Being forced off opioids is like being pushed onto the freeway in oncoming traffic. While your legs and arms are tied, in case you haven’t had this experience, I will share mine with you. Warning this is intense and disturbing with an ending you don’t want to miss.
Hopefully, this will bring the necessary attention to the ongoing lack of treatment and understanding of chronic pain. To emphasize, our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members need quality treatment choices for pain, not a rejection. Consequently, we have a serious opioid problem that needs addressing not ignored, abandoned, or brushed under the carpet.
Here is my real story, I wish it were the only story, but sadly, it is not.
A Life No One Wants To Live
Living with CRPS(1), Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, for 21 years. I have managed to survive the suicide disease(2) with treatment from opioids. Even though living daily in pain at a level of 7-10 on the pain scale. In short, it is not a good life or a happy one, but it’s a life I have learned to manage. Always reminding myself that I should be here, surely there is a reason for me to be here and a reason I am going through all of this.
There were days that I could not reason with the pain, and I just wanted to die or cut off my leg. Frequently leaving me to believe that suicide is a the better option, but I always found a way to survive one more painful day. My reasoning always returned to me reciting. “I have never had more put on me than I can handle. I will find a way through this too.”
Then boom! In November 2015, my primary physician shook my life to the very core. It was as if an earthquake knocked me off my feet; as a tornado swept me up whirling and throwing me miles from where I belonged.
At my annual physical, my doctor informed me that due to an office policy change, he could not provide my prescription of OxyContin opioids any longer. He made it seem so routine like renewing an insurance policy. He was trying to convince me that it was no big deal. As I walked out of his office, he stated, “I don’t know who will help you.” With this in mind, I exited his office confused, extraordinarily concerned, and scared.
It felt as my longtime trusted friend just turned on me. Throwing, punching at my core. With 21 years of treatment, it does not make sense that I was left gasping for my help.
Important to realize in 21 years, not one complication, concern, or complaint about my use of opioids. Coupled with I never once lost a pill, asked for a prescription early, or missed a doctor’s appointment. Never, think about that for a minute, for 21 years, 252 doctors appointments not to mention the five years of experimental treatments. I was not ever late and always followed the doctor’s orders. The hours spent waiting on them to call me back then for the doctor to come into the room.
This was my life not only ... but also the lives of millions of other chronic pain patients. My entire life revolved around my pain and health, seeing the doctor to have access to my medications. At no time did I complain or ask for special treatment, I was so thankful someone was willing to help me. I handled this very responsibly because it was my LIFE. Could someone please explain why I am being forced off opioids?
Doctors Afraid of Me
I found myself with no doctor(3) wanting to help me. Even my doctors that knew my history could not or would not help me. They knew and documented I lived in chronic pain while struggling with other severe medical conditions. It was as easy as dumping a glass of water, draining the tub, or taking the trash to throw me out. Leaving my family and myself asking where their commitment to treating my pain and health was.
It was like a light switch was turned off, everything just erased and what once made sense was just gone, gone to black — once respected for my courage and strength. Doctors asked me how I stayed so strong? They even asked me to help other pain patients. In contrast, now I am treated like a criminal, drug addict, the scum of the earth. All because I take an FDA approved drug that doctors prescribed for 21 years, with medical professional never expressing any concerns beyond constipation. So why am I being forced off opioids? There is nothing healthy, safe or easy when being forced off opioids with no help!
Without delay, I frantically searched to find a doctor that wanted to help me. One pain specialist, considered by some to be the best, said he would help me get off all my opioids in 1 week. Point often overlooked, for him, it was going to be easy. As he insisted, I enter rehab with an order for methadone today. Along with scheduling me for a spinal cord stimulator to be installed in my back.
Not once did we discuss my health or how this would impact my life. He didn’t care that I was in the middle of a severe lung infection, and we didn’t know why. Nor that I had a ruptured tendon in my CRPS foot that would not heal. To listen to him say that in one week I will be free of opioids and life would be good was absolutely cringe-worthy.
What is Proper Treatment
First off if it was that easy and such a proper treatment, then why has it taken 21 years to recommend this? Better yet, why did anyone ever start me on opioids? I was talked down to while informed that I was a weak person. There was no room for discussion; it was his way or the highway. Given these points, I decided to take the road right out of his office, realizing this was going to be hard.
I was trying to reconcile how in October of 2015 it was acceptable to be on 240 mg a day of OxyContin. Then within one month, by November, I became a risk to treat. I was viewed as the worst person in the world. Asking a doctor to help me labeled me a pill shopper. I wasn’t doing this out of choice; it is a necessity; I was forced off opioids.
Every doctor I met would say, “just get down to 90 mg a day then I can help you”. Not one doctor offered me a prescription of 90 mg; leaving me asking more questions with alarms going off in my head. Now I wasn’t only looking for a doctor who would help me. I was looking for why I had become a bad person all of a sudden. What could I have done that would make everyone treat me like I have the plague?
Labeled a Risk to Treat
This particular office policy change had now made me question what I had done so wrong. Am I an awful person for taking the FDA approved drug for CRPS? As doctors have been prescribing me for decades. To point out, I only took this drug because doctors, hospitals, and insurance approved the treatment. How can this now be all my problem? They kicked me in the core right at a time when I needed their help the most. They left me drowning with no life vest, and no one was willing to rescue me. As I was forced off opioids!
