Am I An Addict?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2004
Am I An Addict?
3
Wed, 07-10-2013 - 8:18pm

i've been on hydrocodone for about 5 years. i was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, which started the prescription. i had to go through chemo and radiation and the chemo kinda destroyed my body and put me in a lot of pain. after all of it was said and done, the pain was still there. my energy level dropped and caused a laundry list of physical problems for me....even 5 years later. i only take two 10mg a day. i don't abuse them but i feel like the fact that i've continued to take for this long it has caused more problems for me than its helped. i still have problems with my energy. i have a very physically demanding job and most days i feel like gravity is just pushing me down and i have to use all the energy i have just to drive home or my body will hurt so bad i can barely walk. the hydrocodone are the only thing that seems to keep me going. it not only helps with muscle and joint pain but it also gives me that boost of energy to keep going. i've talked with my family dr about it and he informed me that since i first started taking them the laws for the dr's to prescribe them are getting even more strict. i guess they are trying to eventually do away with them. i'll be moving a couple hours away from where i live now in a few months. i'm scared its going to be a struggle just to find a dr who A. doesn't have a problem with prescribing them and B. even thinks that i need them. i'm not seriously injured or have major physical problems to need them. the only reason i take them is to get through the day, not to get high. but i'm scared to get off of them. ive read a lot about suboxone and i don't think its right for me. i feel its only replacing one addiction for another more expensive drug. i've also heard that they're extremely hard to cut back on. i'm scared of going through withdrawls. i'm scared that i've been on them for so long that its changed the chemicals in my brain and if i quit taking them i'll either be a different person or not even be able to do anything anymore because of pain. i'm thinking about going to a pain management dr and talking with him about my issues. i hope that's the right place to start. i don't really even have a question. maybe someone has gone through the same thing i have and can give me some piece of mind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2012
Thu, 07-11-2013 - 9:00am

Maybe a new doctor who isn't willing to prescribe them so freely is what you need. I think if I were you and realized I could be addicted to the things, I'd get help to start the process of getting off of them. A pain management doc seems a good place to start.

 My brother got in trouble with this stuff after knee surgery and his life spiralled out of control several years later. I think it's great you are noticing a potential issue and are trying to get help.

Good luck!

Community Leader
Registered: 10-08-2002
Thu, 07-11-2013 - 12:40pm

I find that one rule of thumb works for me...if it is causing me to wonder, then it probably is.  So, if you are thinking it is causing you problems..it is.  So...while I am not a fan of pain management clinics, it could be worth looking into if you go in with the intention of getting off the pain meds.  I was told by some very smart people that since I am not a doctor, I can not give medical advice..but I can give common sense.  One of the things I know is that I can get my doctor to wean me off the meds to find out if I need them or if I just think I need them.  There is a big difference.  BUT the doctor has to be involved with weaning a person off.  We cant do it ourselves...we are not trained to see trouble spots.  After getting off of them for a little while, see how the pain and tiredness go.  Since these are a depressent, I can see them causing a lot of the tiredness.  I was told, also, that a pain med, taken correctly does not get rid of the pain.  It just manages it till the body can take over again.  Now, some folks never have that happen...but until you try, you dont know if that is you or not.  Talk to the doctor about you coming off of them completely and go from there.  If there is more pain than you can physically handle, then you will know for sure that there is a reason...not because you are addicted.  I am sure part of it is addicted, but sometimes, that is called for.  Five years is a long time to depend on a drug.  I am a cancer survivor too....I have had cancer 4 times..3 really serious, requiring extensive medical treatment, and one that was outpatient...so I understand what you are going thru.  We do have to be careful though.  We have to take charge of our own health...we know our bodies better than anyone else.  If I had not learned that, I would be dead today.  Of this I am convinced.  Stay in touch and let us know how you are doing and what you decide.  This is a good support for you whichever you decide.  God bless..

Alcohol, Addictions & Recovery. It's a long way down, but only 12 steps UP
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-28-2007
Wed, 07-31-2013 - 10:33am

Step one...realizing you have a problem.  Step 2 is a little bit harder.  To stop.  It took me 9 years from the time I realized I had a problem to the time I really quit for good.  It is not only a habit, it is now a way of life for you.  Its interesting to me that you started out in the first or second sentence that you had cancer.  When you start a story with that...it is like saying I am not a bad person, I am not a drug addict, I have a reason why this is happening to me.  I think that is a NORMAL protection mode that you can use for the start of the drug addiction, having had cancer is something someone can sympathize with and therefore maybe its ok that you are hooked.  When you are ready you will have to stop cold turkey and replace your habit with something else.  Every habit is replaced with something else.  Maybe at the time you usually take the pill....you take a vitamin....or a walk....or make a phone call to a support person.  But you will not stop until you wrap your head around, that this is a problem.  It is seperate from the cancer.  I don't like the word addict.  You are having problems with taking medication.  Your life would get back to "normal" without the pills it would take a couple of weeks before you realized that you can wake up without them...you can function....I thought when I quit drinking I would never poop again.   At first I didn't poop and I was like...SEE I have to drink....but after a couple of weeks, I was ok.  Your body and brain are addicted and you have to re-train them to function normally.  It will be uncomfortable, you will be tired, you will have imaginary or real pain that will make you think that you HAVE to take the pills...but if you stick to it.....eventually you will see that it was something you had come accustomed too, just like you can come accustomed to life without them.  But, it takes alot of WORK and STRENGTH to stop using something that you think is making you feel good or function.  Pills are not healthy for your liver.  Without them....you are better off.  You would have so much self esteem and strength if you could bring yourself to go cold turkey.  Tell yourself...they are always there if you need them.  You can always use the excuse of pain and your long term use to justify a new prescription if you needed them.  But don't use your thinking to convince yourself that you can get more.  Use your thinking to decide how you will get away from something that is controlling your life.  Get back the control.  Say no to the pill.  Even try skipping just one dose today....replace it with something else....Good luck in your journey.  It isn't  going to happen overnight and you have to MAKE it happen.

Missy