With the work that I do, I am able to speak with thousands of people a year. Addicts from all walks of life share their stories that you would not believe. Many people I talk to start off by telling me that they probably have the same story as many others. It's the details of their life in which I hear so many incredible unique stories about their battles against opiate abuse.
A lot of times I do not have the answers to many of their complex pain questions. Everyone's addiction is different. People are complex, and so are the reasons why people choose to abuse opiates. Many situations do not have cut or dry answers as to why someone is using.
One of my greatest privileges is talking with individuals who have served our country in battle and have been injured because of their heroism. I also speak with addicted police officers and firefighters who were hurt on the job. These individuals have incredible stories to go along with their injuries. Many have scarified their lives to protect not only our country, but to protect our citizens.
I want nothing more in the world than to make sure all addicts can find the right answers and receive the proper treatment for their pain. One person I spoke with recently made me want to write this blog post. The man was injured badly in Afghanistan and is in chronic physical pain as the result of his injuries. Along with the injuries he sustained in battle, he also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While on the phone with him, he made it very clear that he needs his medication to function. Without his pain medication, he is unable to have any quality of life. Although he knows he needs the medication, he was also very open to the fact that he can not control his urge to abuse it. He has tried everything including having others control his medications, yet he will find ways to get more. He does not want to a be a prisoner to his medications but at the same time, he needs them to survive.
I have a lot of advice I can offer those who abuse opiates. This particular situation is one that troubles me. When your body has faced traumatic injuries that causes chronic pain, how do you deal with that pain if the only thing that has helped you is opiates? What do people like this young man have to do to get help in their situation? This situation is so hard for people to deal with and it is the one scenario that is hard to advise.
The best advice I have found from those in similar situations is to find other ways to help treat your pain. Natural ways such as exercise, diet, physical therapy, stretching, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and even nerve blockers. Being in chronic pain is a terrible situation, and I hope Doctors and pain specialists can work on new ways to treat people besides keeping them drugged up. I always recommend people in chronic pain to discuss with their primary care physician in order to try every alternative available. You never know, an alternative pain treatment might work better for you than painkillers.