Did anyone watch the programme on BBC last night called Hooked on painkillers? It seems the more you take the more you need and they stop having any effect in the end.

I've stopped taking tramadol as they don't seem to have any impact on the pain. I've ordered a herbal remedy called Krantom recommended by one of you fellow pain sufferers.

When it arrives I'll let you know how it goes. It is supposed to be non addictive and a good pain killer so I am hopeful.

33 Replies

  • that sounds interesting...something to watch on catch up while nursing a bum hip...;)

    thanks for posting.

  • Just watched it. Really interesting how we get from acute painkilling care to stuffed to the breaches with drugs... The people in the film were not having their pain relieved by the drugs but were stuck on them anyway... What a horrible experience robbed of everything that made them who they were plus still in pain! 😫

  • I can't find it, what was the program called and what channel?

    I looked on I player and searched but nothing came up?

  • It was Panorama last night - the programme is called Hooked On Painkillers, but you'll find it on iPlayer under P for Panorama.

    It was an interesting programme. I've always refused point-blank to go on any opiates, purely because I'd be terrified of getting dependent on them and finding I needed more and more and they still weren't working.

  • Think I'll check it out on I player, thanks.

  • It is something GPs don't warn you about when starting pain meds.

    To be fair to them though, they must treat the first episode of pain as acute. Where it starts to fail is when they decide to give stronger ones because the previous ones were not working.

    At the point of needing an increase GP's should look at alternatives before increasing.

    Unfortunately the only winners are the drug companies and why I refuse to let them ruin my life.

  • Sometimes there are no alternatives. None of us want to get on that route but I can t function without morphine. I couldn't live with the pain. I've been to pain management courses , I meditate every day and my life has become severely restricted. I go nowhere without my tens machine. I've tried alternative remedies but nothing touches the pain.

    Until someone comes up with a solution I'm stuck with these foul pills.


  • I appreciate that.

    I was trying to say that GP's are too quick to prescribe stronger doses without looking at alternatives that may help with mood, mobility, sense of being, which may not provide pain relief but help you to live with it better. If other options have been explored, and painkillers are the only option left, then that is all that's left. Strong painkillers should be the last resort, not the first option.

  • OK... I'm all for the idea... And as I prepare for an appointment with my gp on Friday to talk about increasing my dosage of morphine so I can regain some quality of life... And sit here tonight taking shallow breaths to avoid aggravating my pain more...

    If not narcotics... What? I am in 24/7 pain.

  • Meditation has the same effect when done properly. Has no side effects. Improves all aspects of your wellbeing not just your pain.

    In Italy they do operations using meditation as an anaesthetic.

    Use the brain to overwrite the pain messages.

    Sports physios have extensive knowledge of pain pathways and effective treatments. They teach you how to manage it yourself at home.

    Neither of these have side effects nor dependency

  • Sorry but meditation alone sometimes doesn't have the same effect as medication. If I didn't take the morphine I couldn't meditate as the pain would be so extreme. Even with it some days I can only do 5 mins or so because pain is so distracting. I've been doing mindfulness and other similar meditation practice for about a year and it does help with acceptance and being in the here and now. Its been a great support but on its own not enough.

    Maybe other people get on better though.


  • It bothers me when someone implies that everything can be fixed through meditation.

    I meditate, attend retreats, make golden tea (with 4000mg of curcumin) and all sorts of other alternatives. But to say everything can be managed that way is very disconcerting for a number of people.

  • You are making an error here. An easy one to make as it is difficult to find experts on meditation.

    The distraction is part of the meditation. Do you mean cannot sit for longer than five minutes. In which case I agree.



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  • No sometimes 5 mins is too much. Sometimes I can get beyond it but this is with medication. Even a reduction makes life unbearable.

    When it does work I can meditate for about 30 mins without pain. That will last for 20 mins maybe afterwards.

    Meditation for me is about the acceptance of my pain and disability. That acceptance does help in being able to stop it getting worse.

  • You can meditate lying down. The book I mentioned above gives the instructions for this.

