I'm in kind of a strange situation, and would like to know what you guys think of this scenario.
I have a friend, who've I known a while that is addicted to prescription, narcotic, pain killers. However, the problem is not so cut and dried as that. She has a legitimate reason for using the drugs, and is in a pain management program. I didn't even know she was a full blown addict until an incident that occurred on Friday. I knew she took pain killers for her condition, but I didn't know the depths of the problem she had with them.
Many years ago she was in an accident that left her with permanent, painful, damage to her knees, hips and back. She's been taking percocet and morphine in a pill form since then. She also has manic depressive disorder and is on other drugs to treat that, but I don't know what they are. On Friday afternoon, the purse-bag-thingy she keeps her prescriptions in was stolen from her car. She called me, and was completely inconsolable. I've never seen this side of her before. She was out of her mind crazy at the mere thought that she was going to have to go a while before she could have her prescriptions again. The pain management center was closed, obviously, and she couldn't get a hold of her doctor. She was asking me if I had any drugs of this type, if I knew anyone who had some for sale, etc. Only she was yelling, angry, and crying at the same time. She was threatening to kill herself, threatening violence if she didn't get her drugs, and was basically going completely mental! She hadn't even missed her next scheduled dose yet, so again, it was just the thought of going without that caused this reaction.
Then I found out even more. Sometimes she goes through her prescriptions too quickly, and buys more pills on a black market, which is apparently a pretty big and thriving market. I was genuinely concerned for her, and called the paramedics to check her out. The Sheriff's department showed up as well, and the deputies did a good job of calming her down, even though she used language and made statements I never though I'd hear from her in front of the officers. She didn't get arrested or anything though, and I told the deputies I'd look after her. Later on that night she got sick from withdrawal, and I ended up taking her to the E.R. After explaining to the doctor that she was in pain management, that her prescriptions had been stolen, and showing him the police report, the E.R. doctor wrote her prescriptions to keep her covered until the pain management office opened this morning. Within 30 to 45 minutes of getting these temporary prescriptions filled, and getting them back in her system, she was all back to normal.
This whole ordeal left me kind of baffled. I spent the weekend thinking and praying about this predicament, and still don't have a clue as to how to help her. In a normal addiction there are many programs which are designed to help people abstain from their poison of choice. In this scenario, she must take the pain killers in order to have any quality of life, she doesn't have the option of quitting them. Does anyone have any experience helping to manage this kind of addiction? It's like she's forced by circumstance to stay addicted, but she needs to learn how to manage the addiction. Does anyone even know where to look or where to start? Doctor's create this type of addict out of necessity. They can't "fix" the problem in any way, all they can do is treat the associated pain. There's got to be some sort of support framework for people in this situation, but I don't know what it is or how to find it.
I also have a concern that like most addictions, narcotic addiction might be progressive and in the future she'll require more and more drugs to get the same effect. Since she's supplementing her legal prescriptions with buying extra drugs illegally, there's a risk of overdose, fake medication, and all the problem involved with illegal drug use.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.