Published by 89.3 KPCC

Kelli Glazebrook of Fresno lives with chronic pain.

Glazebrook, 38, has a rare autoimmune disease called Behcet’s disease. It causes blood vessel inflammation throughout her body and has led her to develop other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and spinal degeneration.

She says she generally manages her pain through healthy eating, yoga and meditation. Glazebrook takes a high dose of ibuprofen when her pain escalates. But when her pain really flares up, she says, it’s hard to think, she feels grumpy and it’s hard to eat.

Her doctor has prescribed Vicodin for moments like these, when she needs short-term relief from what she calls “breakthrough pain.”

“The opioid, if I’m in a really bad place, lets me reset it almost,” Glazebrook says, “where I can get something to eat, I can take a nap, or go to sleep, or wake up the next day, and it kind of snaps that cycle, breaks it a bit, so that I can get back to doing what I normally do.” She says she does this once every couple of weeks.

Amidst an epidemic of opioid misuse and abuse, health officials and medical providers are trying to crack down on the use of opioids for chronic pain. While the drugs are effective for treating short-term, acute pain, their long-term use is associated with an increased risk of accidental overdose, addiction and death.

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