Opioids and Chronic Pain: What You Need to Know

Opioids and Chronic Pain: What You Need to Know

By Jackie Waters

If you are a sufferer of chronic pain, you are not alone. Roughly 11% of Americans have suffered or are suffering from chronic pain and many were prescribed opioids to manage it. Opioids remain the go-to method for managing chronic pain despite its many side effects. Of course, these painkillers can also be used properly and effectively to manage your symptoms. If you are a person with chronic pain, there are some things you need to know about pain management and opioids.

Opioids are Risky But Can Be Effective for Some

One of the main problems experienced by people with chronic pain is the risk of addiction. As opioids are the most common drug used for pain management, many people are faced with a potential addiction.

Those with risk factors for addiction should beware of using opioids as long-term pain management. If you have a family history of addiction or mental illness, you may want to consider alternative treatment. If you do not have a family history of addiction or mental illness and you use opioids properly, they can be a very effective way to cope with your chronic pain.

There is a Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Pain Management

Opioids are often used for pain regardless of the duration of it. However, when opioids are used for chronic pain, the extended use can result in greater risk for addiction as well as increased side effects. Taking opioids for a limited time can be somewhat safer for those with temporary pain, but you may want to reconsider if your pain is chronic.

There are Many Forms of Alternative Pain Management

Most doctors will prescribe some form of an addictive pharmaceutical for chronic pain and, for some, that is a necessary form of pain management. However, you never should feel that drugs are your only option. Chronic pain management can come in many shapes and sizes. Exercises such as swimming and yoga have been shown to be the most effective ways to handle chronic pain but can be difficult to muster when you’re already in pain.

Meditation, on the other hand, is a real-life example of mind over matter. Learning to control your mind and headspace allows you to reduce your pain. Of course, the relaxation that meditation offers also helps ease pain.

Altering your diet is another way you can cope with chronic pain. Many cases of chronic pain are the result of inflammation, and what you eat has a significant impact on inflammation in your body. Some foods can reduce inflammation while others may actually cause inflammation. Sometimes, pain management is just a matter of buying a recipe book. If none of these alternative methods sounds appealing, you may want to consider acupuncture. Studies show this practice also is effective at treating pain.

Physical therapy is another excellent option for treating chronic pain. By employing special exercises, massage, manual therapy, and other methods, physical therapy can help reduce chronic pain, increase mobility, and improve overall functioning of the body.

Chiropractic care can also help ease your chronic pain, and regular treatment may be able to reduce your need for opioids. A specialist will use spinal manipulation, postural exercises, and other therapies to help your body heal itself. Proper chiropractic treatment can even help your day-to-day functioning.

You should also be careful not to overdo it in the course of your daily activities. For example, there may be a task at work that you simply shouldn’t be doing because of your pain. Speak with your boss or manager to see if you can trade responsibilities with another employee so that any tasks that aggravate your chronic pain can be transferred to someone else. In turn, you can take on responsibilities of theirs that are less physical. At home, get help with housekeeping by either asking a friend or family member to do your cleaning or by hiring a housekeeper. You might also get help making modifications around your house that could make your life easier-such as replacing knobs and cabinet pulls with easier-to-grasp options.

Whether opioids are an effective treatment for pain often depends on individual cases. These drugs might work well for your chronic pain, or they may pose too great a risk for you. It is helpful if you research alternative treatments and lifestyle changes regardless of what you’re currently using to manage your pain. In most cases, a meditation course will be more beneficial for your overall health than opioids, even if you feel you aren’t at risk for addiction. So, do your research, try different methods of pain management, and figure out what works best for you and your chronic pain.

Featured photo by LeoNeoBoy

Jackie Waters  is a new contributor to National Pain Report. She is a mother of four energetic boys and lives with her family on a three acre hobby farm in Oregon where they grow as much of their own food as possible, focus on sustainability, and practice simplicity. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her mid-20s.

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Authored by: Jackie Waters

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PLEASE read the side effects of kratom prior to experimenting with it. They are horrific and kratom is an unknown quantify. You can’t say “5 mg” or whatever your dose because you can’t quantify it.

Arm yourself with knowledge.

christine taylor

Best publish no articles rather than ones such as this. Opiates are NEVER the first use drug and if people are considering it it usually means they need it. As for medications, it is fairly safe to use. No kidney or liver damage, no perforated stomach nor eroded esophagus. I am convince that many of these people either publishing or writing are the same person.

