Everyone forgot all the bankers who launder the $$$ for the cartels. I’m all for it as soon as he beheads all the execs at HSBC. Start with them then the big pharma execs and then of course the CIA who uses the money to fund their black ops around the globe and I’m on board.
Ask anyone in America with chronic pain about so called lax prescribing practices of doctors in America! This is absolutely not true! I developed chronic pain in 2004, before anyone ever mentioned an opioid epidemic, but after a legitimate California doctor was sucessfully prosecuted as being “The greatest drug dealer and mass murderer in American history” by an overzealous DEA agent in the Bush administration, all hell had broken loose. This doctor was severely prosecuted because he treated patients who died of cancer who had severe pain by using morphine. This is standard medical care for patients dying of cancer! This foolish DEA agent did not understand that it is normal for patients who die very painful deaths from cancer to have significant amounts of morphine in their bodies after death. To do otherwise would be extremely cruel and verge on malpractice! The extreme ignorance of this DEA agent, the extreme cowardice of other medical doctors and members of the California State Board of Medicine, and the Bush administration for prosecuting doctors as if they are drug dealers for treating severe cancer pain in dying patients, and the general ignorance of the public, cost a very innocent and compassionate doctor his license to practice medicine, his livlihood, his career, and his freedom when he was completely innocent! Talk about witch hunts!
This case caused most doctors nationwide to put up signs in their offices stating that they would not ever prescribe opioids to their patients under any circumstances for fear that the same thing would happen to them. Pain patients were then discharged from their doctors and had nowhere to go to get help with pain treatments.
Then OxyContin came onto the market and things got worse. Drug abusers discovered that if they crushed and snorted OxyContin that they could get a powerful high as all of the drug was immediately released into their bodies, rather than being released slowly over eight to twelve hours. Busy doctors had little time to get to know their patients and because they were judged by how well they treated pain by patient satisfaction surveys, many doctors felt that they had to give patients what they wanted. Pill mills opened up as phony pain clinics where all doctors did all day was to write scripts for massive amounts of opioids for large amounts of cash. Addicts, drug abusers, and drug dealers bought prescription drugs without a prescription over the internet and dark web and the medication was delivered to them via the mail from overseas and from warehouses in the US. Drug abusers started overdosing themselves by snorting higher and higher doses of OxyContin. Some pain patients were able to get adequate doses of opioids, but others had much greater difficulty getting opioids. Many legitamate doctors still would not prescribe opioids for them. Prominent pain doctors who were pro opioid were demonized and lost their medical licenses. Pain advocacy groups like PRN were shut down.
Families were upset by family members dying and becoming drug addicted. Then the economic recession of 2008 hit. It hit hardest especially in Appalachia, and in places like Janesville, Michigan where a large manufacturing plant shut down and thousands of people lost their jobs with no prospects of getting another one. This broke up families and caused severe financial, emotional, and social pain to hurt thousands of hard working honest men and women. Many people turned to drugs and alcohol and opioids to cope. More and more people overdosed every year.
Then, because of so many overdoses, even legitamate pain patients were having their opioid pain meds taken away. The pill mills were closed and the supply of illegal prescription opioids dried up on the black market in many places. Then cheap Chinese fentanyl and heroin came on to the scene. Addicts started to die like flies from illegal fentanyl. Most polypharmacy overdoses were ascribed only to opioids, even if only one opioid pill was taken. The anti-opioid lobby was hard at work putting out propaganda and false and skewed information to support the cause of total opioid prohibition. Dr. Kolodney, an addiction doctor, whose son died of a heroin overdose was head of this anti-opioid lobby. Doctors started forcing chronic pain patients into non opioid treatments that worked for some patients, but not for others. Doctors in legitamate hospital pain clinics lived in fear of being labeled a pill mill and decided that it was best for them to no longer prescribe opioids at all for fear of a potential risk to their license to practice medicine, their careers, and even their freedom, and due to the hype about opioid overdoses. No additional resources were funded for drug treatment or research or better pain treatments during republican controlled state and federal governments. Pharmacies in Appalachia were dealing opioids out their back doors after hours illegally for large amounts of cash. The illegal trade in prescription opioids was very profitable. Pharmaceutical companies turned a blind eye when they sent hundreds of thousands of doses of opioids into small town pharmacies in Appalachia with populations of only six hundred people and things like that! These companies raked in millions of dollars in profits at this time. Most of these opioids were sold without prescriptions. Drug addicts found opioids easy to get on the street and still were getting them from emergency rooms by faking illness or injuries, or from any remaining phony pain clinics that were still operating. Pain patients had harder and harder times getting a script from a legitamate doctor to treat their pain, even very severe pain, often having to drive hundreds of miles out of state and then their pharmacy often refused to fill their scripts. The laws and practices varied considerably from state to state.
