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Feb 08, 2013 - 41 comments

Some of you may have seen the recent news surrounding hydrocodone, but I wanted to share it here for  those of you who haven't as it’s an important issue that could potentially affect millions of people.  To give you a brief overview, an advisory panel to the FDA has recommended tighter restrictions on hydrocodone-containing drugs, which would essentially classify them among the most dangerous prescription medications available to patients.  Having receiving patients for hydrocodone dependency for many years, I seen firsthand how dangerous this drug can be, which is why I am pleased to see the FDA taking steps to help prevent abuse.

As you may already know, hydrocodone drugs can be extremely unsafe if not used properly, but unfortunately many doctors are prescribing these painkillers unnecessarily.  I can’t tell you the number of patients we receive  for detoxification that were given a prescription for Vicodin for a minor pain, like a backache or tooth pain, which eventually led them to take a stronger opiate like oxycodone, creating a domino effect.  It’s become a trend in this country for medical professionals to write prescriptions for hydrocodone drugs too quickly, which is creating an epidemic of these drugs being overprescribed to patients who often times don’t need them.  This puts patients at risk for developing serious, and even fatal, health issues.  

Last year at the WAISMANN METHOD®and Domus Retreat, we treated about the same number of patients for addictions to Norco as we did for Heroin, OxyContin or methadone.  Although not completely surprised, I was appalled to find out that many of these patients developed a dependency to the drug after they were given a prescription for a very small injury.  In my opinion, most of the responsibility lays with the medical professionals, not with the patient.  I applaud the FDA for taking steps to curb hydrocodone abuse, but I also urge doctors to only prescribe these drugs in the most necessary circumstances.

Many people fighting hydrocodone dependency may feel helpless, but I assure them, they're not.  Although I believe it’s important for policy makers and physicians to make steps toward change, I think it’s also critical for patients to be vigilant too.  If you're prescribed a hydrocodone drug for minor pain, or your friends or family members are taking pain medication, ask your doctor for a different prescription and remind your loved ones of the risks of taking these drugs.  Please share any solutions in the comments that you've found effective in preventing your friends, family members, or even yourself from being prescribed hydrocodone so we can do the same.

Clare Waismann

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Avatar universal
by Mariathelion9, Feb 10, 2013
Dear Clare,
I find your comment extremely flippant and offensive!

"...the number of patients we receive  for detoxification that were given a prescription for Vicodin for a minor pain, like a backache..."

You are NOT an MD, and you have NO clue about the pain we chronic pain sufferers have to go through! I have dealing with my pain for 20years and have been given all kinds of psychotic as well as NSAIDs and narcotics. NARCOTICS are the only thing that even begin to make me comfortable. They DON'T take the pain away completely they just barely take the edge off.

No one has been able to figure out a treatment plan that has relieved the pain (I had a traumatic injury in 1993). Surgeons want to be 80% assured they you are a candidate for whatever type surgery they are doing, or insurance companies say no to "high risk or experimental " procedures. So they threw another pill at me gabapentin. Have tou read the side effects? Suicide , heart problems (I already had a bypassx4 in 2009 which I believe was due to a 300x increase in my psyche meds without a staggered schedule. THE PROBLEM IS NOT in my head and never was! I suffer from depression BECAUSE of the pain not vice versa. It has ended two careers for me.

FINALLY at UCSD they looked at all my records/history and they decided the problem is not my discs but the facet joints in my lower back. L-3-4-5 & S-1. They did a media branch block and lo and behold it took they pain away 100%. All they want is a 50% pain relief success in order to go the next step: Radio Frequency Neurotomy (Ablation or rhizotomy). I am scheduled for an RF next Friday as my Medial nerve block was100%  effective. "simple" back pain? You have NO idea!

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by CWKavinRAS, Feb 10, 2013
Dear Mariathelion9,

I am truly sorry if my journal offended you in any way, shape or form. I am the last person to judge patients who were prescribed opiates for pain issues that are affecting their quality of life. The reason I used “back pain” as an example is because the majority of patients seen in our treatment center started their dependency due to back issues.

I am not undermining the pain or suffering that you or any other person go through. What we see is a large number of patients that instead of receiving treatment or the proper diagnosis from the beginning, they receive opiates to numb the pain. Doctors often treat the symptom and not the patient or the injury. Those patients could have been properly treated but instead their pain and injury have progressed and opiate physical dependency became an added burden to deal with.

As I said , I do not undermine pain or suffering of any illness or injury. As a Registered Addiction Specialist I would hope patients and doctors would not undermine the pain and  suffering caused by dependency and addiction to the patient and everyone involved.

I believe everyone is entitled to a good quality of life, and  I believe in taking responsibility for your actions toward one’s self and those affected by it. This post was about awareness simply because I care for those who unnecessarily suffer, nothing else.
I wish you the best of luck with your procedure . I wish the medical process you are going through will bring you healing and a life without pain.

God Bless,


Avatar universal
by katiekatjas, Feb 11, 2013
Maybe the goverment should sort out healthcare so that its not like a competition line trying to get an appointment at GPs, its ridiculous you can never get into see them and ive also been on the nhs dentist list here for over 2 years. Sometimes when you are in agoney you will do anything to stop the pain. Ive had servere back ache and my legs went numb and i couldnt walk for 3 days. When i got to the GP after phoning nhs direct and eventually getting into a doctors 5 days later.I was prescribed co codamol, the strength you can get over the counter at the pharmacist for a third of the price of a prescription. If GPs were able to see people earlier then it would't be at the point of them needing such strong pain killers. I am not blaming Gps, its the whole system. People most likely cant get into GPs for follow ups so end up hooked.

Avatar universal
by YAMracer754, Feb 11, 2013
Opiate dependence is opiate dependence, regardless if it is codeine, heroin, subutex (buprenorphine), hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, etc, etc. the list goes on. Honestly I agree wholeheartedly with Mariathelion on everything she has to say because I am  a chronic pain sufferer myself (T5/T6 Compression fractures and two herniated disc from an extreme acute injury and D.D.D. presenting comorbid after injury) and I must say we get treated like drug seekers and addicts, whether we are or not, it is irregardlessly painful and embarrassing for us to even be able to SEEK and/OR find anyone with half a piece of mind worried more about their own "liability" vs. treating us properly for our pain instead of trying all of these more invasive, painful, risky, and ultimately PROFITABLE treatments with a FAR LOWER margin of success or comfort of life versus the correct narcotic and sufficient dosage of an opioid analgesic. I have been on everything from hydrocodone to a 3 year heroin dependence, methadone, etc. afterward and were the doctors and providers listening to me and helping me with my insurance money at the time by giving me what I needed vs. what they didn't want to prescribe for more than small periods of time, I would not have needed to seek out stronger and ultimately illicit opioids (i.e. illegal or no script) to be able to afford any reasonable amount of relief. The system in the U.S. regarding prescription opioids and illicit ones to some degree (mainly addiction medicine) is extremely inefficient, improper, wasteful, capitalist, and ultimately FLAWED. Especially in comparison to other countries, some worse, some better. Regardless, something needs to change.

Avatar universal
by bob1405, Feb 13, 2013
I like vicodin for pain. I have used it sparingly after two prostate surgeries, and after tooth extractions. However I knew enough to stop using it as quickly as I could.  Over the course of 7 months I have only used about 10 of the 50 pills in my last prescription bottle. Everyone reacts differently to different medications, different tolerances to pain etc. I'm lucky the combination of codeine and tylenol in vicodin did the job for me. For eye popping, scream out loud, want to bang my head against the wall, turn red as a beet ... PAIN, Vicodin turned it off. I still felt the pain in the background but didn't care. I didn't need anyone to tell me that it worked, or only to use it when I absolutely needed it. Anything that makes you feel good has to be used sparingly. There's a fine line between needing it for pain and wanting it to feel good. For one thing, if you overdo it, the effect gets lost due to adaptation. Then you are left with an addiction and you still have the problem.

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by mckansas, Feb 14, 2013
Honestly, if I didn't have any pain relief I would kill myself. My quality of life is low, as stated by some others it barely takes the edge off, just enough I can function and I resent the fact some idiots killed themselves with these life saving drugs, but for those of us in chronic pain it's a lifesaver. One or two bad apples make a dumb decision and the government is all over it, but they refuse to regulate cigarettes that kill hundreds of thousands each year. Politics, Sheesh!

Avatar universal
by maggie4184, Feb 14, 2013
mckansas, I know EXACTLY what you mean. I have taken Hydrocodone for 11 years. I still hurt but not as bad. I certainly have never "Felt Good" after taking it. I don"t know why people are so Crazy about it in that respect. I do know it takes the edge off the pain in my back & legs. I"m monitored  closely (monthly) by my Doctor & I"m not addicted to it. I almost wish it Would make me "Feel Good". Extreme pain can honestly make you want to end it all. Some doctors don"t care,they"re afraid to give it to people because So Many abuse it. I don"t like taking Any Kind of medication But, what am I & other people in pain suppose to do? It"s Pure Hell being in pain 24/7.

