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    AA & NA members in chronic pain and on narcotic meds - Coping with being in recovery and on narcotic medicine
    painlady1113 posted:
    This subject recently came up for me. I will be celebrating 25 years in september and yet i feel like a fraud and a phony because i am in chronic pain and therefore on a lot of daily pain meds. i do not play with my meds whatsoever. i am very careful. But still, i feel like i am living a recovery lie. I recently spoke to a program person about this and she pointed out that I might be feeling like this because i have not gotten any support. Uh!?! And as I think about it, she is absolutely right. Even though I share at meetings about this and about being on pain killers. It is not a big secret. My physical pain is out of control
    right now but because of copd, i cannot increase anything. Everyone in my life complains about me being on pain meds but no one asks how bad the pain is. It has occurred to me that there have got to be other people out there in the same situation as I am and I would love to start a dialogue with these same situation souls. Marsha
    acher1111 responded:
    In can empathize with you.It is like you feel that taking your mads as prescribed and it gives you a better quality of life rather then just living in paiin. Everybody I know thinks this is so bad some instead of asking how i am feeling, think instead when of why dont you stop. It is stigmatized in my community as criminal like behavior if you even tell them or talk to them about your pain I even feel steriotyped at my pharmacy and sometimes even through the doctor that prescribes them. I am forced to hide its existance and its hard.Others cannot understand its benefits and do not know how we truelly feel thus living a life of suclution
    An_223839 responded:
    No one know needs to know what pain medication you are on except your doctor and spouse.

    It is no one's business....
    An_223840 replied to An_223839's response:
    I am also in NA as I was a heroin addict long, long ago.
    Where I live and attend meetings (not many anymore as I HATE them), if anyone has to take prescription narcotics for pain, he becomes totally ostracized, gossiped about, called a fraud, etc.

    These people ONLY know opiates from an abuse potential.
    They are NOT going to understand.

    I would BEG you: do NOT tell anyone in AA or NA about your medications.

    I told me sponsor and he both dropped me and gossiped and told everyone that I am an "addict in denial."

    If you ever have a disagreement with a member, he/she will immediately use it against you.

    If you date someone in AA/NA and things do bad, she or he will say, "Did you know that he takes Methadone? He's just an addict."

    END of story. You will lose all of your credibility and respect you have earned and deserve in the "program", which I think is a cult anyway. Look up the definition of cult and compare it to AA. You may be in for a shocker!

    For us who have a history of addiction who have to take pain meds it is like an over eater who HAS to have ONE cookie a day- no more; no less.

    We deserve even MORE credit and respect for what we have to live with, but the 12-step community sees things in black and white.

    I URGE, BEG you to get your pain management support needs elsewhere.


    I've also found that AAers are even worse than NAers.
    cweinbl responded:

    Stop caring about people who put you down for doing the only thing you can do to manage chronic pain. They are ignorant. Don't waste your time thinking about them.

    An addict is characterized by stealing medication, purchasing it illegally, obtaining multiple prescriptions from different physicians, taking too much, running out too soon and using it to obtain a state of euphoria, rather than to relieve pain. Does that describe you? If not, then you are clean and you have nothing at all to be ashamed of. Less than 2% of people using chronic pain medications become addicted. In fact, the most recent studies put it at less than 1%.

    Do whatever is necessary to manage your pain. I don't have a history of addiction disorder. But even if the price of managing my severe pain was addiction; I would grasp it in a heartbeat. Living with chronic sever pain is worse than death. Life with narcotic pain medication is rewarding, productive and satisfying. Stop caring about those people who put you down. They know nothing. Manage your pain and move on in life.
    painlady1113 replied to acher1111's response:
    oh my goodness, archer 1111. i wasn't sure if you had written the letter or i had written the letter. everything you said is so true and familiar. Are you also in recovery? as i am? the worse is that instead of asking how i feel, they want to know when i am getting off the drugs. Like i have a b ig choice here.
    painlady1113 replied to cweinbl's response:
    c. weinbl. Great response. I wasn't concerned with what other people felt, however. I was concerned with how i felt. Having detoxed off of all kinds of pills almost 25 years ago and having been an active member of AA/NA since, i never thought i would see the day i would put another narcotic in my body. But of course, this is not the case. And it has been a hard adjustment for me. I have shared at meetings about being on narcotic meds. I do not want it to be a secret ever or be treated as a big secret. But everyone I know in my daily life had a terrible time with me being on narcotics and also it has taken a long time to get the meds in place and the pain controlled on an even keel somewhat so that my mood swings and behavior became more rational. There were times i had negative reactions and there were times when i had been over medicated. I am good now. And I have begun sharing at meetings, when i can get to them atbout needing more emotional support of the pain and less concern about the narcotics themselves. I have had good reaction to this
    It is rough, though, on a daily basis. Living in chronic pain is a bitch. Before i started with pain management, i lay on the couch and cried and didn't want to live anymore. Now i most definitely want to live. It is just a much different life from the one i had prior to the failed spine surgery, etc. etc..
    annette030 replied to painlady1113's response:
    Perhaps rather than do AA/NA you should see an addiction specialist that works with chronic pain patients on narcotic meds?? You could share your feelings in a safe place.

