On a sunny day in 2008 I woke up with my first migraine headache—and I had it (in one form or another) every day for the next 1000 days. Three years of acute pain, of medical tests, and of medications. Three years of panic, fear, and tears. Worst of all, my three-year battle with migraines brought me face to face with narcotic painkiller addiction.
Apparently I’m not alone:
That’s a whole lot of folks in pain and taking painkillers. Let me share with you a bit about my story and how God brought healing and redemption to me.
There’s an adage about addiction which says; “One is too many, and a thousand is never enough”. That phrase perfectly describes what it’s like to be dependent on painkillers. During my battle with migraines and painkiller addiction I found myself between a rock and a hard place. I desired to stop taking the narcotics—but I was in massive amounts of pain. Yet, the truth of the matter was I was also taking painkillers when I was only in moderate pain. I began to play the game of “How much pain am I in?” I was constantly in a state of monitoring my pain level to assess if it was an appropriate time to take a pill. And let’s just be honest here and admit there’s a “payoff” for taking a pain pill; a euphoric high, which is the reason why narcotics are so addictive. Long-term narcotic use is like a runaway train… once it has gained speed, it becomes difficult to stop.
Looking back, some of the creative and inventive ways I came up with to try to manage my Vicodin use seem almost comical to me now. Yet, at the time I was willing to do almost anything to outwit, outlast, and outplay addiction. But here’s the thing: you can’t outwit, outlast, or outplay addiction. Addiction wins every time.
But I tried… oh how I tried! Here are a few of the circus acts I performed hoping to stave off pain medication dependence:
I came across the following quote shortly before I began my journey to go pain-med free.
“Until we make the decision that we will not go back, regardless of how painful it gets, we will not go forward with the force of faith that it will take to fulfill our destiny.” -Rick Joyner
I taped that quote on my refrigerator and read it about a 100 times a day. I also held tightly to this Scripture found in Jonah 2:8, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” I hated the thought of “forfeiting” the very grace I needed to fight addiction and receive physical healing from God. I was ready to lay my idol down, once and for all.
Armed with God’s clear directive, the support of my family and closest friends, and that anointed quote from Rick Joyner, I went off all pain meds cold turkey. (I don’t necessarily recommend the “cold turkey” method. If you are dealing with prescription painkiller addiction, seek your doctor’s advice).
During those first few days and weeks I battled extreme migraine pain, fear, insomnia, and anxiety. I was shaky, nauseous, achy, and sicker than a dog. I endured each day the best I could, and I clung to God. I knew this was His direction for my life… so I obeyed. I provided the “willingness” and the Holy Spirit provided the supernatural strength. It’s hard to explain, but while on one hand it was agony to resist the temptation to medicate myself with narcotic painkillers—on the other hand I was able to somehow endure, resist, and conquer because of the courage and grace God supplied me. It was difficult… but not impossible.
During this time the Lord spoke 1 John 3:21-22 to me: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.”
This Scripture provided a breakthrough for me! The key was—“ifour hearts do not condemn us…” It had been impossible for me to stand in faith for my healing because my heart condemned me over my Vicodin abuse. I had lost my “confidence before God”. Once I began to walk in the revealed will of God for my life, my confidence returned and I waited in holy expectation for my healing.
Although my healing was not instant, it did come… Over the course of months I recovered from my illness! In my case, I believe my healing was dependent upon my obedience. Not because God was “holding out on me”. Goodness no! God doesn’t heal us because we are good. He heals us because He is good. And yet, I had a block to that healing flow because of my dependency on my precious painkillers—instead of on God’s promise of healing. Once I no longer had the option of taking matters into my own hands and euphorically medicating myself, I became wide open to the supernatural power of God. And He came! He came and healed me, and He’ll do the same for you!
** This article is an excerpt from Paula Friedrichsen’s book, “A Season of Breakthrough: Four Strategies to Living a Life of Sustained Freedom”.
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