The intertwined themes that emerge from these passionately told narratives demonstrate how difficult it can be to navigate chronic pain. Many authors describe the labor of living in chronic pain, and several refer to their use of opioid medication as a tool to facilitate participation. The relationship between tolerance, dependence, and addiction is touched on in a handful of narratives, with some authors confronting-and seemingly internalizing-the stigma of addiction in seeking to regulate their opioid use. A related theme is the reduction of opioid medication; a few authors pronounce consensual tapering as beneficial, while others denounce non-consensual tapering as harmful. Most authors also assert their right to make pain management decisions without bureaucratic interference, suggesting that they and other chronic pain patients face reduced access to opioid prescriptions as a result of inappropriately applied governmental guidelines. As richly detailed and informative as these narratives are, they scarcely engage with the reality that chronic pain disproportionately burdens patients who are less privileged in terms of education, race, gender, and class.
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