    There is another aspect which is worth exploring. I have found that I can bruise internal body structures. At the time the bruising occurs no pain registers. When the bruised tissue starts to swell from inflammation the pain starts and continues until the inflammation swelling goes down. This is not what a medical person would call an accurate description. However this is what I understands happens in my case from my mindfulness awareness and observation practice. It does enable me to certain extent prevent myself from causing the pain.

    It is worth seeing if you can have or find something similar. My description may need to be modified for your case.

    Just suggesting an experiment for investigation. May be productive or may not.

  • I do try meditating lying down but sometimes there are no positions without pain. Lying on my side can be OK but it restricts the feeling of flowing of breath so I don't like it. Today is a bad day. I will try a five minute session but if not then I will just attempt to breathe though the pains when they come badly and consider that's me meditating in a way. Not letting the pain take hold of my mind as well as my body.

    Thanks for your remarks though I appreciate anyone trying to make suggestions that might help.


  • I play online scrabble against a computer which involves a lot of concentration and takes my mind off the pain quite a bit. It's really absorbing and a good mental exercise.

  • Hi Zanna

    Meditation can have side effects. Hence the need for teachers who have gone and got the tshirt.

    One of the things meditation does is help you drop the physic barriers. If the physic barriers come down too fast you can have problems. Some people never experience the problems this can bring, others do.

    The problems are as far as I know fixable, but do require experienced meditators to provide the knowledge to fix them.

  • Thank you, will check it out. I'm on Tramadol for pain but would have to speak to my transplant team as have to be careful even with herbs n spice so don't reduce effects of anti rejection drugs, but ma be good for partner

  • This is definitely the case for me, I stopped using butrans as it wasn't effective anymore and then had to withdraw, luckily I seem to withdraw well from opiates, just restless legs and needing the loo more, tramadol similar with head shakes like anti depressant withdrawal - I never had relief on tramadol. I do find opiates very effective though and still have some relief from a few doses of codeine a day after a couple of years very regular use - I only take it when in pain and am never craving it for other reasons, in fact the 'high' can stop while pain relief is still effective so perhaps some abuse is increasing dose to retain the 'high'.

    I've found Drs very reluctant to offer opiates, even after surgery I only had a little morphine and I was refused anything stronger or a higher dose of the butrans. I do think opiates are necessary in many cases, perhaps short term for flare ups or using rotation to decrease tolerance. Some people are more likely to abuse or become dependent but it's a shame I end up tarred with the same brush and left to suffer, same with muscle relaxants. I've just exhausted my options with a private physio because my pain and spasm is out of control so she can't help anymore. I've tried the anti depressants and anti seizure medication which have minimal impact and intolerable side effects. I've been in the gym and pool which get me fit but have minimal impact on pain and Pilates has flared me up this week. Injections into the joints etc have a low success rate and if they work are short term. I've only ever had relief using opiates, but better management rather than the blanket refusal I've experienced is needed. I do wonder how many genuine chronic pain patients abuse their medication vs others, most stories I've heard in magazines/forums etc are short term pain issues where the dependence remains long after the reason for taking them. If I'm not in enough pain I don't take them and end up with tummy cramps/restless legs. If I don't take them when in pain I end up in more pain with worse spasm. Balance is needed in this debate.

  • Dependency is both physical and mental. You get side effects if you drop your dose, meaning that your body is dependent on a certain level of the drug to be present.

    Mental dependency is seeking the high, what most abusers look for.

    I suspect most chronic pain people are physical dependents because they want as normal a life as possible. They want the meds to aid them not disable them further by being on a high.

  • The problem with this definition is that dependence is thought of as being the same as addiction. Opiates are addictive for some people and they are 'dependent' on them. Yes they change the brain chemistry and we get withdrawals coming off them. But anti depressants and drugs like gabapentin are not considered dependency forming/addictive but do cause bad withdrawals as they also change the brain chemistry - the brain is then catching up to get back to normal. Gaba withdrawal was far worse than any opiate withdrawal I've had by miles. The only dependence I have to medication is for pain relief. Opiate use doesn't guarantee dependency/addiction, even long term. It's a bit like how some people never get addicted to smoking and stop easily - my dad for example, so perhaps we have a non addiction gene.

