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My elderly mother is addicted to opioids. It used to be alcohol for the first half of my life and then she moved on to just pills. She is severely depressed and says the pain pills help her. She’s played every classic trick you could think of to get the medicine...from doctors, dentists, online, taking our meds and so on. Problem is...they make her sleep all day...she falls...she has horrific hygiene and is a hoarder and so much more.


She lives with my sibling who actually picked up her medicine today (pretending to be helpful) and discovered the doctor prescribed Norco. We have tried to tell kaiser so many times that she has a problem, but she tricked another doctor into giving it to her. Unbelievable. My sibling kept the meds and hid them. My mom is screaming bloody murder and has threatened to hurt herself. She’s calm now, but constantly talks about it being the end of her life.


When she goes into a fit, there is no reasoning. We’ve been to the doc with her where I outright said there was an addiction problem...problem is, I’m guessing the doc didn’t write it down. My mom finds new docs and praises those who gives her meds. No wonder she likes the new one.


Really just venting. I don’t know what to do. I was tempted today to just let her have the meds. I hate that her last years are like this. She used to be able to hide it better, but now that she’s less able to care for herself, the meds don’t metabolize the same and really affect her personality.


Sad.

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Opioid addiction is a terrible thing. Your mother cannot just stop taking the medication without both wanting to and being in a treatment facility. Withdrawal symptoms are real and terrible to go through.

I had a family member who was addicted to heroin, he was motivated to kick it and spent months in a facility. Unfortunately the lure of the drugs was too great and he overdosed within a year of getting clean. I know others who have managed to kick the habit, but it is not an easy road.

Drug addiction is not a lack of will power, nor is it a moral failing, but it is incredibly hard on the families' of addicts. You may find that an organization like Narc Anon can help you deal with the situation.

Sorry no offer of help, just an understanding of how difficult the situation can be.
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How old is your mother and what is her medical condition? She is under doctor's care and is being prescribed this medication, right?
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If your mom doesn’t want to get clean, there isn’t much you can do, and you certainly cannot handle this alone. She can’t just stop taking it. She will have to go to a facility for treatment and if she doesn’t want to go, she won’t cooperate. Have you considered calling Adult Protective Services? She has mental issues and is certainly a danger to herself. I would call her doctors and inform them of her addiction. There is such a fear of malpractice now, I can guarantee they’ll stop prescribing this stuff.
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Unfortunately addiction is one of the hardest things to overcome. I agree that you cant just stop giving them to her. That could get extremely ugly. APS is a very good idea. They will help you with a solution. She probably cant do it cold turkey so help her with professionals that know what they are doing. I hope everything works out for you and your family. Be safe.
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As others have said, she shouldn't be made to kick the pills cold turkey. You need to be in touch with the Dr who Rx'd the opioid medication and let him know your Mother's history of abuse, and ask him how to taper, or for his help to get her into treatment for it.

At this point, the meds Are Rx'd, and she should take them per instructions, until you can get advice on how to proceed, as if you withhold them from her, it is YOU who is causing her suffering, and there may be a justifiable reason why she is Rx'd them, and you just do not know it or are privy to the reasons as diagnosed per the Dr. Also, She may well have been quite convincing to the Dr as well, abusers can be quite the Actors, and Not to say she isn't abusing them, but it needs to be figured out with her Dr. It sucks, I'm sure!
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Thanks everyone. She is in her 80’s and streetwise/educated. It’s so difficult to see her this way.

I dont know if she’s been taking them regularly. I don’t believe she’s had a prescription for a while. According to her medical record...she hasn’t had any prescribed for maybe a year. Also, we don’t see any medical reason for her to take them. There’s some sort of an infection going on, but that’s it.

If she isnt abusing Norco, then it’s taking other meds used for other medical reasons that really are being used to help her sleep. She also takes Benedryl etc to sleep.

Im close to using the word “lawsuit” with kaiser. Can’t believ they fall for this.

She tried getting Norco for a dental procedure and I intercepted that.

So...of course I’m all for her getting off of whatever she’s addicted to. Norco was a regular thing until she ended up in the hospital multiple times and then stayed with me to recover. It’s been over a year since a prescription, so , unless she’s getting it via the mail (don’t think she can), then she’s not drugged up on it right now.

