I have the alternative side, and sometimes the not so popular argument. There is a growing group of doctors who feel that prescribing narcotics for chronic pain is 'responsible' because it enables people to rejoin the world.
I reached a point earlier this year when I couldn't function anymore. I had tried all of the preventative medications, had come off narcotics and otc medications to ensure rebound headaches weren't playing a role, tried Botox, had seen all types of medical and alternative professionals to try and find a cure with no success. I had hit rock bottom and my depression was so bad that between it and my migraines I barely got out of bed.
My neurologist recommended a daily regimen of narcotics. I haven't felt this well in years. I actually had a whole week without a headache. It has been over 10 years since I have experienced that. There have been some side effects but I have overcome those.
I take a minimal amount 3 times a day. I don't wake up with headaches in the morning anymore and am able to do a lot of things I had to cut out of my life because of my headaches. I can enjoy a glass of wine now and again. If I get a migraine I can take 2 T3s and make it go within a couple of hours and be ready to go, whereas in the past I would be laid up for days.
I faced a lot of controversy in my decision. There is a lot of stigma when you tell people you're taking narcotics, especially by my familly. My sister didn't talk t0 me for several months. She thought I was going to turn into an addict. I haven't. We have now found a dose that works and I have stopped at that without need to increase it for several months now.
My neurologist says this doesn't always work for everyone, but if it does it's an option for those who have tried all of the other non narcotic options without success. I sometimes stop in on the chronic pain forum. They are a good set of folks to discuss narcotics with as many of them take them for their chronic pain.
There's no right or wrong answer to this question. It's what works for you and what gives you the best life. Taking narcotics doesn't make you an addict. You become physically dependent on them like people do with anti-depressants, thryroid medication, heart or blood pressure medication and many others. This means that your body needs the medication and you have to go off it slowly if you stop. As my doctors say, people with pain only take narcotics to stop the pain. When it stops, they stop taking it. I have yet to understand or experience the high an addict feels because of the low dose I take.
I hope this helps you make your decision and doesn't make it more difficult.
Thank you so much for your response and honesty. I have been on the pain medication for awhile and I faced the same worries that you mentioned. I thought I would be going through garbage cans looking for pain meds or robbing convenience stores on weekends. But honestly, I do not think about the pain med unless I hurt. Some of my family have told me that they just would "endure the pain" rather than ever take daily pain med. That hurts.
Since I last wrote my post I once again had a terrible migraine with vomiting for about two days. That actually made the decision for me. Somehow I had forgotten how much suffering I could actually be in and not die. (I know that sounds melodramatic!) My husband called my pcp and she called in my pain med a day early, thank God. I have exhausted every other option that doctors and alternative providers have to offer. I appreciate the suggestion to try to find more medications that work, but the list I've tried is endless, including botox and being put into menopause artificially, with no relief.
My husband told me that I should just try to be happy where I am at right now, to remember how sick I was before the pain med. I think that is good advice. Sometimes I compare myself to the woman I was before this illness knocked me blind- sided. That comparison is just too painful and depressing. I have to let that image of me go and be the best for right now. Maybe I am risking the future, but maybe medications will catch up with our illness.
Thanks for letting me vent and letting me know I am not alone in my choice.
Someone who says they would "just "endure the pain" rather than ever take daily pain med" obviously has never experienced daily chronic pain and probably not a migraine. I try to remember that when people say things like that. You're right it does hurt, but it really just shows their ignorance.
Women who suffer migraines around their periods often tell me they can't believe I live with that kind of pain everyday. They also ask how I do it. That's just it, we do it because we have to. Narcotics allow us to live pain free.
I have some good news about narcotics. Both my neurologist and my family doctor said that my migraines might go away while I was taking the narcotics. They don't know why, but they say sometimes it happens. Your body is relieved of the pain, so instead of fighting it is able to fix whatever is causing the pain.
I have been really tired lately, sleeping sometimes upto 18 hours a day. This isn't because I'm depressed, I'm happy, functioning, just very tired. I went to the doctor to discuss, assuming it was the morphine. He agreed. He said that he suspects that I'm taking to much and that I can start weaning down. I have started and decreased the dosage by one pill a day and already notice an improvement. It may be that I'm going to be one of those lucky ones whose migraines go away with the narcotics, because they are already taking less medication to relieve. Perhaps this might happen for you too.
It sounds like you have a very nice husband who is also very smart. I value the advice my husband gives me because he is on the outside looking in. He can often see things I can't because I'm immersed in the pain and the fight to stop the pain. He is so right about being happy where we are right now, especially if that involves pain free by some manner.
Good luck. Keep in touch about how you do.
I have been where you are with narcotics. I have tried every medication known as a preventative or abortive for my migraines. Narcotics (only some work for me) have been the only type of drug that catches or releaves my pain. People that take narcotics for pain become dependant, which only means you body chemistry gets used to having the medication in your system. If you take it as instructed, it will relieve your pain, but you won't feel "high". If you stop taking them cold turkey, your body will let you know about it. It is far better to taper off them, and limit the stress on our body.
