going to have surgery at 10 years sober

Old 02-24-2017, 09:04 PM
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going to have surgery at 10 years sober

I haven't been on this forum in quite some time. In July I'll have 10 years sober from booze.
I'm having a benign tumor removed from my neck next Friday. When the subject of pain meds came up, I told the nurse that I was a sober alcoholic and was concerned about the pain. She said that I can talk to doctor just before surgery to discuss the options.
Drugs are a very tiny part of my story and is limited to pot and only when I was drinking. The idea of taking oxycodone is pretty scary, though.
Does anyone have any thoughts or experience?
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:33 PM
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I'm sober six years and take pain meds daily. I have to or else the pain is unbearable and life wouldn't be worth living. It's that bad.
The meds have never made me want to drink. On the contrary, drinking on pain meds is dangerous. Very dangerous. This helps keep me on the straight and narrow with booze. I no longer have a desire to drink. That's been lifted from me.
I was a drunk for thirty years. It took me a long time to get sober and I realize I am now addicted to the pain meds. I don't dwell on that. I am far more an alcoholic in recovery than I consider myself an addict. Others may think otherwise.
I guess it comes down to a personal decision on whether you think taking a pain pill will count as a relapse.
I wish I didn't have to take the meds, but I've never abused them and am strictly watched by my doctor who knows I'm a recovering alcoholic. They keep me on a pretty short leash, and that's great.
Whatever you decide I wish you the best.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:36 PM
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this is where you'll have to rely on what sobriety has taught you. If you are taking it for pain, when nothing over the counter will work-then i don't see an issue with it.

however, if you take it to do anything else-then i think you could be in trouble. It's a very thin line indeed.

I wish you good luck.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:24 AM
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I would want to talk to my surgeon - before I was being wheeled into the operation. Way before.

It may not be convenient for the guy, but my recovery is that important to me.

I wish you success with the operation Markman
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:36 AM
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My opinion is that it's all the intent/motivation of the use. My story only has booze but I have had two back surgeries and many other orthopedic surgeries. The few times I took my prescription after the surgeries, I would have no problem keeping my sobriety date. My motivation/intent on taking the drug was 100% to relieve the pain in order to sleep. Nothing to do with getting high.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:53 AM
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One of the effects of sobriety has been an increase sensitivity to pain killers. Where the milder ones like aspirin, paracetomol or codiene never seemed to have much effect when i was drinking, I found they worked a lot better when I was sober. Maybe it was a tolerance thing. I had all four wisdom teeth out and found paracetamol was quite adequate to reduce the pain. Maybe you won't need the high powered ones.
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Old 02-25-2017, 04:38 AM
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IMO, nothing wrong with taking pain meds, as long as they are used correctly. However, I understand your concerns. I had my wisdom teeth out last year and was scared to take the pain meds, but the pain was so bad that I had to give in for a couple of days. Best of luck with your procedure.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:00 AM
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had spinal surgery at three years sober, and was concerned, big-time, about pain meds.
i had the IV morphine, patient-controlled, and the nurses kept telling me i wasn't using enough.
when i shared my concern and mentioned being a sober alcoholic, they told me, in lay language, that when you are in pain, the meds go to a different place in your brain and deal with the pain only. you will not get high, or "feel funny", or have a mood-altered experience. your pain will be controlled.

the surgeon confirmed this.

when i went home, i had hydromorphone pills, and had been told that i would know when to stop, that there would be one pill i'd take that would have a different effect.
and that's exactly what happened: a few days later, i wasn't sure if i needed it, or if a simple ibuprofen could take care of it, but i had also been warned about letting the pain get out of control...i took the pill. i started feeling woozy, off, whoa...that was the pill that obviously did something other than relieve the pain only.
i needed no more

years later, i have chronic pain, and part of that is attributable to not using enough pain meds initially because of fear. my doc explained that this allowed certain "pain pathways" to get established and entrenched.

this is all lay language, of course.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:36 AM
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I had three surgeries last fall and had to deal with pain meds. Here's what got me through it.

1. Had a friends in recovery accompany me to surgery.
2. Asked surgeon to only give prescription for four pain meds. Since I had pain, I didn't get high when I took them.
3. Called sponsor before/after I took each pill.

I'm sober 25 years and could still relapse with pain meds. I've seen it happen too often.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:21 PM
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I have no experience with tumors, but I do have experience with lots of surgery. It's more or less like fini says. If you take only the minimum dosage for pain only, not a higher dosage to get a good buzz, just until you heal, you should be okay. That's not to say that your body won't become accustomed to it over time, and using opioids for three months will probably cause dependence.

If that happens, and you can't taper off, there is always the option for a medical detox, which is rather brief in the case of opiates. I knew one person who had to do this, but he was taking very strong stuff (fentanyl) for cancer.

People confuse addiction and dependence, however. People are usually dependent on SSRI antidepressants, for example, because they will cause withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly, but that does not mean that they are addicted to SSRI's.

