Hi Kurt and welcome!
I understand why it's hard to explain to a new person in your life about addiction and what you are doing to stay in recovery.
One thing I would make understood is that you didn't become addicted to pain pills because you are a bad or immoral person. If you were, you wouldn't have told her about your addiction in the first place, because you know how judgmental people can be about addiction. I would give her information about addiction. I would let her know that certain people are genetically pre-disposed to addiction given certain circumstances. Then, when you use opioids for even legitimate purposes, the pleasure/reward circuits in your brain are changed by the drug. Once your brain is changed by addiction, it never goes away, so it needs to be managed.
I would tell her that you are one of the lucky ones because there is now a medication prescribed by doctors that puts your addiction into a remission of sorts. It's called buprenorphine, and what it does is it occupies the opiate receptors in your brain so that you can't feel the cravings for more opiates, which is what you would otherwise have to deal with. Because buprenorphine blocks those receptors, you could even shoot up heroin and it would affect you because the medication is so strong at blocking opiates.
She may ask how long you will be on this medication. You can tell her that you and your doctor have had discussions about this. Your doctor has said that since addiction to opiates is a lifelong condition, you should continue taking it, just like a diabetic will continue to take insulin. It's a chronic condition that requires that you take an active role in managing it.
I would then tell her that one of the reasons that you started taking pain pills was because you have problems with chronic pain. Your physical job causes stress on your (low back, neck, joints whatever you have pain from) and causes chronic pain in those areas. The great thing about buprenorphine is that it not only blocks powerful opiates that can cause an overdose, but it also provides some relief from chronic pain. Between buprenorphine and advil, your chronic pain is taken care of. Therefore your doctor wants you to stay on buprenorphine for the time being. And since the medication doesn't impair your mind or cause side effects, you are a good candidate to stay on buprenorphine for now.
You can also explain that there are people who work in the addiction treatment industry who badmouth suboxone/buprenorphine online and in articles, because when people are on an effective medication like buprenorphine, they don't need to go to 30 to 90 day residential rehabs which often cost upwards of 30K a month. This segment of the treatment industry is so afraid of losing revenue that they will say negative things about this medication that works much better than residential treatment. It's a fact that 90% or more of addicts undergoing abstinence based treatment will relapse on their drug of choice quickly after they graduate from the treatment program. And since the tolerance of these opiate addicts is way down after 30 days of abstinence, many relapse on their regular dose and die because that amount is now too much for them.
You might want to have her look up the NIDA website www.drugabuse.gov
This site is filled with scientific information about addiction. There are now many scientific studies that prove the efficacy of buprenorphine for opiate addicts. NIDA has done a ton of research on how addiction changes the brain and what addicted people are up against. I find it to be a valuable website for people who don't have a great understanding on how addiction works.
I hope that anything I am suggesting ends up being helpful to you. It is the truth as I have studied it for graduate school.