Prescription Painkiller Addiction & Withdrawal
Telling the World my Secret
If you follow me on Instagram which of course you should and if you don’t click here!! You may have seen me post a very deep, very personal Instastories about having a prescription painkiller addiction.
Why I decided to share?
I’ve been on strong prescription painkillers for over three years now and during that time I’ve been through numerous withdrawals from the drugs. It’s a very personal and private part of my life that I wouldn’t usually share however prescription painkillers are hard to withdraw from and I mean HARD. If sharing my story can help make the process a little less overwhelming for just one person then I’m doing a really great thing.
I hope that most people who know me see me as the fun friend I tend to be the majority of the time. However behind the jokes there is a very real, very raw side of me not many people know.
Almost six years ago when I gave birth to Henry I began having inflammation and pain in my joints. I was fobbed off by my GP several times and it wasn’t until it seemed like I had broken my finger that I was referred to a rheumatologist for further testing. It turns out that I have a type of autoimmune disease called Psoriatic Arthritis. My symptoms vary and my condition will often go through periods of height known as ‘flares’ and periods of remission. There is however no day that I aren’t in some pain at some point. When I refer to pain I mean agonising, beside myself chronic pain.
Queue Prescription Painkillers
If I had a choice over taking prescription painkillers or not I of course would choose not. They are easy to become addicted too and have a number of side effects that are less than pleasant. Two years ago I was practically wheelchair bound requiring full-time care to do even the basic independent tasks. I was 26 and it was demoralising to be in a helpless state where my now husband and small child were having to assist me in taking care of myself. Without the use of prescription painkillers I wouldn’t have been able to keep hold of the small part of dignity I had. To be in pain so severe you literally sob at the mere thought of moving. To have your child beg you to play with them but with all the will in the world be unable to.
Everyone is an Expert
The minute people find out about my condition they have a wealth of knowledge they feel the need to share. Whether it’s old wives tales or holistic therapy that I ‘just have to try.’ People are only being kind and helpful I know that but I love when people recommend one of these fad diets that they sell on Facebook. I often get sent a generic speech about how so & so diet will help cure my condition. Believe me when I say I have tried everything. There is no cure for Psoriatic Arthritis it’s about maintenance. Keeping it in check and preventing excessive joint damage during the ‘flares.’ In order to live a relatively normal life it requires me to take the prescription painkillers daily. If swapping out prescription painkillers for a capsule and shake that is sold over the internet would work believe me I would take it.
So Why Withdraw?
Like I’ve said I have been through numerous withdrawals from prescription painkillers. The side effects of taking such a heavy medication daily isn’t pleasant and the more often I take them the less effective they become. By having a period of withdrawal it gives my body a break. I’m terrified of addiction. Prescription painkiller addiction can completely ruin your life and by taking breaks it makes me feel as though I’m in control in at least a small way.
When the Body Goes Through Withdrawal
Withdrawing from prescription painkillers has been the hardest, most challenging thing I’ve ever undertaken in my life. I’m lucky because I have control over my addiction which in itself is a ridiculous statement. What I mean though is whilst I am withdrawing I am able to cope without replacing the void with another drug as a substitute. I’m not traipsing the streets of Manchester trying to get a fix.
My body hurts. I am exhausted. For the past four nights since I stopped taking the drugs I have not slept. There have been moments where all I can physically do is cry. I’m irritable and question whether or not I can actually cope. On a whole I’m hugely overwhelmed by the mere task of existing right now. Addiction is hard. It would be easy to just take another painkiller because that will satisfy my bodies need and I will feel better but I know that by doing that I will reset all of the progress I have already made.
I know that I am at the hardest part of my journey right now but I also know that any day now it will get easier.
Will I Have to Take the Medication Again?
Unfortunately as it stands today, I can’t see a future that doesn’t feature prescription painkillers in some way. I can hope and pray that as medicine evolves there will be drugs that are more effective and less addictive. While I wait I will give my body these breaks it needs and remain mindful about prescription painkiller addiction.
If You are Going Through Withdrawal or Prescription Painkiller Addiction
I have not undergone any step of this process without medical intervention. I wouldn’t recommend anyone attempt to quit prescription drugs cold turkey without having at least involvement from a GP. I’m lucky that even though the NHS is stretched beyond its capabilities I have a great doctor that is supportive and reassuring. Just speaking to her makes me feel as though a weight is lifted. Quitting prescription painkillers or dealing with prescription painkiller addiction without medical help is dangerous so please speak to someone and get the support you need.
During any withdrawal period your body goes through the mill so be kind to yourself. I’m currently going through a weight loss journey but right now in this moment that is taking a backseat. I’m allowing myself the time it needs to get through this horrendous time.
Initially I was nervous about exposing this vulnerable side of my life. It’s something not many people know about and there is a huge fear about being judged. The response I received from my Instastories was overwhelming. People were so kind and hearing from other people what they had been through or the fears they have about prescription painkiller addiction made sharing my story worthwhile.
If you need more information regarding prescription painkillers, addiction and withdrawal speak to a medical professional and get the support you need.
Thank you so much for all your kindness you won’t believe how much it helps.
Love as always!
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*This post is written based on my own experience of prescription painkiller addiction. It is in no way advice or substitute for medical advice. If you are struggling with any addiction or withdrawal speak to a medical professional.