I have been living with chronic pain since childhood. I was first prescribed opioids as a teenager following multiple severe sprains and a knee surgery. Into my late teens, I was prescribed opioids for migraines. In my 20’s, opioids were prescribed for early-onset osteoarthritis. I found out in my 30’s that I had a genetic condition explaining all my injuries and chronic pain. Over the years, I’ve had to take a lot of different pain medications and I’ve tried most types of opioids due to my genetic condition.
I was never one to take opioids for fun, just in case, nor even at the first sign of pain. I never drank alcohol, never smoked, and never used recreational drugs. More than anything, I never wanted to take anything that would make me feel like I wasn’t in total control of my mind. I never once took more than prescribed and usually I took less than prescribed or even not enough or too late.
Despite this, I came to learn that in the eyes of many healthcare professionals, I am guilty of being an addict until proven otherwise. I learned that even though I have plenty of proof otherwise, it isn’t enough. So many times, doctors would immediately state that they would not be prescribing me anything for pain, even though I was seeking medical care for symptoms unrelated to pain reduction. I’m now in my forties and I no longer take opioids, yet I continue to be stigmatized by physicians.