Family "concern" - being accused of being a drug addict

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by DemonFairy, May 24, 2009.

  1. DemonFairy

    DemonFairy New Member

    I don't know if any of you recall one of my previous posts, where I discussed how my brother has accused me of faking Fibromyalgia and of having back surgery that I didn't need. Never mind that I was in so much pain from such a large herniation ("Large, measuring roughly 12mm AP by 18mm transverse by 22mm craniocaudal maximum dimension, left posterolateral disc extrusion at L4-5 causing severe left lateral recess stenosis and left neural foraminal stenosis") that every single doctor I saw after my MRI exclaimed, "Wow, that's big!", that I couldn't walk/stand for more than five minutes at a time without wanting to cry (I'm not a crier) in pain. Never mind that I'd lost feeling in my left foot which was causing a limp, and that I was starting to experience numbness in my right foot, which would mean that not only could I not walk, I wouldn't have even been able to drive. I'm the only driver in my household.

    Now, I'm being accused of being a drug addict because I take Oxycodone for both my FM and my remaining back pain. The surgery was successful in that the numbness was fixed, but I still have a fair amount of low back pain, in addition to L5-S1 disk problems, and the occasional return of some of the same horrible sciatica and thigh pain that I had before the surgery. Of course, just the FM is enough pain to warrant my use of pain meds, but yes, I do also have back problems. Anyway, I've been harassed for months, culminating in my drama queen sister-in-law (an alcoholic/drug addict - a couple of years ago my brother *insisted* that my partner and I take his wife off his hands THAT DAY while she went through withdrawal...) saying that I've hit "rock bottom". More quotes: "And yes, he was one of the kids in the family (not the only one) that notices you are high everytime we see you"; "First and foremost, Opioid (oxicodone, oxicontin, methadone are only use for a short period of time. Here is what NFA writes what the treatments are for fibromyalgia. No [partner's name deleted here] you are not a Doctor, you just read a lot. You have been taking opioids for over 10 years [not true - she's been taking them regularly for maybe two years, she tried Oxycontin maybe six years ago, but it made her nauseous so she had to stop taking it] and convinced Nancy to do the same. Nancy has been on opioids for 3 or 4 years." No one had to convince me to take pain meds, I was BEGGING for them when I herniated my disk. The MD in my chiro's office wouldn't give me any because I passed his little leg strength test (I'm one of those people with genetically strong legs - I had little muscular legs as a kid), but after he saw the results of my MRI, he was shocked at the size of the herniation and immediately prescribed pain meds.

    I was in terrible disk pain for seven months before I had my surgery, and my recovery didn't go as well as I'd hoped, so I went to a pain management doctor and I was diagnosed with FM. In a follow-up visit with my (world renowned - he's taught all over the world) back surgeon, I told him about my FM diagnosis and he said, "Yeah, that makes sense." I've been seeing the board certified pain management doctor for 2.5 years now. In that time, I've tried Neurontin (didn't work), Lyrica (my feet swelled so much I couldn't get my shoes on - I have pictures), Robaxin (doesn't work very well on me), MS Contin (doesn't work AT ALL for me), Dilaudid (doesn't work at all for me), Methadone (affected my bladder and I had to stop taking it within 30 days), Soma (helps my back spasms), Reboxetine (in a clinical trial - it helped, but the company cancelled the trial before I was able to get an adjustable dosage), Oxycontin (works fine, but I can't afford it), Fentanyl patches (would be my preference, but I can't afford it), and lastly (I may have forgotten a couple) the Oxycodone that I'm on right now.