So I guess the title of my post might not be accurate. I just don’t know. She’s always sneaky and trying to get meds. She’s more open about depression, but still goes into screaming rages. Can’t tell what’s addiction, depression or dementia . Could be all three.

A while back we took her to a psych, with the intention of them checking her memory. The intake person said she seems just fine. I didn’t go in for the psych app, but my mom came out and was furious. Said he looked at her medical history and it sounds like he tried to address her abuse of meds. Said she doesn’t have a memory problem. Honestly, I think she was sarcastic and it doesn’t sound like he handled it well.

Sorry this his is so long. Maybe aps will have to be an option. I just hate going there.
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Midkid58 Aug 27, 2018
I do not see how she can get a scrip for Norco without being physically present to get a paper copy for the pharmacy. Her doc cannot "call" those in. She MUST have a scrip (or many) somewhere.

Personally, if my kid tried to "intercept" my medications (assuming I am not demented) with a dr, I would be furious.

BTW, Benadryl to help with sleep is NOT a problem. Love of heaven---it's an antihistamine and used as a sleep aid so often---I mean, you can abuse ANYTHING---but Benadryl will just make your mouth so dry you won't be able to sleep.

Sounds like you and your family need a basic education about medications.

BTW--
You cannot mail order Narcotics. Maybe Tramadol, don't know.
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Your in a tough spot Sarah. One good thing, it doesn't seem like she has Currently been taking pills, unless someone's been getting/giving them to her on a regular basis, so detox shouldn't be such a difficult journey, it's just that she Wants them, big difference!

Yes, APS is possibly going to be needed, if she gets belligerent on you. Still, I do reccomend speaking to the Dr who recently Rx'd the Norco to her, to make sure whether or not to give them to her for a specific reason/diagnosis, as you don't want to be in trouble there either! Good Luck!
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Get her to sign a POA and then have her go to rehab. Not sure how old she is, but she could have a lot of life in her if the addiction issue is addressed. As POA you can take her to ONE doctor who has control of her care. Once I got my elderly aunt seeing just one doctor, the issue was addressed. Nothing stronger than Tylenol now. She is 88 and healthy as a horse!!!
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Myownlife Aug 27, 2018
Unless there is a Certificate of Incapacity, a person could legally go AMA. May want to think of getting one, if her doctor would write one.
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Good morning Sarah,

i can’t suggest highly enough that you go to an Al-anon or Nar-anon meeting asap. These meetings are for the LOVED ONES of addicts. They are NOT for the addict and those who want the addict to stop.

Al-anon has historically been for loved ones who are alcoholics. Nar-anon for loved ones of addicts. HOWEVER, an addiction of ANY mind-altering substance is an addiction.

You will find people who can intimately identify with what you’re going through and you’ll get coping strategies for a very difficult situation. They will give you all the support you need. Consider making it a priority. You won’t regret it.

I live in Kentucky and the state, along with the Board of Pharmacy, has the KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) system. This is where people who have abused medical prescriptions - mostly narcotics but lots of other stuff too, the computer system has caught it, they’re flagged, and once they get on the list it effectively shuts down doctor shopping. Once they’re Kaspered every and any doctor they see including dentists WILL NOT prescribe her anything that’s on the schedule because it increases their liability dramatically but most importantly it’s the RIGHT thing to do. Sounds like your Mom is very, very good at getting prescriptions. I’d start with her PCP in getting her reported. It will not be unusual for your mother to have to provide a urine specimen at any future appointments after she’s been reported. She’ll be checked regularly.

When it’s done (reported, etc) and your mother flies into a rage shrug your shoulders and say it’s because of her prescription history and the state caught it. It’s her consequences. Could be jail.

This is going to sound hardcore however there’s little difference between the “normal” addict and little old ladies scheming doctors. For whatever reason they want a mind altering substance.

Medical power of attorney is not a bad thing to do. It’s obvious your Mom isn’t able to care for herself. If a geriatric case manager is available they can be extremely helpful.

Good luck.
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igloo572 Aug 27, 2018
Thanks for the excellent detailed posting on KASPER. It would be great if other states use this as a model. The hidden face of the opioid crisis is older & elderly. They have MediCARE so can doctor shop and with minimal out of pocket cost and have some sort of RX coverage so again minimal out of pocket cost. Sweet Grannie & Doting G’pa isn’t viewed as possibly being addict
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My mom is 76 and a "late in life" alcoholic and also abuses Benzo's (like Xanax) which the doctors have been prescribing for decades (yes, decades). Her primary doc and I managed to get her into a senior mental health ward for about a 2 week stay in April. It seemed like the answer to our problems but afterward mom just lapsed back into the habits. She says she's old and not going to live much longer (she's 76) and this is what she wants to do. Unfortunately it drags me around because of the drama, the falls, the injuries, etc. After her last hospital stay (she fell and hit her head in June), I questioned the medical staff when they discharged her quickly. They told me she is capable of making her own decisions and yes, that includes bad decisions. So I've had to accept it and just do my best to protect my life from the fallout. She has the need to spend her days in a numb haze and I guess that's the choice she's made.
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What is your mom on pain meds for?
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If she is taking opioids everyday, and for a long time, she is most likely having withdrawal symptoms when she goes into what you call a fit. Blood pressure goes up when your body does not get the opioids it is used to getting, and this might be what’s causing her to act like that. It can be painful to experience the withdrawal of the drug. There is a drug that Dr.’s give to people for withdrawal symptoms relief, I think it’s called “ methadone”. Maybe you can explain to the doctor what you said here , and he would give you a prescription for it, and you could switch out the methadone for the opioids? Also, there is a little known “B” vitamin called “ Inositol”. It helps heal the brain and is good for alleviating all kinds of addictions. I myself started using it for leg cramps many years ago and found that it helped me not crave sugar. I was able to quit eating sugar and to this day I still don’t eat sugar and I don’t have the huge food cravings I use to get. That was ten years ago. And incidentally, I don’t ever get leg cramps any more , as long as I take a 1/2 teaspoon of the inositol powder every other day. You can get it on this site called iherb. Here is a code you can use for $5 off: LIN940. It has a calming affect also. Hopefully it would help your mom. Good luck and God bless.
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texasgal55 Aug 27, 2018
I used to work in a rehab and methadone is the absolute worst opiate there is. It takes years to get out of your system and stays in your home marrow where heroin only takes a few days to withdrawal from. It's a complete govt and medical mafia scam. The only way is to be drug free.
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I am very new here, so I do not want to overstep the mark, but your post really resonated with me...I can only share from my family's experience: Addicts are crafty. Perhaps whatever issues she did not deal with successfully underlie all the addictions- I understand that is usually the case. There are some agencies who offer services geared toward the elderly- but again, if she is unwilling to avail herself of it, you will not get far.
The only other thing I would like to say is that I hope you take care of yourself and your needs. The toll on caretakers can be tremendous...
I sincerely hope things improve for you all.
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Your sibling is the enabler and needs to kick her out or stop facilitating her addiction. You need to stop doing anything that could be facilitating her drug abuse as well. If neither one of them will change, you need to cut them off and protect yourself. That's your only option.
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Upstream Aug 27, 2018
When you are stuck with an elderly parent that is addicted to or dependent on a substance, your options are very limited. My elderly alcoholic becomes very nasty when her supplies run out, does a great job of laying on a guilt trip, and will eventually find her own way to the store (putting others at risk with her driving). I choose to be her enabler. As I see it, I don't really have a choice.
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Opioids are for pain. Its heroin in a pill. With the Pres waging war on them I am surprised a doctor would prescribe them willy nilly. Opioids are
not new thing. They were developed for the primary use for terminal patients. I had a local Woman campaign over ten years ago in our town against prescribing them. She had doctors signing papers they would no longer prescribe.

I don't think I would take the pills away at this point. Withdrawal can be hard on the body. You need to speak to the doctor who prescribed them and explain the situation. Maybe he can tell you how to ease her off.

Your profile says Mom has ALZ/Dementia and is 88. How does she get to different doctors?
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Can I ask how old is your mother?
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If your Mom has ALZ/Dementia you will not be able to get POA. She has to be able to make informed decisions and sign the paperwork. Your other option would be guardianship.
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If you feel like your mom is currently a danger to herself, which sounds like she might be if she is screaming and threatening to hurt herself, you can call police and see if you can have her Baker Act-ed to admit her to a mental health facility for opioid detox.

Sounds like she is definitely going through withdrawals and will need to be detoxed medically. I wouldn't give her any more pills, just let the medical staff handle what and how much to give her if she is admitted. And, if she does go into detox, tell your sister to get rid of any narcotics in the house.

In the meantime, I would also talk to an elder law attorney about your mom's health and whether seeking emergency guardianship might be warranted.
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My mom had the same problem
we had to get her admitted to for rehabilitation and her doctor can do this.
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I'm maybe going to be the only person on here who is "kind of" in mom's corner.

Have you ever suffered from chronic pain? Like, every waking (and sleeping) moment is pain filled and misery? And you've done everything that the drs tell you to do, you've HAD the back surgery or whatever, done the rehab PT--and the pain is a constant...well, that's my life. 2 major back surgeries from a congenital condition made much worse by carrying 5 huge babies and then having a busy and active life.I'm lucky in that I don't have rods or pins in my back. But I WILL NEVER have another back surgery.

I have been on some kind of opioid for about 6 years. I have a "contract" with my dr, I cannot get them from another doc and I can never have more than prescribed. Hard thing is, I really have to be SO CAREFUL not to have a 'bad month' in which, heaven forbid, I need 5 one day or even 6, and then I wind up short one month---I go "cold turkey" for a few days and the pain (and accompanying withdrawal is hell). Then I refill my scrip and life goes on.

The "war on opioids has been an epic fail. EPIC. Drug abusers (like the OP's mom) is still able to get her meds, every neighborhood street dealer is doing a GREAT business--and you know what? The new "laws" drives doctors absolutely nuts. They are held under such scrutiny. They cannot treat their chronic pain patients appropriately---as much as they may want to, they are hamstrung.

That's the problem with the one size fits all law---the truly needy chronic pain sufferers feel like crap--and like criminals for going in the office each month to simply pick up a new scrip. People who truly abuse are lying, cheating, fighting--and STILL getting all the meds they want. Who is winning????? Certainly not the patients.

The OP's mom has a problem. She needs to be dealt with LOVINGLY and not with harsh judgment. She can be evaluated and dealt with. Cold turkey w/d of her meds are going to make her sick, sick, sick. AND impossible to deal with.

Someone in the family needs to step up and get her to a chronic pain clinic. Most PCP's cannot really judge chronic pain.

How much is she taking in a day? And how much of what? IF she's taking 10 Norco, that's too much. If she's taking 4, that's probably OK. But YOU don't make the call about her pain. She needs to be able to come to terms with the problem w/o screaming and belittling.

I HATE that I need opioids to be "OK". This is my life. My kids know and they are not happy about it, but as THEY age, and begin to have some chronic pain issues, they are beginning to get it. I also take antidepressants and *gasp* benzos. All well controlled by drs, but still, I feel like crying sometimes when I fill my scrip for Tylenol #3---b/c I know I am "addicted". This is NOT the way I planned to be at age 62. Nobody PLANS to NEED drugs to function in life!

BTW, I have NEVER fallen down or had fits b/c of the meds. I don't even get remotely "high". I just feel a sigh of relief and go about my busy day.

The last thing someone needs is to be judged---You guys need to all be on the same page re: mom and her drug use. Please don't be harsh. You don't walk in her body, you don't feel her pain. And DO NOT expect that she should be 100% drug free in her old age.

I struggle b/c I feel personally that I want to be stronger and not have this pain. But my body is such that have MANY arthritic joints, bone spurs all over that sometimes require surgical removal---and bone pain is unbelievable.

I used to be pretty judgy, and then Karma got me. I know my doc is great now about helping me along--but he'd young and pretty soon he will be jaded & scared and probably turf me to a pain clinic, which for me is patently ridiculous.