Then the CDC recommendation came out and was written into law in many states. Pain patients had their opioids ripped away with no taper or had their dose reduced drastically to around 2/3 less than before, leaving millions of pain patients in severe undertreated pain. Some got help with alternative treatments. Others were not helped by these alternatives to opioids. No one cared or would listen to the pain patients who were suffering and being deprived of legitamate pain relief. Even so, the overdoses by drug abusers kept increasing. Still, no additional money for treatment was forthcoming from governments. Some medically fragile pain patients died from opioid withdrawals with no taper, some committed suicide, being unwilling to live in severe pain with no hope. Other pain patients turned to street drugs, some pain patients overdosed from heroin or fentanyl adding to the overdose statistics and making them appear to be drug addicts and not pain patients.
If they were lucky, addicts got into methadone treatment or suboxone treatment. Pain patients were not usually eligible for these programs as they are not addicts and they require divided doses that methadone clinics don’t do. Some pain patients were helped by medical marijuana, others were not helped. If alternative treatments were not available or too expensive pain patients had no hope and nowhere to turn. Some were helped by alternatives. Some are not helped by alternatives and have gone from functioning to not sleeping, not showering, not walking and live from bed to recliner. Pain patients are getting sicker from stress related illnesses because of the severe stress of having to live in chronic severe pain. Pain patients are getting shingles, higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar from excess cortisol production by the body, heart attacks, strokes, ulcers and other illnesses, and side effects from taking too much ibuprofen, or other drugs to try and treat their pain. They are getting weaker and stiffer from immobility. The opioid overdoses are still rising, but pain patients are not getting opioids very much at all and their doses are inadequate to treat their pain or they are no longer using opioids but use alternative methods of pain control. Millions of pain patients are still severely suffering, but drug abusers and addicts are still overdosing more and more because treatment is not available for them all. Many drug abusers still even refuse treatment. Pain patients will take any treatment that could help with their pain that they can access and afford. Pain patients are being severely harmed by the inappropriate use of steroid injections, surgeries, and other useless treatments that are making money for doctors, but doing nothing or causing harm to pain patients. There is less and less sympathy or compassion for patients who have severe real medical pain. Congress focuses only on opioid addiction and lumps pain patients, especially chronic pain patoents in with drug addicts even though there are no new treatments or answers for patients suffering with severe pain for whom alternative treatments do not work.
Severe pain is the most stressful experience that a person can have. There are serious medical consequences to untreated and under treated pain. The amount of prescriptions is not as out of control as it seems. For instance, every chronic pain patient who takes an opioid must get a new prescription every month for each opioid that they use. This means twelve prescriptions each year for each patient taking one long term opioid. Many patients take one opioid for long term pain and another short term opioid for breakthrough pain in a much smaller dose. This would result in twenty four prescriptions for that person each year and this is not at all excessive. When we realize that there are one hundred twenty million chronic pain patients in America, then add in millions with cancer, acute pain from broken legs, post operative pain, and dental pain, it is no wonder that there are so many prescriptions for opioids written each year. One hundred countries worldwide have zero access to any opioid medications at all, so saying that America, England, France, Canada, and other countries use way more opioids is not a fair comparison. It is not a good thing that these other poorer countries have no opioids because their people experience massive extreme suffering and death because of this. It is not because they are better at treating pain without opioids.
The World Health Organizatiin says that the adequate treatment of pain is a human right and that opioid medications are essential for health. This is not so in the USA. Pain is the most severe stressor there is. Pain can even kill peoole, contrary to popular belief. Our doctors get no more than four hours of education on pain treatments even though pain is the number one reason that people seek out medical care.
There are better ways to deal with this crisis. The number one thing is appropriate treatment for the appropriate medical condition. The trick is to make the proper diagnosis.