I have to agree with some of these comments I too have an aggressive form of fibro in face a OLD (maybe 70 something) rumatologist put in my files I have chronic fibro he said I have the worst case he’s seen in his time as a medical doctor I never felt nor became addicted to my meds but it wasn’t really controlling my pain I tried suicide to end my suffering it was just too much and I couldn’t deal with it one more day. Not a decision I took lightly.I studied it a few months then tried it and with in 15 min my pain went from a 8 to a 2. Shocking! Something from the rain forest and I have since founded Kratom United https://www.facebook.com/UnitedKratom and volunteer for BEA

I also was introduced to other botanicals like skullcap, the only plant that heals the central nervous system so the nerve pain that’d wake a dead man from the grave most days is non-existent. I am able to use meditation and exercise today as a form of therapy because I drink a cup of kratom tea but without it I would be curled up in a ball crying. I have also helped a lot of people kicked out of PM one I will never forget posted a comment in a forum he was suicidal not because no more meds but because the pain was too much. This is happening too much! I sent him a care package and it’s been over 18 mo now his wife even messaged thanking me for giving her husband back to her and her family. Maybe look into natural alternatives and I’d like to add this time I FIRED MY PAIN MANAGEMENT! My herbs work better without all the nasty side effects.

Tim Mason

Jean, it is rare these days to get a scheduled II on a regular basis from a general MD. I know since 2008 where I live everyone is sent to a Pain Management MD Specialist.
I am sure someone that has been doctoring for 39 years know a lot about pain and can treat it but given the scrutiny on prescriptions one should have sought a specialist long before the relationship was compromised. I had a regular MD for run of the mill illnesses last year, he was my age too 58. I had noticed his health failing, the weight gain and general frustration with documentation.
I just traded up to a younger MD that should last until my death. He is a great guy and is tech savvy and schooled in current documentation. So I doctor shopped in a different sense.
I am on my third pain management doctor. The first one I had in 2008 I fired. He charged my insurance for a GC/MS/MS urine screen but on did a $5 CLIA waived dip stick test. (he was scamming Medicare too).
My second one got hit for writing to many prescriptions and never took a blood pressure or anything.
I can always judge a practice by the mood and friendliness of the front office staff. If they ain’t happy…something is wrong.
You can always report a doctor the state board and even do it anonymously if you like.
There is a way to communicate maltreatment in the medical field and it applies to NPs PA’s and Nurses.
The doc I have now is on top of his game. All of his office staff is friendly. I have been there for better than 2 years.
You can download the reporting forms from your State Medical Board.

Jean Price

Tim…I have agree with what Connie has said! Many doctors do abandon their patients completely…without medications to last until they can find another doctor! All entirely on their own…without referrals! It should not ever be this way, and sometimes, like you have seen…it isn’t! Yet there sadly ARE many patients this HAS happened to…and it’s criminal, truly against all standards of care!

My own family practice doctor did this…out of the blue…on a routine visit, and fortunately I already had an appointment to see a pain specialist for an additional problem! And enough medications for the short time before the appointment! However, he didn’t know this…or seem to care if I had another resource to manage my pain or not! He told me it wasn’t about ME! Can you imagine! He said it was about Michael Jackson!! And the fact that he didn’t want his office interrupted by any policing of his charts! Wow! Such compassion, really! NOT!

So, this DOES happen, as Connie said! I’m just glad it didn’t happen to you…but be aware, it can! It seems no one is secure in their pain care these days! FRIM INE VISIT TO THE NEXT! One man told how he was booted out after fifteen years, with a doctor….without resources or referrals to help! Sad! Wrong! Criminal!!


Tim Mason, There are MANY doctors who don’t hesitate to throw their patients out the door without do much as a farewell! It happened to me even before the cdc guidelines.

Tim Mason

My wife’s PM doctor closed his office as well but wrote her a months supply of medication and gave her a referral to another PM doctor in town. He even wrote a letter and sent all her records to the new place.
I don’t think they just throw patients out the door without options.