Avatar universal
by PTTD, Feb 15, 2013
I was 62 and blessed with a so called charmed life free of sickness of any seriousness or pain of any duration.  Then I began being unable to walk due to an acute pain in my foot.  All conservative therapies were tried. Never was I given a controlled substance for the pain which got worse and worse over a one year period.Then I made the mistake of a massive surgical procedure to my foot which has left me in pain many times worse .Finally given a pain killer Class III. It helps.  

The doctor has said we are done with you "it takes time after surgery for the pain to go away." This is from the top orthopedist from one of the 5 best hospitals in America.

I have 40 Norco pills left and was told that's it.  No more due to the risk of dependency.  

I am very frightened.  When the medication runs out in about 12 days I will be barely able to get out of bed without crying from the pain. But if I beg for more medication or go to another doctor I will be exhibiting drug seeking behavior or doctor shopping.   I would accept dependence over excruciating pain.That should be my choice, not the governments .It seems those of us who have experienced this understand, but those who are still living charmed lives, young, active and pain free, don't have a clue, yet they are in charge putting all the road blocks to people needing pain relief.

Avatar universal
by Packedsand, Feb 17, 2013
There would be alot more alcohol abuse and tylenol poisonings if people with chronic pain had no access to codiene or vicodin.  Some folks need it to sleep at night and only need very small doses.  This is especially true if you hold a stressful job and need to perform well on a daily basis.  Grown, responsible people should not be denied treatment for chronic pain !

Avatar universal
by angiesmom, Feb 18, 2013
I have had chronic pain from injuries for 20 years. I have used various pain killers on and off including vicodin, regular tylenol,imitrex, anti inflammatory drugs and others. Vicodin is a must for me when the pain is severe- I never take large amounts or for more than a 3-4 days which is rare, usually it is 1-2 pills and this knocks it out. I'm lucky that I don't need large amounts and I don't build up a tolerance. 2 wks ago I had a severe spasm when I was out shopping, someone had to come to help me get home. I had to take vicodin and a muscle relaxant. I have never had a problem with being addicted to any of these drugs. If people really get addicted that is their problem not mine. Don't take life saving pain killers away from people who really need them to be able to continue living. Treat the people who need it for addiction but don't put even more regulations in place, if people are addicted they will just find another way to get them anyway. I agree people who have real pain will turn to alcohol etc. Regular tylenol is a joke when you have severe pain btw. In september I had severe neck pain, vicodin was not as helpful that time due to it being a pinched nerve. I had to take sodium naproxen instead but that upsets my stomach after a period. Red wine also helps me as that is a blood thinner and anti inflammatory effect. Some of the worst pain I've had was from a recent dvt. Vicodin barely took the edge of f that but thank god I had it. The compression stockings helped a great deal.

Avatar universal
by angiesmom, Feb 18, 2013
I forgot to add that for me the worst drugs were anti depressants and drugs like gababentin. I took elavil for 5 years at low doses for pain, it did help the pain but it made me gain weight and it affected me in more ways than one- it made me very dopey and I believe it affected my endocrine system and nerve system causing me to go into early menopause and to succumb to type 1 diabetes. I wish I had never taken it for a long period. I should just have taken anti inflammatories and vicodin type drugs and done pt. When I went off elavil I rapidly lost 25 pounds and I was super thin, I had severe stomach and muscle pain which felt like a drug withdrawal it was horrible. After that I started into early peri-menopause and then menopause. Since then I can't tolerate any of these drugs at all- I feel psychotic on them after one day- I can't function at all. Gababentin didn't help my pain very much at all, nor did any of the others I tried with the exception of elavil. But it was not worth what it did to my body by any means obviously.  

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by zannemarie, Feb 19, 2013
I have Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. All of my lesions are in my spinal cord. One of the lesions causes intense spasticity. Imagine you are making a muscle with your bicep, holding it tighter and tighter until it hurts too much to continue. Now imagine your brain has been sending this signal to your back and leg muscles... for EIGHT YEARS with no "off switch". I get botox shots in my back to freeze the muscles, but I can't get it in my legs because I'm already at the highest level of botox. I am on 100 micrograms of Fentanyl every two days, which helps. However I also have up to nine Vicodin a day (7.5, not 5.0) in order to handle the breakthrough pain. None of this gets me "high". It simply helps me keep going without thinking about ending it all. Of course I also have neurological pain. This shows up as burning skin, or freezing skin, or more likely the experience that there are a million tiny razor blades cutting at my skin from my face down to my feet. THERE ARE NO DRUGS FOR THIS. There is meditation. I also take tons of gabapentin, but the only thing that helps with is the L'hermittes syndrome, which is an electrical jolt running down my spine and out my toes when I look down and put my chin near my chest.

That the government is getting involved in my pain is ridiculous. Let them come up with a way for us to deal with "friends" who steal our drugs. I have had to get a gun safe to hold my drugs because so many "friends" would grab a handful when I wasn't looking. One week I found 60 missing. Several years ago someone came in my house and stole all of them, leaving the SMTWRFS boxes open and on my bed. After calling the police, they told me there was nothing they could do other than write up a report, even though I knew who did it and only my finger prints and hers would be on the containers. They tried to convince me that it could have been some anonymous drug addict. I pointed out that if that was so, they would have just taken the containers.

I am lucky enough to have a great GP who believes in me and won't let the pharmacy employees question my prescriptions. I also now have my Vicodin delivered to me weekly so that there aren't so many sitting around.

Avatar universal
by coffeeaddict0, Feb 24, 2013
[ agree that without my pain meds i would no longer be able to function daily. i have a job and the meds just take the edge off. they dont make me feel high or happy at all. i wish drs would quit judging people. i would like them to live 1 day in my body so they can see what i go through daily.

Avatar universal
by fdupr, Feb 25, 2013
Clare, I totally agree with you.. I am dealing with withdrawal as we speak and believe me, the pain I was taking these things for didnt make me feel as bad as this stuff is making me feel. What's sad is that I am a retired ortho nurse but I crossed that addiction line without even knowing it.. There is no warning... Vicodin withdrawal is, by far, the worse thing I have ever experienced...

Avatar universal
by Noodleroni43, Feb 25, 2013
I have been taking norco for about 7 years know, and what my doctor was giving me wasn,t enough any longer, the chronic pain and stress in my life was unbearable. So a good friend is a doctor she started writing me scripts which I know is breaking my pain contract, I was taking an average of 16 aday. Last week my PC found out and she did also but she already knew what I was doing, she know has pointed out I am red flagged and the police have been contacted that I am selling these, which is NOT TRUE . I have been so scared and tapering off flushing over a 100 down the toilet in fear when she called me.I have an appointment with my primary today which she. My friend, told me not to go to they well arrest me? How could this be? My PCM is leaving practice next month and I was over medicating myself for being on them for so long. I am serious worried and really did not know how much pain I truly was in until now! I well go to my appointment and face whatever and tell my pic the honest truth for I think that is the only thing to do..Inwas NOT doctor shopping my friend came to me explained and boom before I knew it I was reclining 420 pills a months ...Has anyone been in this place? It ***** but I would rather go CT rather than be put on something elese to deal with later in my life???please help can I be arrested

Avatar universal
by Kabrina_Bainter, Feb 26, 2013
I know your feeling all too well I have been addicted to Norco 10's for going on 16 years since I was 17 now I am 33 I have done everything under the sun to get these pills, whether it be altering prescriptions, using different names to obtain the pills with a Dr. I have never seen before nor does the person whose name I have used.. I know it is wrong but yet I still did it!! I also Dr. Shopped as well and I have been red flagged. I, myself have been good I have not had any norco in almost 3 months under MY NAME. But under someone else's name I have had norco. I have since stopped this and I am still struggling. But the feeling of being hauled away is always there. I am a true addict and I know what I need to do to stop but I am scared to DEATH of being sober cause those little yellow pills DO make you feel untouchable and they DO ALSO suck the life and energy out of you as well I just hope that I can get the old me back. I hope this helps you McSally and everyone else. I also need advice too I have noone to confide in at all I am struggling with this all by myself...

