Chronic Pain and Narcotic Use
In the past 2 years I have had the misfortune of dealing with doctors who have left me feeling like a drug addict trying to get my fix due to the stigma attached to taking opioids for pain.
I have felt the judgment, been grilled by pain management doctors about my behavior and use of medications, been given the suspicious glances and been treated rudely when I ask for and even fill my prescriptions, as if someone taking narcotics need not be treated like a human. Why would I, after all, in their eyes, I am just a drug addict.
The sad thing is, sometimes I don’t feel all that far from one. I am chemically dependent on my medication. Without it, I can’t function, can’t move, can’t do household chores, nor can I do physical therapy. In short, I can’t do much to heal or help myself without them. Am I an addict? No! Am I dependent on these meds to scrape through my days? Absolutely! I don’t get high off my medications. I don’t take them to feel happy or euphoric and I don’t take more than I am prescribed. So, if I am not an addict, why am I treated like one by the very people who prescribe the medication to me? Why do I have to take urine drug screens when I admit that I take medication? Isn’t the suspicion going a bit too far??
I do my part. I do physical therapy, massage therapy, and I have tried all sorts of pain management tactics, including meditation and therapy. I am doing my part, all I ask is that these medical professionals do theirs. But because there are so many people trying to “screw the system” to obtain narcotics illegally, everyone is suspect, even those of us who truly need it.
The cruel twist is that I want to tell the doctors, “You wrote me the prescription. You gave me the damn pills and told me to take them around the clock. You got me dependent on drugs and now you have the nerve to give me a hard time when I need to refill them?” Every month I have a knot in my stomach when I go for my appointment because I never know if I will be treated as a real person in real pain, or a malingering drug addict looking for a fix.
Oh what I wouldn’t give to tell my medical “professionals:” Please, please don’t judge me! Please don’t make me feel bad when I ask for my medication, please don’t make me pee in a cup and please don’t treat me like I am an idiot when you speak to me. I may be on medication, but I am intelligent and I know what is going on. Please understand that I didn’t choose this for myself. I don’t want these damn pills, but I have no other choice right now as I have exhausted my other options for pain relief. Don’t hold my condition against me. I understand the pen is mightier than the sword, so I can’t even ask to change dosages, I can’t request anything different, I certainly can’t be rude in any way (regardless of how you treat me) and I can’t question you because you hold my ability to move and get out of bed in your little prescription pad.”
Please understand that 80% of the doctors I come in contact with are wonderful, understanding and amazing. I do not feel judgment from all doctors. But, in my experience, the doctors who prescribe these medications are the ones who judge me for being on them.
I hope to one day not need these pills. But until that day comes, I only ask that I be treated with compassion and understanding.
Have you experienced judgement or difficulties with your pain medication?
Rydzy MSW, T. (2013). Chronic Pain and Narcotic Use. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/chronic-pain/2013/05/chronic-pain-and-narcotic-use/