Candice Hawkins

Thanks to those of you who spoke the words I knew were essential. I miss my active life, playing with grandkids and riding horses. I’d choose those things over pain or opiods in a heart beat.
When acute pain sufferers or those with no pain tell us how to handle non-opioid trestments. It’s like someone who has never had been raped saying, “I know how you feel”.
I do get mad when I’m told get Chiropractic care, massage and so on. Most chiropractors charge one lump sum. A 4 month treatment 2×/wk runs way over a couple $1000. Insurance pays for 10 sessions at a copay of $35.
It’s just a fact…..someone with a chronic pain condition lasting years has only been able to raise their head from the pillow each morning with the use of opioids. Which by the way, when ‘oid’ is used behind a word it defines that word to be,”like”. Humanoid=like a human. Synthetic opiates were designed to help ellviate nagging side effects such as nausea and such. Also, to purify the drug and make it safer. We all remember Tylenol#3. Worked just like a glass of wine but caused nausea that curled your toes.
The system should be more afraid of all the liver failures that were brought on by stuffing Acetaminophen into opioids.
Be strong my fellow pain sufferers.


I agree with most of these posts. Another person trying to tell me what i think and feel. Ridiculous! The witch hunt continues. I am a grown woman hit at a complete stop. I love life and want to live it. I am not an addict. I have been taken advantage of by attorneys and the system who is supposed to help. I lost everything. I hurt so bad. They closed my doctors office after years of complying with rules
One day before my refill. My doctor practiced for 39 years. No deaths or diversion reported. They left me in withdrawl and agony. I understand why people pushed to there mental limits would do things they shouldnt. I have not however i have thought about it. The cruelty involved here is unspeakable. This article is a attempt to tell me a bunch of baloney. Tired of people like you. You are not helping you are hurting.


You haven’t said anything new or that hasn’t been said over the last several years. Being a chronic pain sufferer with degenerative disc disease And several other incurable chronic pain illnesses there isn’t anything out there that I haven’t tried to help with my pain. I have had three spinal fusions and it completely repairs and several other surgeries and the only thing other than Opiate pain medication that works to decrease my pain and lift my spirits and give me the ability to move into normal every day things is Kratom. The hype on opiate drug addiction and becoming addicted is severely overused. It doesn’t matter what the CDC or DEA guys to regulate these drugs at it addict wants to get his or her hands on the drugs they will no matter what. One thing you have not explained is the difference between being addicted and dependent on these opiate pain medications. There is a huge difference. Chronic pain sufferers who are mostly elderly people but many young who are dependent use the medication to ease pain have The ability to move around and function fairly normal on a daily basis and not be in bed debilitated. An addict is not looking to stop chronic pain. An addict is just looking to get high all loaded. They are not chronic pain sufferers. I just wish people who write stories about opiate abuse would distinguish the difference between dependent and addicted. Don’t stop taking what works for pain away from chronic pain sufferers just because the addicts are abusing them.

Tim Mason

An opiate is a substance derived from the poppy plant (which contains opium). Opiates are sometimes called “natural” since the active ingredient molecules are made by nature, not manufactured by chemical synthesis. Common opiates include morphine and codeine, both made directly from poppy plants.

An opioid is a substance (molecule) that is synthetic or partly synthetic, meaning the active ingredients (molecules) are manufactured via chemical synthesis. Opioids may act just like opiates in the human body, because of the similar molecules.

opiate - narcotic analgesic derived from a opium poppy (natural)

opioid - narcotic analgesic that is at least part synthetic, not found in nature

The terms are often used interchangeably. On the street, “heroin” may mean synthetic, natural, or semi-synthetic compounds. Manufactured opioids like Oxycontin are sometimes called “synthetic heroin”, also adding to the confusion. Genuine “heroin” as originally formulated is technically considered an opioid, since it is chemically manufactured, although molecules from the opium plant are used in the process. Some of heroin’s active ingredient molecules are not found in nature.

Currently many references are using opioid to refer to all opium-like substances (including opiates and opioids), and limiting the use of “opiates” to only natural opium poppy derived drugs like morphine.

Tim Mason

An opioid is an opiate like compound. An opiate is basically be the natural alkaloid as found in nature.comment image
Consider human and humanoid.
I worked as an alkaloid chemist from 1979 until about 2000. We used the take thebaine and make all kind of opioids from this opiate.


Suzanne Thank you for setting the record straight. People need to research what they are talking about . So many don’t . Our people get wrong information .