    Wait, I found another lovely tidbit. "Forget the family Nancy, everyone that knows you and is in contact with you knows you have a drug problem and they are CONCERNED about it. You have hit bottom. Yes, I am an alcoholic and the first step to healing is to admit you have a problem. YOU HAVE A PROBLEM AND IT WILL DESTROY YOU. This is coming from CONCERN not ABUSE. If you were completely rid of all of the drugs that are in your body you would totally agree." Oh, and this is the very latest, "There is a fibromyalgia clinic here in Las Vegas. I would think you would want to go there." We all know about those Fibro clinics and the absolute fortune they require you pay for their "supplements". (Here's someone's personal experience, and I know I've read some similar stories here -;article=5676;)

    I see my board certified pain management doctor once a month, have to fill out a lengthy form once a month regarding every single med I take, whether it's prescription or over the counter, I'm subject to surprise drug tests, not to mention I have never required an early refill, never "lost" a prescription, and have a very good relationship with the same pharmacists that fill my prescriptions every single month. Like most of you know, my pain meds don't make me "high", they work on my pain alone. No one has EVER seen me "high" on my pain meds - I'm the exact same person no matter what time of day, no matter when I last took my meds, except sometimes I'm in more pain than other times. It's an absolute lie that anyone has seen me with glazed eyes.

    So, my question is this - have any of you had to go through this with your families? I mean, this crazy woman is saying that I need to go to rehab. I would be laughed out of rehab. I don't abuse my meds. Hell, I don't even drink. I offered to let my mother come with me to my next doctor's appointment, but I don't know how else to combat these vicious lies. Obviously, because I've been sicker the last couple of years, I've spent more time at home because I'm exhausted. These attacks don't help my stress level, which is already sky high because I lost my job last year and haven't been able to find another one like it where I can work from home and work flexible hours. My house is in foreclosure, I need to file for bankruptcy, and I'm sick and in pain, yet I have to deal with family members attacking me. They haven't even seen me since Xmas, yet they seem to believe they're experts on my condition. Apparently, if you don't show up to family breakfast on Saturday mornings (I feel like crap early in the morning, I often feel nauseous, and I don't think my body needs to be forced to keep other people's hours), they feel it's okay to accuse you of things they know nothing about.

    So, how do you refute false accusations of being a drug addict? Would letters from all of my doctors & pharmacists be acceptable? Frankly, I think my doctors would feel pretty insulted that they're not smart enough to catch on to my devious methods of hiding my, uh, stupors, I guess. ;) Every single person who has seen me in the past 3.5 years has seen me on pain meds. I am exactly the same, normal, at all times. I do happen to have a high tolerance for pain medication, but nevertheless, different people have different tolerances. My partner takes less than half of my dosage, yet no one would ever know that either of us are on pain meds. Lyrica, however, exhausted me and made me fall asleep sitting up in the bathroom. Yes, Lyrica, the "miracle" Fibro drug. Blech. Hated it. I was extra exhausted, my feet were balloons, AND it didn't work.
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't bother to try and refute the accusations. Do you think there is a
    chance of changing minds that seem to be made up?

    Maybe it would just be better to get these toxic people outta your life.

    It does seem unfair that we have to endure these DDs and also loss of job,
    friends, social life, etc. And to be accused falsely is the final insult.

    As Jerome Kern's song says, I hope that "good luck comes your way".

  3. skeptik2

    skeptik2 Member

    I read every word of your post, and I liked the 2 ideas you threw out there:

    First, yes, get your mother to go to the Pain dr. with you. Ask him point-blank to tell your mother if you are a drug addict who abuses your meds or prescriptions.

    Second, yes, I think if your dr. sent YOU a letter expressing his satisfaction at your compliance of the meds you take and how happy s/he is with the result of lowering your very verifiable and excruciating pain.

    Then I'd make copies and have your mother give them to all your family members and have her request that no family member ever says you are "high" or a drug addict that needs rehab: your drs do not agree.

    If that doesn't stop the family abusers, I am sorry to say, you should stop all contact with them and let them know why.

    They may be relieved to not have to acknowledge what is written by the drs; they have there own problems, obviously. If your sis-in-law is an alchoholic, I'll say I have seen others like that that like to drag others into their "addicted" circle; misery loves company, or something like that.

    I'm so sorry you are going thru this unpleasant family stuff, but I'm afraid this is often the norm for sick people because others can't understand unless for some reason they walk in your (painful) shoes.

    You have my caring and support.

  4. DemonFairy

    DemonFairy New Member

    I offered to let my mom come with me to my doctor's appointment. If they're so concerned, they can talk to my doctor.

