Addicted to pain killers
I have been taking Lortabs for about 6 months for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but I find myself taking more than the prescribed dose. I work with my hands all day, 6 days a week. The doctor recently doubled my dosage but I still take more than I should. I always run out before it's time to refill them, and when I run out I just feel awful - I can hardly function. If I quit taking them the pain will come back and I will get sick.
What should I do? Please help
Dear Old Guy,
I want to start off by stating that I am only referring to you as "old guy" because that is how you referred to yourself. I certainly don't think you're old because that would make me old too! Jokes aside, I think you are right to be concerned about your health and medication issues and I hope to offer some practical counsel.
Your immediate concerns are a symptom of the larger issue of your pain management. Since you started taking the medication to manage a health concern it would be wise to keep working closely with your doctor on the issue. I noticed you said your dosage was recently doubled in an effort to bring more relief. If it hasn't done so you need to let your doctor know. You also should let him/her know that you run out of medications early, have concerns about how you're using this medication and possible addiction issues, and how that makes you feel, etc. It's likely that your doctor would be understanding and work with you, not against you. You should also let him/her know if you struggle with addiction issues, and if you think that some counseling would help you at this time.
Sometimes we get stuck in our thinking by believing that our problems are unique. While it's fair to say they are unique to us, it's likely that doctors and health professionals have navigated such issues and concerns before with others, and know how to work wisely in the patient's best interest. You can discuss other options for pain management with your doctor, as well as other medications and possible treatment options, such as physical therapy, surgery, acupuncture, chiropractic, and even yoga as additional alternatives. You can become more actively involved in researching the subject yourself and gathering as much information as you can about the various treatments for your condition too. The Internet provides a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. The more informed you are, the better you'll feel about any decisions you do eventually make.
Lastly, the best way to keep your condition from worsening further and to aid healing is to take good care of yourself now. Are you closely watching how you work with your hands and wrists now? Are there ways you can adopt a mindset of "working smarter" to minimize your symptoms and relieve pain? Is it possible that you could do less strenuous work with your hands? If your condition is work related could you work with your employer to change your job duties to accommodate your health issues? Could you consider a change in occupation? Any of these options, or others, that you can actively explore while working with your doctor will give you a greater sense of empowerment and hope that things will get better. While it may initially be very difficult to think of such major changes, it may be necessary for your overall health and mental well-being.
In closing, I hope that you'll be able to take some positive steps and work on your concerns. I'm rooting for you and certainly encouraging you. Sometimes it helps just to know that someone is in your corner.
Carole L. Miller
This question was answered by Carole L. Miller, LCSW-C. Carole is a clinical social worker in Maryland State, USA, and founder of Grace Tree Counseling Services, a provider of affordable Online Counseling and Therapy services. She has over ten years of counseling and social work experience, and extensive experience working with individuals and families. She believes that healing and personal transformation is possible through a genuine connection with others. Grace Tree offers crisis counseling, pre-counseling, trauma related therapy, brief treatment therapy, insight oriented therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapies, relationships and family interventions, and more. For more information, visit her site or her compact information page on QueenDom.For more information visit: http://www.gracetreecounseling.com