Ibin Strugglin

That’s telling it like it REALLY is Suzanne! So many are unwilling to “walk a mile” in someone elses shoes! I hate to use the word but, ignorance can say anything they wish. Whether based on information or just what they “think” or believe. I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that, if ANY person who is now, damning opioid medication for the non cancer chronic pain patients suddenly found themselves in need of the only medication known to man that will relieve pain, would in fact take opioid medication to ease their pain. The point being is that the ignorant people making the rules for so many of us to follow, don’t have the slightest idea of what our lives are like. “They” would without doubt, use the opioid medication available for themselves to control THEIR constant, severe, unwanted pain. Hypocrisy at its’ finest!

Ben Aiken Too Longfellow

I believe those of us that have had to use opioid medication in the attempt to control unsolicited, uninvited, severe non cancer chronic pain whether from a pain causing disease, accident, or other condition resulting in continuous pain are aware of the characteristics of opioid medication. We have accepted these characteristics and have been thankful FOR the help in easing the pain. Medicine is yet to arrive at an oral medication that will sufficiently ease pain without being of the opioid based medication. I am not “blaming” medicine for not providing an alternative medication, I am saying that opioid medication has been a blessing. It is not the perfect “cure” for many conditions and some “cures” are not even possible with some health conditions. I realize that opioid medication can and is abused but, not by every non cancer chronic pain patient. If a chronic pain patient is being prescribed opioid medication and especially from a pain management specialist then, that patient is being placed through a multi-layered “safety” system of conditions which MUST be satisfied in order to stay being prescribed opioid medication. The misguided idea by the CDC to lower ALL prescribed dosages of opioid medication is liken to prescribing high blood pressure medication in half the sufficient dosage. This makes no sense at all. The opioid mortality rate in 2015 as reported by the CDC does NOT separate those using illicit opioid medication from those using prescribed medication. I further realize that there are unscrupulous people that are being prescribed opioid medication and then re-distributing the medicine for financial gain. However ALL people being prescribed opioid medication ARE being reduced on dosage from their doctors “across the board”. Guilty before the trial begins! Maybe some chronic pain patients can reduce their medication, maybe they can’t. We the chronic pain afflicted were NOT given any other means of alternative pain treatment, any direction to take to help keep the pain under “control”, any agency to contact if we experience problems reducing medication, any type counseling with the “guideline”, or any means “what-so-ever” to control severe continuous undesired pain with the mandantory reducing of opioid medication. It is not a factor to the agency if good people can’t reduce their medication.and self destruct. The goal is for the people to think that opioid fatality has been curbed, that’s all. It does NOT matter if someone has been stable on opioid medication for 20 years or more. Doesn’t matter if they don’t redistribute their medication, if they don’t do anything “wrong”. If they can’t handle the new “LAW” then too bad.Yes, it IS law. It is not a “guideline” when our doctors are having their license revoked and suspended because they are prescribing sufficient opioid medication to their chronic paid patients. Not prescribing to disobey the “guideline” but because these doctors KNOW their patients are NOT being over prescribed and the medication benefits far outweigh any negative effect from the medication. They also have records from possibly years of prescribing… Read more »


Tim Mason: opioid and opiate are the same things essentially.

Traci C

Ugh. Another “expert” chiming in with half truths. Not the go to protocol for several years. To the contrary, many otherwise screened, proper patients can no longer get them at all. Your alternatives are not wrong but rather unrealistic for those who cannot get out of bed most days or keep regularly scheduled appointments due to the unpredictable nature of their conditions. Maybe you could explain for your reading public the difference between physical tolerance and addiction


There was nothing in this article that chronic pain patients don’t already know, and have heard a thousand times.

Cheri Furr

I was told not to return to a combination of physical and water therapy after several months because the therapists said I wasn’t showing any improvement, and it might even be making my condition worse. My neurologist tried analgesic patches and a specially compounded topical cream. She finally had to put me on fentanyl patches. I had also tried mirroring therapy. I don’t think anything less than opiods can control the severe pain of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. The pain is not in my back or hips, so I doubt chiropractic treatment would help either. I already have a housekeeper, and my husband does all the shopping, meal preparation and kitchen clean-up. I see a therapist to try to help find coping mechanisms and reduce stress, but nothing helps the pain of CRPS except opiods.