Just my opinion. But then, I have NEVER taken pain pills to get "high".
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Kathrynseton Aug 31, 2018
I totally feel all you just said, esp bc i am 38 and in a similar situation. I am on disability, have all kinds of education and cannot use it to properly pursue my passion of teaching all bc of chronic illness. I dont have anything to add to what you said in regards to the OP's question, but I just want to point out that you are not addicted to your meds. Addiction is a psychological pathology where someone is taking the meds for something other than originally prescribed for, and continuing to do so despite it having a destructive effect on one's life. From all you said, this is not you. The more accurate description is that your body is physically dependent, and tolerant to the effects. This unfortunately happens to anyone on long term opioids and are thus not indicative of addiction. When you go up on your meds, you know you cant stay there, so you said you endure the mild withrawal to return to normal dosage bc you want to be sure the meds continue to work well for you. I do the same thing. When i an in the hospital and am pumped full of meds, i usually suffer minor withrawal symptoms upon coming home and have to wait it out for a couple days. Addicts would never make that choice. I just wanted to emphasize that bc the labels we use, esp for ourselves, have consequences. I dont know how many times Ive had discussions with doctors about the definition about addiction versus those of dependence and tolerances bc they used them interchangeably as if they were synonymous. Make sure that when you talk to drs, or even family in friends inclined to pass judgment, you use the correct terminology. It affects not just how you are treated, but also other chronic pain suffers that will come along next. That said, i am very sorry that you are suffering. Chronic pain and illness arent for sissies, thats for sure, LOL!😂
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You can call her doc and tell them she is using them to get meds. Tell them she gets them online, and from other docs if that is the case. They need to know her history with alcohol and meds too.

How do you know she is not in pain? If your sister is driving her to doc appts/picking up meds, then she would know how many doctors she is going to. I doubt a doc would prescribe her Norco if he/she didnt think she needed them.

You can't decide to hide medicine from someone!!!! The withdrawal could be dangerous! That is why she was screaming. People can't go off pain meds cold turkey. You are not a doctor and have no right to do that. It is one thing if you just gave her the normal dose on the label, and not give her however many pills she demanded.

You can always call her doc and tell them she is abusing the drugs by taking too many at one time. Going through a month of meds in 3 days for example. Plan with the doc to get her into a rehab.
They can also evaluate her mental health too. She is a danger to herself for saying she is going to kill herself. Get her to the hospital and have her admitted. You can do this because she was threatening suicide.
Good luck
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ooops double posted this comment and can't figure out how to delete it. I can delete the words that were in it but not the comment itself. If someone comes along who knows how please tell me or delete this one?
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lucyinthesky Aug 27, 2018
Just wanted to tell you that you could be my little Sister!

When I first saw your pic I was stunned at how much we resemble each other.... bangs and all. My hair is naturally straight now but I used to get perms to achieve your look. We have the same smile and eyes.

