I Am: An Un-apologetic Opioid Patient

I Am: An Un-apologetic Opioid Patient


I take opioids. I have been taking them now for almost 4yrs. Opioids don’t eliminate my pain completely, and there are some days that I still can’t function, but they have allowed me some semblance of a life. I can not emphasize semblance, strongly enough. My world absolutely changed when I began experiencing pain and the symptoms of my chronic illness, that I did not know at the time. I pushed myself through it brutally, until I couldn’t do that anymore either.

Before I became sick and plagued by pain, I was an active mother and student, trying to finish my degree at the University of Houston. I loved yoga and while I still practice, it is very cautiously and with different expectations than what I do now. My dream was to continue school and either get a Master’s or a certification that would allow me to work in public health. I love contagious disease. That sounds grim, I know, but it was a passion of mine to be able to protect people from unseen killers, of endemic diseases. I wanted to protect my community. I never got to finish school, one class shy of a degree, because my health hasn’t been very cooperative and my pain makes it difficult to focus.

Liza Zoellick

I take opioids regularly throughout the day in order to blog and participate in my family without the pain preventing me from enjoying life. I still need help with every aspect of my life, and without my children and husband there to assist, I am not certain what kind of life I might be living. It’s easier asking my children for help now, but when they were younger, I often didn’t and pushed through the pain which would leave me useless for days. How do you ask children who are in trying to juggle a full-time job and college courses, or high school classes which include dual-credit, to take time out to help you with chores that are your responsibility? As a mother, you want them to excel and do better than you did and while having them do their own chores like: cleaning their room or cleaning their bathroom and doing their laundry is acceptable, things like: taking me to doctors appointments because I can’t drive, or making dinner because I can’t, or picking up and taking siblings here and there because again, I can’t drive, make you feel guilty. I didn’t have children so they could take care of me. My chronic pain took away some aspects of motherhood, and also took away some aspects of my kids’ childhood.

I’ve taken other pain medications. A whole bunch that I either didn’t tolerate in some fashion or simply didn’t work as well as the opioids. Do I want to take opioids? Not especially. I take a lot of medication. I often worry about the effect these medicines are having on my liver. After taking them for nearly 4yrs., I also know their effectiveness is beginning to wane. They are just not doing what they used to which leaves me in pain again, more often than when I first began taking them. This, of course, makes me wonder what next? What drug will they eventually try that will also wane too after a few years? But the flip side, the person still dwelling within me who wants to experience as much life as I possibly can and enjoy it without being in crippling pain, doesn’t care. Whatever the next opioid may be, I will try it because to not take these drugs means to give up and die. I’m not ready yet. Sorry.

Which brings me to this opioid war. I get it. I get that people have lost loved ones and I understand how tragic and senseless it is. What I do not understand and what I read and hear time, and time again, is how opioids should be abolished. But which opioids exactly? This is the blurry line which is affecting all pain patients and which angers me. For example this quote from CBS News: “Approximately three-fourths of all drug overdose deaths are now caused by opioids — a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers as well as heroin and potent synthetic versions like fentanyl.” [https://www.cbsnews.com/news/opioids-drug-overdose-killed-more-americans-last-year-than-the-vietnam-war/] You see information like this and the average reader is only seeing the first part: three-fourths of all drug overdose deaths are being caused by opioids. Lost in this message is the latter part, explaining that these drugs include prescriptions, heroin and synthetic versions like fentanyl. Neither do you hear things like: Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are the main driver of drug overdose deaths, making up more than 28,000 of opioid-related deaths in 2017.” And then even less are you hearing this: “Opioid prescribing has also been on the decline since 2010 and the number of prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies is at a 15-year low, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” [1]

These missing parts are an incredibly important part of the bigger picture. The bigger picture which includes patients who are suffering and needlessly dying because they aren’t receiving adequate pain treatment. We’ve gone from a period back in the 90’s which (and no one argues this), people were being over-prescribed opioids, to a period now, on the opposite of the spectrum, where people are being under-prescribed. Both sides of these extremes have consequences and we are seeing them now, in the preventable deaths of patients who were under-prescribed pain medication. You are hearing about cancer patients being denied morphine, until their final weeks after terrible suffering before their deaths. [2][3]

You are also hearing about post-surgical patients being given only Tylenol for hip replacement surgeries, despite the amount of pain afterwards. I’ve had total left hip replacement and I can’t imagine being able to do the required physical therapy without the opioids I was given, and the unnecessary suffering truly boggles my mind. [4]

I say you are hearing and seeing this information, but the truth of the matter is that you aren’t hearing or seeing about it as much as you should be and because of that, chronic pain patients are suffering out there. People in my community are dying because of the lack of information and the mis-information regarding opioids. Every time I am on social media, I will find articles being discussed about deaths caused by opioids. Just skimming through comments, I will read things like: It’s big pharma’s fault, all they care about is money; There’s a lack of morality within society when kids are dying from opioids and they continue to be doled out; Opioids need to be abolished; There wouldn’t be addicts if the drug was taken away. Comments like these, make my heart sink because of the black and white nature with which this Opioid Hysteria is being viewed. Opioids are not the enemy. Patients who need these drugs are not the addicts (though admittedly, a small percentage from this group do become addicts) and people who need these drugs are dying, because doctors are being criminalized for prescribing them, losing their jobs and making it more and more difficult for pain patients to be treated. The world had gone crazy and those suffering are being made to suffer more.

I am a pain patient. I take opioids and I’m un-apologetic about taking them. I’ll also continue to fight for those who may not be able to themselves, to end the needless deaths and suffering which have become the cost to this ridiculous war waged on opioids.