Some people become addicted to narcotics because they take far more than prescribed for their condition, because a higher dose will give them a "high". These people will seek out mulitple doctors for prescriptions and will use different pharmacies to fill the prescriptions. They have to continuously increase the amount they take to keep the same level of "high". They will also buy them off the streets if they can't find another option. Their withdrawal will be much worse, because a lot of them end up having to stop cold turkey.
Although narcotics will help your migraines, if you take them, triptans, or any OTC pain rememdy more than twice a week, then you will start causing yourself rebound headaches, and pretty soon you end up with a headache every day. This behavior prevents the preventative medication from doing its job.
If you are concerned with getting "mental" problems, you should consult with a psychiatrist. You may need some coctail of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, which most migrainuers take. This can also help with the frequency of migraines, if stress influences how often you get your migraines. As far as early dementia and permanent brain changes, I have never of such a thing, and I've been dealing with migraines for 33 years. Migraines are often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is why we take medication to restore the balance. I really don't thing you have to worry about losing your mind. I've never heard of that, EVER!!!
There is no shame in taking narcotics if that's what it takes to do the job. Consider yourself lucky that you have a provider willing to continue prescribing them. Mine cut me off cold turkey, after I had to see another doctor in her group, who threw up a red flag about prescribing narcotics to me for too long. Most doctors in this area are very wary of prescribing narcotics.
My mother always makes comments about what would happen if I just stayed at home and stuck out a migraine. She suggests that that situation is going to happen, because the doctors are someday going to refuse to treat me. She had no comprehention about that level of pain. It would kill me. I know because I've tried before and just can't do it. I'd end up tidying up my house and slitting my wrist to relieve the pressure. Mind you, I'm not suicidal, my mind justs interprets it as opening a pressure valve. I will never let myself get to that point. Even as crappy as it is living with the constant migraines, it's not worth dying over.
I have had migraines for years and have been on daily narcotics only when other things have occured (kidney stones, kidney surgery, gallbladder removed etc) I have found that once I take narcotics consistently for a week or so, I start to feel an increase in head pain. Again, this could be from different things, being sick, surgery etc. However, I can tell a difference when I stop taking the medication- it takes a good 3-4 days for me personally to get out of the rebound ("medication overuse") stages. I find that my migraines are increased in both frequency and severity....
That is just me, Now...I think that if daily narcotics are what you need to get by and be productive. Then your doctor should write the prescription and that should be the end of the discussion. I think it takes some caution anytime you take pain medication with the risk of DEPENDENCY and ADDICTION. Now, I am dependent on my medications so I can live a "full" productive live (ok, realistically so I can get my rotten tail out of bed in the morning)
Talk to your doctor and if they are not what you need, fire them and find another doctor. This is your life and your health, not theirs. They do not go home and have it interfere with their family, jobs and finances. You have to put yourself first and foremost!!!!
Hang in there...
Hi, everybody ~
I haven't posted for awhile and am just catching up on some of these threads. On this particular topic, I would recommend taking a look at the website www.christianbody.com. The couple who developed "Migrane Defense" are a medical researcher (husband) and clinical nurse (wife), and I found them to be very approachable (phone or e-mail) for questions. The explanation of why MD works made a whole lot of sense to me, and deals with causes rather than just pain control, which is what I'd been looking for! Although the "MD" was not the complete answer for me, I do believe it has helped get my hormones balanced (I'm in perimenopause) and eased the intensity of my chronic daily migraines. Their "Migraine Defense" product apparently has an extremely high success rate for both men and women - and a money-back guarantee :)
Sorry it took me a while to respond, a trip to Las Vegas called.
My neurologist tells me that the narcotic is used to stop the pain and someone experienceing pain stops taking them when the pain goes away. That's the "high" they are looking for, someone who is looking for a "drug high" keeps taking the medication until they feel that.
I am happy to say that upon a return visit, my doctors feel that my headaches have subsided somewhat, that's why I'm so tired. My family doctor says they don't understand why it happens, but believe that taking the narcotics stops the pain. When the pain was constant the brain can't focus on fixing the problem because it's focussed on the pain. When the pain stops the brain can find the problem and start fixing it. I have started reducing my dosage of narcotics and am experiencing a minor rebound headache but am feeling a lot more awake. This is day three and today the headache was very minor and I suspect I will be back to normal by the weekend.
I'm hoping that I will be able to stop taking these medications eventually and am still exploring alternative therapies but in the mean time I'm able to live my life. I will look for the study my doctor provided me supporting the use of narcotics for the treatment of chronic migraines. AARP has a good article on their website about the use of narcotics for chronic pain if you do a google search.
Have you talked to the folks in the chronic pain forum?
Good luck and let us know how it goes.