Can You Take Painkillers Responsibly in Recovery?

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I’m a person who likes a challenge and sometimes I bite off a little more than I can chew! At 37, I decided to relocate from the UK to America, on my own, with little money, and no secured housing or employment.

Around the same time, I also decided to start my own business. I can do this – no problem! I told myself.

This was one of those moments where I had slightly underestimated the challenges that lay ahead. In fact, it was the most stressful event of my life. But, nonetheless, I succeeded.

And then there are the challenges in life that you don’t expect. Let’s talk about those…

Bumps In the Road

Just as I was settling into my new life in the US, I cycled home one evening and fell off my bike. As I got up something felt off – there was a searing pain in my arm. Yet, I hopped back on my bike, much to the disbelief of the cars behind me, and cycled home.

Then reality hit: I could barely move my arm without wincing or crying out in agony. I knew I needed to see a doctor and went to the ER.

After my X-ray, the doctor delivered the bad news – I had broken my arm. He offered me Vicodin for the pain. I explained to the doctor that I was in recovery and refused any opioids. I was worried about releasing the insatiable beast again, especially while my defenses were down.

The doctor questioned my refusal of pain medicine and warned me the pain could become unbearable. I told him that I understood and requested a non-narcotic medication. I was given an anti-inflammatory medication, which didn’t touch the overwhelming pain.

I had to revisit my decision.

Lean On Your Support System

With my judgement clouded by the fear of relapse, I called a close friend for some advice. She said the idea isn’t the absence of pain – or martyrdom – it’s pain relief.

I’d heard of others in recovery taking opioids – such as Vicodin – responsibly. With that in mind, I decided on a sensible course of action.

I requested a short prescription of Vicodin. My roommate agreed to hold and dispense the pills, as prescribed. I checked in daily with two friends in recovery about how I was feeling with the Vicodin in my system and any desires to take more than prescribed. I also attended regular meetings and shared my experiences openly.

As it happened, I felt horrendous after taking the Vicodin; I felt drunk, dizzy, and nauseous. So I halved the dose. After three days, I stopped taking it altogether.

In short, my experience showed me that, in extreme circumstances, you can take opioids responsibly in recovery – subject to caution and a strong support system in place.

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