Breaking Out of Pain Management Prison: Brave Client Shares His Struggles With Addiction After Life-Altering Work Injury
Let’s imagine you’ve been injured at work or maybe it was in a bad car wreck or motorcycle accident.
In a workers’ compensation case, once you’ve reached that plateau of recovery called Maximum Medical Improvement you are often released on an “as needed” basis by your orthopaedic surgeon or neurosurgeon. Sometimes injured workers don’t need any more care. Sometimes, however, an injured worker needs continued management of ongoing pain that couldn’t be fixed with surgery or therapy. These people often get sent to pain management.
If you’re dealing with the wreck scenario, maybe you’ve come as far as you can come with surgeries and immediate care and your doctors have prescribed you pain pills to get by. While these medications are necessary in most serious injury situations and do alleviate pain and/or make the activities of daily living more bearable, they may make you feel less like your yourself. Some folks have told us that they are completely different people when they are on pain medications: Aggressive, angry, dangerous, depressed, with loss of interest in responsibilities, loss of sexual desire, and have become unrecognizable to family and friends.
The first time people tend to come into contact with highly addictive pain management drugs during the course of their lives is when they have been seriously injured. In the whirlwind of debilitating pain, bills, uncooperative insurance companies, inability to work, or job loss altogether, and the significant financial hardships created by these events, it is understandable how a a vulnerable person could fall victim to the throws of addiction and self-over-medication of prescription drugs.
This scene is what Rocky McElhaney Law Firm client, Alex Douglas knows all too well. He has blessed us not only with his continual trust to manage his workers’ compensation case but also with his bravery in telling his very personal account of addiction his to pain management drugs for all the world to hear with the hopes that it can save a person out their from the same struggles. This is Alex’s story:
“I’m going to say right now, my story is not going to be like everybody else on here but God gives us all different struggles and I hope this helps somebody. This firm has helped me through one of the darkest times of my life.
On January 3, 2012, I got the call that I had been fired after enduring a horrible neck injury from getting hurt at work a year prior. Bills were behind, my car was broke down, and so was I. They cut my insurance off, they cut my comp check off. Everything stopped in one day. I had to leave my apartment. I had no where to live. They called me and told me they were sending me to pain management and that there was nothing else they could do for my injury.
Three years went by, I kept telling the pain management doctor that I knew it was not muscle pain. Every visit, I would tell the doctor that I could hardly move, that it felt like lightning was striking across my body. I couldn’t move my fingers. Finally, they sent me for a test and told me that my work injury had worsened. The disk had moved and was sitting right on top of the nerve. They told me the only way they could treat it was with steroid shots and pills and that they wouldn’t do surgery- which is what I really needed to correct the issues.
I couldn’t do anything I loved anymore. I couldn’t be with my grandkids. I couldn’t play music. I couldn’t leave the house without taking a pill. I was so depressed and ashamed. I’d never been addicted to anything. I felt like nothing.
I did things I’m not proud of but I couldn’t handle the pain. Work comp didn’t care, they sent me a letter to tell me that they would no longer provide me with care because I ended up abusing the pills that they got me hooked on. I didn’t want to be me anymore. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I couldn’t trust anyone. The only person I could call was Rocky.
I told Rocky he was my last hope, the only person that could help me. Rocky told me “If you listen to me and get off these pills, I will get you through this- everything will be alright, Alex.” And that’s when my life changed- finally for the better.
Rocky and Dena got me to the right medical care. They pushed for it. They wanted me to feel like I was a somebody and I was worth it. And somehow, when I thought all was lost, I made it out of depth of the withdrawals and the temptation of pills and I saw myself at the end of the tunnel again. I know looking back that God, Rocky, my girlfriend, and my good friends and very spiritual family are the only reason I that am still here today.
It wasn’t easy. I didn’t want to at first. But they got me around the curve. They saved my life from a place I never thought it could go. Rocky fought for me.
And now, after living on $75 a week for four years it was an unbelievable feeling to be able to provide for my family, to buy my kids and grandkids Christmas presents, to be able to laugh and enjoy people. I have a new car that I’m proud of and so thankful for. I still live in a lot of pain everyday but I’d rather sometimes lay in my bed all day then destroy my life with another pill. I know some can handle them, but I learned I cannot. I’m living drug-free and I’ve won my life back. Getting injured at work and dealing with work comp and their doctors took so much from me. But Rocky Law helped me get my life back and I’m stronger for it. This firm represents freedom to me.”
What Pain Management Addiction Can Do to Your Family and Your Case
Narcotic pain medication is seemingly prescribed like candy at some doctors’ offices- too much, too soon, and sometimes too high of a dose for the patient. Like any inappropriate medical treatment, the wrong pain management plan can take a good, honest, hard worker who is a happy-go-lucky, “first in-last out” type of person who has never touched a drug or drink in his/her life and a month or two later, after high dose narcotic medication, turn them into a dishonest, short-tempered, anxious wreck who is showing signs of drug-seeking behavior at the doctors office by asking for more medication when it shouldn’t be needed or asking the doctor to prematurely up his or her dose. Sadly, just as Alex depicted for us, this cycle can be destructive to not only the injury victim but to their entire family. It can also catastrophically damage any personal injury or workers’ compensation claim. And too be honest, that’s what the insurance companies want. They want you to de-value your own claim by damaging your character and your right to the full compensation for your injuries. In workers’ compensation, two failed drug tests (too much OR too little of your prescription in your system or something there that shouldn’t be, like a different pain medication or a drug like marijuana) and you are no longer allowed access to narcotic pain medications. Just like that, the insurance company gets to save all the money it would have spent on that worker’s prescriptions.
This is a topic that has been pressed upon our hearts to discuss with our public. We know over the years that many individuals we’ve helped have struggled in this way, some more- some less. But every struggle is important and has a story to tell that could change someone’s life for the better. We are so thankful to Alex for opening up to us and our friends and law firm family and allowing himself to be helped. Thankfully, Alex’s story is one of hard-fought victory and we’re proud to be able to honor him in this post for all he’s accomplished. Alex wants everyone to know that victory doesn’t come easy when what helps you becomes what hinders you, but that it is worth fighting for. That your future is worth fighting for. Your family is worth fighting for. Your happiness is worth fighting for.
Our Role in Victory
Our goal at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm goes beyond just fighting for fair compensation for injury victims, it involves working to heal the whole person. You won’t find this kind of comprehensive caring at any other law firm. It’s something sewn into the fabric of each and every person who works here- each lawyer and each paralegal. We know our clients have been through some of the most traumatic events and injuries that people can go through, and while we can’t erase the past we can do our very best to get them the medical care they need, the appropriate rehabilitative treatments they may require as a result of their initial injuries, we can fight for a better way of life, and a clearer, more enjoyable and secure future. We can do it together. We fight for you! (615) 425-2500
Learn More About Workers’ Compensation Law: