The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Pain and medication

Medication can play a role in helping to live with long-term pain. But all medications have side effects, and side effects can become very difficult to live with over time, sometimes to the point where continuing to take the medication seems unhelpful. If this is the case, it might be worth considering reducing your pain medication. However, we know this is extremely challenging. Being afraid of what might happen if you reduce your medication is one of the biggest challenges. Many people fear that they may not be able to cope if the pain gets worse.

Unfortunately, when you first start reducing your medication, things could get worse before they get better, but the benefits can be worthwhile! After reducing medication, many people report feeling clear-headed and return to feeling more like their normal selves again. Other benefits might include improved attention, memory, and concentration, as well as reduced mood swings.

Your benefits might not become clear until after you start reducing your pain medication - you may find that it was actually making you feel worse rather than better, or that it is just as helpful at a lower dose and has fewer side effects.

Here are some ‘top tips’ from people who have reduced their pain medication:

  • Try and approach it with an open mind
  • Talk to people that are close to you about how you’re feeling
  • Remind yourself of how well you’ve done whenever you reach a goal
  • Take it slowly, reduce gradually
  • Remember there will be ups and downs when reducing your pain medication, but there were ups and downs when taking high doses too!

Learn more about pain and medication