are going through with your pain and not taking anything for it mine seems minor. I did read lots of good responses that I can take with me for my decision. Take care you are in my thoughts and prayers.
214607 tn?1287677559
Yo Goat, who hijacked her thread?? I didn't see that she just asked you. She asked a general question to all of us. Anyone is allowed to answer her. I am just saying that you are enforcing NA's rules downt his poor womans throat and its just not right. She has cancer and if she is unable to deal with the pain, she should not have to. If she needs it, she needs it. She has been strong willed to have 18yrs clean time behind her.

Malane...I think you should do what you have to do. I truly wish you all the best.
Avatar universal
I dont think you give it up... but then I dont believe in time... as long as you are able to be completely honest about it I imagine you would be fine.. BUT I know that I have a way of deceiving myself... I have the ability to obviously lie to my own face.. about anything at times.  In the grand scheme of things... it only matters what you think,.. I know for me,,, I really dont do well with relationships with people that judge me for how I choose to live my life... meh... I think if you are totally honest with yourself the answer will come to you.  All your answers are really inside of you already... truth is all that matters ...your truth... k ciao good luck... I am off to withdraw... lol :(  ...ya know I was clean for almost 4 years and this relapse started with one pain pill... for me there is truly never enough... i hate that... opiates make me feel normal.... I wish it didnt cause so much havoc because something in my chemistry seems to balance me out on them.  alright I am really going now.... wish me luck!  
401095 tn?1351391770
see the point in all the opinions here...if u use to the extreme then u will lose urself and if u are holding onto life...u could lose it by using if u go off the deep end...if u have only had a short time left here on earth and u used til u were in a stupor or felt a guilt that was worse than the pain u felt...i could c how not using would be the best thing to do...we are all different...and to me no opinion is the right one...only the persons feelings and what they can personally handle.....everyone uses at different levels...but we all can end up in trouble ....and it is a hard decision to make
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