I probably should be taking pain meds, but I am not, because the opioid epidemic scare stories make everyone paranoid, including my family, and I don't want them to worry. I stopped taking the painkillers a couple weeks post hospital discharge. I did notice a familiar small buzz as a side effect while I took them.

Talk to the doctor about your concerns, and tell him to keep an eye on the length of your usage. A couple of weeks post surgical use probably won't cause you to become dependent, but a few months certainly might.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:07 PM
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ive had 6 surgeries in recovery- 2 of them rather major. the 1st was quite major and i was going to need pain management requiring narcotics. surgeon explained everything real well about the pain management.
3 days out of surgery, i decided i wanted to stop the pain meds out of a concern of a dependence.
woke up in the middle of the night and it felt like they were doing surgery on me sans anesthesia. it took quite a while to get the pain back under control.
i then decided surgeons might know a wee bit more than me on the topic of pain management and prolly best to listen to em.
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:28 PM
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So I had pretty major surgery at around 8 months sober (coming up on 4 years in March). I had both my hips replaced due to avascular necrosis caused by my drinking. I was 31 at the time.

Here's how I got through it:

1. I was upfront with every single doctor and nurse I interacted with that I was in recovery. I probably got a little annoying with the constant reminders, but it was good to have everyone on the same page. The hospital even set up a "pain management" team for me.

2. I had to learn the hard way that sometimes opioid medication is unavoidable. After the surgery, I was still under the effects of the general anesthesia, as well as the epidural that I had. I felt okay, so I got overly confident that I could get through my initial surgical recovery without the pain meds. After I was moved off the surgical floor to the general recovery floor, I closed my eyes for some sleep, only to wake up screaming at 3am from some of the most intense pain I've ever experienced. I learned very quickly that I had to stay ahead of the pain with my meds.

3. After a few days in the hospital, I checked into an inpatient physical rehab for a week. My insurance gave me the option of having a nurse come to my apartment a few times a week, but I chose the rehab because the on-site doctors and nurses were completely in charge of my pain meds so there was no way I could take more than prescribed.

At this point, I was on morphine and oxycodone. I had used a lot of drugs when I was in my early 20s, but not opiates. However, I recognized that I could become addicted to pretty much anything, so I didn't want to take any chances. The nurses here all knew I was in recovery and took good care of me. Plus the 3-4 hours of a day of intense physical therapy got me started out on the right track.

4. I then went back to my apartment. I gave all my pills to a family member who lived close by and was not an addict/alcoholic. The family member dished out the required meds for only a couple of days at a time so I wouldn't have the entire bottle staring me in the face. I started outpatient physical therapy three times a week.

5. Once I was ready in terms of diminished pain (about 4 weeks after the surgery), I worked directly with my primary care doctor to come up with a concrete taper plan to get off the pain meds. I was off everything except Tylenol and Advil within 6 weeks of my surgery. I ended up flushing a good amount of pills down the drain. My physical withdrawals were minor and nothing compared with what I went through to detox from alcohol.

6. I relied heavily on my recovery support network. My sponsor visited me regularly when I was in the inpatient rehab. My friends brought AA meetings to me at the rehab and to my apartment (the rehab was kind enough to let us use the cafeteria at night for meetings). My friends brought me homemade food, kept me company, and read AA literature with me. I wouldn't have been able to get through the experience without them. I still remember everyone crowding into my tiny city apartment and having impromptu AA meetings followed by potluck dinners. They kept me focused on not just my physical recovery by on my mental and spiritual recovery as well.

7. Along the same lines, I read and posted a lot on SR, especially within my March 2013 class. I found people here who had gone through the same surgery and they shared their experience, strength and hope.

I'll be honest, the pain meds definitely did a number on my brain. I could clearly identify the familiar addictive thought process of taking something external to feel better internally and how easily it was to make the pain (and all my thoughts, fears, and feelings) just "go away." I could have easily gone down the deep end if I wasn't so regimented about everything. I've known people who have gone back out after 20 years of sobriety over something like pain meds after getting a tooth pulled or getting into a car accident. Don't get me wrong, pain meds are absolutely necessary in some cases, but they are not to be taken lightly.

Good luck to you!
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Done4today View Post
My opinion is that it's all the intent/motivation of the use. My story only has booze but I have had two back surgeries and many other orthopedic surgeries. The few times I took my prescription after the surgeries, I would have no problem keeping my sobriety date. My motivation/intent on taking the drug was 100% to relieve the pain in order to sleep. Nothing to do with getting high.
I agree with this. I often read on the mental health forums I follow the saying "no one gets hooked on meds they actually need" which for the most part I think is true.
I had surgery on my knee and was in excruciating pain, and was on narcotics for about a month. I wasn't getting any kind of "high" from them, it was the only thing keeping me sane from the pain.
Once the pain went down, I stopped taking them no problem. As long as you are using them as they are meant to be used, you should have no problem. Abusing them for a high is where the problems start.
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