It’s not an “Opioid” Crisis

Marcia Frost
4 min readMar 9, 2019

I suffer from a few different chronic illnesses that cause constant pain. I work with my internist and rheumatologist to control the pain. Although I have two opioid prescriptions, I normally do not take them. I don’t like the way the pills make me feel and avoid them until absolutely necessary.

Opioids come with a myriad of side effects, including stomach issues, brain fog, and malaise. I can see the difference in me just looking in the mirror. At times, I must adhere to those consequences and take a pill because I can’t stand the pain. It may be a flare one week that causes me to grab a hydrocodone, or specific area acting up that will put me on tramadol for a week.

Since the new guidelines of the opioid crisis have appeared, I have signed a pain contract with my doctor, who knows I don’t take the painkillers any more than needed. I am luckier than most. I constantly see people on my autoimmune support groups who can’t get any.

My usual plan changed when I was dealing with severe back and hip pain from a complicated spine condition. Before and after major surgery that involved nerve roots, I increased my opioid use, as well as adding muscle relaxers and Lyrica, a nerve medication.

I was on opioids for a total of seven weeks straight. This included two and a half weeks of a fentanyl patch, hydrocodone, and tramadol. For the first week after surgery, even that combination didn’t cover a lot of my pain.

Guess what? I didn’t become an addict. I controlled my pain and weaned off, keeping track of every pill I took. I am now in recovery from my surgery, taking only an occasional (once in the last week) opioid for a painful day.

The author before and after taking steady opioids. “I can see the difference in me just looking in the mirror.”

The point is that today’s society is not separating addicts from an opioid crisis. We have forgotten those really in pain and those really in need of relief. Or, those getting doctor supervised prescriptions at the pharmacy from those getting fentanyl (which may be laced with an additional drug) on the street.

Yes, there were some doctors out there over-prescribing, but we’ve pretty much stopped that and aren’t letting the rest of the physicians do what’s best for their patients.

Everyone does forget the heroin crisis, the cocaine crisis, the methamphetamine crisis. Or, how about…

Marcia Frost

A lifestyle journalist forced to slow down sports, travel, health, music & food coverage when chronic illness changed her life & career.