To emphasize, I was extremely ill, and it was silence from my doctors. No crickets were even in the distance. I found myself not sure of anything anymore. My family was helpless, and there was nothing they could say to make me feel like life was worth living. I cried, screamed, and begged to die. just wanted this to end! I have lived this painful life long enough, and it should just end! As soon as I wiped my tears from my eyes, I see the faces of my family. The pain I could see in their faces only made my heartbreak, and this was all because of me. Their pain and struggle could end if I were gone,
Suicide On The Table Again
Once again, suicide was on the table. Nothing was adding up as to why I should be forced off opioids. I found myself playing the recording in my head. “You always find a way out, and you will find a way through this.” I first had to stop letting the negative, destructive comments and actions of doctors control my thoughts. I am not a bad person, and I have not done anything wrong. I found my will to fight as I accepted no one was going to help me with my serious health conditions. Quickly I remembered I had a voice, and I had to use it. I told anyone and everyone that would listen, I need help. To learn millions are suffering the same fate.
Soon I realized that to obtain any help; I would be torn down. Ultimately I reevaluated everything I was taught and knew. Being a medical professional; I no longer can reconcile how the medical community is treating chronic pain patients. I had one person I could count on, me! This is my life; I am the one living it, and I must find a way to be in charge myself(4).
Don’t Judge Me Based on Someone Else Actions
Most doctors wanted to distance themselves from me. I was referred to a physician that I thought was interested in helping me; it became an awful experience. His first words were, “I do not need patients like you; people like you don’t want help; you just want to get high.” I reminded him, I was referred by a physician he knew, and I provided him with my entire medical file in advance to review. Surprisingly he made it very clear he didn’t care who referred me, and my medical record was too extensive to review.
It shocked me that a doctor uses my extensive medical history as an obstacle to help me. I found myself sitting in the exam room, begging him to help me, “Just help me to reduce safely.” I said to him. We were no longer discussing controlling my pain or managing my health. We were only talking about how to reduce me off opioids. I am no longer patient with multiple medical conditions. I now just an opioid abuser.
On the positive side, he finally agreed to help me, but only if I come to his office every two weeks so he can count my pills. I have been using opioids for 21 years, and on this day, I am no longer able to be trusted. Why? For me, nothing has changed except an office policy. He did agree to allow me to explore how to use medical cannabis but offered no help.
I left this appointment so angry and determined that I would learn to reduce my opioids and manage my pain. The way he treated me made me determined that he was going to learn to respect me and like me by the end of this. Correctly he will see me for the person I am not the person he created in his mind that, I don’t know. Do not judge me before you know who I am. No one should ever be judged for wanting to manage their health and improve pain.
They Almost Convinced Me
As doctors ignored, torn down, called names, and treated me as the scum of the earth. I almost believed them. Why? You first must understand chronic pain(5) and the impact it plays on a person and their mind. Not to mention the effect opioids have on how your brain functions. In addition with being forced off opioids. When you combine the three, a doctor can create a real storm in a person’s head, which can lead to an increase in suicides or accidental overdoses(6). Any doctor that abandons a chronic pain patient immediately can put them in harm’s way.
To understand chronic pain is hard unless you live it yourself. Nor does anyone understand drug dependency and the impact of how it feels when forced off opioids. Our conversation should have begun here. Instead, it has become a reactive decision based on everything, but the patient and safe treatments. I do not recommend or support the abandonment of chronic pain patients. This story is playing out every day by millions of Americans. While very few even know this is going on and why it needs to be told and heard.
A Life, My Doctors, Could Not Give Me
I no longer ever think of suicide or ending my life. Waking up every day, excited to advocate for patients. I learned how to use medical cannabis to reduce my opioids and control my pain. Completing 16 tapers on my own with no help beyond cannabis. Most noteworthy, I am presently at 30 mg a day and still working to reduce safely to zero opioids.
No one believed I could do it or believed in me. I believed in me and cannabis. Devoting every minute of my life and time to learning everything I can about cannabis. My doctor now sees who I am, he likes me and respects me. As a matter of fact we work together to assist other chronic pain patients. Being forced off opioids placed me into a scary world that almost killed me. Left all alone, out on a thin limb to dig deep.
Today I live in a pain level of 3 something I thought was not possible nor did any doctor. I am thankful every day for my improved life. Living life again, not just surviving. I can laugh, relax, and be in the moment. Something I completely lost the ability to do.
We Are Here To Help
Effective Cannabis is here to assist and support anyone that is being forced off opioids. We fight to put a face on the treatment of chronic pain to end the torture of patients. Because no one should ever have to fight so hard to have access to medical treatments for known documented medical conditions. Medical marijuana is a quality, safe treatment choice when you know how to administer. It is a commitment but one very worth the work.
- Office of Communications and Public Liaison NIH -National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. National Institutes of Health. Bethesda, MD 20892 Date last modified: Tue, 2019-08-13.
- Lim JA, Choi SH, Lee WJ, et al. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with chronic pain: Implications of gender differences in empathy. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(23):e10867. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000010867
- By Elizabeth Llorente | Fox News. HEALTH Published December 10
- Debi Wimberley Personal story by DebiW on Effective Cannabis under Health Stories of CRPS.
María Dueñas, Begoña Ojeda, Alejandro Salazar, Juan Antonio Mico, Inmaculada FaildeJ Pain Res. 2016; 9: 457–467. Published online 2016 Jun 28. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S105892
- Thomas F. Kline, PhD, MD., et al. SUICIDES associated with forced tapering of opiate pain treatments. SUICIDES associated with forced tapering of opiate pain treatments. May 11, 2018