Hi Jackie, I am a chronic pain patient and also an author for this pain magazine. I’m an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation, a patient health advocate, a patient health leader for WEGO Health and a mentor for newly DX CRPS patients. I live with several high pain chronic illnesses, including systemic CRPS, Gastroparesis Chiari & much more. First off, Opioids are now, not at all prescribed as the “1st choice”… “go to choice for managing chronic pain”… in 2017! They’re taking the Opioids away from Pain patients. People are left stranded with pain Drs leaving in droves! They’re not even giving the true pain patient any pain meds in ER anymore! It’s definitely NOT the “go to” or “1st drug of choice” now days! I’m not sure where you found “11% of Americans suffer or have suffered from chronic pain”. The Ntl ctr for health statistics says “76.2 million suffer from pain (which is close to 20%)… NIH says “50 million Americans suffer chronic pain”(that’s about 13-14%) . These examples are = to 13%-20% of Americans suffering from Chronic pain. There’s a total 100% difference between “addiction” & “dependence”. You’re saying that “one of the main problems experienced by people with chronic pain is risk of addiction”! Majority of true chronic pain patients do Not become addicted! Only physically dependent! But so too, are those of us who take Beta Blockers for heart problems! We are “dependent” on our heart meds. Meaning that we can’t stop taking them abruptly or we can have bad heart /health issues or even die! Addicted persons crave their Opioids, need them and want them more than anything else. They get a “high” from their Opioids and will always do just about anything to obtain them! Chronic pain patients who are true chronic pain patients, don’t want to take them; but they work! Many have Rare or little side effects such as dry mouth or constipation! There’s so much wrong info “out there” regarding Opioids for true chronic pain! But many people are worried because of these new guidelines & changes!! I was in a horrible car accident & have had many surgeries & multiple injuries! I’ve been DX with the CRPS “monster”…. I’ve never taken more than my prescribed amount. I can live with the side effects of constipation and a bit of dry mouth! But I don’t like the idea that some Drs would prefer for us to go under the knife and have big & risky surgeries, such as SCS. And pain pumps, rather than allow us to take a pill!! First of all, these surgeries would or could cause more of a spread of My CRPS! Some people have immune deficiency diseases, so even more risky. Therfore they’re not even a candidate for these surgical methods that in my opinion, cause much more pain and suffering in the long run; than taking a pill! Persons with high pain illnesses and chronic pain issues, Are mostly unable to do Yoga.… Read more »

m wagner

Yes I have to agree with this article as years of using opioid’s has been a real racket for those prescribers, it is 10 minutes for the appointment and 2-$%300.00 bucks, they should be made to see that you get those exercise’s and eat the right foods, rather than just taking your money and calling for the next patient, Do this and not blame the DR. and patients for Heroin epidemic. because they don’t catch only a very few dealers, and going after the legal people is spineless.

Jesika Edith

I know meditation can help to reduce stress but there is no way can be consider a pain reliever
I can’t really understand that concept of meditation can help like pain killers ; totally disagree


I have been suffering daily chronic pain from fibromyalgia. Lower back and hip joints are major pain right now, but I suffer great pain from the top each hair follicle to the tips of toes and all the joints and or large muscle around my joints ach it just depends to what degree of nerve pain over muscle pain or joints aching and then there is migraines, nausea to the point of puking but nothing will come out because you can’t eat for whatever number of reasons.
I take a large daily regiment of medications. (For personal reasons I will not say how much of each I am taking.) Lyrica, Savella, diclofenac Sod dr, Tizanidine, oxycodone Hcl. There are others that relate to side effects from the top like like Ondansetron & Alprazolam, Sumatriptan. Mine has been a long road with many completely wasted attempts with different drugs. I have found it’s a medley of drugs taken with precise timing and care each and every day, sometimes requiring you to get up in the middle of the night just to take something so as to not throw off your balance.
This is just so I can try to have normal day.
I haven’t talked about exercises because I can’t. There is this other thing called complete and total exhaustion. It is the worst part and it is what seems to have no answers. I can’t do anything about the exhaustion.

For people like me you just don’t want to take away anything that is working at all because so much doesn’t work.
Help us don’t hurt us anymore than we are already suffering!

Dg Wilson
Goodyear Az


And when you have tried all of the suggestions above and found that at best they don’t work, at worst increase the pain, then what? With the thinking of the powers that be you just suffer. That’s WRONG on so many levels!! Why should so many people suffer because of a few who abuse what for us is a very safe and effective way to control the continuous pain that we suffer through no fault of our own? The sad part is that no matter what we do or say, no matter how devistated our lives are or even how many deaths are a direct cause of the refusal of doctors to properly treat our pain, I can only see the torture we live in getting worse! Heck even herbs found effective in helping to alleviate our suffering are being systamatically taken away! What is left for us besides suffering and eventually the blessed relief of death.


