I am very very happy to see that FINALLY someone did a survey that seems to have included the real or rather more severe FM patients. For so long I have heard the myth that says "narcotics won't work for fibro pain". Not true and could not be further from the truth. The survey results I found on this site is probably the very most accurate I have ever seen yet.
I suspect several reasons why research has made the remarks indicating that narcotics don't work for us. One reason is because for anyone to admit that we need narcotic pain relief, they must admit this is a seriously painful condition. Another reason would be that never has medical science encountered such a painful disease which does not kill you. Narcotics have traditionally not been favored for chronic life long pain. They have rather been only recommended for acute, short term painful conditions which will subside or for cancer patients. So now we are dealing with an illness which has the pain of cancer but does not kill us.
Let us discuss for a minute the implications of long term narcotic use and the risks vs. benefits. The risks, of course, are dependence, addiction, tolerance, and side effects.
I recall a few studies indicating that less than 2% of all patients on narcotic pain meds for chronic pain ever become addicted. This is a low addiction rate in spite of all the hype of the celebrity news telling only one side of the narcotic use story.
Dependence is something many of us have on other drugs besides a narcotic. Dependence is not addiction but simply the fact the body "depends" on the med to relieve symptoms. We could put antidepressants into that category and they are not even controlled substances and are not addictive.
A true addiction means the patient craves a high from the drug and continues to pop more and more pills even past pain relief. This is addiction. Dependence is not addiction.
A few people do become addicted when they start taking narcotics for pain. However, the percentage of people with the addiction probably is much less than one would imagine. Many people take a narcotic pain med daily and never become addicted to the drug. They use it safely and effectively for years.
Tolerance does become a problem for just about everyone using a narcotic for chronic pain. This is part of the downside. However, I would rather live knowing I am becoming tolerant to a drug than to live in hell bound pain for the rest of my life. Yes, I will have to step up doses over the years and step up the narcotic ladder with stronger prescriptions. But that is my choice in order to achieve qaulity of life. No over the counter medication will touch my pain anymore and has not in years.
Side effects, of course, are many. For some people side effects are a problem and for some of us they are not an issue. I will be perfectly honest when I say no pain med I have ever taken has had a side effect for me. Perhaps it is because I use it for pain and if the pain has subsided I do not take more of the drug. I was a hospice nurse for a couple of years of my life. I remember the teachings. One of the main facts of narcotics is that they work on the pain before they get anyone high. My medication never makes me loopy or leaves me staggering and drooling. It does not make me sleepy even. In fact, I function better with the pain med than I do when I am in severe pain.
However, everyone is different.
I am just glad that the research and surveys are finally coming to some truths. If not for my narcotic pain reliever, I would be rendered non-functional and would live a very low quality of life. So, therefore, the benefit of the narcotic medication outweighs the risks in my case. I am a strong advocate for pain relief by whatever means it takes to achieve it.
Traditionally, the word "narcotic" is a dirty word. Most people conjure up all kinds of labels for those of us who need this type of medication. However, I know in my heart that if those very people suffered this kind of misery, I promise they would look to a narcotic medication instead of laying down and giving up on life.
Published On: September 29, 2009