Falsely accusing and blaming legitamate doctors and innocent pain patients may feel good, but it is wrong. No doctor can turn someone into a drug addict without their consent. Drug abusers, addicts, and their families like to have someone else to blame for their addiction as there is a severe social stigma to being a drug abuser, especially an opioid abuser. Some people are more prone to addiction and drug abuse than others. However, just being given a few Vicodin for acute pain does not turn anyone into a drug addict any more than drinking a glass of beer or wine will make someone into an alcoholic. A person may get a taste for opioids, but this can easily be resisted. Anyone who takes an opioid pain medication for more than a few weeks will need to be tapered off or else they will go through physiological withdrawal symptoms. This is not true drug addiction, but a normal reaction of the body. True addiction is when a person uses drugs or alcohol for nonmedical reasons to numb out emotionally and not deal with life. Addiction causes harm to the person, decreases their ability to work, function, and take care of themselves and their responsibilities in life, the opioid addict does not have significant physical pain from real painful medical problems, they use opioids inappropriately, not as prescribed and they often obtain opioids illegally or from friends, or steal them or buy them from drug dealers or online. Addicts take more and more higher and higher doses of opioids to get the high effects, not to treat pain, they get zonked out and nod off, they use needles that are often unclean and get infections or suffer illnesses from their use of opioids. They continue using opioids despite the harm that this use causes their lives and their health.
Patients with incurable chronic painful medical problems cannot function physically very well without their opioids or other treatments for pain in the first place and seek out medical care to help themselves. The chronic pain patients’ use of opioids increases their ability to function, increases their activity level, and helps them cope with living with chronic pain. Their use increases the pain patients quality of life also. They use opioids so that they can work, shower,walk in the park with their dog, and socialize more often Drug abusers function physically well without the use of opioids, but may have emotional or psychological problems or traumas that make life difficult for them to cope with. Drug abusers often need treatment for these emotional, psychological or trauma related issues as well as addiction treatment.
If I can understand these facts, then why is there so much misinformation being pandered in Congress, in the media, and even by doctors who aught to know better? Why can’t people see that opioid addiction and the treatment of severe chronic pain from incurable painful medical conditions are two separate but intersecting problems that each need different treatments? Why aren’t we funding the necessary research to better understand these problems and how to provide better solutions? Why are we always doing the same things over and over that don’t work and expect that we will get different results? Drug addiction is a mental health issue that needs to be appropriately treated. This addiction is not caused by drugs any more than gambling addiction is caused by playing cards. Addictions of various kinds is innate to the person who are susceptible to this problem. Addiction is treatable as long as the person gets treatment before they kill themselves with drug overdoses or medical complications from drug abuse. Drug addicts and dealer users are not criminals, they are sick people that need help. Patients with severe chronic pain also need help, especially those for whom alternatives to opioids don’t work. I believe that the vast majority of chronic pain patients for whom alternative treatments do not work can be safely managed and treated with adequate doses of opioids to treat their pain as long as they are carefully managed and monitored by one primary care provider and they carefully follow all the requirements of their pain contract, and use bonly one pharmacy. These adult patients should be given informed consent and decide for themselves if they are willing to accept the risk of potential addiction or not. It seems very unreasonable to deny these responsible patients the access to the opioid pain medications that they need to treat their pain until better treatments are discovered. Their opioids can be locked up to prevent diversion from having their meds stolen by others.
My dad received several injuries while serving in the Army. He’s been on prescription meds ever since and probably won’t ever not be taking them. He doesn’t like taking them but he doesn’t like the pain from the injuries even more.
You are absolutely correct that drug addiction needs to be treated as a medical problem. Its not a criminal problem. Punitive treatment is the wrong approach. Medical treatment is what’s needed.
However, its politically expedient for conservatives to treat drug abuse as a criminal problem since in their minds their political adversaries, “the liberals”, do drugs. Therefore, they believe they can beat down the political opposition by locking them up in jail and forever taking away their voting rights through voter disenfranchisement by charging them with felony convictions- hence the Reagan era mandatory minimum sentences. We need to call out conservatives on their agenda here.
I do not believe that any legitamate doctor in America is prescribing opioids like candy!, I have severe chronic pain from multiple incurable painful medical problems. I have suffered with this for over fifteen years. The first three years I was given every nonopiod therapy and medication known to medicine and these pills did nothing to help my pain. I begged and begged my doctor to find something, anything to make my pain bearable, as I was becoming suicidal. He very reluctantly put me on ten milligrams of methadone three times per day. Since then, I have had doctors rip me off my medicine with no taper five times for no reason except they said that they were no longer going to prescribe opioids for chronic pain. I have gone for months of suffering with nothing except ibuprofen, only to finally get my methadone back.
