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Man reaching out in desperation to treatments including a TENS unit and an online forum that are just out of reach

I Am An Addict

A look into the addictive mind of a chronic pain patient…

If you listen to the news, chronic pain patients are the largest group of addicts in the world. Every day, on the top of the broadcast, they push some story about some doctor who was guilty of prescribing opioid pain relievers. They make them sound like they are equivalent to the back-alley heroin dealer and they are causing pain patients to become addicts.

While I don’t wish to get political and comment on the “opioid crisis”, I do have a confession to make.

I am an addict

And, while I can’t speak for all my Spondylitis brothers, sisters, and non-binary siblings, I imagine they are all addicts as well. Understand me when I say, I’m not an addict in the way the news media wants patients to be. My addiction is quite different. Simply put…

I’m addicted to feeling good!

I don’t want to feel high. Nor do I want to be lifted to some interstellar level of feeling and consciousness. What I really want is to feel as good as Joe and Jane.

Simply to do anything I can with as little pain as possible. Go for a run, work 40 hours, go home and cook a meal, and have enough energy to have a social life. The daily activities that Joe and Jane get to experience every day without a second thought.

In the quest to just feel “normal” I am willing to do anything I can just to achieve homeostasis. Again, not high, not flying, not circling Venus and back, just average.

So, I take my meds, get massages, go to the chiropractor, hook myself up to electrodes, soak in hot baths, hang upside down, search online, talk with other AS and chronic pain patients, and desperately hope to find something that works!

It doesn’t always work

But, even if I do find something that relieves my pain and stiffness, there is always a chance for disappointment when something that worked before stops working, or causes me to feel worse. Because, treatments are rarely consistent. They are either total pleasure or pain.

I love how I feel after my chiropractor adjusts my non-fused sections of my spine. But, there are always times I’m in bad shape (literally) and I’m too inflamed to be manipulated. A hot bath and a good sweat does wonders for loosening me. But, I usually end up hurting more from sitting on a hard surface. I waited all week to inject my biologic to finally feel better, but this time around, it didn’t take. I’m looking for any relief I can find, and I only find disappointment.

So, I will keep searching, keep trying, and keep hoping that I can find some treatment that will allow me to just feel “normal”.

People say we are addicts, when all we want is to be addicted to life.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Sagittarius
    6 months ago

    Loved this article…. I completely relate!

  • Jed Finley moderator author
    6 months ago

    So glad you could relate.
    I share these thoughts and feelings with the hope that they can connect with others in our community.
    In what ways does this article speak to your experience?
    -Jed (Team Member)

  • Anthony Carrone moderator
    6 months ago

    Thanks for reading, @sagittarius! I’m tagging the author @jed-finley to share your feedback. Sending postive vibes your way! -Anthony (Team Member)

  • JWBuck
    6 months ago

    35 years of searching for relief….what is normal ??? I dont know any more….gave back those opiods 2 years ago because of the associated stigma (addict)

  • Jed Finley moderator author
    6 months ago

    People ask me what I would do if I didn’t have AS. And the truth is, I can’t even imagine not being in pain. I don’t have any clue what “normal” feels like, but from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty good.
    I’m sorry the stigma got you. You’re not alone in that.

  • cpace63
    6 months ago

    My nephew calls me a druggie joking around he says he isn’t one anymore. But he actually did drugs he says he knows I take mine to be able to get out of bed everyday. He did his to start with to get high later on because he had to. He has been clean for 15 years.

  • Lawrence "Rick" Phillips moderator
    6 months ago


    A few weeks after I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes I was on a train going west. I was 17 and on an adventure but I was also a newly diagnosed type 1. I was most just trying to feel my along the path of chronic illness.

    While i was giving myself an injection the vial dropped out of my hand went rolling down the aisle of the train car. Of course i chased it, I need that insulin for my trip, if it breaks or I lose it, everything is over immediately.

    I caught up with the vial several seats later and in front of two elderly ladies. One lady says look that boy has insulin. The other one said yeah that stuff is addictive.

    I said yeah no shit lady, and I cannot kick the habit. They called the porter to report me.

    That was the first thing I thought of when i read your title. So all I can say is me as well Jed, and I cannot kick the need to feel better. I got it bad, real bad. 🙂

  • Jed Finley moderator author
    6 months ago

    Rick, that is ridiculous! Insulin is addictive.. wow.. I hope the porter didnt give you trouble.

    The bottom line is, people just need to mind their own business.

    Why anyone thinks it is ok to stick their noses in and mess with our medical care, is baffling.

    Thanks for sharing your story and adding to the conversation.

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