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Concerned about a friend

JoyJJoy Posts: 560
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Pain Medications
I got a phone call the other day from a girl I used to work with. She says she has Failed Back Snydrome and then told me all the meds she is on: Methadone, percocet, valium, flexeril, trazodone, Cymbalta. She says she is still in horrible pain. I question whether or not she should be on so many different meds. Any suggestions? Advice I could give her.


  • I forgot, she also takes oxycotin.
  • first so sorry your friend is in pain. >:D<
    are they going to do a revision surgery????? did she not fuse or did the surgey itself just not work?? some people have a different explanation of failed back syndrome
    what levels did she have done??
    that is alot of meds. im surprised a dr would even give the combo of meth, percocet and oxycontin. not that its dangrous when taken like they are supposed to.
    but then again iv seen people list that they are on more then what you listed.

    of course nys is so different with rules and regs that some states just hand them out.
    but of course i am not a dr and cannot judge anyone in their treatment.
    i guess its a pet peeve of mine when they are so hard to get here #o #o #o so i don't mean to sound harsh you know that is not me O:) O:) O:)

    i hope she is seeking out other treatments or that surgery was offered to her again to ease her pain.

    keep us up to date hun
  • I can't get a straight answer from her as to what levels she had done. They inplanted one of those SCS's and she said that it doesn't work either. She doesn't work, doesn't have a place to live, and is trying to get disability approved. I haven't seen her in about 15 years so I don't know yet if she is just addicted to the meds or what. I went and picked her up (about 1-1/2 hour drive for me) and took her to hospital for colonoscopy (another 1-1/2 hr. drive). They couldn't complete the test because they said the colon wasn't empty enough. Then I drove her home and then came back to Richmond. About a 6-hr. drive in all. I'm trying to encourage her to apply again for disability, but not sure if her mind is clear enough to fill in comprehensive information. I want to help her, but she lives so far away that it makes it hard. She's 42 and is now living with her abusive parents. She had a rotten childhood, divorced with 2 grown kids who mooch off her all the time. I know she wants me to help her out financially, but times are rough, you know.

    Sorry to ramble on so much, but I am concerned about her! Please remember her in your prayers.
  • Oh, my. Sounds like your friend has lots of problems. I have just a couple of thoughts:

    She must have Medicaid or something that is paying for all the meds - since she doesn't work she would certainly be eligible for Medicaid. That being the case it sounds to me like she needs to see a good pain management doctor who will help her with the pain as well as taking a look at all the meds she is taking.

    If she is not working and is receiving some medical or other assistance she will have a caseworker. That person can help her get work (or some voc rehab so she can work). a place to live, possibly transportation to medical appts. etc. etc. Caseworkers are usually hideously overworked but if one persists they can offer some avenues for help. You might ask her about this or just suggest that whatever your state's dept of Health and Human Services is called could offer her assistance. Surely this would be a better option for her than having to ask someone who lives quite a way from her (you) for transportation, etc.

    How long ago did hse have surgery? Did her surgeon release her?
  • She told me that she didn't qualify for Medicaid. I still don't understand that one! I thought that was the intended recipiant. She said she sees a PM, but also get meds from GP. I will definitely ask her to contact social services for transportation. Thanks.
  • I hate to be so nosy but if she has no Medicaid and no job how does she pay for all those meds? Just curious.
  • yeah seriously those are expensive meds.. the methadone is practically free its so cheap but most of the rest, especially oxy and some of the nerve stuff, ouch, soooo expensive. I'm really concerned she is taking Oxy AND methadone. Methadone might be used concurrently with some other ER meds, but Oxy is typically not one of them; it's one or the other. Either she is in so much pain it is the only way to control it, or something else is up. I think I would have said 'sounds normal with her condition' until you said oxy too.. If you think she is genuinely hurting terribly, then it's probably fine. Her current narcotic Rx is definitely going to affect her future ability to take narcotics and have them, well, work effectively. I'm assuming average or 'healthy' doses, like 20mg oxycontin x3 a day minimum, more likely 40mg twice or three times, and 20-40mg methadone. If so, well, pain should be a distant memory.. If she wants help financially, she should ditch the oxycontin; methadone kicks its ### in the arena of pain control, and saves you hundreds a month.

