M is for Methadone

On and off, depending on the severity of my pain I have been taking a time-release narcotic in pill form.  It is a pill that is stronger than morphine and is given to me under the care of my primary physician.  I take it in two doses, a high dose three times a day and a smaller dose as needed for when my usual dose isn’t cutting it, or, for “breakthrough” pain.  It has no acetaminophen or ibuprofen so does not damage my stomach from long term use. I have had no side effects and I think it is one of the greatest pain drugs for people in chronic pain.

The problem?  Just my CO-PAY for my regular dosage for one month is over $400.  If I add in the smaller dose, which I do not always take, that runs me about an extra $250 per month.

Sure, these time-release opioids work great, but they are all new and there are no generic brands for them.  My wonderful pharmacist breaks my prescription up into amounts of $50 and now that we have Grant’s disability money, in amounts of $100.  You can read about a time when a pharmacist was not so nice to me about helping me with this enormous expense here.

No matter how you slice it, I am still paying about $650 per month out of pocket.  So, what do people do when when they can no longer afford their outrageously expensive meds?

They go on Methadone.

Yeah, you read right, that Methadone.  The legal drug they give to heroin addicts which works on them the way heroin works but is legal.  Methadone emerged in the 1950s as a primary treatment for opioid addiction and is still the primary therapy for it.

For people who use it for chronic pain it is given in a different way and can be very effective. It would cost me about $30 a month, instead of $650.

Yeah, but it’s Methadone.

Several months back I talked about going on Methadone.  My doctor said that if I could afford to keep paying for my current treatment, that he really liked the way it worked in conjunction with the rest of my medications.  I love it because I have never felt any side effects from it.  Grant and I talked it over back then and we decided it was important for me to stay on my drug.  Who wants to fool around trying to figure out the right dosage, and run the risk of possibly life-threatening side effects when you start on a new pain med?

But now is now, and I just can’t keep paying what I am paying to manage my pain.  My doctor said that at first he would start me off at a lower dosage to work my way up to the amount that is right for me. During this time I’m “not going to do well” because I will be taking roughly half of my usual pain medication to work my way up and I worry that I might end up in the hospital with mind-blowing pain.  I worry that I will be able to function even less than I usually do and I worry that my son might see me screaming in pain.

And of course, it’s Methadone.

Everyone knows what that drug is, everyone knows the primary reason people take the drug. My doctor did say that it is many patients’ experiences that their friends and family look at them differently when they find out they are taking Methadone for pain management.  That in their minds this confirms it, that their sick loved one is truly a drug addict.

Of course, I don’t have to tell anyone I am taking Methadone.  But maybe I should because that’s what I am all about; breaking down stereotypes and educating.  How many more friends can I lose anyway?  What do I care if a stranger knows I am taking Methadone?

All I know is, I cannot go on paying this outrageous amount of money every month.  I must make a decision soon, but I pretty much already know what that decision will be.

Yeah, but it’s Methadone. 

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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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