I think my mother is addicted to painkillers, what should I do?

Familytorn asked...

i think my mother is addicted to painkillers. she hurt her back several years ago and has had three back surgeries. she constantly complain of being in pain. she has said the pills no longer work and seeks more medication. she has stopped seeing her grandchild and has pushed all family members away. i believe my father to be an enabler, he only makes excuses and says there is nothing wrong. i cant talk to either of them without an arguement. i need help. what should i do? how do i confront them to get my mother some help.?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Reading through your letter, I know that you are frustrated with your mother. Speaking from experience, I know it is difficult to help people who are having problems and then refuse your help or advice.

Your mother actually sounds like she has chronic pain from her back surgeries. Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than 6 months, and it can be very difficult to deal with. It is hard to treat with medications alone, as there is often a nerve pain component as well as musculoskeletal pain. It is also associated with higher rates of depression, which is sounds like your mother may have. This may be why she won't see her grandchildren or other family members. Think about it this way- it is hard to be fun and social when you are in excruciating pain.

What I would suggest is that your mother needs to see a pain specialist to get the help she needs. She may need an antidepressant, as well as other special medications besides painkillers, as she told your herself that they do not work anymore.
Good luck!