    Ok so my best non professional advice? Ditch the name brands, generics and cheap ones only. Methadone, percocet, valium, flexeril, and cybalta: change it to Methadone, dilaudid, valium, flexeril (Preferably changed to baclofen), and Cymbalta changed to any one of a handful of 4 to 10$ a month GA/Depression meds, there are SO many that are tried and true, known to be good. I wish her my best! And to you, hang in there, and don't contribute cash unless she is changing her meds to her situation, she's living way above her means with no money and like, $1,000 of meds per month; change would likely be great for her. Ciao!

  • Friends and money don't mix. Besides you have no money anyway. Her children should be helping her and her parents. If they're that abusive why is she there? I would back away from her. You've done the best you could and you're too far away to help her anyway. She could get on welfare and disability and it's a struggle to do that but she'll have to do that. I hope you know you did the best you could and leave it like that. A call to her children may help push them to help her. Does she have any siblings to help her? My Mother and I had a sick friend with early stage alzheimers. my Mother went there and found her in disarray and begged her sister to help. Now her sister was mad at my Mother for intervening and calling her, but now glad she did. She's in a special home now and visits with her sister at Thanksgiving etc. You can only do so much and contacting family can sometimes be the best thing to point out how serious things are. You've got your own family to look after as well as yourself just having surgery yourself. Call the family and leave it up to them. Take care of You. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks, guys, for your comments. Unfortunately, her children are worthless! Neither one of them have jobs...well, one is in the Reserves and will be deployed this January. They both have "live-ins" to support them. My friend is at her parents only because she had no other place to go. When I asked her how she pays for the meds, she said she was selling off her personal items (from when she used to have a home). I did not give her any money since I wasn't (and still am not) convinced that she's an addict. I don't want to enable her to continue destructive behaviour. The only reason I got involved was because she mentioned suicide. I hope she will allow me to just be a "long distance friend" and give her emotional support, guidance in how to get public assistance, etc.

    This site helps so much in getting other peoples' objective input. I tend to get emotionally involved too quickly, only to regret it later.
  • I meant to say I'm not convinced that she's NOT an addict.
  • This friend is in need of moral support which she seems to be getting. If your friend has ANY access to an account or assets that the SSA deems is valued at 2000$ or more, she is not automatically Medicaid eligible, even once she is found disabled by a SSA judge this still does not AUTOMATICALLY qualify her for assistance. Its a real mess, there are test states (10 I believe), in which people pay a very steep price, sometimes even costing them their lives.

    From what I can understand she should contact PPA they help people in such circumstances. Partnership for Prescription America helped me obtain some VERY expensive medications for FREE. They may be the answer to help her saving some of her valuables. I speak from experience you you start to lose hope. PPA is a GREAT program for the truly needy. God-Bless she's in my prayers.
  • Thanks for the info; I will suggest she call and see if they can help her. She has NO assets except the contents of her home, which I really don't think would be much. Thanks again!
  • :H I would agree with the general opinion to be cautious and perhaps let the "system" help her. I have in-laws that have had financial and medical issues and it seems once you help then you are targeted as their next "easier" route to help them deal with their problems. I also have become too emotional about helping out and could never understand why a family member would cut off another from all help and contact until seeing with my own 2 eyes. Be strong and move forward please without that person. If she is at her parents house then that should hopefully be enough to not feel so guilty. I can tell you of a really tragic story about a close family friend and it would probably make you sick to your stomach but most likely then completely understand why I seem to be a little persistent or harsh. Believe me, I am a family man and love just about everyone, but sometimes the worst traps set are the ones you wouldn’t expect. Keep posting and reading. I wish you, and your friend the best of luck.

