Recently, I had a serious medical condition requiring surgery. It left me in the hospital for almost 2 months with pain I had never experienced before. It also left me on opiates the whole time. I never felt any real sense of euphoria or “buzz” but I did feel anxious about taking pain meds. I still have pain and a healing journey ahead of me but the pain is manageable with Tylenol. I remain grateful.
Interestingly enough, I never felt a physical or real mental craving – Thank You God. However, during these times, thoughts (Stinking Thinking) would float in my head like “Now you just blew years of sobriety.” “Drinking is better using those pain pills.” The thoughts seem to come out of nowhere. Today, I can think them through and talk to others in recovery so they don’t stay in my head.
What I did to avoid getting addicted is to let the doctors and staff know I was in recovery, have daily phone contact with others in recovery, stay in prayer, read and meditate. I had daily visitors who were in recovery which helped, too. If you need to take pain medicine, make sure you let others know and go armed with your recovery tool box.
When I was in the hospital, I always had a copy of the Big Book on my tray within reach. The picture above is my pain button on top of my AA book that sat on the tray next to my bed. It was a good reminder for me that I am in recovery. I also had 5 professionals that took care of me see the Big Book and mention that they were in recovery or had a sibling in recovery. A subsequent recovery conversation pursued which was like having a mini meeting. For this reason, I am never ashamed to say or hide the fact that I am in recovery. You just don’t know who you might be helping and that may just be yourself.