    Take care, Annette
    77grace replied to An_223840's response:
    Hi,I am new to this site and can relate to everyones letters!I toohave been in AA<NA and PA (which is PillsAnonymous)!As you know while attending and growing in these groups we develope very strong emotional relationships with alot of people)Anyway I didaS YOU CAN PROBALLY GUESS, the rason I went to pill abuse!Major problem for maybe 15 or 20 years,due to Chronic pain!so as my condition became unbearable I HAD TO START taking pain pills again (with 15 yrs.sober)For me the worse part was the Guilt!Because epecially in PA.You do not take a pain pill no matter what!One thing that is Beautiful is that through Gods Grace I have been able to take as prescibed!That is a Miricle!
    Anyway,I agree that we need to share our pain and medication problems somewhere else!They will not understand,even those who you think are your very close Buds!(That wa my experience)Will explain more latter!
    I am so Happy to have found this site!
    Caprice_WebMD_Staff replied to 77grace's response:
    Hi 77grace and welcome to WebMD!

    I hope you'll continue to join in on the discussions here and if you ever want to start one of your own, just hold your cursor over the orange Post Now button and choose 'Discussion' from the drop down menu which appears. Fill in the subject line and body of the message (you can ignore the poll part if you want) and Submit.
    We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell
    annette030 replied to An_223839's response:
    I totally agree with you.

    Take care, Annette
    annette030 replied to painlady1113's response:
    Private is different than secret, in my humble opinion.

    My experience with Al-Anon has been less than stellar. AA and NA are certainly not anonymous when I read the above posts. Thank goodness, I guess, for the people they do help, but I would suggest a real therapist with training in both addiction and pain management.

    My brother went through an alcoholic recovery class at Kaiser and he once told me I was a drug addict because I took pain meds as directed for pain by my doctor. I spoke to his therapist who had no experience with chronic pain patients at all, and he told me they taught that use of any narcotic was a big no-no, and ALL users where addicts, and in the same sentence he would tell me I was clearly not an addict. I could see why my brother was confused. They made no distinction between addiction and dependence at all.

    I am much more in fear of addiction than I am of chronic pain. I have so much respect for anyone, you included, who have conquered addiction. Do whatever works for you.

    Take care, Annette
    77grace responded:
    Hi painlady1113,
    I have been using this site now for a few months and still your post stands out to me!!I really relate to everything you said!!
    I would have 20 years but decided to change my date after my first major neck surgery!I definatly took more at times than I was supposed to!
    The hardest thing for me ,especially when I first had to take meds was that was one of the main reasons I entered the program!I have had chronic pain of one kind or another since I was about 20yrs.old!
    After my surgery someone who I thought was one of my closest friends turned on me and started spreading rumors about ,gossiping at meetings etc.!I felt totally alone and out of place!Its all a long story and many many years ago.But ,my point is I know how it is having to take stuff I'd rather not have to,but I share and get sy support at ohter places now!!
    Thanks 77grace
    Debb60 replied to 77grace's response:
    It's tough at times, because the pain can be worse some days than others. But my goal is is to just keep it mininimal and bearable. I don't want to be drugged or keep upping if I don't have too, cause I know that can and has happened. Cause regardless of what I want to believe, inside I am an "addict" and I still have to be aware of that fact. That's why we struggle with guilt and all that that crap that could take us down. We are social people that need to talk and need encouragement. Too many communities are short support for chronic pain let alone people with addiction. Many doctors have no idea and if you live in a small town, it is worse for you.
    I went off my pain med for a short time and was surprized at how much more clear my mind was to thoughts and feelings. So now that has me thorn between wanting that reality and having NO FRICKEN PAIN. Where is the middle, the answer? I have an appointment with my doctor this week, maybe she has some answers.
    bren_bren replied to Debb60's response:
    All of you dealing w/ chronic pain and addiction have my utmost respect. I cant imagine the daily, probably hourly, struggle you have and wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's sad that anything has to be withheld in a support group setting. Then it's not a true support group.

    I have seen a couple of patients here dealing w/ pain and addiction who have been mistreated by there fellow AA/NA members, so why not create a support forum here on WebMD? I agree that you need some support somewhere. Just a thought. It's very simple to create your own community.

    My best, B

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