  • I noticed it one of your post's you stated she gets meds from her GP AND PM! Now this COULD be the reason that she is getting so many different types of narcotics. If she is getting narcotics from 2 different docs that is a felony. I hope this is not the case. IF and I say IF it is then there is definately a real problem and possibly an addiction.
    You are a great friend trying to help her out the best way you can. But like you had stated do not help her in any way to help her obtain her meds. Because then if you tell her no one time you will be the bad guy.
    The first thing that I would do is somehow find out which meds come from which doc. Now IF she is getting narcotics from more than one doc, that is a whole other story that is going to be hard to deal with. Keep us posted and feel free to Private Message me anytime. MJ >:D< :D
  • Is it really a felony to get pain meds from more than one doc? Trying to get straight answers from her is like trying to nail jello to the wall...she just slides away from the question. I'm thinking she said she gets flexeril and valum from one and all the rest from the other. I haven't heard from her for a couple of days, so either she realizes that I'm not going to give her money and she's moved on, or perhaps things are better?
  • getting narcotics from 2 different docs is a felony. BUT IF BOTH docs know what the other is prescribing then it is a different story. BUT if she was getting the Methadone from one doc and oxy from another that is big trouble. For some reasont that is the first thing that popped into my mind due to the fact that I have never heard of ANYONE getting oxy, Methadone and Percocet all at the same time.
    And I think you are right, either she knows you wont give her $$$ OR maybe she is steering away a little since you have asked her questions and she wants to keep it hush hush (so to speak) so she doesn't get in trouble.
    IF she is an addict she is going to stumble with her stories, tell 1/2 truths or completely justify herself or be defensive. Then when you look back at your conversations with her you will be able to piece things together and get the whole story.
    I am sorry that you are dealing with this situation. It is not easy for you and not easy to see her this way. I do wish you the best of luck! MJ
  • It is really hard not to try to help people when they ask! But sometimes the best help you can give is info about where/how that person might get help from various agencies. Especially when you do not know - and can't get - all the details of the situation.

    If your friend contacts you again you can feel good about lending an ear, asking questions and offering suggestions about where she might get help. This would let you be a friend without giving money, providing transportation, etc.

  • Addiction is a very strong word.

    Dependent is more likely.

    Sounds too me like she is playing her PM DR.
    A friendly anonymous email or phone call to her PM DR. could save your friends life.
    Good luck .
    Sounds like your a good friend !
  • I really appreciate hearing opinions from you! It is much easier to be more objective about a situation when you're not so close to it. I have gotten good info here and will definitely pass it on to her. She's supposed to call me Monday night after she meets with someone from Social Services, and I'll keep you posted. Again, many thanks.
  • I was going to stay out of this discussion, but honestly, it sounds like a lot of harsh judgements are being made about this person without reliable information about her situation. I'm willing to bet that if this discussion were happening about anyone posting in this thread, the flames would light up the Northern hemisphere.

    Joy, pardon my bluntness, but -

    You said in your earlier posts that this was a girl that you used to work with and that you hadn't seen her in about 15 years. Are you sure, under those circumstances, that you're not simply lacking insight into the reality behind her situation? I don't know about you, but when I'm talking to some girl I used to work with, who I haven't seen in over a decade, there's certain information about my life that I don't share.

    Also, if you're not even sure what levels of the spine are involved, are you really sure this list of medications is what she's currently taking? To me, that list doesn't look particularly different from the list of medications many, many of us here have gone through while trying to find something that relieves the pain.

    If you're truly concerned that she's in an abusive situation, that her children are exploiting her financially by taking money or belongings, or that she's not willing or able to meet her physical, mental, and financial needs, then all you have to do is make a phone call to Adult Protective Services in her area and report your suspicions. You can report anonymously and APS would have grounds to investigate because the situation is ultimately the result of physical disability.

    APS can also assist her with finding a safe place to live, obtaining medical assistance, qualifying for disability, and if she does have a substance abuse problem, they can assist her with treatment, even involuntarily under certain circumstances.

    Also, it is not a felony to obtain narcotics from multiple providers. If it was, every person here that's ever had to go to the ER for pain control and received treatment with a narcotic medication would be guilty of a felony. It's illegal to obtain narcotics under false pretenses, which is quite different.
  • Thanks for your input, and I appreciate your bluntness. I'd much rather hear the truth than not.

    As far as her meds are concerned, she pulled them out of her bag and read the prescriptions to me while we were on the phone.

    The abuse she deals with now, as far as I know, is mental. Her father dictates where she goes, what she eats, etc. She can't even watch tv at night past 9 pm because he has decided that everyone has to go to bed...no lights, no tv.

    She lives in a small town and because of that, she would, I am sure, resent any interference by APS. She would have to leave town!

    On the day I took her to the hospital for a test, she was in so much pain that she broke out in a sweat and had tears running down her face while she tried to get dressed. She used her cane to walk and was obviously very uncomfortable. I noticed when we got back to her house that she was no longer using the cane and walked without a problem. I believe they gave her demoral(sp) to do the procedure...could that have been so effective that she didn't have as much pain?

    I want to help, but I don't want to add to it. I'm going to try to stay in the role of friend, not enabler(sp). I will try to point her in the right direction to get the public assistance she deserves and help her get the medical attention she needs.

