April 09, 2020

Pain presents unique problem for recovering drug addicts

My topic is pain and addiction. Recovering addicts are still human beings. They still feel pain like everyone else, and they should be treated for pain like everyone else. But if they are honest and tell their doctors that they are recovering addicts, they are treated very differently than the possible user who can get pain medications without a problem.

Reconstructive surgery that didn’t heal properly, bones still not fused after six months, chronic back pain, headaches – the real, severe pain caused by all these conditions is treated in a person without addiction or not in recovery. But for a recovering addict, it is much different. He is told “take Tylenol, good luck, see you in a month.” It is my opinion that some doctors give themselves too much credit – it seems like they think that if they give pain pills to recovering addicts they will cause them to be active users again. Maybe more education is in order. Only the addict can decide whether or not he or she wants to use or abuse again. Doctors, moms, dads, children – no one has the right to make that decision for anyone else.

I do know this. If a person is left by his doctors in so much pain that he resorts back to the streets to relieve that pain, instead of being prescribed a controlled, monitored medication, therein lies the choice.


My friend has a 19-year-old son who hasn’t worked or gone to school in about three years. She is a single mother, and he is the last child left in the house. He smokes pot and hangs out with friends and lives a mostly unsupervised life out in her heated garage, complete with money and auto paid by his mother, who feels guilty about his dad running off when he was a baby. She is physically disabled and lacks family in the area.

I think this young man is mainly scared of growing up, and his mother is enabling his anger and drug abuse while he is running away from life. She needs some ideas and a support system to learn how to move herself and her grown teenage son in a better direction.

I know my buddy is going to have to find her own way through this problem, in tandem with the teenaged child she has enabled the past few years. Since she lives in an isolated area, near Patten, I was wondering if there is some kind of support group of parents in similar situations that she could turn to. Or maybe there is a professional counseling agency in the area the two of them could attend? Or maybe even a drug treatment center? Please send responses to this column.

There is no instant fix to human problems, be they ones of drugs, war, relationships, economics or whatever. It’s just a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing, along with some understanding, kindness, a sense of humor and finding a place to vent those angry feelings when they come up.


Join our weekly conversation about Maine’s substance abuse problem. We welcome stories, comments or questions from all perspectives. Letters may be mailed to Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04401. Send e-mail contributions to findingafix@bangordailynews.net. Column editor Meg Haskell may be reached at (207) 990-8291 or mhaskell@bangordailynews.net.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like