    I did just send the whole family a letter, telling them that if they're willing to "pay for rehab" or for the outrageous costs of the FM clinics, I'd rather they put a down payment down on a cheap house for me on the other side of the country. My mortgage would be affordable, I'd be away from the toxic siblings/in-law, and I'd be near supportive friends and closer to my partner's family. I hate to move away from the friends we have here and our really great doctors, but the thought of a $300 mortgage and being away from the harassment is worth it.

    I guess I feel like I have to refute the accusations because it's painful to think that my family isn't smart enough to know the difference between someone who takes pain meds for pain...and a drug addict.
  5. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    I am really so so sorry that you're dealing with this. Taking pain medication because you are in pain does NOT make on an addict. Your family needs some serious education.

    I'm lucky that each of my Dr.s have never given me one bit of slack about needing pain meds - actually it's been the opposite. My Dr. says I'll most likely need something for the rest of my life unless something changes. My rheumy said, "there really is no "ceiling" to dose, there will always be something to help you" They are safe and MADE to relieve pain.

    Addiction and dependency are TWO different animals.
    I confided in some of my family that I needed pain meds. My Mom recently went through a horrible time, hospitalized for pain in her lower back etc. - went to rehab for 6 weeks to recover and gain her strength. I had to fight and educate my family on their beliefs about pain meds. The Dr. told me personally - and he's old school...that "we don't worry about habituation when a person is in chronic pain". We eventually had to take Mom to a Pain Dr. who gave Mom an injection (which thankfully helped some!), but he told us that long term pain meds are what we'd need to go to if the injection doesn't last. Glad my sisters heard it for themselves.

    The amount you need is irrelevant. We become tolerant to certain doses. It's a natural occurrence, something we don't have any control over.

    I don't know anyone who has long term chronic pain (Fibro) who gets high off their meds. I literally can't even tell I've taken it sometimes except for a get some relief. I actually have to write down when I take it.

    EDUCATION- if they're willing to listen, great. Some are so close- minded that they are not.
    Does anyone really WANT to have to be on pain meds? It means you're living with horrible pain - who in their right mind would want that??
    If they won't listen, then keep your personal business to yourself and don't tell them anything.
    I wouldn't get defensive, I'd be very matter of fact. Do they have any idea how debilitating the pain from FM can be??

    Those you can get away with a Tylenol - lucky them.

    Please don't feel like youre doing anything wrong - you're not. Everyone deserves some quality of life. Fighting pain daily is not good for your brain or body. you deserve some relief.

    There is great info on the National Pain association website about pain meds if you dig down into the site.

    Taking your Mom or a family member with you is a great idea. I'd give your doc a head's up and tell him what you're dealing with. He may be able to subtly work something into the conversation.

    Rehab? then'll still be living with chronic pain. I'm sorry but when I don't need my meds, I don't take them - EVEN when my Dr. says, it's better to keep them in your system.
    Pain meds have a stigma - but I always act like there is no stigma. I actually, ignorantly, didn't realize the stigma until I started reading about it on webboards. When I needed them from my Dr's - I didn't act scared or embarrassed. I told them my level of pain of how it was effecting my life. Didn't think one bit about what anyone else thought.

    Sometimes OUR thinking will change how we act or respond. So... hey, you're following Dr.'s orders as far as your family is concerned.

    Again, so sorry you're dealing with this. Really I am. =)
    [This Message was Edited on 05/25/2009]
  6. cynicaldog

    cynicaldog New Member

    I am DemonFairy's partner, I also have FMS, and this experience has been excruciating. I've been accused of getting my partner "hooked" on opioids, of enabling her, of dragging her down, of ruining her life. The family hasn't actually claimed that *I'm* a drug addict (why, I'm not sure, except that they've found more expedient ways to harass me that don't involve FMS), but they say that either DemonFairy learned to "fake" her FMS through me, or that I put the idea in her head that she had FMS and forced her to take pills. Seeing as we both have different FMS symptoms, the idea that she's somehow copying me is laughable.

