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Oxycontin Problem and Pain

answered 04:51 PM EST, Wed August 03, 2011
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I was prescribed Oxycontin 11 months ago after hurting my back badly working construction. I will not deny that I liked these medicines and took them more than I should have and for a while everything was OK. Now, my doctor won’t give me as much as I need anymore and it is a big problem for me because if I don’t get what I need my pain is out of control.

I taught my kids to stay away from drugs my whole life and it is humiliating for me to be walking around street corners buying drugs like a criminal but I do not know what else to do. I feel like my doctor gave me these drugs in the first place and got me in this situation and now he won’t do anything to help. Now he only gives me tiny prescriptions that are not even close to what I need. I know that I am addicted but I cannot tell him because if I do he won’t prescribe to me anymore and then I will be in even bigger trouble.

I am spending everything I have just to get enough to make it through the day. How can I stop using the only thing that gives me any pain relief and without the pills I can’t make it out of bed in the morning? Can I get some sort of rehab treatment so that the dose I need goes down but where I can still take the pills I need for pain?

Dr. David Sack Says...

The problem you are having is not uncommon when trying to manage pain with narcotic analgesics (pain killers). A significant proportion of people will develop tolerance to the pain medications over time and will require higher doses to achieve the same result. In some, tolerance is so great that increasing the dose provides little benefit. Another thing that can make matters even worse is that in some people pain severity actually gets worse as a result of chronic use of medicines like OxyContin. This is called opiate-induced hyperalgesia and is a real problem.

You may need to see a physician who specializes in pain management and can evaluate what approaches may be most helpful. In some cases switching pain medications will do the trick. In others gradual tapering is needed. Some people will benefit from antidepressant medications like Cymbalta that provide relief from chronic pain, or antiepileptic drugs that also suppress pain such as Neurontin. Nerve blocks and epidurals can also be helpful.

You are physically dependent on OxyContin but you may not be addicted. Addiction implies that you are using the medication to elevate your mood, decrease anxiety, or to experience pleasure. A physician specializing in pain management or addiction medicine can help sort this out. Drug rehab can be very helpful especially since you are getting very little benefit from the pain medications now.

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Page last updated Aug 04, 2011

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