I am half Finnish. My Mom is first generation in the US. I could really use a sister right now so I'll just pretend......000xxx
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Is she in pain? It's logical to desire pain medication when one is in pain and there are some types of pain that pain meds are never enough for. Your mom's doctors seem to think she has a reason to be in pain and prescribe the meds they believe she needs. How old is she? I mean if someone is in their 80's I would be much less concerned about an addiction than I would if they are in their 50's. Does she have an illness or injury that has left her in constant pain? If her body is no longer metabolizing the pain meds then she may have a serious illness. I agree with those who said it is very dangerous to force an elderly person to go through withdrawals without medical supervision. So if she's really addicted to them then taking away her pain meds is unwise and possibly dangerous. I believe there are some types of illnesses that are so painful that the people living with them should never be denied relief no matter how many pills they need in order to get that relief. I also know, from personal experience, that there are methods for dealing with pain that don't involve medication. Maybe what she really needs is a doctor who specializes in pain management? Pharmacy's, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, etc are all working together now to red-flag opioid overuse. Using the prescribed dosage is not an addiction. If she's chronically overusing prescriptions it's likely she will be cut off soon enough.
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If you dont know why her doctor is prescribing her the pain medication then you shouldn't "take them away". Obviously her doctor prescribed tem for a reason. It's not your decision unless you have medical POA, or she is in some way mentally incapable of making her own decisions. You said it has been a year since she has received any pain medication. To me, that doesnt sound like an addiction problem. I would suggest asking your mom if she would allow you to accompany her to her next doctors appointment. Find out what is going in for yourself. Stop guessing. I'd be furious if someone withheld my medication because they thought they had the right to. I dont mean to sound harsh but your mom has rights too.
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There does not seem to be a workable solution. You state she is at the end of her life. Perhaps you should just let go and let her have them so her remaining time is more peaceful and YOU get a respite from her. Some things you can't fix.
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Sarak50,
My heart goes out to you and your sister. Also, to your mom who is suffering.
Everyone freaks out when
opioids are mentioned.
Thanks to the government.!!
You say ur mom has Alz/Dem and is 88 years old.
What is her diagnosis for being prescribed norco?
Does she have a physically chronic pain issue?
If so, the medication given
in correct dosage daily would
relieve her pain and also help her depression. Depression comes from many things, just being 88, knowing half your life is over, is depressing!
You can't do the daily things you used to be able to do and that includes doing things you loved. Add terrible chronic pain when you don't have even 5 minutes of relief and anyone would be severely depressed.
Perhaps you can look on the prescription bottle and see what the directions say about how to take...how many and at what times.
I would also get the Doctors name and number and make an appointment with him asap to discuss ALL that is happening with your mom.
If that doctor can't help your mom's situation he can
refer you to Specialists or the proper place-person to go to right away.
In the meantime it might be best for you or your sister to give the medication to your mom as the doctor prescribed. Meaning...don't give the bottle to your mom..
you guys give her the meds.
Opiod withdrawal without
medical help or tapering down first is unbelievably
painful, dangerous and cruel...esp at your mom's age.
It's surprising to me that she can continually get Norco frm different doctors. Most people
have to sign a contract to only get those meds from that doctor. There is a government site online that all doctors have to look at before even prescribing that type of medication to make sure no one is getting this medication elsewhere.
Also a Urine drug test is mandatory every 3 or 6 months.
Hope this helps ...it is never easy....Hugs to you all and prayers
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If someone took away my pain meds and made me withdraw cold turkey, I’d be talking about killing myself too, believe me! That’s because it would feel like I was dying. Only a Doctor should supervise withdrawal, you can’t take this into your own hands and make this decision against your mother and her doctor. I’m sure you thought you were helping, but withholding her meds made things much much worse for her. She needs to be back on them now.
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Kathrynseton Aug 28, 2018
I agree that having her go through non-medically supervised withdrawal is not a good idea. It is potentially dangerous, mentally and physically. If you go the suboxone route, as I said she will likely be hospitalized to ensure her safety. And that will not be full blown withdrawal either. It should be quite manageable.
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It's going to difficult, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE, to stop this addiction. Go to ReformU.com where you can find weekly bible-based meetings through this program. If she is unable to attend, you may want to consider it. You said that you don't know what to do and that is one option. What happens to a person is that they unknowingly become addicted. "Doctor shopping" is the oldest trick in the book for an addict. There comes a time when they become careless about hiding
drugs.
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hmmm, this is disturbing to me. If I make it to her age, my daughters better not take my pain meds away! Good God, unless you have lived with pain, you have no idea how depressing life can be. Even if she is taking them to feel good mentally, who really cares at this age. I hope I can find a doctor to give pain meds to me. Let her be and give her back her meds. Place her in assisted living, if need be, but IMHO she is old and why would you want her to be unhappy at this point in her life? Just my opinion. don't mean to offend. Good luck.
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Kathrynseton Aug 28, 2018
Unfortunately she already is unhappy. The meds aren't making her happy or giving her a better QOL from the sounds of it. I would never dream of advising to simply ignore her pain or take her meds away cold turkey. I'm a chronic pain pt too so I have all the empathy in the world for fellow sufferers. There is obviously a lot of fear-mongering out there, but that being said there IS INDEED a small minority that become psychologically addicted to their meds. The OP has mentioned a great number of warning signs that this is the case with her mom unfortunately. The meds themselves are posing a clear danger from the sounds of it, which is not a situation you want to see. Talking to the right professionals and getting to the bottom of her pain and all available treatment options while addressing her addiction issues are critical to giving her a good quality of life for the time she has left. She will almost certainly have more time if her pain and addiction (and any attendant psych issues) can be addressed!
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