SICKLE CELL AND ADDICTION

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Apparently anyone who suffers from SCD is addicted to various pain killers, namely: pentazocine, naproxen, tramadol, diazepam, codeine and morphine.

This is quite serious and there is no simple solution to the matter.  First of all, not all sickle cell sufferers are addicted to medicine or tablets.  When someone has a crisis, he or she will most probably take one or more of the above, in order to ease the pain.  When the pain eases, some sickle cell sufferer might want to keep on taking the tablets in order to continue to have that high feeling.

On a personal note, I use these tablets as a last resort because I hate the way they make me feel.  When I use these strong opioids painkillers, I am unable to sleep and so it feels as if I am hallucinating and by that I mean I am in a place where it is difficult to describe my feelings while in pain. Also, after taking these strong pain killers, I am left constipated, with stomach cramps and my stomach is bloated plus I then have to sleep a lot afterwards, in order to get the tablets out of my system and drink with plenty of water.

Medical personnel also help to keep us stigmatised about SC patients being addicts to pain killers.   Whenever I have had to go to hospital when having a crisis, I am treated with such contempt when I am asking for more pain killers, when it is time for me to get another shot of morphine.  The situation really upsets me because I am sure that these people have no clue about the kind, type of pain that is ravaging my body.  How dare they withhold any form of relief?

Back to the issue of sickle cell sufferers being drug addicts; in some instances, some people are in pain constantly and take these tablets in order to keep the pain at bay and it equally helps them to function normally on a day to day basis, especially, if that person has a job whereby they cannot afford to take time off work.  As with anything in life, if you keep doing something over and over again, it will become a habit; albeit a good or bad one.

Now, how can a sufferer try and help himself or herself?  How can someone who is dependent on drugs, come off it?  Some people say taking other opiate replacements is the answer. My unsolicited advice would be to wean yourself off the medication,  but it might be too much to stop all at once. 

There is something that is very important before attempting to addiction to any pain medication. And that is to have a very strong will, that you will come off this addiction. You have to want to quit. You also have to stick to it. It is not an easy route because your mind will justify things to you and tell you, you need the tablets. You might think to yourself that it would be okay if you just took the tablets once more today, because you will take one less tomorrow. When quitting pain medication it is very important to stick to the plan. Deviating from that plan will more or less delay the process and make the withdrawal last longer. For those of you who are on high doses of pain medication, it may be necessary to wean down the amount that you take before quitting as going cold turkey can seem impossible.  Most importantly, speak to your doctor about your dependency on pain killers.

Other things that can help are: Drink lots of water. Nothing better than to filter the body and help get rid of the junk in your body faster. The more water the better!  Teas without Caffeine help.  There is a tea called “Sleepy time” that really does wonders and will help you sleep as insomnia is a side effect of withdrawal.  Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase withdrawal effects as well as dehydrate you.   Vitamins and natural herbs help.  Anything you can do to give your body what it has been deprived from is a good thing. Watch out for herbs or vitamins that increase metabolism as the goal is to keep the body slow and slowly let it speed back up to working order.  Nothing fizzy if you can help it. 

Food has never tasted better after quitting pain medication. I’ve heard that fruits with lots of citrus are a good idea.  Food wise, try and eat plenty of okra, as it is really good for you.  A few facts are: The rich fibre and mucous like content in the Okra pods helps ease digested food and constipation conditions.  The pods contains vitamin (A, B complex, C and K) as well as a high amount of anti-oxidants.  The pods equally contain good minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese.   The consumption of food rich in vitamin C helps the body develop immunity against infections, reduced episodes of colds and cough and lastly protects the body from harmful free radicals. 

Another piece of advice would be to stay active. It is easy to want to sleep all day or sit in bed when quitting pain medication. While this can make the time pass I think it is better to stay active. Go to the gym or look for some exercises that are not too strenuous that your body can cope with.

During this time, you might feel depressed or lethargic and probably the best idea would be to do something that will take your mind off of the whole thing.  It also helps to have people around you. 

Wishing you well this new year 2020.

 

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