Citation: Rainey. "The Only Pleasure Has Been Relief From Physical Pain: An Experience with Methadone (exp110759)". Erowid.org. Nov 5, 2017. erowid.org/exp/110759
The Good Side of Methadone
My experience with methadone was positive... until the recent hysteria over the 'opioid epidemic' caused my physician's employer to cancel all their chronic pain patients' opiate prescriptions.
Back in 2000, I was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder (peripheral neuropathy, or PN) at University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, WI. PN means the nerves controlling the voluntary muscles in my feet are dying, leaving me partially disabled (I walk with leg braces and a cane). I also deal with chronic pain, which has been manageable since 2003, when I first began taking methadone. Initially, I was on 30 mg daily, but as I became more disabled the pain also increased until I was taking 120 mg per day.
In January, 2017, the UW Hospital administration began withdrawing opiate pain medications from all their chronic pain patients (except for those in hospice programs), citing non-binding guidelines from the Center for Disease Control as their reason. I'm presently taking 70 mg per day, with a monthly drop of 10 mg until I am at zero methadone.
While slowly reducing opiates has kept me free from withdrawal symptoms, it has lead to increased pain sensitivity in my feet and lower legs. I can no longer enjoy hobbies and interests requiring standing or walking, and must spend the majority of my time keeping weight off my feet. I can no longer garden or even clean my home. Shopping for groceries is agonizing. I will be forced to use a wheelchair in the near future. On 70 mg of methadone per day, I estimate the pain averages a 7 on a scale of one to 10.
I have never used illegal drugs, never been arrested on drug charges, and never failed a urinalysis drug test. People living with chronic pain take opiates to survive. The only pleasure I have ever experienced with methadone is relief from physical pain. I am deeply sympathetic to the families of overdose victims, but chronic pain patients are being penalized because of others' poor judgement.
Pain clinics in my area will not accept chronic pain patients who are opiate-dependent, as we are “too prone to relapse”. There are no pain programs available to us other than acupuncture, bio-feedback, massage and physical therapy. I have never experienced a 'high' from methadone, only the lessening of pain from my neurological disorder.
But I am grateful for the 17 years I've had since that diagnosis. Without a compassionate physician willing to prescribe methadone for my deteriorating body, I would not have survived this long. My situation is one of the 'better' ones. Other chronic pain patients are living with horrors including spinal bifida, osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), MS, ALS, spinal deterioration and scarring from massive third-degree burns. This is not living. We have done nothing to deserve the cruel withholding of our pain medication; we have followed UW Health's rules to the letter. Speaking only for myself, I am losing interest in life. This is not how I want to grow old.
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