I Am an Addict

By Stephanie Whitaker, Guest Columnist

I am an addict. I admit it and I'm not ashamed of it.

I am addicted to life. I am addicted to minimal pain. I am addicted to doing laundry, washing dishes, cleaning the house, cooking, and taking out the trash. I am addicted to grocery shopping and running errands. I am addicted to participating in my kids' activities, going camping, road trips, and visiting quirky little out of the way attractions few people know about.

I am addicted to eating out, going to the movies, and visiting various fairs throughout the year. I am addicted to hanging out with friends, staying up late, and talking about anything and everything.

STEPHANIE WHITAKER

STEPHANIE WHITAKER

I am addicted to animals, having them, loving them, knowing they will always be there for me and cuddling with me when I'm not feeling well. I am addicted to being dedicated and loyal to my friends, family, and a lover if I should ever have another.

I am addicted to working, being an inspiration to kids through various social groups, and participating in and attending fundraisers. I am addicted to life and everything that it has to offer. If being an addict to all of these things is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Unfortunately, that's not how my life is. I am consumed every minute of every day by pain, nausea, and fatigue. I have to allot my energy each day to do the bare minimum, so that I don't end up in bed for days at a time when I overdo it.

I have to take multiple medications and supplements many times a day to keep my body going. I have physical limitations, dietary restrictions, and minimal contact with the world outside of a doctor's office. Why? Because I am not being treated for the many chronic pain conditions that I have.

Why? Because I am not being treated for the many chronic pain conditions that I have. I am being treated as a drug addict, even though I've never done drugs, have no history of abuse, and have clean toxicology screens every time I walk into an appointment.

This is what is happening in our society because the politicians, CDC, FDA, DEA, big pharma, and insurance companies have decided that we are not worth treating. Our health is nothing but a mere commodity in our country, instead of a basic human right. We have had our dignity, pride, confidence, support networks, even family and friends stripped away because they are under the impression that if we need opioids then we are addicts.

If that were the case, then shouldn't diabetics be stripped of insulin, amputees be denied prosthetic devices, epileptics not receive their anti-seizure meds, cancer patients not get chemo, and kidney failures not get dialysis? What about babies not getting their formula or breast milk to grow and develop properly?

If people with these conditions are not being denied proper treatment to have a high quality of life, then why are we being singled out because we have chronic pain conditions that we didn't ask for or want? If we are addicts, then so is everyone else that needs some form of medication or therapy to survive, grow, be productive, and have a healthy quality of life.

Quit singling out pain patients. The majority of overdose deaths are not pain patients, but drug users that obtain their supply on the streets, not from the medical community. We deserve better.

Yes, I'm an addict. I miss and grieve the all of the things I am addicted to, and will not stop fighting to get them back!

Stephanie Whitaker lives with interstitial cystitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, fibromyalgia, overactive bladder, IBS-C, chronic fatigue, myofascial pain syndrome, pudendal nerve damage, and PTSD -- and all of the anxiety and depression that comes along with them. She is a mother of two who lives in Maryland. 

Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us.  Send them to:  editor@PainNewsNetwork.org

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.