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How I Really Feel About the Possibility of Addiction to My Pain Medication

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

A few weeks ago, a colleague asked me if I was worried about becoming addicted to painkillers. She suggested I should cut down. “Make sure you don’t take them every day!” She fretted, a look of concern furrowing her brow. I smiled, and told her not to worry — I only take them when I need them.

I didn’t tell her I actually need them every day. Some days are worse than others, sure, but every day I am in pain — especially at night. That’s what chronic pain is, you see.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, reader — just between you and me. Personally, I don’t care about becoming addicted. I just care about pain relief. Shocking, isn’t it? It may surprise you to learn that, when I am still awake at 3 a.m. due to an unrelenting burning pain in my hip or stabbing cramps in my bladder, I don’t tend to question whether, perhaps, this time I shouldn’t take the pain relief for fear of becoming reliant. I am reliant. The painkillers stop the pain.

It strikes me that, perhaps, the people who are lucky enough to not be in constant pain are the ones who raise concerns and judgments about such things. Maybe they don’t see themselves as lucky, just “normal.” They delight in rarely needing a low dose of paracetamol to relieve an ache. They sooth away soreness with herbal tea and yoga. And while doing so, they form the belief that, if only others did the same, they wouldn’t need to take so many pills.

But let’s be clear. I do the same. I drink herbal tea, I do yoga, I take CBD and a multitude of supplements. I use hot water bottles and ice packs. I meditate, I have long baths with Epsom salts, I swim, I have physiotherapy, I have massages, I have acupuncture and I have nerve block procedures.

And, I take painkillers.

And, until there is a better form of pain relief provided to me, I will continue to do so.

But of course, all of this is a bit much to say to one colleague over a quick exchange. So, the next time it is brought up, I will continue to smile and say: “Don’t worry, I only take them when I need them.”

It is true, after all.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Valdemars Magone on Unsplash

Originally published: September 25, 2019
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