Then the state of Maine last year just cut everyone’s pain medicine by 2/3 whether it works for us or not and I have been suffering ever since. I can no longer sleep for more than three hours at a time and I wake up in pain. I go from my bed to my recliner and I am no longer able to walk my dog or even shower because it is too painful anymore. I don’t want to get high. I don’t ever get high. I just want to function, to shower, to go for a walk, to not be throbbing in pain all the time.
People like myself, with severe chronic pain for whom alternative treatments and medications do not work are suffering because of drug abusers overdosing themselves! I am innocent. I take my meds as prescribed and pass all my urine tests. I don’t drink or use any other drugs. My doctor knows that she can trust me, but her hands are tied by state law.
If there are any doctors handing out opioids like candy, I’d like to know about this. I think that your patients are looking for someone else to blame for their choice to misuse drugs besides themselves. The only doctors that could hand out opioids like candy worked at pill mills where you pay them $500 cash for scripts and that is illegal. No legit doctor is allowed to hand out opioids like candy. Millions of chronic pain patients and peoole dying of cancer cannot get opioids for pain easily because of drug abusers misuse of these drugs. These drug abusers are responsible for our suffering as government and doctors are trying to fix the opioid overdose problem by taking away our meds. Your comment is not helping and it is not true. If you know of any doctors handing out opioids like candy, I suggest that you report them to the State Medical Board or the DEA. However, I doubt seriously that what you are saying is true. The Mercy Pain Clinic in Portland Maine used to treat pain with the same methadone that drug addicts can get. The drug addicts can still get methadone at any dose they want, but people in pain get nothing but ibuprofen from the pain clinic anymore because of the drug abusers. We are forced into lives of unbearable suffering because of drug abusers and people who make ignorant comments like you. Doctors in this state would have their medical licences revoked if what you say is true. I know it is not true. I have been to see many many doctors and they do not even want to see me as a patient because then they would have to write a prescription for opioids for me even though it is for less than one third of the opioid dose than the minimum dose given to drug abusers at the methadone clinic in this state. These doctors refuse to do it because they think that they will lose their medical licenses if they do. The way things are going there will be no more pain relief left in America because of the opioid abusers.
Tobacco—which is still legal, despite its being number one in both lethality and power to addict—leaps immediately to mind, with alcohol a close second.
Why do we always hear the formulation “drugs and alcohol,” as if alcohol weren’t a drug? Much more accurate would be “tobacco, alcohol and other drugs,” in decreasing order of the harm they cause. By that measure, cannabis wouldn’t even rate a mention.
Ooops, on scrolling farther upthread, I see earthling 1 had the same thought.
Hummm, death penalty for drug dealers huh? I wonder if that applies to those who launder their drug money as well?
Excellent post!!! I’m also a chronic pain patient who suffers from degenerative disk disease (4 spinal fusions thus far) as well as chronic pain resulting from a motorcycle crash at 70 mph after being clipped by a hit and run driver and breaking most of the bones in the left side of my body, puncturing my left lung, and breaking my right wrist/forearm in six places. I can assure anyone reading that everything you describe in your post is very much true. It’s funny how our Calvinist/Christian society is so quick to completely freak out at the possibility someone such as I might accidentally feel a little buzz from the Medicine we take just to be able to function from day to day. Personally I don’t feel any effects from the morphine I take but even if I did, what business is it of anyone else’s if I do. I don’t harm anyone else so go ahead…go to church and leave me alone. Frankly I’m tired of pain patients having to suffer because you want to use the law to force your beliefs on others and use the law as your muscle. Besides, guess who is always the first in line at the ER trying to get painkillers after you trip on the church steps and skin your knee?
Hey BleedingheartPookie, I’m also a chronic pain patient and currently use morphine but I just started a new program that I’m finding helps tremendously. Actually I think it may have the potential to be more effective than opiates. Have you ever heard of ketamine infusion? It’s extremely effective for treating both chronic pain and depression/anxiety. I suggest you Google this and check it out as it is used for both conditions and has very impressive success rates. I hope this helps you some! Peace!!
