Upcoming Withdrawal

Head in hands in pain

Here we go. Today I start a lower dose of my opioids.

I get why my doctors are forcing me to do this–there is a real abuse epidemic that needs addressing. As a result, (from what I understand) Kaiser now has a policy that everyone chronic pain patient must be under a certain dose, regardless of circumstance. I get it. But that isn’t going to make my withdrawal symptoms any less painful this week. And it makes me frustrated for so many reasons.

  • I’ve been on a stable dose for years. If I was going to have problems, they would’ve happened already.
  • Lowering my dose isn’t going to keep some other person from getting addicted. That’s not how it works.
  • I’m at no particular risk; I’ve even been at higher doses than this for long stretches and had no issues and experienced none of the problems/side effects that doctors fear might happen.
  • The various doctors and providers who have been tasked with getting me on board with this have all been careful to explain that there is a possibility that a lower dose will help my pain levels and/or have other helpful benefits. I point out that I’ve had my dose lowered before (multiple times), and my pain levels have risen as a result, and none of the other benefits materialized. Basically, we’ve done this experiment before and have already seen the results. Their response is always: *checks chart* “Oh, right.”
  • With each new doctor/pharmacist/social worker who talks to me, we go over what my current conditions are, and where my pain levels are at, and what I’m capable of doing, and what my trend-lines are. And with each answer, their responses are an increasingly despondent “Oh…” or a crestfallen “I see…” and it is clear that they feel like I should be upping my dose, not lowering it, but they’re not allowed to say that or do anything about it.
  • It does not feel like my particular best interests are in the forefront. While they are quick to point out that (theoretically) there is a potential chance that this will actually be beneficial, no one actually believes this is likely nor would they recommend this course of action without this policy forcing them to do so. But they can’t say that.

So I get to have additional suffering merely for the sake of numbers and stats. Yay!

If I’m extra cranky this week, now you’ll know why.