the problem with opioids
I know that what you’re about to read is an unpopular opinion and will likely lead to some making the decision to no longer follow me. I don’t wish to portray myself as better than anyone else or pass judgment on how another chooses to manage their complicated illnesses. But even so, I feel like I found my way through a difficult set of circumstances, and if I can help someone else reach the other side I’m okay with taking this chance.
For years opioids stood in the way of learning to effectively manage my pain. When I was taking them I would have told you that the only reason I continued to hang on to any semblance of a normalcy was due to these medications. Often, they allowed me to meet friends for dinner, complete basic housework, or just get my day started. Opioids provided me with the only pain relief after more than a decade of living in constant discomfort, and I was grateful for that.
But now I understand that I was never going to get better if I continued taking them on a daily basis. You see, opioids are excellent for short-term pain relief, like following an accident or surgery, or if taken occasionally for breakthrough pain. When used in this way they don’t have the opportunity to hijack your brain and your body.
I’m not going to go into the science of how opioids work and why they can be so amazingly unhelpful when treating chronic pain. If you want to know the truth, it’s out there. For the sake of brevity, they’re tricky little bastards that can produce changes so sneaky that their negative impact might be labeled as symptoms that an illness is getting worse, or even point to new diagnoses altogether. My increasing pain, disease process, and the inability of my brain and body to communicate properly created this unstoppable progression of symptoms that practitioners wanted to define, explain, and diagnose. After all, that’s their job.
It took longer than I’d like to admit for me to finally do something about my suspicion that the way I was treating my daily pain was negatively impacting my life as a whole. It took me getting off these medicines to see that they were holding me back from gaining a clear picture of my challenges exactly as they are and not muddled by years of failed attempts to get things under control. It took me wholeheartedly believing that while it seemed to me that opioids were improving my day-to-day life I was actually better off without them.
You don’t have to agree with what I’m saying or justify to anyone [including me] why you treat your chronic illnesses the way that you do. Additionally, I am not a doctor and have no understanding of your struggles or even experience. All I know is my situation, and it is my sincere hope that there are others who share in the positive impact of learning other ways to manage their pain.