[1] https://www.superiortelegram.com/news/government-and-politics/4574090-advocate-opioid-crackdown-had-chilling-effect-those-chronic

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cancer-idUSKCN1PP26X

[3] https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/6033839-151/opioid-limits-hit-hospice-cancer-patients

[4] https://www.acsh.org/news/2019/03/13/oral-and-iv-tylenol-work-equally-well-hip-replacement-pain-do-they-work-all-13877


7 Responses

  1. I can only tell you that it has happen to me and if you googled it you will find it has happen to a lot of people. In short if this just happen,I would see if you can get retested. I don’t know of anyone that has had any success My Dr. did same to me. Wasn’t open for debate. Was an 80 yr ole retired pharmacist, and a pilot that his test came back claiming he had meth in his. It’s a joke but not funny for us. There is no proof these tests are accurate and there are to many false positives. Good Luck

  2. Welll,,,,although thee author states her case for ,”I get it,”’,,,I won’t speak for all Cppp,,,,but for myself,,,,Of course I understand thee ,”addicts,” excuses’,,,of course I ,”understand their rationales,,their justification to themselves as to their ,”why their addicts,,” but NO,,,I DO NOT ACCEPT THEIR excuse’s!,,,As far as the media stating 45,000 dead from opiates,,again,,,,thats just a outright lie by liars,,,,,the data is corrupt,,,,,I have said before I specifically asked the cdc to please send me data on how many people have died from taking their opiate MEDICINE as prescribed,,,,the cdc replied.,,,,they have no data on it,,,,CAUSE THEIR AREN’T ANY,,,NO-ONE DIES FROM TAKING THEIR MEDICINES AS PRESCRIBED!!!!
    ,,Think about this fact,,,many of us have had a bottle of medicine before us for 5,10,15,20,25 years of some sorta opiate MEDICINE,,, why have we not choosen to taking 10 pills instead of the 1-2 every 4-6 hours as our doctors prescribed??Why have all us Cpp’s for 5,10,15 etc years choosen to take those medicines as our doctors have prescribed for years and NEVER once choosen to abuse those medicine,,,when we easily could of????
    Point being for me,,addiction is a choice,,,our opiates have been around for 3,000 years,,our medicine for 250 years,,Addiction has been here since the dawn of mankind,,,The difference in the last 25 years is a thing called Andrew Kolodny,who saw he could make a buck off of grieving mothers by abusing them,by using them and their grief to make money,,,To use hatred to make money,,to use prejudices to make himself rich and his family ,,To use the system like a EVIL genius to kill the chronic/pre-existing medically ill,,owning a insurance company himself,,Andrew kolodny saw a way to make a buck off of the backs of addicts and their guilt ridden parents..that’s the difference and thee only difference..All this bullshit data he puts out is exactllt that’s,,,a lie by a liar,,,For me,,,he is thee only reason why soo many of us Cpp are now dieing from literally being tortured to death…Andrew Kolodny even changed the definition of addiction soo normal people could be falsely labelled addicts ensure a never ending supply of money for his pocket book,,,No I disagree w/this author on that premise,,,,thee only thing that has changed in the last 25 years w/opiates,,is the addition of a socio-psychopaths’ name Andrew Kolodny who use his demented mind to willfully torture,murder,and torture to death the pre-existing medically ill legally,,,as Steve once said,,State sanctioned tortured devise by Andrew Kolodny..History has showed,,10 of thee worse human atrocity have started w/a psychiatrist demented mind using his mind for political advances,,jmo,,maryw

    • MarywM you said everything I wanted to say about that piece of shit.I tried,but after writing 2 or 3 sentences, My mind starts racing and my blood pressure starts rising. Why? Because this scumbag fooled the government into thinking he is an expert,when in fact he is just a fraud.He’s never treated a pain patient. What is he an expert in? Nothing he’s a shrink And now he’s going to be a rich shrink,because he has everyone convinced his word is golden. He pushes suboxone and rehabs. He has financial stake in both. Last time someone played the government like this bozo his name was Bernie Madox. Hopefully Bozo will go the way Madox went. Enjoyed reading your post!

  3. I’ve been dropped cold turkey this week after being on Opiads for 14 yrs. Because my urine test came back negative. How do I explain that ? I take my meds as prescribed. I’m a youth minister. My doctor will not speak to me about this bad unexplained urine screen test. I blame Aigis Lab company from Tennessee. Why does a California Dr. send his patients urine to Tennessee???? I need back up here. and quick. No Withdrawals

  4. This post states what is happening to chronic pain patients so well.I wish that it could be seen by all the people who are judging all of us. I am so tired of all the stigma and discrimination we are having to deal with on a daily basis.We are not drug addicts. We are not abusing drugs.I just don’t understand how we can be treated as we are.What has happened to Patient Rights? Where has compassion and empathy gone in the present health care system? Also, benzodiazepines need to be included in the list of meds denied.

  5. Wow! Your story is my story. I, like you have been fighting and kicking and yelling because of the absurdity of it all. I’m getting 1/3 of the medication I was getting before this “crisis” started. Now we have this Bozo testifying against J&J in the OK lawsuit. I don’t understand how they let this guy on the stand.He is a shrink He has never treated a pain patient.. His drug of choice is Suboxone.I believe he has a stake in Suboxone and rehab clinics.For some reason judge is letting him testify as an “expert witness!”This guy is the “anti opioid God” The “fighting” wears on you as you know. I’m 66 yrs old. I can’t live the rest of my years on the couch. I hope with all the “rally’s coming up and headway we are having we get change soon.
    Good luck to you

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