I wrote about Hydrocodone addiction a while back, and this is essentially the same thing, but I know people out there are searching for different terms and I also had some new ideas to shed on the subject.
Vicodin tends to be over-prescribed
One problem regarding Vicodin is that it tends to get prescribed too easily and too often. For example, I only have a medium to low tolerance for pain, and the last time a doctor offered to prescribe me Vicodin, I declined and was just fine by using a schedule of Ibuprofen (800 mg) and also Tylenol (1000 mg), alternating these medications every 4 hours. Some people blame doctors for pushing too many pills in recent years, but I think this is a bit of a cop out. We are our own doctors, and we have a say in what we put in our bodies. You can’t blame the doctors for Oxycontin or dilaudid addiction if you are melting them down and injecting them!
Depending on the kind of pain you experiencing, in a lot of cases you can also do something in conjunction with the medications above to try and soothe the pain in a local manner, such as with topical cremes, a TENS unit, massage, heat, or any other number of alternative therapies.
Sometimes these alternative ideas to opiate drugs takes some experimentation on the part of the patient, so it is a lot easier to just say “here is a script for Vicodin.” But remember that Vicodin is an opiate based painkiller that does not actually reduce the pain, but only masks it by dulling the senses (sort of like alcohol would do). Other medications such as Ibuprofen actually reduce the pain and inflammation right at the source.
Our reaction to pain
I have noticed that some people simply have the wrong mindset and attitude when it comes to pain. They believe that they should never have to feel any pain, ever. They believe that if they can still feel even a hint of pain in their body, that the doctors and medical people have not treated them properly because obviously they are still feeling a bit of pain here!
It is this attitude that I think is the problem in some people’s cases because they get themselves worked up over a natural level of pain that is actually perfectly normal.
Understand that if you get hurt or suffer an illness, you are supposed to feel some pain. This is natural. Now if we treat it with medications, you should feel some relief but the underlying pain should still be there, just not as intense. The idea behind good pain management is to achieve a level of pain that the patient can live with, not to completely eliminate the pain altogether.
Recovering addicts tend to believe that pain management means that they should never have to feel any pain, ever. This is not realistic, nor is it healthy. If that kind of goal is met then the patient would be seriously over-medicated, which of course leads us back into the potential for Vicodin addiction.
It is not about making ourselves miserable or depriving ourselves of any pain relief whatsoever. Instead, it is about managing our pain in a responsible way and staying on guard against the possibility of addiction. Don’t use morphine if you get a hangnail. And, don’t be so quick to pull out the Vicodin before considering the alternatives. We need to use some common sense in our recovery if we are going to stay clean over the long haul. Injury and illness will eventually occur for everyone. Just be sure you are not too quick to over medicate.
Asking for help
One thing that you can do is to ask for help from others if you are dealing with chronic pain issues in your recovery. The two biggest sources of this would:
1) Your immediate family, and
2) Your doctor.
For example, you might ask your immediate family to dispense your medication to you and keep it locked up otherwise. That way, if you are in serious pain and you need addictive medicine, it will at least be administered to you in controlled doses. This can be a huge problem solver in some situations.
And then you might also get extremely honest with your doctor and tell them that you are addicted to opiates and that you need alternative medication that is not addictive. Make sure you tell him that Ultram/Tramadol is considered addictive to you and is off limits (many doctors think that it is safe for addicts and it is NOT).