    It's tough to live in a household where both people have chronic illness. We live an odd schedule (we often stay up all night and sleep all day, because we feel more productive in the cool temperatures of the evening). We've been together for 13 years and get along very well, so we're happy spend days and weeks on end in each other's company. Neither of us is big on formality, and we find big family events and get-togethers to be tiring, so we often skip them. That doesn't mean we're anti-social, though. We see our doctor once a month, and are involved in clinical trials and see the trial staff at least twice a month. We're friends with the staff at our nearby animal hospital and often just pop in for a chat, or sometimes one of the staff will come over and see us. We used to be very sociable with our neighbours until they moved away, too... we just like being able to set our own schedules. DemonFairy's family doesn't understand that -- they organize events at the last minute, and expect us to be able to show up, when the reality is that after we both shower we're usually too tired to go anywhere. The family wants us to attend these "family breakfasts" which are held at a casino buffet every week, but it would mean sitting in cigarette smoke and tiring ourselves out for the rest of the weekend. Yes, it's nice to spend time with family, but week after week, well, there's nothing new to talk about. Our energy is limited and precious, and we'd rather spend it on things like making a living, or taking care of our pets. We've asked the family if they'd please schedule the occasional lunch or dinner, so we'd be better-prepared and more comfortable, but they never do. They just get angry at us for not conforming to their schedule. As our punishment, apparently they now talk about us non-stop during these breakfasts, passing around emails or blog posts we've written, and analyzing us.

    Everytime I think the harassment has stopped, it starts up again. First it was one of DemonFairy's brothers. Then it was DF's sister-in-law. Then it was DF's eldest brother leaving an abusive message on our answering machine. The sister-in-law has been emailing us shrieking missives every 4 hours for the past three days. We unplugged our phone yesterday, but could still tell that the eldest brother had again tried to call us twice last night. I'm so stressed I've barely eaten anything, and I keep feeling like I'm going to vomit. We've tried to explain that this is abuse and harassment, and that it's just making us both sicker, but no, they insist it's just "concern". They say we're just having "tantrums" and "kicking and screaming" because that's what "addicts" do.

    I'm so tired. I swear, they've aged me a decade. I want nothing to do with any of them (after having a good relationship with all of them up until the past few months), but I hate that DemonFairy is being forced to break ties with a family that she really loves. Honestly, for the past 12 years I thought they were pretty much a perfect family, but the sister-in-law has brought out the insanity.
  7. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    Yes. Most (if not all) of us who have to take "those" meds, have had to deal with this issue in one way or another.

    My family completely understands that I needs meds for pain.
    When I don't think I need them, I don't take them.

    My mom goes to every doc appointment, procedure, & hospitalization with me. She has nearly come to blows with some of the ignorant/abusive/neglectful staff & docs we've crossed paths with.

    The place where I am most discriminated against, is the ER.
    As soon as some ER doc sees what meds I take, they refuse to believe the results of their own tests, bloodwork, & x-rays. They are convinced I simply MUST be a druggie, & NOTHING will change their mind.

    These "professionals" have caused me a great deal of needless suffering, & have nearly caused me to die. More than once.

    Even when I'm not currently taking pain meds - when I have been off of them for weeks, or even months, they see my "history" & again discount the results of their own tests.

    Yes. There is a stigma associated with taking our meds.
    Yes. The stigma can even cost us our lives (which is why I ALWAYS have a relative/advocate go with me when I have to encounter the health-scare-system).
    No. You are not wrong.
    No. You are not alone.

    Yes. It's so much worse when your family isn't there to advocate for you!!!

    I'm SO very sorry you're in such a terrible situation!!!
    I wish there was something I could do or say to be helpful...

    I've tried to warn people about this issue, but they refuse to believe these things can really happen.

    My meds don't make me "high" either. Try convincing anyone about THAT! :(
  8. DemonFairy

    DemonFairy New Member

    Thanks, you guys. I appreciate your support and understanding. I offered to let my mom come to the doctor with me, but she turned me down, saying that she believes I have FM. But, that wasn't the reason I wanted her there. My s-i-l accused me of being a drug addict, and I wanted my mom to discuss it with my doctor. Maybe I'll ask him to either call or write a letter, the same with my pharmacist. I love my pharmacist. :) It's not often that people get to say that, but she's been great. Not only is she good at her job and just plain nice, she even remembers personal stuff about us and asks us about it the next time she sees us. I know that part of it is because we're nice to her, no matter what goes wrong at the pharmacy, we don't yell at them or get impatient. We tell them to take their time, that if they're busy, we'll come back the next day, so they don't have to stay late, etc.