Avatar universal
by Kabrina_Bainter, Feb 26, 2013
I can NOW see that since I first injured my back and went through the Sciatica and the Radiculapathy or however it is spelled I have been given many different meds to help with this pain that ultimately never goes away unless you have surgery. And a lot of times people have surgery and it does not help so what then? The reason why we are called chronic pain sufferers is because we have either tried to get the pain to cease with no success, we had surgery and surgery did not help, we have been on pain meds so long that nothing else helps, or we ARE truly addicted to this Medicine!! The way doctors treat us is wrong like when I was Prescribed Vicodin for the first time for a tooth issue, yeah it took the pain away and yeah it made the pain go away but as I started getting older my pains started to be in defferent parts of the body due to a very bad car accident. I found out 3 discs in my back were hernaited/bulging so I was told I needed surgery JUST LIKE THAT! Sorry but I am not letting anyone near my back til I get a 2nd opinion so I did and I was told by a specialist that I should be on NORCO AND PHYSICAL THERAPY!! I took the meds and have been taking them ever since. Ultimately it is the doctor who should be blamed but it is also up to the patient to say hey doc I need to get off of these meds and try something else. Some doctors will help some just judge you and take you off of the Med which is WRONG! But they do it anyways because WE are the patient and THEY are God cause they have a license. I am so peeved about this whole thing cause doctors think that because they went through ten years of school that they can screw people's lives up and not care. Well the government needs to take a CLOSER look at them "DOCTORS" who seem to play God with us. I have done illegal things to obtain my meds but I am owning up to it and I AM going to beat this addiction!!!

Avatar universal
by desinence, Feb 27, 2013
I have to agree with the poster in that Doctors need to be more careful.  Mainly in using some common sense.  Doctors do KNOW the difference between a person in major pain and a person in minor pain.  Their are indicators that are very hard to fake, such as blood pressure, tactile response, and other even more obvious signs.  In cases where the pain is manifesting physically, narcotics, no physical manifestation then tramadol at best.  However, if you look a certain way, or basically are poor, they are likely to assume your a seeker.  I am sure this will **** someone off and for that I honestly do apologize.   If you even mention that you want something for pain, your a seeker.  They try to give you something that has a major interaction with your psych meds and you ask for something else.  They assume you are fishing for something stronger and you guessed it,... Your a seeker.

The problem is that doctors behave this way because they are afraid of losing their jobs or even going to jail.  Ironically enough the fellas who push to get laws made are all rich white guys that are on all sorts of the "good stuff".  They are better than us though, you know classy, they would never abuse a drug, nope they are better than normal humans see and don't have our weaknesses and so they get to just ask for what they want.  So they get to enjoy all the pain meds and xanax they want while ensuring that no one below the middle class line EVER get any damn thing stronger than tyenol 3.  

The bottom line is Doctors need to be smarter and your average everyday Joe needs to grow a pair.

Pain rules of thumb.

If it hurts a little ignore it.
If it hurts a lot see if it goes away in a few minutes.
If it hurts a lot for a long time take some  over the counter stuff.
If it hurts enough to make you unable to hide it outwardly, Narcotics

Also don't be a wuss.  

I have no insurance BTW and suffer from chronic pain ranging from moderate to brings me to my knees.  I will literally be standing up minding my own business when a wave suddenly takes my breath away and I'm in the floor without a choice in the matter.

It is Hell on Earth.  I home school my four kids and up until recently was in school myself.  I am even starting my own business. But it is UTTER HELL.  I try to be nice to hide as much of it as I can, but it drains me.  At the end of the day I am mentally weak and unable to sustain the strain on my mind.  Then unable to block it anymore it rushes in and keeps me awake most of the night.

I don't have my original right knee cap, just a fulcrum made from a bone graft.  It's deteriorated badly and swells up to the size of a basket ball.  The bone graft taken from my hip was too close too the socket, so it randomly comes out of joint.  When it hurts badly it throws off a great deal of heat.  I am 31 and this all started with my first child.  Took any work I could find being a scared first time daddy.  Ended up destroying what was left of my body and my youth.  I cannot work anywhere, not even here.  So I am trying to start a Computer building company.  At least that way I can sit down and work and I don't have to be embarrassed about the faces I make when it gets uncontainable.  

My life has fallen apart, I can't cut firewood anymore and this ***** cause our house is 150 years old with no heat or insulation.  I can't fix the car.  I cannot even have sex with my beautiful wife, not at least if I need to walk for the next four days anyway.  

Sorry wall of text.  

All I'm saying is that thanks to the stigma following narcotic pain killers I get to live in constant hell.  Gone are the days when I could go to the ER when after 4 days of not sleeping I just finally have to take SOMETHING.

God bless and sorry again for the Text bomb, it's a rather bad pain day.    


Avatar universal
by mnissenson, Feb 28, 2013

I know you mean well. I also know that there are many people who need and will benefit from your efforts. But I'm struck by the fact that your approach to pain, in general, is at least a decade behind what's considered state of the art. I speak here, not only as a patient who was permanently disabled by incessant and incurable pain, but as someone who made her living making medical documentaries and who founded one of the first pain patient advocacy groups in the nation.

Treating pain as a symptom or side effect has gone the way of the dinosaur in most professional pain practices these days -- or, at very least, in most of the truly top practices. Moreover, research now well over 20 years old has long established that pain patients taking medications appropriate to their condition literally cannot become addicted -- for the simple reason that the medication does not go the "pleasure" center of the brain. Let me put it in a way I feel certain you'll understand.

Until this past year, I was a smoker -- and had been for decades. I promise you that there was never a single instance when I "forgot" to smoke, Not one hour of one day of any year in the last 30. Yet I forgot my morphine at least once almost every day -- only to realize my omission when the pain became absolutely overwhelming. One never forgets what she's "affixed" to -- it flies in the face of the very definition of addiction.

Pain is not merely a side-effect of an illness or injury. It is an illness, onto itself. Think of it as you would many of the serious conditions that result from diabetes, for example... some serious enough to mandate amputation. Now, it's true they were caused by the diabetes. But they are also their own discrete condition/illness an need to be thought of and dealt with accordingly. The misunderstanding, mistreatment diminution of pain by the medical community is one of the key factors that cause pain patients to commit suicide nine times the national average.

So, in all due deference, an inappropriate response to a patient's pain is as, if not more, likely to kill them as the dependence you're so worried about. It's also exceedingly likely to result in severe depression, end careers and devastate marriages. Your repeated references to "just back pain" etc. are the kinds of statements only people who have never suffered severe chronic pain would ever make. I hope, for your sake, it's something you don't have to learn the hard way.

The real and far greater crisis than the over-prescription of pain medicines -- and one of the greatest ironies in health care today -- is the UNDER-medication of those whose suffering is severe. It is, in a word, torture. And it's inflicted every day by the best-meaning medical professionals in the US. It has killed millions of people, Claire - and those it hasn't killed have suffered both physical and mental torment no human being should be subjected to in a civilized society.

One small, niggling detail:  please stop talking about "undermining" pain. I don't mean to insult you - truly. But you're totally misusing the word. One might "undermine" an actor by stealing his script. The only way you could "undermine" pain is by alleviating it. And bravo if you do that! I believe you mean to say underestimating. minimizing, or discounting.
Any of the three would make sense. Undermining does not. It actually makes it sound like you're implying that patients are "using" their pain to get medication... or get off work..or get disability benefits -- and by taking them off meds, you are "undermining" those efforts.

If you have the courage -- I strongly urge you to ask a physician you work with if he could simulate the pain of
CRPS or complex migraine syndrome or any number of other pain conditions -- for at least 24 hours for you. I know many nurses and nurse practitioners who have done just that. It changed their attitudes forever.

I'm confident, if you did that, the number one question you'd ask when meeting pain patients for the first time won't be "are they getting too much medication, but rather "are they getting enough?"

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by CWKavinRAS, Feb 28, 2013
Dear mnissenson,

I will take in consideration every word. I hope for every person out there with pain issues, the best quality of life they can achieve. Blogs like this allows people to get educated and make choices based on their unique needs. I am sorry if I misused the word undermine instead of minimizing ( English is not my first language) , I certainly did not mean to judge; just the opposite.

Avatar universal
by kevieb, Feb 28, 2013
I have read that doctors are finally coming to the realization that for some people Pain has BECOME the disease.   I started with chronic headaches shortly after my 13 yr old was born.  I used to be able to take one darvocet with and excedrine and I was good for the day.  

As time went on, my legs and feet started aching and I would take my pain meds for that, so the headaches didn't have a chance to set in.  My doc eventually had to increase the amount of darvocet I was allowed daily to keep up with the level of pain I had.

In the past, whenever I have had surgery, I would often not use up my narcotic pain killers---they might sit in my cabinet for months.  I have no real answer for what is causing my chronic pain now--but It has gotten progressively worse over the last 13 years.

I had to have a hysterectomy, and was given vicodin---3 weeks past surgery, my pain went in to such a flare, my legs were aching so bad that I just sat in my chair and cried.  At this point, my obgyn changed me to norco, so i could have more pain relief without too much acetaminophen.

My orthopedic surgeon is the one who prescribes my pain medication.  I am allowed 5 norco and 4 soma a day at this time.  i have it filled by the same doctor at the same pharmacy--although recently I have started mail order to save money.  I am terrified of running out of meds because there are some days when I never get complete pain relief.

