Pain medication – Dependence or Addiction?


28 days pain medication

What are the different types of pain medication options?

Different strokes for different folk… What pain medication works for one type of pain does not work for a different type of pain.  Simple example: – Morphine does not relieve toothache or headaches….. It relieves bone pain.

Medicines can often help control chronic pain. Many different drugs, both prescription and non-prescription, are used to treat chronic pain. All these medicines can cause side effects and should be taken exactly as they are prescribed. In some cases, it may take several weeks before medicines work to reduce pain. To avoid dangerous drug interactions, tell your doctor all the medicines you are taking (including herbal and other complementary medicines).

Medication Choices

You will likely be given medicines that cause the fewest side effects first (such as acetaminophen) to treat chronic pain. The dose will be increased or the medicines will be changed as needed. Medicines used to treat chronic pain include the following:

Recommended Related to Pain Management

Other therapies that may be used to treat chronic pain include:

  • Nerve block injections. An anesthetic is injected into the affected nerve to relieve pain. The anesthetic may relieve pain for several days, but the pain often returns. Although nerve blocks do not normally cure chronic pain, they may allow you to begin physical therapy and improve your range of motion.
  • Epidural steroid injections (injecting steroids around the spine). Although these injections have been used for many years and may provide relief for low back or neck pain caused by disc disease or pinched nerves, they may not work for everyone.
  • Trigger point injections. These may relieve pain by injecting a local anesthetic into trigger points (or specific tender areas) linked to chronic fascial pain or fibromyalgia. These injections do not relieve chronic pain in everyone.http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/chronic-pain-medications

Vic’s pain medication as at 4.8.2012 (Transcribed from medication received from Pain Clinic

TABLET NO OF TABLETS PER DAY
TRAMADOL 50MG 4 3 TIMES PER DAY
AUSTRELL PARACETAMOL 500MG 2 3 TIMES PER DAY
STILPAYNE 2 3 TIMES PER DAY
CYMBALTA 60 2 1 TIMES PER DAY
NEURONTIN 100MG 6 3 TIMES PER DAY
SRM RHOTARD 400MG (MORPHINE)   2 TIMES PER DAY
ELTROXIN .1MG 1 IN MORNING
BACTRIM 1 3 X PER DAY
LOSEC 20MG 1 IN MORNING
STEMITIL 5MG 1 2 TIMES PER DAY
MORPHINE SYRUP 25MG/5ML AS NEEDED
JURNISTA 4MG 1 1 TIMES PER DAY
PANAFORTE 1 2 TIMES PER DAY
DEGRONOL 2 2 TIMES PER DAY

This is scary.  The amount of opioids Vic takes would certainly kill most people.  Is Vic an addict?  Certainly not!!

Opioids work by mimicking the body’s natural painkillers known as endorphins. They control pain by blocking pain messages to the brain. Because morphine is an opioid, some people worry about becoming addicted. When you take an opioid to control pain, it is unlikely that you will become addicted. The body uses the drug to control pain, not to give you a ‘high’ http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/treatment/cancer-drugs/morphine

I read a heart rendering account of chronic pain and the fear of being treated as an addict written by Tracy Rydzy, a Licensed Social Worker.  http://ohwhatapain.wordpress.com/being-treated-like-an-addict/  Tracy writes a heart rendering blog on chronic pain and prejudge that she faces every day.  Tracy writes: “I may be on medication, but I am intelligent and I know what is going on.  Please understand that I didn’t choose this for myself.  I don’t want these damn pills, but I have no other choice right now as I have exhausted my other options for pain relief.  Don’t hold my condition against me.  I understand the pen is mightier than the sword, so I can’t even ask to change dosages, I can’t request anything different, I certainly can’t be rude in any way (regardless of how you treat me) and I can’t question you because you hold my ability to move and get out of bed in your little prescription pad.”

We are so fortunate that we have access to The Pain Clinic run by very sympathetic professionals.  We do not have a problem getting a prescription for the medication.  Our problem lies in the fact that from time to time the pharmacy of the Helen Joseph Clinic runs out of Morphine both in tablet or syrup form.  Sometimes we are able to get a private script from the Pain Clinic and other times I have to go back the next day, sit in a queue again, get the script and then get it filled privately.  Try and get 4.2 litres of morphine syrup from a pharmacy….  Sometimes I am busy and then find it easier to pay a doctor for an appointment to get a script.  We may get a script for 1 litre….

Fortunately Vic’s eldest sister is a pharmacist and we are known to the staff at that particular pharmacy.  The times we have tried to use other pharmacies (because they do not have morphine in stock) we are treated with suspicion.

“Many people confuse physical dependence, which is the occurrence of withdrawal when the drug is stopped, with addiction. Withdrawal is a physical phenomenon that means that the body has adapted to the drug in such a way that a “rebound” occurs when the drug is suddenly stopped. The kind of symptoms that occur include rapid pulse, sweating, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, runny nose, “gooseflesh,” and anxiety. All people who take opioids for a period of time can potentially have this withdrawal syndrome if the drug is stopped or the dose is suddenly lowered. This is not a problem as long as it is prevented by avoiding sudden reductions in the dose.

Physical dependence is entirely different from addiction. Addiction is defined by a loss of control over the drug, compulsive use of the drug, and continued use of the drug even if it is harming the person or others. People who become addicted often deny that they have a problem, even as they desperately try to maintain the supply of the drug.

Addiction is a “bio psychosocial” disease. This means that most people who become addicted to drugs are probably predisposed (it is in the genes) but only develop the problem if they have access to the drug and take it at a time and in a way that leaves them vulnerable. A very large experience in the treatment of patients with chronic pain indicates that the risk of addiction among people with no prior history of substance abuse who are given an opioid for pain is very low. The history of substance abuse doesn’t mean that a patient should never get an opioid for pain, but does suggest that the doctor must be very cautious when prescribing and monitoring this therapy.

People with chronic pain should understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction. Unreasonable fears about addiction should not be the reason that doctors refuse this therapy or patients refuse to take it.

Tolerance to opioid drugs occurs but is seldom a clinical problem. Tolerance means that taking the drug changes the body in such a way that the drug loses its effect over time. If the effect that is lost is a side effect, like sleepiness, tolerance is a good thing. If the effect is pain relief, tolerance is a problem. Fortunately, a very large experience indicates that most patients can reach a favorable balance between pain relief and side effects then stabilize at this dose for a long period of time. If doses need to be increased because pain returns, it is more commonly due to worsening of the painful disease than it is to tolerance. “

Vic is “embarrassed” the amount of medication she needs to take to control her pain.  She is oversensitive to the point of being paranoid about being called an addict.

Is my child an addict?  Hell no!!  Does it worry me that she needs increasing amounts of medication to handle the pain associated with the deterioration of her little body?  Hell no!!  Whatever it takes for one pain-free moment in her little life!  Tracy to you and all the other chronic pain sufferers out there – I wish you all a sympathetic doctor, nurse and pharmacist!

5 thoughts on “Pain medication – Dependence or Addiction?

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