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Pills are not the only way to manage chronic pain like mine

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I’m writing this column on codeine. Chronic illness means I’ve been taking painkillers daily for two years, and I’m not the only one: between 2017 and 2018, 5.6 million adults in England were taking opioids; of those, 540,000 had been taking them for at least three years.It’s a strange beast to deal with, permanent illness. Humans are used to acute pain – a stubbed toe, childbirth, a broken arm. We are not designed for lasting pain, the sort that rears its head on an ordinary Tuesday morning and is still there five long years later. We don’t really know how to talk about it, or provide ways of coping.

There’s been a flurry of headlines in recent months warning of the increasing use of painkillers, particularly opiates, in the UK. GP prescriptions in England for opioids – drugs such as morphine and oxycodone – doubled between 2007 and 2017 to 23.8m.

Overuse of painkillers is a serious issue, as is the fact that many people take medication that ultimately doesn’t make them feel better (it’s thought as few as one in 10 patients with chronic pain not linked to cancer may benefit from such drugs), or leaves them vulnerable to addiction. But for those of us whose health conditions leave us in need of pain relief, a discussion on this level can feel far from useful. There’s little........

© The Guardian