When an alcoholic quits drinking he never has to taste liquor again. A recovering cocaine addict can escape that substance for life by choosing to avoid it. But as an ex-opiate user, your situation can be trickier. There may be times during your recovery when physicians recommend pain medications that contain opium or its derivatives. How should you deal with those circumstances?
I found myself in this predicament when I first got clean and had to pass a kidney stone. Anyone who has had that problem will tell you that it is one of the most painful experiences in a person's life. I went to the emergency room, and the doctor immediately put an IV in my arm. Standard procedure is to administer heavy pain medication. This would have been a relief but also a trigger. I had no idea what to do.
The best way to handle these situations is to immediately tell the hospital that you have a drug history. This will not surprise them or make them judge you poorly. Hospitals and doctors are aware of the pain pill epidemic
. In my experience, they actually respect honesty. Emergency rooms usually have other medications on hand for people who do not react well to narcotics. The doctors can also give you something to make you go to sleep. This will put you out of your pain and will not stimulate a craving.
There may be a few situations when narcotics need to be administered regardless of your drug history, such as if you got in a car wreck and your back was broken. If the doctors know that you have a drug history, they can monitor your use of the drugs. Most recovering opiate addicts have an extremely high drug tolerance. The dosage that would work for your average person is not necessarily going to work for you. The medical staff will take that into consideration. I was given about double the normal dose of pain medicine on the few occasions when I couldn't take anything else. Before I left the hospital, I was given Naloxone upon release, a medication that inhibits the ability to feel the affects of narcotics for three days. It would also be important to go to your support group as quickly as possible (12-step program, counseling, Celebrate Recovery or other systems).
It is important to always be truthful with your medical staff. This lets them know what they can prescribe. It will also let them know that if you must get a narcotic it needs to be a much higher dosage. This will be followed up with a medication to keep you from relapsing. It may seem awkward to tell them your history, but this is the only way to get the proper medical care. This has kept me clean and sober through several medical emergencies.