    I've never had to go to the ER here, so I don't know how I'd be treated. I guess that if I had to go to an ER, I'd go where my pain management doctor was on staff. He warned us that pain patients oftened are undertreated in the ER, so I guess that if we could get an emergency call out to him, he'd make sure our pain was managed in the hospital, too. That's what scares me about moving. We have good doctors, great vets, a great pharmacist, but we can't afford to just plain live here. I don't know how to get around that problem. ;)

    I know that my dosage of pain meds would make someone else really really sick or really really high, I don't know. I don't understand the people who crush Oxycontin. My tolerance would zoom up and then render the Oxycontin useless, well, except for the vomiting. When I got my first big dose pain med (all of a big ol' 7.5mg Lortab - now, that dose is like water to me), it made me vomit. No high, just nausea. That's what my pain meds do all the time - they either work or if the dose is too high, they make me sick. I've never gotten high. I don't even understand what high there is to be had from pain meds other than pot. I've never felt it. My only "high" is the sweet, sweet relief of pain. It's an amazing thing, and I'm so grateful that I've had doctors willing to prescribe my meds because pain stops my brain from working properly. When I'm in pain, all I can think is "painpainpainpainpain".

    I know that there's nothing that anyone here can do to really help, but it does help knowing that other people understand. Until my family started being so assy, I didn't spend a whole lot of time on this board. I participated here and there, when I had something to contribute, but I didn't read it voraciously. I didn't need the "community" of it, because I had my partner and my family, and that seemed to be enough support. I'm lucky that I still have my partner, because if I didn't have her to depend on for consistent support, I'd go nuts. I'm a pretty calm person under most circumstances, but it drives me crazy when people lie about me.

    Anyway, I know I'm wordy. Thanks for listening. I'm grateful to have this board.
  9. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    To both you and your partner, how sorry I am. I'm so glad you have each other. I know that doesn't take away the pain you feel from the treatment you're receiving from other people.

    The Lortabs- oh I had the same reaction. I had what I called "spontaneous vomiting", I'd just all the sudden need to throw up. Horrible.
    I'm sure as comforting as it is, it can't be easy with both of you being ill. Your family blaming your partner on "bringing you into FM and the pain relievers" is just riduculous.

    I know the feeling when you can't defend yourself against what people say - it's hard to let go of, especially is you're sensitive, know the truth and hate seeing people get away with it.
    Please, I know it may make no difference, but there are great articles that you can print off about pain and the use of pain relievers on the National Pain Assoc. website. It sort of validated it or me personally, even though I know how much they help people in chronic pain, like myself.

    I understand the feeling of just sweet relief. Oh how you wait for it! You can't think of anything else when you're in pain. It's all consuming and your mind can't get away from it.
    Oh the days I've laid, moaning, moving like I'm writhing. I have to rock (like a baby) to comfort myself. My husband will sometimes say, "do you need your medicine" and sometimes I say - they don't help anyway!!!! If I take it too late, forget it- can never catch up.

    I've found recently that people like my Mom, sisters, co-workers all of them have said, 'can't you take something'. THEY understand because they see me. I have other people in my life who don't even take Tylenol! I used to be that way.

    We're all here for you - and with great sympathy and empathy. I wish there was more to offer, but I'm always here to listen and offer whatever I can.
    Hug each other!!!
  10. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    Y'all are fortunate to have each other. Not only for moral support & understanding, but also to advocate for each other when dealing with the health-scare-system. Especially, if you have to deal with a new doc, or an ER doc.

    It's tragic about the rest of the relatives being so horrid.

    Many peeps here also have to deal with very negative family situations. Most of them have been here at the boards a lot longer than I have, & can be a real help to you.

    I hope to hear from you both, often!