There should be no shame in being prescribed medication to ease our pain and suffering

Contributed by: Diane S.
Reviewed by: Kevin Zacharoff, MD

Diane is a 63-year-old grandmother who is prescribed pain medication to manage nerve pain in her back.

I would like to submit this article to painACTION about how those of us who do take pain medications of the opiate type and have found pain relief, are made to feel “guilty” about using their prescription medications.  I’m a 63 year old grandmother and have extreme nerve damage in my back.  I’ve suffered with this for fifteen years and had five back surgeries with little relief.  Even with an implanted neurostimulator to “trick” the brain into thinking there is less pain, I still have extreme and constant pain.

My doctor prescribes morphine sulfate extended release for me, and hydrocodone and acetaminophen for breakthrough pain.  I have managed on these medications for many years without abusing them in any way.  I could not make it without them.  But I am made to feel like I am some sort of “drug addict” by many of the articles and people who are against opiate drug use.

It really is sad, the way that many people, even our own doctors at times, treat us regarding the use of prescription pain medications.  There should be no shame in seeking relief from the constant agony we suffer from neuropathic pain, yet there is. Many times doctors are afraid of the problems they might incur with medical boards from prescribing adequate pain medications for their patients, so they under prescribe, leaving them still suffering.

There are so many ways in which we are made to feel guilty about using pain medications.  I am very hesitant to reveal that I take morphine to anyone.  You can see their eyes widen with shock when they hear the word.  That’s a drug that is associated with addicts and criminals.  Those of us seeking pain relief are not addicts and we certainly are not criminals!  The morphine I take is time-released and a very small dose that is released over a long period of time.  I’ll have to admit that even I, upon hearing that my doctor wanted to prescribe morphine, was appalled at the suggestion!

We have to re-educate the public on prescription pain medications…on what it takes to relieve certain forms of neuropathic pain.  If they think that patients get “high” on their prescriptions, they are wrong…we just get some pain relief.  We don’t walk around all dopey and drugged, but for a little while we get some relief from the excruciating neuropathic pain we suffer. This is wrong and so unkind to those of us who are in extreme pain.   People who treat us this way should walk the mile in our shoes before they make these accusations of abuse, etc.

I realize that there are people who do abuse the drugs, but not all people taking opiates for pain relief are abusers and people need to stop lumping us all in the same basket.  Please publish this article that expresses the feelings of those of us who are legitimate and need the drugs…it’s very hurtful being made to feel like we are some sort of criminal or addict.

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