    Again, thanks for your input!
  • First I want to say that here in the state of NEvada it is a felony to obtain narcotic RX's from different docs. Most states I believe may not have that law, but here we do. OF course the obvious of signing your own RX's, getting/taking someone elses meds and so on are. MAybe it is a nevada thing. When I was seeing my NS and PM my NS wanted to try me on a different med that was a narcotic BUT since my PM was RXing me narc's he couldn't do that and had his assistant call my PM and even wrote a letter on letterhead so they would try the med. When I went to the ER I told them what I was currently taking. He wanted to RX me something stronger but only gave me a shot of dilaudid due to the fact that it is illegal. Here it is illegal to obtain mulitple Narcotics PRESCRIPTIONS from more than one doctor. If it is administered in the ER it is a different story.
    As far as calling APS...I don't know if I would do that. YES there is a lot of help out there for everyone, but I myself live in a somewhat small town, word spreads fast then who in teh heck would want to walk around knowing/thinking that everyone knows. And she may pinpoint it to you since the call was received right after you 2 started up your conversations more frequently. I feel that you need to be there for her BUT not help her obtain her meds. So support her emotionally, be honest with your concerns BUT do not give her the $ to get her meds or $ for anything in that fact.
    As far as her not being straight with you on which lvl she had fused, well I don't know what to say there. It all can be very confusing to everyone when it comes to the back. Some people dont like to get into every little detail when it comes to their back, and possibly she was medicated when you were talking to her and couldn't think clearly.
    As far as how she was feeling after the procedure....The Demeral would have kicked in right away especially if it is administered through IV. Possibly she was using the cane to make her condition appear worse??? Possibly the sweating was from the demeral? There is so many possibilities here.
    As far her MED LIST. Most of us have been on or tried the meds listed above. HOWEVER...I don't recall ANYONE that was taking Oxycontin, MEthadone, and percocet all at the SAME time! I could see the oxy with the percocet or the methadone with the percocet but not all 3 together. So to me the list does seem quite odd. I have been on all 3 but again not oxy AND methadone at the same time.
    I hope this is helping a little bit. Any other questions you can always Private Message me. Hope today is a better day for you! MJ >:D<
  • This is certainly an all around difficult situation with a lot of questions. Your friend is in a predicament. Pain mgt. is expensive to go to even if you have insurance. I am a bit suspicious about her surgery as well. It's strange she can't remember what type of surgery and what level she had done; everyone I know that has had one would recite the details. You yourself have back problems too, and you have to stay healthy before you can help others. I know that long drive was not easy, and I commend you for doing it. I know you truly care about your friend and you are worried about those meds being a lethal combination. I agree it can be revamped, esp. if she has to sell her stuff to get it. I have Medicare and a Part D, and it costs me plenty to treat my back. I'm sorry that the SCS didn't work for her. Have they tried a morphine pump? If she goes on it, then she can cut back tremendously on the oral meds and the medicine goes straight to the source, without side effects hopefully.
    Well, I hope for her sake that her situation improves and she is able to get federal and state assistance. She may be eligible for free housing, medicare,food stamps, clothes and bus vouchers. There are programs out there, and it's better than living with abusive parents. Have her get a case worker to help her apply for these assistance programs out there. Take care
  • Hi Joy,

    wow something is not right with the medicine. in new york and the tristate area or maybe in the us the prescription law from the DEA agency, that no one is aloud more that 3 controlled substances at a time. the doctor would lose his liscence and she can get arrested when she is filling them one day. they had an article here in ny crack down on prescription meds. they arrested patients filling prescriptions right at the pharmacy setting them up.... doctor shoppers everything is traced all controlled substances. Be careful to get to involved with this old friend unless your ready to accept a few problems and stress. Take care of you first. It is really kind of you wanted to help an old friend, but i learned to many times thru the years ,most times it always backfires. I hope i am wrong about your friend, but in my personal opinion and what i read on the web it doesnt sound right, oxycotin, and methadone, valium, and percocet all controlled substances thats 4 right there the other drugs i never heard of so cant tell you if they are. but i do know oxycotin and methadone are not usually prescribed together, one or the other.

  • I have heard that New York has some of the most strict rx laws, but here in Colorado, there is no such law. As a pharmacy technician, I see half a dozen pain patients daily (we have several pain clinics in town, the only in our county and even in the north metro area, all seem to be in Boulder). Many take several different pain meds, I mean some people get a dozen different controlled medications. I would say that this combination is not impossible. And if she is seeing a PM, most likely she signed a contract and is being drug tested, and must report which pharmacy she is using.

