BPS #024: How To Reduce Risk Of Getting Addicted To Back Pain Medication…


Hey guys, this is Robin Wakeham from the Back Pain Secrets podcast. And today we’re going to talk about addiction to painkillers – the pain medication for your back.


Just to give you guys a bit of backstory -, I’m a physical therapist. I’ve been doing this for almost 22, 23 years now. Way Back, in the beginning about 25 years back, I had a serious back injury playing ice hockey and I was on pain medication for three years. It’s not just the light stuff, like heavy stuff, heavy medication and that really messed my with my stomach and my mind.


I have some experience doing that myself. And I’ve also visited, and seen all of these back pain patients over the years. Before before I start, first off, some illegal legal disclaimer here – if I haven’t seen you in person, then I’m not treating you.


So whatever I say here, you need to check with your doctor. You should never take any pain medication before you have had a chat with your doctor and that they’ve actually examined you. So please take that to heart.


Just to give you a bit of a background here, with pain medication, it’s a hot topic! It’s in the news, it’s in the papers, on TV and governments are all putting out disclaimers. Drug companies are marketing to you and everyone seems to have an opinion.


And the thing is also that you’re quite vulnerable, because you’re in pain. I’ve been where you are, where you have back pain, and you might have radiation down in your leg, as well as problems sleeping and probably walking, standing and problems, just handling your work or taking care of your family.


It can be hard. So on the one end you have this, this little pill that you can take and you will feel better, but you know, in your head or in your heart that if you take the pills, you might have a chance to get addicted to the pills and it may irritate, like destroy your body or irritate it.


So you’re struggling between these two worlds? \You wonder if you, should take the pill or not? Going up and down, up and down the stairs is now a lot harder.


Last week, I had a patient – we can call him Tom – Just to protect the innocent. He’s is like 40 – 45 years old and does office work there. He does his nine to 10 hours a day stuff and he came into the office area and he, was wearing his suit.


He is with middle management somewhere and he was sitting a lot and he had this back pain for almost a year now and it was located to his lower back.


He had some, irritation in his right side and the buttocks. He was telling me it felt like a knife was just put into his buttocks. You know, he had radiation down his leg and he had visited physiotherapists, chiropractors.


He had visited his doctor. He had the exercise routines that he should be doing, but he wasn’t doing it because of life. He was telling me he didn’t have time for him and he had the pain medication as well.


But back in college he, – rather Tom had been very active doing sports. So he’s quite knowledgeable around his body, but he’s gained weight now. He didn’t exercise but he didn’t want to take prescription medication because he was afraid he was going to get addicted to the pills and also that he would get like stomach problems and thought that it would affect his, head, his thinking, which, is very common for the majority of people that come in with back pain.


They have the same fears, such as they might get addicted and also that the peers are going to destroy their body or mess with their mind. . Quite common. And it’s definitely, something, that can definitely happen if you take the pain medication in the wrong manner.


So we had a chat about it. He was telling me that he had the original prescription he had, it was for seven or 10 days of this, , pain medication – the drugs for his back. So what he did do, instead of following the directions on the box, he took like half the dosage. And he had some effect with that.


The problem was that if you don’t follow the directions and take the prescribed amount of the pills, it’s going to be hard to valuate the effects of the pills. So what happens is that when you go back to your doctor and you’ll have a chat and you try to evaluate this, then it’s going to help., it’s not going to be easy to evaluate or more or less impossible because you haven’t followed the directions on the box or what you guys have decided.


So he makes time. Then he had this prescription for, almost a month. And then when he went back to the doctor, the pain was about the same. So we had another prescription that was also for, seven days.. But he did the same thing there. He actually draw that out.


So it was like almost a month and a half or something and he came back again,, so he has been going back now to the doctors more – like , two or three times to get a new prescription.


And then finally the doctor said, ” I’m not going to give, you any more prescription medication, for your back. “


He is quite upset about that. So he visited a few others and one or two also gave him a prescription medication with the same pills, but he was in another program but the other doctors couldn’t see that.


So it’s nuts. And this is the way that he actually got addicted to pain medication because he didn’t follow the directions on the package, on what he should have done after we had the chat with the doctor.


He himself, came to the decision that he was going to try that prescription medication. He should have taken the medication as stated on the box, and followed the directions. Then after those seven or 10 days, he should have gone to the doctor, had a chat with a doctor and they should evaluate it.


He is thinking maybe he should stop all together to take pain medication because it wasn’t working or he should have had, , some more pain medication. This is actually a key point to understanding this, because this is the way people get addicted to stuff – they don’t follow the directions.


They make up their own system including how they should take the pills.. And because the, pain doesn’t go away and, and because you’re not taking the right amount, of pills , so it won’t have the effect it’s supposed to. And then you go for another prescription, and still another prescription, and then you’re hooked.


So first off guys, like I said, just to recap here, is that first of all , you need to, have a chat with your doctor and ask a lot of questions – the pros and cons.


Number two, when you take the prescription medication for a week, and follow the directions, then go after that.


Number three, go back to doctor, and have a chat with your doctor about it. And see if you should continue to take it or not. . Are you guys understanding this because this is key and there’s so much fear about getting addicted to painkillers and obviously there is a lot of people that get addicted, but it’s a combination between you’re not following the directions and you’re not having the conversation with your doctor.


So here are a few signs on how you should watch out for that. You’re getting addicted to painkillers, number one, that you’re increasing the dose and gradually, constantly, because you’re, you’re not getting the feeling you used to – that’s one symptom.


Number two is that you, did not want to take the pills? Even if you’re not an in that great of a pain, you know, you want to take them just, because you have that feeling of relaxation.


Number three,- you’re starting to hide the pills around. You know, you’re not, you don’t really want to show it to other people when you’re taking your pills.


And number four that you’re visiting, different doctors and that you have to pee too to get the prescription out. You know, because Dr Number one or two, they’re not going to give you any more pills came.


And if you start just to feel these symptoms, you will know, when you see the patterns, you will definitely need, to take them seriously and seek some help.


Please seek help.


There are so many people that are getting in trouble because they got hooked on painkillers and it’s a, big problem. So please,, seek and have a chat with your doctor.


There’s number a lot of organizations that can help you so on and so forth. This is kind of a short one today, but this is a, big thing for people with back pain and there is a lot of fear regarding this. So please listen to this.


Have a chat with your doctor and I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow. And, remember you’re just one step away from healing your back pain..

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.