There is also a definite doifference between dependency and addiction--this really needs to be pointed out.   I am dependent on my pain meds because I am in chronic pain and would not be able to function without them--and I have taken them long enough that my bodyh is dependent on them---this is not a bad thing, it is just the nature of the medication.   I have some days when I am able to take less than the amount I am allowed---I think that rules out addiction for me--especially since i feel kind of crappy if I get too much medication by accident.

I am already sensitive about peoples reactions to the medications i take to be able to function--and I don't function that well as it is.  Reading an article like this that doesn't distinguish between dependency and addiction makes me angry---because there is definitely a difference.  I also have central hypothyroidism, which includes secondary adrenal insufficiency.  I have to take hydrocortisone so I don't die---I am very dependent on hydrocortisone, but definitely not addicted.

over the counter pain killers do not even touch the pain I have in my muscles, that no one can give a name to.  My main objective is to keep my pain under control.  I once had a neurologist tell me I was addicted to pain meds and had restless legs---he didn't even know how many pain killers I was taking, and I was too intimidated by him to tell him I knew what restless legs were and that you don't get it in yout arms and neck and shoulders and head or bottoms of your feet.

I went home, mortified at being told I was "addicted" and refused to take anything.  I spent a night in hell!!  My pain was getting so bad, my husband told me he thought I should take something.  I took my norco and soma at 11 pm, but my pain was so out of control by that point that my normal medication did nothing to help me.  I had to take more than I normally need and it took HOURS to get it back under control.  I think I fell asleep around 3:30 am.

The next day the pharmacist told me I wasn't supposed to stop it like that--but that was what the neurologist had basically suggested, the pharmacist also told me that they knew who had the drug problems and that I wasn't one of them.

I went into my orthoped's office and just sobbed.  The doctor's assistant took me in a private room and talked to me and my orthoped came by and told me that they knew how much I was taking.

I can guarantee you I would rather not be on these meds, I have no idea what people take them for to get "high", because taking too much makes me feel crappy, disoriented, oversensitive to noise and a little confused--plus, I can't sleep.

Articles like this show a gross lack of understanding in to what people with chronic pain have to deal with on a daily basis.

Avatar universal
by CartenCasey, Mar 01, 2013
As a person that is in pain management, and follow all the strict guidelines that the pain management clinic require. Such as drug screening every three months, if you have something you aren't suppose to have, YOU will be dismissed and the police will be informed.  You must agree that if your medication is stolen that a police report must be filed even if it's a family member.  If not you will be dismissed.  If you give your medicine to anyone even family members you will be dismissed and the police will be informed.  You must acknowledge that if driving, that you can be charged with DUI, regardless!!  It's not just a place to drop by and grab a script of pain killers.  

  We are the ones hurt the most in this rush to worry about the ones that abuse the medicine.  People like me, who take very strong painkillers are the ones being hurt because someone wants to get high.  MY BODY gets pain relief, I don't derive any pleasure from it, I just stop hurting.  I live in Tn, and the new laws on pain management and the limits on some medication, such as hydrocodone, has put doctors in a very tough situation.  My own family doctor that used to do pain management stopped because he would have to spend so much time with paperwork just for the pain management he wouldn't have time for his other patients.

I am going to give you a very personal example, my mom needs a knee replacement, my father passed away almost three years ago.  She has no other income except for the job she works, so she really can't afford to be off work the time it takes for her recovery.  She would receive less than half of her paycheck with the short term disability policy she has with her job.  Her orthopedic surgeon, who is mine also, has stopped the pain management because the new laws in the state of Tn.  He would send her to the pain management clinic I go to but they do not accept her insurance.  It would be out of network and she just can't afford that kind of money.  If she could,  she would have the replacement surgery,  she needs.  So, she no longer can get adequate pain control because the doctors don't want the bother of dealing with the audits and the limits of 15 tablets every 90 days.
Many patients can't take other type of pain medication because it don't work .  Case in point, first hip surgery, same type of open hip surgery that is done for a hip replacement.  Except no replacement was done because it wouldn't last my lifetime.  The hip was cut and the spurs that impeded the movement where cut away so my hip will be able to move.  The spurs inside the joint was also exercised, joint dislocated to do that, in the hospital three days. I never had morphine before, had no idea, but I couldn't get any pain relief from the morphine, I didn't want tell the nurse that it wasn't working.  I was up for two days straight, I was told I wouldn't be release unless I had some rest.  When my doctor came for rounds I told him the morphine did not work.  He told me that happens,  not to worry, he would have the nurses give me something for the pain.  He was upset,  I didn't tell him sooner.  It was two very large pills, less than half an hour I had some relief.  I was told it was a stronger dose of my regular pain killers.

Along with six weeks of home health care doing physical therapy.  I was 33 years old, not the typical age for O.A in the hip.  Two years later two more hip surgeries followed, until it was decided, if I was lucky I could get the hip replaced in my late 40's.  At the time the first hip surgery would last 10 maybe 15 if I was lucky and the revision would be maybe half if I was lucky.  Shipped off to pain management,  because there wasn't anything left to do, no more surgery, no more cortisone shots, both would do more damage than help.  So, I fought to stay on hydrocodone, because I was afraid of having to take much stronger medicine with higher incidents of addiction.  You see, even though my pain management doctor explained the cycle of pain, in the back of my head I didn't want to end up a pill popper.  No matter how many times my doctor explained that I didn't get a pleasure signal, from the drugs, I would  just stopped hurting, I was still afraid.  It was years and really needless pain, because everyone was sounding the alarm over this hype.

Until I couldn't stand the pain, pain so insistent that there where days I couldn't sleep because of the pain.  It wasn't unusual to be up for three days because the pain wouldn't allow me to sleep, and I tough it out until it wore me down.  Not only physically but mentally, and until you have been in that kind of pain,don't tell me, about what pain medicine can do to some idiot that just want to get high!   Why should I be punished because some idiot has to get high from medicine he is getting off the street. I take my medicine with responsibility, I don't take illicit drugs, I don't get any pleasure, just pain relief!  My body isn't  getting the message of, hmmm...that was pleasant, I want to do that again.  NO, my body is in a cycle of pain, because of the pain, my body thought this was now normal.  So, my body chemistry changes, and along with those changes the nerves are sending constant messages to the brain.  The brain due to those chemicals which are being flooded trying to deal and understand, is sending signals back to the nerves.   Instead of yes,  I understand your are in pain, it becomes mixed up. The nerves keep sending the brain pain signals, constant, insistent,  pain signals. Along with the constant pain signals, for me,  due to not being able to walk the way I am suppose to, my muscle are having to work in ways they weren't meant to work.  Muscle spasms, keep the muscle in tight knots, my body adjusting to what it must do even though it never worked this way.  So my muscle are being trained to work a way that they shouldn't.  So the muscles that aren't suppose to support my hip, or the new way that I must now walk.  The human body is a really amazing thing because it trains itself and muscles learn new ways to adjust.  Except now those muscles that were never suppose to support my hip or walk at a weird gait, well, it has to get stronger.  Along with getting stronger to support the new job that is being required, well those very tight muscles push against bursa and that causes more inflammation and more pain signals to the nerves.  So with the inflammation, we get bigger knotted muscles that are constantly tight, now the muscle has trained itself to remember what job it must do, so it's getting tighter and tighter even with muscle relaxers the muscle can not relax nor can that muscle release the pressure against the bursa.  So, we get trigger points, and one way to release the tight muscle, by sticking a needle with medicine in that muscle and with enough times it will go down.  It's really not that bad, and sometimes it takes two or three months in a row to do the trigger points injection for the muscle to relax.  Message therapy works, acupuncture works so far for me.  You see, people like me, we do other things for pain other than just drugs.  We will try any silly  thing, like a copper bracelet, and I have heard of people trying gold shots to see if they can get just a little relief from the pain!  