This is purely speculation on my part, but I would guess that money is finding its way into the pockets of corrupt people at every stage: from cultivation to the user; and every stop along the way. I would not rule out the military and its contractors. I would not rule out civilian officials. I would not rule out “Intelligence Agencies”.
Also, of course, the MIC benefits continue to accrue as an indirect consequence of this endless and mindless Afghanistan “war”.
What you have posted here is the most complete, most sane commentary on this subject what I have yet seen. It should be mandatory reading for all those who think that more draconian punishments are the simple answer to complex problems.
Of course, ours is a society that has always chosen punishment over understanding and treatment.
Thank you for the work that I know you put into this. The obvious heart as well!
So does this mean Hair Fuhrer proposes execution for responsible drug pushing members of the Sackler family?
Here’s a question, why do we as a society treat animals with more compassion than humans?
We don’t allow animals to suffer, but it’s ok for us to suffer. How did we get here?
My bet is allowing insurance corp’s. and the DEA to call the shots, instead of doctors and common sense. So getting rid of insurance and disbanding DEA seems to be a good place to start. Legalizing Pot nationwide would also be the right thing to do, as a lot of people were pushed towards harder drugs when drug testing began.
I also call for the death penalty for any batshit crazy POTUS.
I’m reminded of the recent uproar over a dog who died in an aircraft overhead bin. My guess would be that our display of concern about animals is meant to reinforce how much we love all life—so that when a hospital in Baghdad is blown up, or a wedding party in Afghanistan is drone-bombed, it can be portrayed as a regrettable necessity forced on us by “evildoers.”
To hell with the dealers.
Let’s get the “Money Men.” Those who profit the most from the distribution of illicit drugs. The men who front the operation.
Oh, that’s right. If you do that, drug distribution will stop. Robbery, murder, mayhem will go down. Cops and courts won’t have as much to do.
Gotta maintain the Status Quo.
Advertising can work—Nixon had commercials about shooting up heroin in the 70’s—these commercials explained it was better to ingest or smoke but don’t inject. Many people were upset that these ads would play on Saturday morning with the comics—but they did work.
And then we should have an advertising campaign about all the crappy food offerings we have. Something like eating at a fast food joint might cut ten years off your life and cause all kinds of health issues???
CPeople may have used and abused prescription painkillers before they turned to heroin and fentanyl, but most people who abused prescription drugs did not get them from a legitamate doctor. They were sold in fake pain clinics for cash, that were really pill mills, or bought them without a prescription online, or from a drug dealer, or a friend, or stolen from a family member.
The vast majority of patients who go to legitamate doctors to treat legitamate painful medical conditions do not go on to use heroin and overdose themselves unless they have been deprived of pain relief by draconian laws that were supposed to stop drug abuse! Most prescription drug abuse was because of prescription drugs that were obtained without a prescription. Too many people are making too many wild assumptions these days about the legitamate use of opioids to treat real pain versus the deliberate abuse of opioids to get high. These are two separate but intersecting problems.
Addicts and their families who have suffered from addiction want someone to blame because of the stigma of being a drug addict. Drug abusers often refuse to take responsibility for their part in this abuse. Doctors do not cause people to abuse their opioid prescriptions, that is the patient’s responsibility. Every patient who takes opioids every day for more than a month will experience withdrawal symptoms if opioids are suddenly stopped, but this is just a normal physical reaction, not true addiction. This is another misunderstanding that is leading to fear and hype.
True addiction is using opioids to get high, not to treat physical pain. Drug addiction is inappropriate use not as directed by a doctor, and this use causes harm to the addicts life, physically, financially, and socially, where they cannot work or take care of their children and life responsibilities, and it harms their health and may cause trouble with the law. The addict’s life is consumed with obtaining and using drugs and getting more money to use more drugs obsessively and exclusively. The appropriate use of opioids to treat severe pain, acute or chronic, increases function and enhances health and quality of life. Addiction decreases function and quality of life and harms health. The patient takes opioids as preceprbed. The addict does not.
Contrary to popular belief, chronic pain patients have the lowest rates of true addiction. Everyone who has used opioids every day for over one month will experience physical withdrawals. The legitamate doctors who prescribe opioids to select patients with chronic painful medical conditions, for whom other methods of pain control are ineffective, are not turning these patients into drug addicts. These doctors are heroes saving the lives of seriously ill patients who must suffer lifetimes of chronic pain from incurable painful medical conditions and who might otherwise find living in serious pain unbearable and commit suicide or turn to street drugs or other bad things.
