Medication and Chronic Pain

Before I begin this post I would like to say that I totally understand why people take pain medication for chronic pain. Chronic pain can be a living hell and where there is someway to find relief, most of us take it. For people without chronic pain, never judge someone who takes medication for chronic pain. Remember last week when you had cramps, a headache, or a toothache? Did you take Advil or something to relieve the pain? Well, imagine having that pain except it never goes away…..ever. I am writing this post to explain why I had to make a solid decision to not take pain medication as I feel it was causing more pain and hurting my life more than helping it.

Following brain surgery I was just happy to be alive but also scared to death to start a new school looking and feeling the way I did. The ramifications (chronic pain) did not really begin to surface until my Senior year of high school. In the beginning of my search for a cure to my chronic pain doctors put me on many different medications and some were strictly for pain relief. I think I have been prescribed more medications than many of the patients I had as a medical social worker, and that is saying a lot. Honestly if a doctor told me to eat bark off of a tree for the rest of my life I would have done it. Hell, I allowed a surgeon to cut nerve endings off of my face, not once but twice! Point being, people with chronic pain will do most anything to relieve their pain.

Pain medication such as Percocet can be amazing for people with chronic pain, until it isn’t. I remember being prescribed Percocet and taking the pill and thinking: “Holy shit! This works!!!! I can live again!” Then after the pill wore off I would take another one. Once the second pill wore off I would take another one and so on and so on. The longer one is on a pain medication the more he or she needs in order to get the same relief. Then one day you wake up and you are freaking out because you are almost out of medication and your next appointment is not for two weeks. Then your anxiety is so high you cannot tell what is worse….the pain or the anxiety? If you have chronic pain, you know exactly what I am talking about. It is hell!!!!! Once you reach the maximum dose (or even higher) then is FDA approved it is extremely hard to function and live any life at all. One (like myself) begins focusing solely on pain medication and the relief it can give. That is the main reason I no longer take anything for chronic pain. I could not live like that any longer, especially as a mother. I was taking pain medication and yet my pain was worse than it is now without the medication. This is not a coincidence.

The second reason I no longer take pain medication is because taking something for chronic pain only reminds me that I have chronic pain. As my readers know I work my ass off to train my brain to not think about pain. That could be a mantra (it rhymes!.) How can I not think about pain if I am reaching into a pill box for pain medication. Each pill is just another reminder that I have chronic pain. Since I no longer take pain medication, I can truly work on mindfulness and using that mantra I just came up with. Train your brain to not think about pain.

If you are taking medication for chronic pain and do not want to, you can do it! I am living, breathing proof. The quote that truly got me to never take pain medication again was: “A year from now you will wish you started today.” But, like anything else it is a process and does not happen overnight. People have to be truly ready to stop looking for a cure and stop taking pain medication. If someone told me years ago to give up the one thing I thought was helping me I may have screamed my head off. However, it can be done and trust me living with chronic pain without pain medication is priceless. I cannot express how much healthier and happier I am. The greatest part is that since I no longer take anything for pain relief, my pain levels have gone down dramatically.


Medication and Chronic Pain


8 thoughts on “Medication and Chronic Pain

  1. You definitely present a case for getting off the merry go round. I was managing to cut back reasonably well until this last bout of nerve pain hit from the Lyme disease. I’m still trying by using wheat bags, but it is hard some days. I keep reminding myself there’s a better future out there and it is drug free, Thanks
    Susan x

  2. Sometimes I feel like crying when I read your posts. You see having been before all of this a person who wouldn’t touch a pill for anything this is still so alien to me taking all these pills. I was on over 20 pain or anti inflammatory pills a day at one stage. My stomach has blown up, ive gone from a size 12 bottom to size 16 simply because I have ballooned but also can’t stand anything agianst my stomach anymore.

    However, I know if I came off pain meds I wouldn’t be able to move. I havnt forgotten being bed bound, crying in pain, my chest going in to spasm. Sometimes I’ve forgotten my pregablin which calms my nerves from going in to a spasm and the next day they start to kick off again and that stops me moving.

    So, i don’t know, how to do it. I did speak to my pain clinic about the anti inflammatory, coming off it, but being worried, they are getting me an anaesthetic patch to wear in the hope I can come off or reduce it.

    I know it’s been hard work for you, I just don’t know that it’s an achieavable goal for me, im sure you would say thats the wrong attitude, but maybe I am being realistic, or maybe not…..

    • Hey….I would NEVER EVER say that is the wrong attitude sweetie…ever. We have to take one day at a time. I swear one day it just hit me that I had to make HUGE change! You are doing the very best you can today and that is allll that matters. When you once something enough you will get there. And I hear ya did you see the post of my before and after pictures??? I was the smallest girl most of my life and then blew up from medication and eating awful not moving and self medicating so I GET IT!!!! I am 1000 percent here for you and NEVER EVER EVER judge!
      ps. don’t be so hard on yourself

  3. Love this. I came off the medication a couple of years ago and was surprised at how I learnt to adapt to the pain and manage it differently. Not for everyone, definitely, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way now. I’m very glad you can find a way to manage without. 🙂

  4. Samuel says:

    I’ve had chronic pain about 10 years now starting at age 27. I totally identify w/ the merry go round and loop hole jumping of pain meds. I still take them & have had more than a few complications w/ pharmacies giving partials (which require another written script), issues w/ insurance approving one but not the other, prior authorizations, skeptical Dr’s, the list goes on & on. And for me anxiety is a very powerful & physical trigger. I’ve imagined how much easier my life would be w/out all the Dr appts, scrutinizing looks from friends, family, Dr’s, and pharmacists. I get a high spike of anxiety everytime my meds are due for a refill and that anxiety equals a spike in pain levels. I would very much like to leave it all behind but am frightened by the thought of not having those tools for managing pain. There is also another great reason to eliminate meds, specifically the narcotics. Because taking them can actually start to increase pain through Hyperalgesia. Which basically means the meds you take to alleviate pain starts to actually cause pain. I’m not sure exactly how it works but when you take significant dosages for a prolonged period of time you become more susceptible to it. Not that we needed more reasons but I thought it might be worth mentioning.
    I would also be really interested to hear in detail how you stopped taking medications. If u stopped one before others and how quickly you tapered off. Thank u so much for your blog Jess and please excuse my longwinded comments 🙂

    • Stop apologizing Sam!!!!! Love love love this response because it is sooooo true and exactly what I was saying! You definitely get it. I will write a detailed post on how I totally got off my pain medications and any pain related pills. I do for the record take medicine for anxiety which I will probably take for the rest of my life and I am okay with that. It is a low dose and the Mayo Clinic (pain program who taught me how to manage pain naturally) and saved my life probably are the doctors etc who wanted me on anxiety medicine. Anyways thank you for this!!!!

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