Until that cycle is broken, pain becomes stronger and harder to control.  It's not that person MUST have the pain killers, they require higher dosages  to keep the level of pain controlled.    When  Dr. Walker finally got me to understand that without adequate pain control I couldn't break that cycle.  I wouldn't become an addict because I was in pain and it was letting my body rest and allow it to heal.  It also let my body remember how it is suppose to work without those insistent pain signals.  Along with an anti-depressant because people in pain become depressed,  and all that it goes with being in pain.  Have you any idea what it's like  trying to deal with pain like I am talking about?  I am talking about a chronic disease and in some cases one that has deadly results!   How many lives could be save if we really wanted to help control pain?  How many people would be alive today, if they thought it wasn't hopeless or couldn't continue because of the constant pain?  Sad to say I know of three people that might be alive today if doctors took pain control serious.  I can understand, why someone decides to do something so permanent and it's tragic.  Partly because of the back logs of Social Security Disability, people become desperate, and along with financial pressures, not having adequate pain control.  Not having a support system or being treated as a drug addict because the medicine isn't working or the doctor don't believe in chronic pain that people like me who happen to be  younger and shouldn't have to deal with a disease that isn't typical at our age.  If you think it's more important to control the pain medicine because someone might abuse it.  Why must  I suffer and be denied quality of  life because someone is abusing a drug?  Why is their quality of life more important than mine, shouldn't I have some kind of dignity?    A drug that would help me but would label me as a drug addict.  Under the law, if I drove, I would be cited for a DUI, don't matter, that I have no effect like someone who abuses drugs.  The law doesn't see a difference between a drug addict and myself.  I very rarely drive, and it's only if I have to, because with 24 hour pain control I am under the influence.  I would lose my license for a year, I would go to jail, my insurance would probably drop me.  Are you understanding what kind of life someone in pain management is dealing with, between the guilt of not being able to contribute to the family finances.  Not being able to have a family with your husband and all that entails, not being able to clean the house or do laundry.  Not being able to go and do things someone in their 30's and early 40's typically do, going hiking, camping, fishing, all things of the past.  A good day I am able to clean half of my house, and a really great day is falling a sleep, and finding that you can get up without too much pain.  You actually finished cleaning the house, without too much resting, and able to get some exercise, you see those days are few and far between.  But, when those days happen, you try to do as much as possible because tomorrow, you might not be able to got out bed.  If you have more good days than bad, even if it's just one day more of good than taking the pain killers are worth it!  So, if you are having a bad, you have to think, you know tomorrow will be easier.  Sometimes it is, and many times it not,but you made it one more day and you got a 50% chance of having a good day tomorrow!

Are you seeing why I think those in pain should not be the ones punished!  Another thing, and this is more of a comment on our society.   If people are working and making a decent wage they wouldn't be forced to do things like sell drugs, no matter if they get the prescription or if it's coming from another country.  So, for me, it's not only a medical issue it's a economic and society issue.  Our population is older, we knew 20+ years that there was going to be massive issues when the baby boomers hit the retirement age and pain would be an issue that would have to be dealt with.  I was a teen in the 80's and I remember the public policy issues that concerned the boomers and what a drain it will be on this country.  

So, maybe let's take care of those that NEED the medical help and find a way to help those that have addiction issues, because there are underlying reasons, and until we have universal health care and mental health included we can only do things like this, putting a band aid and saying here we fixed the addiction problem. Except, it hurts real people that have a need for the medicine.  People that will be forced to take stronger medicine, medicine that has higher risks and more physical tolerance.  WE are forgetting that stronger medicine has a higher chance of overdoses, that maybe these medicines won't be as well tolerated as the old tried and true.  I think that it's great about trying to do  something about drugs and addiction in this country, but is it fair that it's at the cost of the disabled and older Americans. Shouldn't we worry about them too?  

For me, when the new law went into effect, it took a few months of getting my medicine adjusted.   I had to take stronger 24 hour medicine because my breakthrough pain medication was over the new state limits. Since hydrocodone was being regulated so strictly, my break through, some call it rescue pain, also changed.  I went from 7.5/ 300 no more than twice a day to Oxycodone 30 mg up to 4 times a day.  A much stronger pain killer with a even worse reputation, I wasn't a happy camper.  It's hard moving to stronger medicine, even knowing that once I get my hips replaced, I won't need to take the medicine, unless I am that unlucky 1 in so many thousand that have abnormal bone growth and need a revision.  The one thing that is stopping me from getting the first hip done.  My other bone spurs  also a one in thousand chance , they grew back and what did I get to see for my six week follow up.  Those darn bone spurs right back where they weren't suppose to be, at least they where growing up and away from the joint.   Lucky duck that I am, why couldn't it be the lottery, nope those stubborn bone spurs making a visit to someone who had hoped never to see them again!!.

Avatar universal
by presious_jewel13, Mar 02, 2013
I kno ppl that use this drug,nd sell them also.belive me its esssy as going to the store to buy a bag of chips.anybody. with supposably pain,cld get them.

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by Kalvin, Mar 03, 2013
@ kevieb You hit on a lot of very good points.

It's bad enough living and dealing with the pain to begin with, and then we have deal with all this other stuff......

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by jpv1, Mar 05, 2013
Im not being mean when I say this Australian saying "Have a sip of water and a spoon of concrete and harden up" Honestly we take way to many instant cure pills for things that have way to many side effects. If you can even possibly take 1 less a day do it. Youll come out on the other side far better off. John

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by Phana24, Mar 07, 2013
I am outraged at the useless American government and those in the "recovery" scam who believe they are far more knowledgeable and intelligent than those of us who suffer chronic pain.  Why should we pay the price because druggies and junkies abuse the system?  Clare, I will assume your motives are good, and I am well aware (and know some) people who have been the victims of careless MDs.  However, to make people with chronic pain pay the price for these clowns is unconscionable.  The proverbial pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction.

I am forced to sign a "contract" that I find personally demeaning that implies I am a druggie unless proven otherwise.  It takes an act of God to approve another Class 3 substance to be used simultaneously.  Is it really that much of a stretch to imagine that those of us in this position are prone to depression and severe anxiety attacks, and that alprazolam is quite useful during severe attacks?  Lost medications are assumed to be theft.  Do ANY of these cretins fly domestic airlines?  What am I supposed to do for the three days Delta plays with my luggage?  Would you geniuses care to guess how many alcoholics and heroin addicts you create with these inane practices?  Some of refuse to sit around in agony, and will do and take whatever is necessary to at least live a semi-quality life.  What part of the Constitution allows for these addiction clowns to determine the quality of MY life?  

Instead of wasting all this money on politically-correct bogus addiction issues, why not spend the money on R&D for a strong non-narcotic analgesic?  At the very least, allow those experience with severe pain to have an equal say at the policy-making level with the recovery crowd.  Do you really think we WANT to take all these pharmaceuticals.  I would love to get rid of my opiates and pick up my golf clubs again, but my back is simply not going to allow that.  OK, that's my rant for the day.  

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by mike2252, Apr 01, 2013
I'd like to make a comment here also.  I have 'severe spinal stenosis' at L2-L5, and C2-C5 acquired from an accident I received in the service while in Vietnam in 1965-1966. I was taken to the infirmary and treated released.  The pain is an everyday 24/7 thing for me.  I've been taking pain killers for the past 48 years. 3 years ago I began treatment at a Pain Management Doctor.  Steps for pain relief included epidurals and pain meds.  After so long, the epidurals were of no further help, hence the pain meds. Since 2003  I've been using Oxycodone 10mg 6 times a day and 40mg Controlled Release twice a day, night and morning.  These drugs take the edge off, but not all the pain.  The regimen I'm on allows me to crawl out of bed, and proceed thru my daily life.  Without my meds, I'd be in bed almost totally. I receive my meds monthly - So the possible new restrictions will not affect me, but for others I don't see how changing from 6 months to 90 days hurts them other than an extra doctors bill.  

I do empathize with most of these posts. As they say "I Feel Your Pain".  I Disagree with the Government involvement 110%.  The government should not be in our faces for our daily need for pain relief.  

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by steviesss, Apr 23, 2013
If a person is in constant pain and will need to be on pain medication for the rest of their lives so they can play with their children, grandchildren, and do daily activities.  Why not give them an opiate pain medication, like hydrocodone with acetaminophen in it, that keeps the patient alert and awake, but gets the relief needed from the opiate.  Every individual has the right to be pain free if it is possible, and too many times physicians and whomever are afraid they might abuse them, so they do not get anything that will work and they suffer.  Sure people are going to abuse them, but there are people that shouldn't be denied them even if they might abuse them.  Until you know that is the case, they shouldn't be punished or denied proper care for something that potentially happen or might happen.

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by steviesss, Apr 23, 2013
it really ***** when you are reckless in your teens and 20's. And yes you end up in treatment, maybe a couple times, but you have that label of an addict.  And you have grown up, straightened your life out and many. many years have past.  And then it happens, a head on collusion at 60 miles an hour.  It isn't even your fault, and in about a second you are facing a completely  different direction, and have to try to climb out of the car to see if the other driver is alive.  You both get to the hospital in the abliance.  She has internal bleeding and you have a really messed up neck, back, and severe bruising from the seat belt.  Thank God your alive, they send you home in a neck brace and muscle relaxers, non-narcotic, because of your past history.  I hurt so bad, I begged my husband to call the hospital, while I was trying to get relief from a hot shower because ice wasnt helping.  They did NOTHING, I WISHED I WAS DEAD AT THAT TIME, I COULDN'T MOVE AT ALL. I was in agony.  And some people arn't in pain they want the buzz, but how do you know for sure by making a judgement call that can hinder their life with severe pain.  If they are going to abuse them, monitor them, but give them what they need, You might be surprized, THEY MIGHT REALLY NEED THEM, AND IT IMPROVES THEIR DAILY LIVES.  hUM IT MIGHT EVEN GIVE THEM A BUZZ AND MAKE THEM A LITTLE MORE HAPPY.  WOW!

