Many of you aren’t addicts. You are physically dependent on prescription pain killers but you don’t take them for the “high”. You take them to “feel normal” and to help treat pain that was once there but now has been replaced by a mirage that feels like pain. And now you’re stuck. You may have read some of my blog posts and not been able to relate simply because you have not developed that type of “relationship” with the medication that many of us have. Your relationship (heh…heh) is purely physical and it can be a maddening situation to be in.
For those of you who are just physically dependent, taking your pain medication doesn’t mean much to you other than the fact that it helps with pain and it helps stave off any sickness you might have by going off of it. You read some of my blog posts about “taking flight” or “counting pills 5 times a day” and say to yourself, “what is this guy talking about?!”
Well, the fact is that many of you don’t take the pills for the “high” or for that euphoric feeling and now you’ve been on them so long, your body has become hooked, but not necessarily your mind. And now that you want to get off of them, your doctor has no answer for you and the thought of a rehab facility is so foreign and seems so drastic that you may feel like there’s nothing out there that can help you. Why doesn’t anybody understand that you just want to get off the damn pills?!
The distinction between being emotionally attached to a specific drug and physically attached to a pain killer is one that has to be made because there are physically dependent people who don’t need counseling, or rehab, or therapy or AA meetings or any of that stuff. You just need to get off of the medication and get on with your life. And you worry that if you try to tell someone about your physical dependence that they will immediately look at you and give you some sort of thin-lipped response like “sure Fred, of course you aren’t addicted…just need ‘em for the pain right?”
“The pain” can often be a lot worse when you’re on pain killers because your brain is sly, it knows how to get you to act and give it the pills it thinks it needs…Brain: “Fred needs some pain to take the pills eh? Well I’ll give him some pain alright. How’s about some throbbing lower back pain with a scorching side of sciatica?” Your brain will do anything it can to make sure you don’t send it into withdrawal and if it’s pain you need, it’s pain you get.
In my case, I had a lot of pain and then eventually became an addict for the “high.” However, I noticed that when I finally got off of the pills, my back pain became a lot better. Although I initially used the pills for back pain and neck pain, I eventually became emotionally attached to the buzz and didn’t really think of the pain killers as something for physical pain. But you may be different and you may just need some help quitting the pills and that’s all you’ll ever need. For some of you, taking that “first step” is the only step you’ll ever need to take. So don’t feel ashamed to raise your hand and say, “yeah, I’m addicted but I’m not an addict.” In fact count yourself as one of the lucky ones and take your first step now because I can tell you from experience that it’s much easier to end a physical relationship than an emotional one.
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