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Hey TF,

First of all, sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. Chronic physical pain is, by far, one of THE most over-looked symptoms by doctors and patients. Chronic pain can turn us into monsters. We (I have chronic back pain) can be having the best day of our lives, but when that pain sets in - even just slightly above bearable - our day is ruined.

I've had chronic back pain since I was 17. I was a ballet dancer from the age of three and fell during a lift with my male partner in high school - broke my collarbone, dislocated my shoulder and slipped a disc in my back, which has now resulted in DDD (degenerative disc disease). It was the worst pain I'd ever experienced. I was given tylenol #3 for the pain and remember throwing up profusely and hating that drug.

I didn't have another narcotic pain pill until I was 28. I had my gall-bladder removed and was given a script of percocet. That's where my addiction began. When I had taken the pills for my gall-bladder, I noticed it also took away my back pain. Completely. No pain, at all. Woohoo, right? Nope...

I started getting percocet prescribed by my family physician for my back. I remember how easy it was to get it. My doctor handed them out like they were candy. Over the next four years, I went from one or two percocets, to taking OxyContin 80mg, lots at a time. Almost a year ago, I started taking Suboxone and have been clean ever since. Suboxone, at first, helped with my back pain, however over time, that pain slowly crept back as the Suboxone plateaued in my system. I was told that Sub would help with the pain, but not 100%.

Now, my pain is about a five out of ten. I have worse days, where the pain is a steady eight or nine, but I also have better days, where the pain is only a three or four. I do however, always have pain. How do I live with it? Well, two or three years ago, I would have told myself (and my doctors, friends, family) that I can't live with it. I would have justified needing those pain pills, otherwise my life would be unmanageable. Now, if I'm having a bad day (painwise), I can get through it with Ibuprofen and a heating pad. Unfortunately, because I am an addict, I "chose" to live with the pain. My family physician offered to give me Fentanyl patches, knowing my pain can be unbearable at times, however I declined. I KNOW where that will lead me. I know that I cannot take anything for the pain (narcotic) because it will start that vicious cycle all over again.

So, for you TF, you seem to be on a good path right now. Unfortunately, the lessons I learned throughout this whole process only happened because I experienced it all. Essentially, what I'm saying is that you have to go through 'so much' to be able to understand, look back and see those changes. You realize what's important over time. I honestly feel that an addict has to go through certain situations before he/she can make the right decisions regarding prolonged narcotic pain relief. Now, keep in mind that everyone is different. This is only my story, what I've experienced, and my outcome. I relapsed many times before I realized I can't continue taking those meds. I was a chronic relapser. I justified taking pills for a very long time.

On the contrary, the one thing my doctor tried to get me to understand is that no one, whether you are an addict or not, should have to live with chronic pain. So, are you the type of person who can take pain meds properly? Can you take them only for the pain? Will you take them as prescribed or will you abuse them? Only you can answer that.

RA, lupus and DDD - wow, what a bad combination! I can't even begin to imagine how much pain you experience on a daily basis. To reiterate what Secrets said, yes you can have withdrawal symptoms at 40mg of OxyContin. Even if you taper really slowly, you are always at risk for withdrawal. Everyone is different.

Do you have any thoughts on continued narcotic pain relief? Is that an option for you or are you only interested in tapering completely and living with the pain? That is a tough decision. I would strongly suggest you discuss it with your prescribing physician, and collectively, the two of you can decide on a plan that works.

Keep in touch TF, I'll be thinking of you :)

Hugs,
emsmom





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