    I have personally assisted the Boulder County Drug Task Force in a few investigations. One for Dr. Shopping and another for forgery. The software that they use flags people for using multiple pharmacies and multiple doctors, but I caught a glimpse of one of the printouts and it was extreme - like 6 pharmacies and 3 doctors. Most people would probably not even be flagged, and if they were, a simple investigation would probably prove that they were a true pain patient. And there is a shady area here, too, as we all have the right to find a doctor that we trust, that treats us well, that is convenient, and that takes our insurance, I'm sure innocent people could be flagged for doctor shopping when that's not even the case.

    Basically, my point is that we don't know this person, and many of us take multiple medications. We don't know the strenghts or the quantities of these, either, and it is not our right to judge or assume the worst based on very little information.
  • Last time I spoke with her, she told me that she was fused from L4-S1. She was supposed to call me back after her appointment with social services, but I've not heard from her. Don't know if I should call and check on her or just wait. I really don't want to get too involved, for many personal reasons, but I want her to call me if she needs moral support. I really appreciate you guys helping me see different things about this case and the info of where she can get help. I think she's looking for a quick fix and is not too great on the necessary followup. Again, thanks for your support!
  • call her. IF she needs your moral support she will call you! If you call her then she may want you to some how help her with $ or whatever.
    I have also seen ppl in the same place as her. And IF she is getting meds from more than one doc or she THINKS possibly she might get caught or FEELs that she is breaking the law in anyway, don't be surprised if you dont hear from her for a while. Sometimes SOME ppl will tell others their issues for financial gain, even if what they are doing is wrong and then when that is turned down they step away in hopes that they wont tell anyone about it so they dont get in trouble. And if you did give $ then she would probably call again for more $ and then keep in contact with you so even down the road you would give her $. Then since you are "supporting" her RX's and how she is getting them she could always hold that over your head. I am NOT saying this is the case, but I have seen it happen to a friend of mine. So as hard as it is I would say dont call her and just let her call you when she needs to get things off of her chest and she knows that you are a good person to help her in that department, so I would leave it at just that.
  • I just copied a reply i sent in on a different post today about I know what you mean, insurance is getting out of control.
    insurance and medicine cost. so instead of typing it im gonna paste it. there is a few things on there that may help your friend just in case she is telling the truth.

    yeah again from a magazine article,, lol. my son is napping so im laying on my heating pad going thru some magazines and reading forums,, painful day for me to my whole body is aching. I think it may be the colder weather. heres the reply copy below.

    I was called in a muscle relaxer the other day and i switched to a better insurance plan to get the best coverage. Alot of good that did.

    The perscription was for a musce relaxer, we all know there are many of them. But go figure it was one that no insurance covers it. I looked it up wondering why i had to pay 90.00 for 10 days worth. there was a 30.00 coupon i found online when i got back but i already filled it. And it didnt even help me a bit.

    THEN my pc doc told me not to take it with other meds im on anyway. My ortho doc called it in originally.

    well i found this article i hope it helps some in womans day magazine.
    compare prices online all pharmacies. www.pharmacychecker.com

    apply for finacial aid some drug companies and pharmacies offer discount programs, [reading the article and writing it, not my words lol] learn more at: www.pparx.org and www.rxoutreach.com

    article also says to ask your doctor if you can split certain medicines in half safely of course. your doctorbe willing to prescribe double the doseage so you can split it in half to save money and co-pays on expensive perscription. my doctor did with zoloft cause he wanted me to take name brand and also with valium name brand. 500 dollars for name brand valium and a few hundred for the zoloft when i didnt have insurance. doesnt hurt to ask.

    also ask for samples when times are hard,

    hope this helps, seen the post while i was skimming the new magazine. thought i would share.


  • I think you are probably right. She has not contacted me again. I think she realized I wasn't going to give her money. I think you hit the nail right on the head! I didn't call her after I told her to call me after she talked to social services. I really do think she was just after money. So sad!!!
  • I am glad you did not try to call this person back. But I do hope it turns out not to be a situation where she tried to take advantage of you. It just never feels good when someone does that. But for your sake I think not calling her back was the right thing to do. Clearly, you are a kind-hearted person who tried to tried to help someone in need. I

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