Neither chronic pain patients nor their doctors are responsible for the drug overdoses of the opioid crisis. People did not overdose because too many prescriptions were written for opioids in America. This is a terrble lie and a misinterpretation of statistics. Every chronic pain patient in America must get twelve prescriptions per year for their opioids by law. Many take two opioids, one long acting one and another smaller dose for breakthrough pain. That means twenty four prescriptions per year for one patient! Therefore, saying that there are too many prescriptions written just because of the raw number of them is not correct. There are one hundred twenty million chronic pain patients in America because of aging baby boomers. They all don’t use opioids of course, but many millions do. This does not even take cancer patients, acute pain, pain after surgery, or dental pain into consideration!
Sure, the number of overdoses from opioids is high at between 60,000 and 70,000 per year, but this is in a population of over three hundred fifty million people! In addition, very few of these overdoses are from oral medications that are used by most all outpatients. These overdoses are mostly because of the use of heroin and heroin laced with fentanyl that is injected when the person has no idea of the strength of the drug that they are taking. Other overdoses are usually polypharmacy, yet if even one opioid pill is involved it is called an opioid related overdose. This is another misuse of statistics. How many actual chronic pain patients who are carefully monitored by their doctors are overdosing? I doubt that very many are. This statistic is never reported, yet chronic pain patients are the ones having their opioid medications limited and taken away and their doctors are being demonized! This is very wrong!
We are never going to solve the opioid crisis, and we are going to make things much worse and cause massive untold suffering to millions of innocent chronic pain patients needlessly if we do not get our facts right. There is insufficient data, and very poorly obtained data and a huge lack of research on this subject. If we don’t understand this problem properly we cannot apply the proper and correct solution no matter what we do. We are likely to cause more harm than good.
I believe that the overdoses increased despite reducing the doses and access to prescription drugs because the funding for treatment was not provided before the prescription drugs were reduced in supply, so that drove drug abusers and addicts to street drugs where they used more harmful and dangerous heroin, and heroin laced with fentanyl. This has killed thousands more than ever before. If we continue with draconian laws that continue to reduce the supply of safer prescription drugs and still fail to increase access to treatment, the overdoses will continue to increase. I don’t think that law enforcement will help because it has never helped before and because street drugs increase due to demand and do not decrease because of law enforcement. People are corruptable, even police, and the drugs will continue to be available as they have always and are in every place on earth. I believe that treatment is the only way to deal with addiction because addiction is a medical and mental health condition not amenable to law enforcement. In addition, driving pain patients to drug dealers for pain relief is a very bad idea. Pain patients are much safer going to doctors for safer opioids that they will take as directed and be carefully monitored for any misuse and then they can be sent to drug treatment if this happens as it does rarely, before they go to street dealers.
I am seriously concerned that the methods that are being undertaken to solve this crisis will only provide more customers for drug dealers and cause more death and ruined lives. Ignoring the voices of patients with chronic pain and their doctors and pretending that certain facts don’t exist is not going to lead to a good outcome. ALL the facts must be laid on the table, not just those that are politically expedient or we will make this crisis much worse and never solve our opioid and addiction problems.
Severe dependency? I’ve been through opioid withdrawal five times, you don’t die unless you are medically fragile. Yes it isn’t fun to go through withdrawal, but that is not what causes addiction, contrary to popular belief. Addicts will go through withdrawal and then use opioids as soon as they can get any afterwards.
I wouldn’t take opioids at all if I didn’t have to live for the rest of my life with multiple chronically painful medical conditions. The vast vast majority of people who take opioids for short term pain like wisdom teeth, or a broken leg don’t become dependent at all or develop addiction. This “all opioids a person takes no matter if they only take one pill they will automatically become a total drug addict shooting up in the street”, hyped up fear-mongering rhetoric has got to stop! That is not the case at all!
No one becomes physically dependent on opioids unless they take them every day for over one month, and even then, most people with short term pain take less over time as they feel better so they wean themselves off. If every person who was ever given a prescription for an opioid for a month suffered from “severe dependency”, addiction, or drug abuse there would be more than two hundred million opioid addicts in America dying of heroin/fentanyl overdoses right now! For that matter it would have started happening two thousand years ago when opioids were first used to treat pain. There would have been a big bunch of Romans and Palestinian Jews and Arabs and Eurasian people that would have all been shooting up or snorting opioids for the last fifteen hundred years or more!
