This is a great question!!! But unfortunately, I have found it to be a very touchy subject among health care professionals. But to answer your question very quickly, YES a LOT of chronic pain patients are labeled drug seekers.
Yes, Crohns disease is very painful. As you probably know, narcotics are very constipating. This is the only side effect that continues for as long as a person takes them (whereas other s/e usually wane after time, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, etc). Crohn's patients often have trouble with narcotics for this very reason, and they may take a lot longer to find the right medication regimen that works for them.
I do not work as a nurse anymore, because I am dealing with cancer. However, before that, I had some severe back problems. Problems so bad that after 6 years I was put on long-term opiates. I am afraid to say what or how much, and I actually am afraid to even post this here. Let's just say, that I am on a large amount, probably similar to levels that made some of the other posters say nurses cringed at in their departments. Since my cancer occurred, my pain has gotten much worse, but I have refused to increase my doses, despite the weekly offers from my doctors.
Chronic pain is such an misunderstood problem. Even acute pain is sometimes not always treated adequately in hospitals. I can say from my own experience, that nurses don't always understand how to treat pain in a patient like me. When I needed surgery, the doctor wrote for me to be started on my "regular baseline" pain med dosages after surgery. However, the nurse on duty refused to give it to me, thinking the IV PRN doses would "cover her pain, because she is on WAY TOO MUCH!!!". Thankfully I had my best friend at my side, who tried to intervene, asking why I hadn't been given my regular meds. Despite being ordered them, the nurse simply refused to give them. Well, I had my own bottles, and I eventually took my own. When my doctor came around to check on me, I informed him what had happened, and he was furious. I don't know what happened, but I did get my regular meds after that. I did need a couple extra "rescue" doses on my first post-op day, but after that I did without. I didn't like the rolling of the eyes, the sighs, or the nasty looks when my nurses came into my room. I heard from a friend later on, who worked PRN on that floor, that i was the subject of many "she's an addict" discussions.
I'm in no way saying every nurse is like this, or even most nurses. Just saying that they are out there (just as there are pharmacists, doctors, PA's, etc who think that way). I know some people ARE addicts, but I am not. I never self-escalate doses, I see my pain doc on schedule always, inform any doc who treats me what meds I am on, etc.
Sometimes, what seems like "drug-seeking" behavior is actually because patients are under-treated for pain. It's not incredibly common, but it does happen. Those cases usually resolve when an adequate regimen for pain is found (and that doesn't always just mean pills...can include PT, interventional pain techniques, etc). It's sometimes referred to as "pseudo-addiction". Just because someone takes opiates on a long-term basis does not make them an ADDICT. Addiction is a complex disease, and people who suffer with it cannot control their intake of their drug of choice. However, those who ARE on long-term opiates do go into withdrawal if they abruptly stop their medications, just like an addict would.
I will stop babbling here, but you asked a wonderful question. I almost regret posting all this on here, as I have gotten some nasty pm's before for posting about this. If you want to learn about chronic pain management, it would be a great asset to you as you start in nursing. They require different management then a person who does not take long-term opiates. If you google opioid dependence, and also addiction, I am sure you will find some great information. If you are very interested, you could pm me and I can tell you some good references.
I wish you much luck on your career in nursing...I wish I could go back myself. However, I don't think it's in the cards for me.