People With Chronic Pain Are Sharing Their Experience Taking Opioids to Fight Opioid Abuse Stigma

There’s a new social media trend of publicly shaming opioid users. In the past two weeks, at least two photos have been publicly shared on social media by police in Ohio and Massachusetts of parents passed out on opioids in front of their children. While opioid abuse is a real problem in the U.S., shaming people who use opioids hurts the millions of people who have been prescribed opioids to treat their chronic pain.

“Opioids are not like traditional meds such as an antibiotic or cough suppressant,” said Alan Brewington, who takes opioids for chronic pain caused by arthritis. “Every chronic pain patient has to consider the moral, ethical, side effect, short term benefit versus long term destruction to the body and cost each and every time we take a pill. Stigmatizing us for this only makes the decision harder and less likely the pill will work.”

Now, people who use opioids for chronic pain are sharing their experiences on social media using the hashtag #opioidawareness to try and combat the stigma opioid users face.

Over 100 million Americans live with chronic pain, many of whom use opioids as a way of managing their pain or minimizing flares. Of those who use opioids to treat chronic pain, many wish there was a better or more affordable alternative to opioids.

Opioids are pain-relieving and mood-enhancing drugs, which range from prescription painkillers like codeine to illicit drugs such as heroin. Even though both are opioids, being prescribed codeine for chronic pain is not the same as using heroin illegally – it’s a distinction, patients say, people fail to see when they talk about opioids.

“People don’t seem to realize how many lives opioid medication saves,” Anne Turner, who lives with fibromyalgia, told The Mighty. “With chronic pain there’s no escape from the agony and for many, opioids are the only way of achieving some kind of relief. Without them, I can’t work, I can’t look after my home, I can’t even look after myself. With them, I have as close to a normal life as I can hope for. This truth seems to be lost in the current opioid debate.”

You can join in raising awareness by sharing your experience in the comments below or on social media with the hashtag #opioidawareness.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Pain

watercolor painting of boy and girl on the waterfront, digital painting

Why 'No Pain, No Gain' Is True for Me as a Someone With Chronic Pain

There’s a saying in the chronic pain community: “Whoever said ‘no pain, no gain’ never had chronic pain.” At first, I fully and whole-heartedly agreed with the quote. As a chronic pain patient, I could not see anything I had gained from the constant pain I lived with. But I saw this quote again more [...]
young woman looking out a window

15 Things to Know Once You’re Diagnosed With Chronic Pain

In 2007, fibromyalgia wasn’t recognized as a diagnosis by the healthcare industry. Unbelievable stuff, huh? I mean, can you imagine trying to manage and treat 24/7 pain when even your doctor tells you there’s nothing wrong with you? Painful and freaky things were happening to my body, and there was very little public information and nowhere [...]
Couple lying in bed, feet sticking out of covers, low section

From Pleasure to Pain: The Challenges of Sex and Illness We Need to Talk About

If you or someone you know has endometriosis, adenomyosis or pelvic floor dysfunction, you may know at least some of the symptoms associated with these conditions: pelvic, abdominal, back, and leg pain, fatigue, bleeding issues, and infertility. Perhaps you know of the other, less talked about symptoms if you have yourself experienced them or read [...]
woman brushing her teeth

Why Brushing My Teeth Is a Big Accomplishment for Me

This morning I woke up, got out of bed, took a shower, brushed my teeth, fixed my hair, did my makeup, got dressed and went to work. This morning I feel accomplished. My morning routine is probably very similar to others and may not seem like much or like an accomplishment, but for someone living [...]