No one becomes truly addicted to opioids unless they abuse them. If patients take their opioids as prescribed, and their doctor isn’t a total idiot, they can not become addicted or overdose. However, everyone who takes an opioid every day, several times per day, especially in large doses, for over one month, will go through physical withdrawals if the opiod is stopped suddenly or if the opioid is not tapered down slowly before being discontinued. This physical withdrawal is not true addiction. This is a big misunderstanding in the public.
Addiction is an obsession with taking drugs or alcohol, gambling, sex, excercise, overeating, starving one’s self, cutting one’s self, and many other things, not just opioids. The opioid addict spends all their time using opioids, seeking out places to get opioids, getting money to buy opioids, and has no time for doing much of anything else. They neglect their health, their children and family members and friends, lose their jobs, don’t pay their bills, don’t clean up after themselves, drive intoxicated, and have run ins with the law. Their use of opioids ruins their health. They get abscesses, HIV, and heart disease from dirty needles, they don’t eat or sleep properly, they don’t exercise, they often don’t bathe or brush their teeth. Addiction destroys their whole lives and if they get a bad batch of heroin laced with fentanyl they can easily overdose and die. Even after they dry out and go through withdrawal they go right back to using opioids no matter what until they are ready to work on staying sober and go into drug rehab, but they can recover and have good productive lives if they stay sober. Treatment works if they work it.
On the other hand, peoole with chronic incurable medical problems can’t walk well because of pain, can’t shower because of pain, can’t work because of pain, can’t have a life because of pain, etc… They are almost as bad off as drug addicts when they are sober because of their painful medical conditions. The only thing that helps them is pain treatment. Many can be helped without opioids, but many need opioids because it is the only thing that works for them. Their use of opioids enhances their life, helps them get to work or care for themselves and their families and restores function as long as they take their opioids as prescribed by their doctor and they follow all the rules of their pain contract. Millions of people have taken opioids for chronic pain responsibly and are not truly addicted because they are using them appropriately as prescribed and they function better, not worse. In fact over ninety percent of chronic pain patients have taken opioids for over twenty years without ever becoming truly addicted. These facts are being deliberatly suppressed by the media and the political and medical establishment for some reason. The fear of opioids rhetoric is verging on total hysteria in this country. Read some of my other posts. I am not lying about this. I have done my homework. Bad research and bad and misinterpreted statistics are also being used to pander to opiophobia.
This so called “opioid crisis” is just part of several much bigger crisises. First, we are suffering from a much more serious health care crisis, and second, there is a huge group of aging baby boomers with chronic incurable painful medical problems, and dying of cancer, and needing surgery, due to aging and other medical reasons that is unprecedented in American history, and third, there is a general lack of mental health and substance abuse and dental care for hundreds of millions of Americans, and fourth, there are a lot of people who are out of work or under severe financial stress.
The best thing we could do to help solve the opioid crisis, the entire drug abuse problem, the gun violence problem, the domestic violence problem, the child abuse problem, the mental health crisis and prisons overcrowded with the mentally ill, the unemployment problem, and the problems at the VA, would be to create a single payer, non profit universal health care system that would cover medical, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and dental care for every American citizen.
This would get people access to the emotional and psychological help they need so that they wouldn’t need to start using drugs, treat them if they did have a drug problem, get the mentally ill access to outpatient mental health care so they don’t end up in prison, get better help for people in crisis so that they don’t go off the deep end and start shooting people, get people into family counseling for child abuse and domestic violence prevention and treatment, properly treat people with pain and medical problems earlier so that they can be helped better, allow veterans to use the regular health care system that gives better care than the VA, and put millions of Americans to work caring for each other in the medical, mental health, substance abuse, and counseling and teaching and education fields, instead of wasting lives in the prison and law enforcement systems that destroy lives and cost a lot more money.
Try thinking about this opiod problem in a different way and perhaps you can see that I am right about this. Other countries have universal health care and they don’t have as much trouble with drugs and alcohol and other addictions, or gun violence, domestic violence, mental health, child abuse, and other social problems as we do here in America.