Exploring the lived experience of adults using prescriptions opioids to manage chronic non-cancer pain
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The use of prescription opioids for chronic non-cancer pain is complex. Opioids have the potential to alleviate discomfort and increase ones overall ability to function but, long term use also has potential physical and psychological impacts. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of adults who use prescription opioids to manage chronic non-cancer pain. Nine participants were recruited and interviewed. Participants were asked to describe how using prescription opioids had affected their lives. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed thematically using Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Eight themes emerged from the data: the process of decision making, physical effects of using opioids, social consequences of using opioids, Guilt, fears, ambivalence, self-protection, and acceptance. Using opioids made pain more manageable and improved function for most of the participants. Nevertheless, using opioids was also associated with stigma, guilt, fears and ambivalence about their future as persons with chronic pain.