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by Roger180, Jul 03, 2013
I agree with the comments from those who suffer from constant, chrinic pain.  Abusers will always abuse!  Stop making those of us who live in pain beg for help.  I've worked for years with addicts, so I know about addiction.  Those in the "recovery" world need to stop trying to pass laws and regulations that will not end addiction; it will only lead to making those of us in pain have a harder time getting the help we need.

And like the above poster said, who cares if one person gets a little "buzz" or feels a bit happier!  There are so many who need the help!

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by eternalsunshine1978, Jul 31, 2013
I was prescribed oxycontin and hydrocodone by my rheumatolgist. For three years i was an addict. You don't realise it but the pain you go to get relieved eventually gets worse because your body after pain meds you have no tolerance that is why it gets worse when you get off the meds. Yes I had pain but no matter who you are, taking these meds your body becomes physically and mentally addicted even if you think you can't become addicted or think you are above these addictions when you put that medicine in your body your brain chemically changes. I eventually got fed up and the addiction for me became worse then the pain and addiction together. I went to rehab got off of all of it. I have been sober now for a year and I couldn't have done it without Gods help. Yes I still have pain but I would rather have pain then have my mind and body highjacked by drugs.

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by tiredwithra6779, Nov 18, 2013

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by PainFreeinOhio, Feb 07, 2014
This is the logic: Restrict narcotic pain meds to those who have a legitimate reason for taking them so that a) they don't get high or "feel good"  b) they don't become addicted c) so they don't sell/give them to people who don't "need" them.  Let's apply this strategy to other areas and see if it still make sense.

Prohibit alcohol sales to anyone who:
- has ever drank a few too many at the office Christmas party (abused alcohol)
- had a hangover (alcohol withdraw)
- bought some beer and shared it at a party so someone else can feel good (divergence ).
- when under the age of 21 and obtained alcohol with a fake ID or by lying (obtaining unlawfully)

I could go on and on applying the same logic to alcohol, cigarettes, spray paint, etc. But does that really keep the addict from getting their drug of choice? Laws for obtaining pain meds should not be any more restrictive than those for the above mentioned substances of abuse. One could argue that there should be leas regulation as pain meds do serve a medicinal purpose where cigarettes, alcohol and such have no medical use and therefore should be classified as heroine (Class 1). This flawed logic will not prevent addicts from getting their drug of choice just as prohibition didn't prevent alcohol consumption.

I have been a pain  management patient for 5 years after having 5 neck and back surgeries... some worked some didn't.   I was in so much pain I was ready to take a shoot gun and blow my leg due to the nerve pain down my leg. Two surgeries in my lumbar region fixed the ruptured disks but I suffered permanent nerve because it was compressed for so long prior to surgery. I have other ruptured disks in the lumbar and cervical spine, degernative disk disease, some osteo-"something" (thorasic disks turning to bone and fussing with my vertebra), severe generalized osteoarthritis of the small joints (inc vertebrae). During the time before and after the last 2 surgeries I was in an enormous amount of pain, so bad I would just lay on my bed while tears rolled down my cheeks. I didn't get adequate pain  management until I went to a pain  management clinic. There my Dr put me on methadone and for the first time in 7 years I could say my pain was under control. I see my Dr every 2 months for reevaluation and I have been on the same low dose for the past 5 years.

Prior to pain  management, my pain was so bad I couldn't sleep, I missed out on family time, I couldn't concentrate, I missed work and eventually lost my job. My husband didn't understand the pain I was in and thought I was just wanting pills when all I wanted was to have a tolerable pain level. He finally understood once he had pain at a level similar to mine, but the damage from the accusations was done and we divorced.  Not having adequate pain control has cost me dearly! Anyone in a similar situation as mine I'm sure has similar stories.

People tend to use addiction and dependence synoynonymously which is not correct!! The body can be dependent on the medicine and go through withdraw but that doesn't mean that person is addicted. Addiction referees to the cravings of the mind, not the body. Confusion of these terms by pharmacies, law enforcement and medical professionals is what makes legitimate pain patients feel guilty.  

Am I an addict? If one can be addicted to being pain-"free" (notb really free of pain but much less), then yes - I'm an addict to bring pain free not to the pain meds. Although my body is dependent, I only think to take the needs when I'm in enough pain that it effects my daily activity. At times I have felt so good that I didn't take my needs for over a day when I felt the physical withdraw. Addicts will take the next dose the minute their high is gone. (I have a very close friend who is a recovering addict who has explained the differences between my need for pain relief and the addict's need for a fix). Addicts will do ANYTHING, legal or not, to obtain their fix. I have never done anything remotely illegal to get pain relief although at times I might have considered it just to get some relief from the pain.

Anyone who has taken narcotic meds for long term pain  management can tell you that there is no "high" or euphoria to be had.  But if you're as lucky as I am to have a very good and compassionate pain  management doctor, you might just get to enjoy a life as pleasurable as those who aren't in severe pain 90% of the time.... as long as the government stays out of it!!

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by PainFreeinOhio, Feb 07, 2014
needs should be meds in the above post... gotta love spell correction on the mobile

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by InfoonMenigiomas, Sep 14, 2015
I have been taking Norco for close to 15 yrs and I have had 8 plus surgeries over the last 20 yrs.  at one time I was taking 6 to 8 a day just to be able to function.  I now take up to 4 a day plus up to 3 Soma a day.  Am I still in pain YES but I will not take more than I am suppose to.  I am in pain as I write this.  I use ice on my arms and shoulders daily, I don't get high, I just hope everyday that it can take the edge off.  I don't want to take a stronger pain medication they once tried a morphine patch and I felt sedated I didn't like it at all so I have stayed with my Norco.  I don't know what it's like to wake up without pain, my hands go numb all day long, right now I have a cyst on top of my shoulder that I will now have to have surgery to remove because draining it didn't work.  Regulating pain medication for people who really need it is like punishing everyone who has ever broken the law.  Alcohol cost the healthcare industry billions from rehab to liver transplants not to count the lives that are taken by drunk drivers but does the government regulate how many bottles someone can but a month?  Cigarettes are the same thing.  I hate having to take anything but why should I be treated differently than anyone else if I have legitimate pain?  They don't regulate Tylenol yet it is terrible for your liver but I could go to the store and buy 50 bottles of it and they wouldn't blink an eye.  If someone is and addict there is nothing anyone can do to stop them it is up to that person not anyone else to get help.  The laws they are putting on taking a Norco is going to cause an increase in heroin use because people won't be able to get the pain relief they need from there Dr's because Dr's are afraid to write a prescription.  I would never turn to harder drugs I didn't like the patch because it made me feel sedated but like today I am hurting bad but I can't take an extra Norco to help with my pain because I'm only suppose to take 4 a day.  It's really a sad day when the high and mighty who can afford the best care there is out there and probably take more pain meds than all of us combined because they can get them decide the middle class and poor have to live in pain.  My Orthopedic Dr is in the top 5 Best Dr's in my state he cares about his patients.  Seven years ago I was diagnosed with a 7 centimeter brain tumor the size of an orange.  Since I was a teen I had suffered from migraines my general practitioner would prescribe migraine meds and I would suffer sometimes to the point I couldn't work, eat or get out of bed but not one of those Dr's the GP's ever suggested doing a cat scan to see what might be causing my headaches.  I flew to GA to visit my daughter and when I landed my head hurt so bad I said to my daughter I feel like I have a tumor in my head.  I went to emergency and told the Dr to please find out what it was so he did a cat scan.  The neurologist said it had probably been growing 12 to 20 yrs because of the size thank God it was benign but it had affected my reasoning, judgement, vision and my migraines.  They kept me in the hospital my husband and son had to fly in and they were able to remove 5 centimeters because the hard part of the tumor is attached to my optic nerve and carotid artery so they didn't want to be to aggressive. I did radiation for 30 days, MRI's every six months than every year last May they said lets wait 18 months so I will go in Nov.  My point to this story is instead of Dr's finding out where the pain is coming from or causes they will prescribe meds which does not include my orthopedic Dr because he was not treating my headaches but these GP didn't  try and find the problem they wrote a script.  These are the kind of Dr's that has caused this problem I do believe there are Dr's who over prescribe but than when you find a great Dr who really cares and knows you are in pain the government comes in and takes away a patients rights to treatment.  Go figure then we have a woman who started this conversation and calls herself an addiction specialist and wants to throw all patients into one pot who thinks she's a know it all someone important???

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by TLF52, Dec 23, 2015
Clare Weismann  = ********, ********, ********, has no clue, just a ridiculous statist....