Excellent article! Thank you!!

In a perfect world we should all be so lucky to be able to hire a housekeeper or have a family member do our cleaning, however the reality is families hav their own issues e.g. My two sister r receiving treatment for breast cancer. I would live to be able to help them & I hav to some degree by researching things & listening to them. As far as a housekeeper I guess we r supposed to be able to hire one aling with paying for modalities also. So unrealistic!



Kim wilhoyte

Sounds like another person who doesn’t have an aggressive form of fibro. Oh wait, she has Arthritus! No wonder she has no connection to how it actually feel to have fibro. Take your disease and ramp it up times 100 and see what you stay. If it was as easy as diet and chiropractors everyone would be utilizing this treatment. Please write articles that are helpful and in your field of expertise. This one was a waste of my time…. and yes I do suffer from fibro and none of what you have mentioned has worked.

Matthew J. Smith

I am sorry, but I MUST point out many flaws in this article with respect to my (and, I’m sure some other Chronic pain patients) chronic pain condition. Meditation and Biofeedback can certainly help ease stress and anxiety, which certainly contribute to our pain issues (somewhat) , and I have self taught myself these techniques, however, due to nerve damage in my spine, the only type of physical therapy that works is hydro theraphy, which is often not paid for by insurance (at least not in perpetuity), chiropractors are seriously a no-no when you have spinal nerve damage (and other problems that regular MDS advise against), & as a result aren’t funded by insurance, neither massage nor acupuncture are typically covered as well, even the better plans only pay for a short period of these therapies. PAYING FOR A MAID ?? Are you serious? Think of how many of us are facing serious financial hardships or are on disability, and then consider how costly dubious, new, patent medications for pain relief are !! Opiods are inexpensive AND HAVE BEEN PROVEN EFFECTIVE over centuries !! And furthermore, the largest risks for addiction come when people start to get “high” off these).. which is sone thing people with chronic pain are unlikely to have occur, but rather occurs when people with temporary pain conditions are prescribed these meds beyond the duration of their pain and begin to “enjoy” their recreational effects
… THAT is where Doctors make the prescribing mistakes, giving these meds for injuries which should have been healed in a certain period. Chronic pain patients only feel a lower amount of pain, and don’t (usually) ever experience a “high” from them.

Jean Price

Are you kidding me?! The risk of addiction for those who use legally prescribed opioid pain medications FOR PAIN is extremely low! In fact for those RARE FEW who DO become addicted, it’s likely something ELSE was going on with them and they chose to keep using the medications for escaping life’s troubles AFTER their physical pain had subsided! THAT has little to do with pain or opioids used for pain…and much more to do with the overall reasons for addiction in general! Those who choose to do this and then become addicted are actually very few, anwhere from only 1 to 6% of those who were legally given prescriptions for pain to begin with, from what I’ve seen in numerous articles! So, this is NOT the norm, but rather a rare EXCEPTION! And I’m so tired of it being treated as the norm! Especially in any article here, of all places! Maybe my pain is up today, but this article really insensed me! I seriously doubt any of us who seek out pain sites haven’t already used any and all other forms of treatments for pain…AND CONTINUE to do so! We don’t just reach for a pill when we hurt…we think about what best will help reduce the pain at that time—like a change of position, relaxing, distracting ourselves, deep breathing, some topical cream or massage, trigger points, prayers, imagery, acupressure maneuvers, stretching, a non-pain conversation, reaching out to someone we know does understand, a good tv show that’s uplifting, maybe even looking at pictures of grandkids, or if able taking a brief stroll outside to hear the birds and see the sky!! In other words…we are well versed and use MANY other adjunct therapies for pain BESIDES opioids! Yet without opioids, some of these other therapies would be undoable or reduced, at the very least! I don’t think this article really is good information for most of us! It actually seems pretty condescending, if you think about it! And of course…it NEEDLESSLY supports the “opioids are potentially evil” dogma…and should be used ONLY…what, maybe LESS THAN NEEDED! Because that’s what’s already happening now! Please don’t run this kind of article without thinking about how it will be received! It feels like it’s insensitive and unhelpful…since most of us know this and LIVE it! I don’t know Jackie, the AUTHOR, and maybe there was good intention here…yet it feels a little passive aggressive with all that’s happening in pain care now! To let us know this was published elsewhere, well…maybe that is also meant to be helpful…yet WE already know this type of rhetoric is out there! And like most, I struggle with accepting the fact…most people and articles we see don’t even come close to understanding, supporting, or touching the needs of those with persistent, daily, life limiting and life threatening pain! The kind of pain like the majority of the readers here have!! Okay, maybe I AM just needing to go do an ANDJUNCT THERAPY…read something else,… Read more »