    I did watch the programme - I'm not even sure the woman who withdrew was addicted, just needed help to withdraw. She wasn't abusing her drugs unlike others. I'd like to know more about her pain management now, although methadone is helpful for nerve pain apparently.

    It's just important to not penalise all patients because some abuse their medication/are prone to addiction. A blanket ban is unhelpful but better understanding and management would be an improvement. Current alternative pain relief is woefully inadequate.

  • Agree 💖

  • what channel was it on x

  • Panorama BBC one Monday at 8.30

  • I watched the program, it was quite informative. I've been using painkillers for the past six years, opiate tramadol and paracetamol. I agree they are not the answer as I still get a low element of pain and use none drug remedies. I have never been to a pain clinic but have had chronic pain since 1990. I would love to stop these prescription drugs as I feel like the lady on the show that my health feelings are due partly to drug use to control one symptom i.e pain.But how do we approach a doctor about trying other ways? Drugs are not the cure all for everything but having said this a new GP at our surgery has asked me to try amitriptyline which has relieved pain but again I believe it is addictive in long term use and has lots of side effects not least suicidal feelings, which would put off many people from using it. There is no simple solution and definitely no cure for chronic health conditions . But the show made its point.

  • Please don't worry about trying amitriptiline, I presume you have 10mg to start - this is a tiny dose and won't impact on depression or much on brain chemistry. My experience on this drug was a dry mouth and feeling very sleepy were the only side effects. I changed to nortripiline which is slightly newer and I felt less sleepy the next day. I have tried other types of anti depressants which were awful for side effects and I did have suicidal thoughts on citalopram. Amitriptiline is good because it helps pain at a much lower dose than needed for depression. SNRIs like venlafaxine and duloxetine need high doses, more than for depression and the side effects can be intolerable - although we are all different.

    I came off nortripiline earlier this year, I reduced the dose down again to 10mg and used a herbal remedy to help me sleep (valerian). The amitriptiline will help you sleep if nothing else. I had no withdrawal and am considering going back on them. Do try them and do get a referral to a pain clinic, GPs just don't have the expertise.

  • He has started me on 25mg just once a day , thanks for the herbal suggestions as the drugs make me tired and have to fight off the sleepiness some days. Its up to the GP about pain clinic referrals, they see me as managing my pain without referral.

  • If you are struggling with the dose do ask for the 10mg tablets or nortriptiline also at 10mg and slowly build up.

    I don't know your history but I really don't think you should be left taking opiates for so long without help. You have to be very assertive with some Drs and its your decision as to whether you are managing your pain or not. I've had lots of fights to get the right medication or referral, even had a row with the surgeon. The pain clinic was my last hope when GP refused any scans or other referrals, but they made the diagnosis every other HCP had missed. Although I'm about to pay to go private to cut the wait for my next app.

  • Thank you, I often consider private but feel I should not have to use my pension for such things. I am going to try for a few weeks then question where we go from here with my pain issue. I need to find a better solution in the long term if possible

  • I felt really sorry for the 50 something bloke who was obviously in terrible pain both physical and mental... It's all very well telling him he's got a problem (erm... He knows that!) but then telling him the waiting list is as long as your arm... Not really helpful... It's obviously a really big problem and we're struggling for answers!

  • Let me know how it goes thank you

  • Feel that the program was very one sided. I suffer from one of the most painful conditions known to man and I am struggling to get any relief and have multiple flare ups. Last week a GP started me on a Butrans patch and after further pain at the weekend the out of hours doc asked me to try another patch. My GP phones me and is furious. I said that this is actually helping now and she is refusing to give me the higher dose. Due to see pain clinic on Wednesday but they can't be arsed either. I'm 29 and no I don't want to be stuck on drugs but I need some form of life. My GP is scared due to these tight regulations.

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