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by Chronicpainlady, Mar 22, 2017
Claire, being an addiction specialist, sees the 'other side' of pain management and seems to be writing from a caring place.

In 1976, I was 16 and was in a traumatic rollover accident. I was unrestrained in the back of a van, and tumbled like a shoe in a dryer.

I am a nurse now and for 20 years have dealt with severe chronic Spinal pain. Mainly thoracic where our ribs attach and is the structure that gives our spine its stability as it does not bend, twist or act like the cervical or lumbar spine.

My life was manageable after the accident until 20 years later. In 1996 I had the first study of my spine done and let me say it was a mess. Herniated discs in EVERY LEVEL--that's 12 in the thoracic spine. They go lateral, anterior and posterior. I value so much the days before the pain hit like a train. I've had 2 open back surgeries, a fusion, and every procedure known for Spinal pain. A Spinal cord Stimulator failed as it innervated my abdomen & thigh. There is too much scar tissue and damage to place the paddles internally.

During these years of surgeries (5 yrs) I was given narcotics for post-op pain. I pushed through PT and found myself pain free, went to the gym, did aerobics for an hour then lifted weights. After one year after each surgery, the pain came slamming back. No doctor wanted to or recommended any more surgeries. I have bulky Osteophytes impeding the dura of my Spinal cord. Facets are growing bone spurs, severe multiple level DDD and a host of other thoracic spine pathologies. That night in the van basically wrote the story of my life. Just being pulled out alive the firemen said I was lucky to be breathing.

I began pain management after the SCS failed. With all food intentions, my doctor put me on Dilaudid and Soma. My paraspinal muscles were like ropes going down the spine. He rx'd 250 dilaudid a month, 4 somas per day and Valium. Known as 'The Holy Trinity' the effect was similar to heroin. I didn't know it at the time, but I started 'nodding out' like someone on heroin. And he was The Medical Director of a well-known pain and rehabilitation hospital.

I never Dr shopped or Pharmacy hopped but some pharmacists were reluctant to fill the quantity of dilaudid. Looking back, I can see why. Andbthis was in the early 2000's, before the DEA moved Hydrocodone to a schedule II in Oct. 2014, before Walgreens was fined 80 million by the DEA for filling scripts for Oxycodone--more scripts per year than all other states combined. Before the manufacturers of OxyCONTIN pushed their drug on physicians telling them IT WAS NOT ADDICTIVE, and Patients didn't know any better, they took what their physicians prescribed them. Most in hopes of relieving unrelenting non-cancer pain.  These 3 events changed the face of pain management.

Think for a moment--where in those 3 areas does a patient carry responsibility?  Yes, the Florida Pill mills and unscrupulous doctors caused the Walgreens issue, but that was one state. ONE. After shutting down the doctors who only took cash patients, writing HUGE amounts and frequently to the same patients, people started to become affected by the misuse of OxyContin, the Walgreens issue and the schedule change of Hydrocodone in 2014.

Suddenly, no one could fill or even FIND a pharmacy that had Hydrocodone. And I'm speaking of responsible, COMPLIANT patients who took their meds AS PRESCRIBED, submitted to random urine drug screens, having pill counts at any time and thoroughly scrutinized by the office staff (watching how a patient gets out of their transportation) to any signs of misuse in a pts attitude. Remember I'm a nurse and worked for 3 years in an Internists office. Notes in charts follow you for life so many patients were red flagged by pharmacies when a patient was simply following their physicians orders! Walgreens implemented a new policy after paying out to the DEA called, "The Good Faith Despensing Policy". A great example of this was my soma, not even a NARCOTIC!! I got a text AS I HAD EVERY MONTH for 4+ years from them reminding me it was time to fill the soma. One of their 'convenient features to keep patients spending money there.  When I callesnto refill it, suddenly a pharmacist was on the line, OBVIOUSLY reading from a script and said, "Due to our Good Faith Dispensing Policy" (GFDP) I am unable to fill this prescription at this or ANY OTHER WALGREENS". Huh?

By doing this, he was practicing medicine which they are not licenses or trained to do. How?  By refusing to fill a legitimate script from a physician, they are deciding if the patient needs the medication or not, and stopping a pt abruptly could cause withdrawals, seizures and unnecessary side effects from suddenly taking a pt off a PHYSICIAN prescribed medication. I carefully worded my shock and discussed (or tried to) this with him. I didn't understand why as I filled at the SAME WALGREENS for years! Never early, never trying to do anything illegal. He continued to read the same thing off his script. I got no clear answer.

I wrote a popular blog at the time and a post about my experience. The comments flooded in from all over the country. I was shocked-- it wasn't just me.

I of course never walked into a Walgreens again. They not only lost my pharmacy business, but the money made for them by shopping there while waiting for a prescription. I encouraged my readers to do the same and extend that to family and friends.

My doctor was angry and wrote a new prescription which I filled easily at a small pharmacy after Rite Aid across the street from Walgreens said they didn't have any in stock. Seems to have reached the chain pharmacies and I stopped all business with them all.

Just Google--Walgreens fines by DEA and Walgreens Good faith dispensing policy. A pharmacy tech under another name than her own posted this for all to see. It is ridiculous and causes patients to go to multiple pharmacies just to fill a real prescription. And what does that do to the patient aside from cause time, travel,!etc?  

IT MAKES THE PATIENT LOOK LIKE THEY ARE PHARMACY HOPPING!!!! All of this due to Walgreens own money hungry actions in florida. Ridiculous!!  There is a great blog written by a Dr. of Pharmacy called '' where he addresses this issue in multiple posts, written excellently and thoughtfully.

Back to my own prescription use, I didn't recognize to what depth the dilaudid had taken me to negatively. My pain doctor stopped taking my insurance and I went to my PCP, who was new to me. He said "how can you even walk taking all these meds?" And instantly decreased the amount of dilaudid by 75%. He kept the soma the same (and I forgot to say my PM doctor also gave me long acting Morphine) which the new PCP decreased also by 75%. Talk about withdrawal symptoms!! Later I found out he ran a cash-only Methadone clinic once a week. He believed any patient on opiates was an addict.

I went through withdrawals and started seeing another PM doctor. He changed the dilaudid to Hydrocodone which was fine with me except then I was forced to do the pharmacy crawl. And all I wanted, all I was trying to do, was relieve (not eliminate) my severe pain. I was tired of the side effects of opiates--severe constipation, a foggy head and other unwanted symptoms.

The miracle came when I was researching an Intrathecal pain pump. My new PM doctor said it was my final step in my pain management. If it relieved 50% of my pain, it was considered a success. I agreed, had the trial which gave me 14 hours of NO PAIN ans we set the date for surgery. The intrathecal space is a closed space, the medication bypasses the liver which eliminates any CNS effects--feeling 'high'. He started me with Prialt in it (snail venom) a NON-NARCOTICS!! This was successful for about 3 months then the pain control began to lower and quickly. Prialt has some unwanted psychiatric side effects which scared me and we switched to Morphine. I have days with NO PAIN!! It's a miracle!! I am given Zanaflex for those horrendous muscle spasms, and Oxycodone (Percocet) for any breakthrough pain which isn't needed on a consistent basis. The pump is not a panacea and there are days like today where I felt so good with low pain that I did too much and took my Percocet. I also use Lidocaine patches which are VERY effective.

I am clear-headed whether I take the breakthrough meds or not. I am not an addict. I am a responsible and compliant patient.

This was long, but I was moved by what many people said. Treating ongoing, non-cancer pain is a balancing act for physicians. They've been lied to by the OxyContin companies, they are under scrutiny by the DEA and fear losing their practice. It has become insane that the overdoses counted in statistics include street drugs especially heroin. There is no difference in the DEA's eyes between those common OD's of heroin and those of prescribed opiates.

I feel blessed to have my
Pump. I feel sorry for my physician. I am still under urine screens, etc which I don't worry about as I take meds AS PRESCRIBED. It's those patients who try to fill early, sell their meds, fail UDS, etc that ruin it for us who simply want a little relief from our 24/7 pain.

Now there is a proposal to tax opiates at a rate of one cent PER MILLIGRAM. Another government bunch of hands in our pain management. People I admired like Dr Drew Pinsky who now spouts that opiates cause hyperalgesia (more pain) and that opiate Patients are ALL ADDICTED. ***Lost any admiration for Dr drew now***

I wish all of those in true chronic pain the very best ansbthat you are treated with respect and dignity.

