By: Ariel Fixler

Do you have someone in your life on pain medication? Someone who is using pain medication to alleviate the pain of his or her debilitating or chronic illness. Do you feel they have turned into someone you hardly recognize? They are scattered in their thought process and slow in their physical movements. Well, it’s the drugs. Hard drugs are rough on all emotional and physical levels. They strip the patient of any sort normalcy and consistency.

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When dealing with a patient on any mind altering and physically numbing drug there are points to keep in mind. They are on another level of cognitive function and emotional vulnerability. They are able to live pressure free. They are also in somewhat of a fog.

In layman’s terms they are tripping balls. It’s a blunt way to explain that they are high and need help with regular cognitive and physical function. This may even be their first time on hard drugs in their lifetime. Many people are a lot purer than you think.

On these drugs, they have lost control and can no longer be counted on for rational or cognitive decision-making. 

So how do you prepare?

  • If you know someone who is transitioning to pain medication (whether it be morphine or any form of pain medication or sedative) try to talk to him or her beforehand about life altering choices.
  • Hopefully, you may have done this as a preemptive measure before they began any form of care. Decisions about a DNR, a will, power of attorney, a health directive and any decisions regarding hospice or palliative care should be discussed (before starting a pain management regimen).
  • Once they begin a regimen, they just want to drift and drift away into a peaceful and interrupted slumber. That doesn’t mean death, it means choosing peace and comfort. Living their best life under their lucid or less than lucid dream cycle.
  • Prepare yourself for a possible emotional roller coaster. Pain and palliative care brings out true and raw emotions to the surface. People tend to usually be calmer, but they will also be at their most honest and possibly brutal.
  • Be prepared for some secret sharing sessions or some remorse on what could have been and what has been going on. They are paradoxically the most aware, yet also completely unaware at the same time.
  • Many people want to make peace and be their most mature and calm selves. Many people use this time just to rest.
  • It’s not a time to try schedule visits or rely on a course of constant communication.
  • My most steadfast advice to be associated with mind altering morphine is “let them be”. I used to call morphine the moron drug. Not for the reasons you would assume. I was always so cerebral and forward thinking, too much for my own good. It was my cognitive crux. Morphine and pain management allowed me to be my least cerebral self and not be this Type A hyper planned control freak. I could just be and exist with a weight off of my chest. I was free just TO BE and that was liberating.