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Dependent or Addicted ??

aubrey3611aaubrey3611 Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Chronic Pain
I'm new .... this is my second post .... sorry if I'm posting incorrectly or have violated some other rule .....
My Family Doctor and I came up with a plan to keep me out of the operating room until I retire... I must work at least 3 more years ( long story )....
I have ( like many others ) multiple spinal issues...... 2 Herniated disc ( L4, L5 ) Bulging ( L2, L3 ) ....a 40 degree Lumbar curvature ( Scoliosis ) Both hips are in advanced stage of degeneration , Lots of Osteoarthritis ....Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, ( on BIPAP since 2000 ) Insomniac ,
....That's enough to get started ..... I am taking Opana ER 30 twice daily ....and Norco ( 10/325 Vicodin ) for Break Through Pain ....

Like many others ... I have great concerns .... Have I gotten myself into a irreversible hole ?( pain meds) am I at risk of being addicted, dependent ? Or a combination of both ? Gosh ....I try to be as informed as possible about taking such dangerous drugs ..... It scares me to think of where I am at this point in my life .. ( 60 yr old Male ) Any Opinions on my situation ? thanks Rich


  • Rich,

    I have been taking Morphine extended release and immediate release now for four years and there are many people on here that have been on pain meds for decades. Of course we are dependent on pain meds, because if we went off them without tapering we would have withdraw effects, but we are not addicted. As long as you don't have a predisposition for being an addict and take your meds under the care of a doctor there is very little risks of addiction. When taking my meds I dont get any "high" feelings, I get pain relief and I get sleepy.

    My feelings on the matter is if the pain relief I get from the pain meds outweigh the side effects then I have no problem taking the pills. I tend to be less reclusive and more social and interactive with my family with the pain meds, vs. in lots of pain. Don't get me wrong I dont like being in a fog all the time and would gladly stop taking them if my pain allows, but the alternative is a not so good one.

    As far as health goes, talk to your doctor about the health risks of taking your meds. The big ones to watch out for is too much tylenol (lots of pain meds have it in them) effects on your liver, and anti inflamatories on your stomach and your kidneys. With narcotic pain meds you always have to be aware of interactions and of course have to watch it with alcohol, but with living in chronic pain we are constantly changing our behavior to accomidate our pain. Wish you the best and welcome to SH.... Mitch

  • Hi Rich,
    I'm new too. I can relate to your concerns. In the last 7 years I've had 3 spinal surgeries. While waiting for surgery, I've been dealing with chronic pain. I've been on Oxycontin for 2 years and before this other painkillers like Tramadol for 4. I too, often worry I've put myself into a cycle that will be difficult to reverse.
    I think the most important detail between addicted and dependent is if you're using your medication as prescribed. That's just my opinion, not a medical one. If you're using your medication the way the Dr is advising then youre not addicted but due to the nature of these drugs, we are for sure physically dependent. If I miss my medication after a few hours I begin to experience withdrawal symptoms and those aren't pretty. So when we can start reducing our medication because surgery has fixed the problem, a Dr will help us do that. I've done this before and I slowly begin dropping my daily dose by 10mg. If that works then you continue every week until you're off the meds. It can take a long time. This is also where you can evaluate your depedancy; if you cannot stop taking the medication or start taking unperscribed doses, it's time to ask for help. I believe dependancy can become addiction very easily. Only you will know the truth. Good luck and I hope when you have your surgeries the problems are solved and you can throw those meds out the window!
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You haven't broken any rules and your post is a valid one, as most of us have had this discussion with ourselves, others or our doctors.

    I've had two fusion surgeries, one 3-lvl (2008) cervical and one 1-lvl lumbar (2010) and am still on pain meds and muscle relaxants. I am dependent on them, especially now that I'm working at a very physical job and have problems above my cervical fusion and mechanical pain around my lumbar fusion due to work.

    I try tapering down when I can, but must go up a little when things get bad. I don't take medications to get high, just to function and get through daily activities. That's dependence, not addiction.

    I know that many here are worried about addiction but you just have to make sure that you take no more than your prescribed amount, watch your pain levels to see if you can taper down, if only for a few good weeks, and don't abuse your meds.

    I personally know that my spine problems are going to be a lifelong issue and will probably always need medications and I'm ok with that. I just make sure that I even if I'm in more pain, I don't take more than prescribed and if I'm in less pain, take less than prescribed.

    I agree with Mitch that the need to take pain medications far outweigh not taking them and the consequences that come with the extreme pain without relief. I must function and if I'm prescribed medications to help me do that, then I'll make use of them. I also seriously doubt that my surgeon would still prescribe them to me if he thought there would be a chance I wasn't in pain and needed them - he's not that kind of doctor.

    Take care and I hope you're feeling some pain relief until you can retire.

  • Thanks so much ...... It's comforting to know I'm not on this path alone ....Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to advise a total stranger. God Bless .... Rich
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    First, Welcome to Spine-Health, I hope that you find valuable medical information on the main site here and enjoy getting to meet other members and share information.

    Just do a browser search on addition or dependency on pain medications. WikiPedia does an excellent job in outlining everything.

    I've been dealing with chronic pain since around 1980ish. For the past 6 years I have been on a constant dosage of either Oxycontin/Oxycodone or OpenaER/Opana.

    Currently, I am using Opana 5mg PRN which breaks down to about 5-6 a day. But that is because I just had total hip replacement surgery 10/31. Normally, 2-4 pills a day is my norm.

    All these medications have been scripted and monitored by my physiatrist. She is very conservative and makes sure that I am in the need of the medication I am taking. I've talked to her about addiction and dependency and she tells me, she will know when I have any potential problem. Her feeling is that as long as a person is in valid and documented pain, then pain medications are required. Its when the pain decreases and the need for medication increases or stays the same, is that there could be a potential problem.

    But you are much safer in discussing this in detail with your doctor. Express your feelings and have a good two way conversation.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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