Avatar universal
by eve2017, Nov 27, 2017
I get back pain occasionally after having my baby and getting the epidural. I went to the dr and they had me get an mri, which came back negative. the mri didn't show any fractures and I'm good according to that. the dr gave me 30 hydrocodone pills a yr ago and that is the only thing that takes my pain.  I don't get the pain every day, so its good. this pain its so bad, it makes me cry or feel like I'm in labor again.  I don't know what else I can do.  Can anyone tell me if I can take something similar that is not addictive. I have taken about 2000 ml of Tylenol or ibuprofen and that doesn't work.  I am down to my last pill and I need to get something and be ready for when the pain kicks in, which happens maybe 2 times @ month but doesn't go away until I take the hydrocodone.

Avatar universal
by Dixiex2, Jan 01, 2018
I have degenerative disc disease. (Advanced).I live in constant pain. I am 63 years old. Doctor says no operation will help. I also have a bad curving of the spine. When you ask a doctor for pain meds they act like your  a drug addict. Never drank before. Pain is so great I have started drinking . Its just wine but at least it helps. God help me as it gets worse. People who judge those with pain who look to pills obviously have never had to deal with constant pain.I can’t sit for any length of time and I can’t stand for any length of time. So where is the qualty of life. They put horses and animals out of their pain when they get so bad. So you tell me are we less important than an animal???? So what if I have to be on pain pills for the rest of my life at least I have some quality of life!
By the way I am a christian. I pray daily.
I will pray that God gives you a greater appreciation of the pain some of us go through.
God help you who critize

Avatar universal
by PureTruth, Feb 12, 2018
A myriad of health issues mostly connected to severe arthritic pain affecting all my joints, with the most debilitating effect in both hands and for the past two years, one knee. In trying every option that might reduce the pain and restore any lost mobility that's covered by my insurance -- the most recent procedure being neural ablation Of the knee, which was useless -- I suspect that I am facing surgery. For me, knee surgery will be my 5th surgery since 2011. If you omit the emergency gallbladder removal in 2011, 4 of these were necessitated by conditions manifested by arthritis, and form a fairly unbroken succession that began with a sudden struggle to walk upon my return home from gallbladder surgery. Right hip, left hip, rotator cuff and right ankle. My left ankle is becoming problematic, but I'm trying not to focus on it at this point.

I've been on and off a few different pain meds for my myriad of ailments and have not become addicted. I THANK GOD that I had strong relief. I can not imagine being without it during those times. Anyone who must live each day with a level of pain that's debilitating should be treated with nothing but support and kindness from the medical community, but it's become a rarity ever since the pain-easing controlled meds have been redefined as BAD. When going for appts, most folks in enough pain to need this level of relief now braces for docs and staff and frequently PAs to address them disparagingly. Some pain management specialists behave like they aim to strive tirelessly to put an end to all use of opioids and narcotics. It's not unusual to be treated like a know-nothing at many pain facilities -- especially by the young ones just starting out.

I share from a wealth of wisdom dearly paid for by my own personal history that unequivocally concludes with vital knowledge that is being overlooked. Chronic naysayers abound, so I expect dissension, but it won't come from those with a history similar to mine. I KNOW WHAT I KNOW BECAUSE I'VE EXPERIENCED IT ALL FROM BOTH SIDES. I am DEPENDENT upon meds that provide mobility preventing me from living out my life confined to a Lazy Boy, but I am not addicted to anything. Actually, I've had to go without pain medicine that was prescribed to me on numerous occasions during the past five years, the only resulting effect being a mobility deficit.

I had to do without my pain meds, because when my husband dropped dead from a heart event, my son, youngest of three and a beautiful, caring, talented, handsome young man with several ivy league scholarships just waiting for him--my son, my baby (and his nemesis girlfriend), started with oxycodone. It wasn't long before they began encountering problems finding the drug. Because they had already stolen everything I owned that they could sell or pawn--thousands of dollars from my home safe--and because heroin was readily available everywhere and much cheaper, THE REMOVAL OF ACCESS TO OXYCODONE PROMPTED THE ADDICTION MONSTER TO FORCE THEM TO SWITCH TO HEROIN.

Until we stop believing that restricted access to pain meds is the answer. we will remain just as far-removed from finding a solution to end this monstrous epidemic as we ever were. And we must cease from bundling heroin addiction in with treatment modes proven to be helpful for patients who are addicted to all other substances. Heroin addiction has heinous characteristics that separate it from every other addictive substance.

My story amasses five years, having to sell my house to pay for a pricey intervention and a super expensive, purely criminal rehab operation in GA --  purported to be one of the best--the friends my son made while there made are now ALL DEAD. My son has overdosed at least three times since then. While I continue to be thankful that he's alive, nothing can ease my fears that the next time it won't be so good. I struggled for five years, no matter what--all his arrests, his vanishing/selling? some items from our new home, my new neighbors all distancing themselves from me and my one kind-of friend who lives here shares how the gossip tends to embellish and supersede the truth. Needles everywhere, in the house, his room, my car,the parking lot, and he denies it all. My bottom line was "Well, I'd rather that he died here than as a homeless wreck out on the streets. Over a month ago I was forced to have him leave and trespassed. I have no idea where or how he is.

Every mother and father of a heroin addict has a similar story to share, with so many identical disappointments, shocks, hurts and fears. Many of my son's friends are DEAD. Their mothers are now my friends. There is little to do outside of saying anything that could be possibly comforting. BUT ask any of them, and others--and we all know that the current push for more of the same and more funding for treating heroin addicts IS NOT GOING TO ACCOMPLISH A SINGLE THING. AND I REPEAT: LIMITING ACCESS TO CONTROLLED PAIN RELIEF SUBSTANCES WILL RESULT IN TWO SAD AREAS:



The addict must somehow get to a place where he or she ALONE finally decides they can no longer live the heroin life. THEN, AND ONLY THEN, WILL ANY TYPE OF INTERVENTION OR REHABILITATION WORK. Sadly, if you check out the recidivism rate for heroin addiction, the number of heroin addicts who are able to reach this point seems almost hopeless.

With a wealth of personal history that has yet to cease, I am made constantly aware of elements vital to this debate. What I've learned should be headlining papers addressing the rapidly rising death toll from heroin and overdoses in general. From countless interactions, conversations and experiences, it seems that the ONLY people (including every level of medical and psychiatric professionals,) who possess enough capacity to be of real value in treating heroin addicts are those who, through personal, closely connected experience of their own, know the deal --  and the associated pain for everyone, including the addict.

It seems to me that all of the highly educated and brilliantly-shared opinions being disseminated by "experts" in favor of imposing even more stringent restrictions on narcotic and opioid pain relief are unwittingly pushing for the most effective acceleration to force people currently addicted to controlled substances for pain (whether pharmaceutically-dispensed to them or someone else,) to turn to more potent, cheaper, ILLEGAL drugs sold everywhere. Enter in heroin, but street drugs are all of questionable compounds -- many deadly -- like fentanyl. It doesn't take a psychic to predict that so far, we have accomplished nothing to even slow the burgeoning number of non-stereotypical addicts. Today's addict represents an unprecedented demographic comprised of so many kids from well-to-do families and successful adult professionals. Heroin addicts share one prominent in-common life purpose: to do whatever it takes to escape the raging, internal torment that made heroin their god.

We must stop beating this dead horse and look elsewhere for resources that truly work.

Avatar universal
by strulove, Apr 25, 2019
My Wife has MS-related neuropathy. When she has nerve pain, Hydrocodone seems to be the only pain medication that will relieve the pain so that even though she still has pain, she isn't incapable of movement or thought. (When she has a pain episode, it is debilitating, ...period!!!)

What the government has done for people who "depend" on opiates is create laws that force recreational users of opiates to find black-market sources, ...and to make it a maddening experience for law-abiding users to get their freaking prescriptions filled, ...or to be prescribed an adequate dose. (This shouldn't be much of a surprise to those of us who've been around for 60 years are more, because try as it might, government CANNOT create a one-size-fits-all law to "control" any threat, perceived or otherwise, that doesn't hit the law-abiding citizens the fastest and hardest.

We look at the situation in simple terms, that apparently are too invisible to either the controllers in DC, or the controlled in all the new "pain management" clinics. It is this:

1 - My Wife has an incurable disease (MS) and her symptoms are severe neruopathic pain.
2 - Hydrocodone is the only medication that gives her adequate pain relief.
3 - She'll likely require Hydrocodone for the rest to her life.
4 - Only large doses of the various NSAID's out there have been effective in augmenting the Hydrocodone, and they ALL have nasty side effects for the stomach, liver and kidneys.

So, ...Why should she worry about "addiction" when for medical reasons she MUST keep taking hydrocodone??

We have two friends with chronic pain that have been taking hydrocodone for extended periods. One for over 50 years.
I worked along side her for about 15 of those years, and she was as capable and competent as anyone i know. She's retired after a 40-year career working in resources management, and now she works in a prison, because she's not ready to just stop working.

So far, the TOTAL impact of the governments new laws and the establishment of so-called Pain Management Clinics, for my Wife, is to make pain management more frustrating, costly, and ineffective.

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