Charlene Houchins

The commentary by Jackie Walters was very good. However, it still seems to be stressing that pain sufferers are or will be “addicted”. In the years I suffered with debilitating pain I did all the things recommended, to no avail. When it was finally discovered that I required a total hip replacement, that it was bone on bone, no cartilage and the head disintegrating, I reflected on all those “you should try” things such as physical therapy. How much more did I damage my body while listening to the “don’t take opioids” community. I lived on pain killers before my surgery, it was the only way I could at least partially function. After becoming pain free I don’t even think about pain killers. I never did get a “high”, whatever that is. I didn’t crave pills, I only craved being out of pain. Education is a good thing but pain pill bashing goes a little far.

All of these interventional practices are great for someone that is a virgin so to speak possibly!! I have been dealing with chronic pain and fatigue for 20 years. I have tried everything offered to mankind!! I finally had to just give up the battle 10 years ago n get some relief. At my age, I was just totally exhausted n couldn’t function with even daily activities (bathing, eating, etc) n the pain was unbelievable. The only help or relief I could get was by taking an opioid n now, individuals are trying to take away my only means to live any quality of life due to drug seekers which will get them anyway n hurt the ones that use to survive!! Everyone needs to take a step back n rethink the decisions being made today. Individuals making these decisions probably have never dealt with life changing situations n think it’s the right decision to make. I too was in the medical field for 38 years n felt the same way !! Never ever thought life could do a full circle n slap me in the face!! A person just never knows that what you once believed is the only thing that keeps you a live or functioning everyday. Doctors need to be able to treat each individual patient without an outsider that knows NOTHING about that individual health or needs!!!

Kristine Lund

I agree that narcotics are a last resort but for some of us it is absolutely life saving. I was suicidal after a failed fusion and lack of pain control. I was put on narcotics to save my life. I am weening off them now that I am in a better place but they absolutely were invaluable in managing my care.

Tim Mason

Well written article. I have been on opioids since 2008. My doses were reduced after an orthopedic surgery then increased again until the next orthopedic surgery. I followed all the recommended regimes of physical therapy, some dry needling and the like. I do my meditation while falling asleep at night and over a cup or two of steaming hot coffee in the morning until my disc become less gelled and I am able to move.
I get the occasional clinical massage at a major rehab physicality and I am a member of the fitness center there. During my PT sessions there I was taken off nearly every machine due to the pain it caused. I am going to op for some pool therapy with comes with the $40/month membership.
I am no longer a candidate for anymore back surgery because I am one of those that form scar tissue. Scar tissue has encased two descending L5 nerve roots and the area where the plate and screws are is describes as an “enigma” on the MRI scan. My CT scan show a solid fusion.
I was written a prescription for a cane at first and then a three wheel rollator for use as needed. Spinal stenosis was listed on my last image.
I absolutely depend on opioids (not opiates) to relieve my pain and still work as a research chemist. It is light work and I call it the “Country Club” due to it’s laid back work ethic.
I consider myself lucky to have an excellent pain management doctor that is not a millennial and is on the state pain management board and understands the difference between addiction and dependence.


This article should be targeted towards “new” chronic pain sufferers. Many who have experienced chronic, intractable pain for 5+ years may find this offensive, because such pain leads to desperation which, in turn, leads to searching for anything that might help reduce the agony. Personally, I sought out acupuncture, hypnosis and chiropractic therapy within the first couple of years, on my own. Then I was referred to pain clinics which taught relaxation techniques and biofeedback (which is a form of meditation).

The long-term pain sufferer will use anything that offers the slightest bit of relief. Usually, a combination of opioids and one or more of these alternative measures is already being used.

Personally, I found the info in the link to the 11% who suffer from severe pain to contain some of the same old, dubious claims I’ve heard for years. This reads like a CDC pamphlet.