Chronic Pain and Prescription Narcotics

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Dear Editor,

I feel compelled to express myself regarding an issue that continues to affect me, and thousands of others like me, every day I am alive. That issue is chronic pain and the stigma attached to those of us who have been prescribed narcotic drugs such as Hydrocodone or Oxycontin to help us deal with our pain.

I have had two ruptured discs in my lower back and a discectomy to relieve one of them. I was given epidural shots of steroids which caused a rare disease, Osteonecrosis, which is a rare side effect of large doses of steroids. I then had to have both of my hips replaced in order to keep from having to be in a wheelchair. I am 29 years old and have been dealing with chronic pain for at least 7 years.

I have been taking prescribed narcotics daily for 2.5 years. I have a physical dependence on them. I have had numerous other pain management therapies that help, but do not provide the relief of the pain meds. I have found that a combination of all the therapies and the meds works best.

Still yet, when I go to get my prescription filled, or move to a new area like I have done recently and change doctors, I am treated as if I am the criminal. I did not ask for the injuries and disease that I have had to endure. I actually NEED the medicine I take, and yet I am made to feel like I am lying about my pain or am making up problems to get the meds. It doesn’t help that I have long hair, several ear rings, and a beard that fits the stereotype of what many think of as someone who would abuse drugs. In reality I am an unemployed professional Customer Service Manager and a full time “house husband” and Graduate student.

I am appalled at the unsympathetic attitude of the medical community to those of us who have legitimate problems but who are then put on trial and given the 3rd degree everywhere we go. I understand the problem, but I also feel that “innocent until proven guilty” has some merit. If you are in the medical profession and you read this, please remember that there are those of us who have to live in severe pain every day and are not “addicts”. It is discrimination and it hurts.