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Caught In The Opioid War’s Friendly Fire ~ The Power Struggle For Legitimate Chronic Pain Relief

Is the chronic pain community paying the price for the government’s war on opioid abuse?

Getting caught in the opioid war’s friendly fire is the metaphor for the reality that the majority of those who suffer with chronic pain are legitimate in their need for opioid based pain relievers. They are not drug abusers.

The ‘war on opioid abuse’ launched by the current administration should be  targeted towards those individuals who not only become addicted, but abuse these drugs by; taking more than the prescribed amount, crushing and snorting them, using them without legitimate medical conditionect. Unfortunately, the ‘prescription abiding’ members of the chronic illness community, who need a certain level of pain relief only opiates can offer, are getting caught in the cross hairs.


The above video is an excellent commentary on this situation. My only input would involve the title. I would not call it “When ‘Cops’ Play Doctor: How The Drug War Punishes Pain Patients”. Instead, I would title it, “When The ‘GOVERNMENT’ Plays Doctor:, ect”. That is the entity we are dealing with here. The police simply enforce the law. It is the government that creates the laws (sometimes pushing through laws without public knowledge in order to drive an ‘agenda’).

I’m sure you’ve seen the stories on social media as well as in the news. Patients have to jump through more hoops than a circus poodle to get their pain medication prescriptions renewed. Often with the stigma of ‘drug seeking behavior’ attached to their person. Since when did treating the symptom of a legitimate disease become synonymous with shady and illicit drug practices?

Patients...jump through more hoops than a circus poodle to get their pain medication. Click To Tweet

Opioid War’s Friendly Fire ~ The Struggle For Relief From Legitimate Chronic Pain

Caught in the opioid war’s friendly fire, there is an alarming rise in the use of heroin to manage chronic pain:

Personally, I am a big proponent of legalizing medical marijuana for the treatment of chronic pain. Argue as you will, but the overwhelming research favors cannabis as a low risk pain relief alternative for the chronically ill. There is also a growing body of evidence showing significant health benefits, and possible tumor reducing properties.

How can one person let alone a Gov't bureaucracy judge how tolerable/intolerable someones pain is? Click To Tweet

All that being said, let me make it absolutely clear: I am making NO blanket statements here on whether every chronically ill patient should or should not be prescribed opioids for pain management. There are MANY FACTORS that go into the decision of whether or not opioid based medication is the correct medication choice for an indivucual. I myself do not use them. For me (and I am ONLY speaking for myself), I don’t care for the side effects.

However, I cannot (and will not) judge another’s pain levels, and how that pain should be relieved/managed. Truly, how can one person, let alone a government bureaucracy, judge how tolerable or intolerable someone else’s pain is?

That is the point I am making. The decision on how that pain is ultimately treated  should be left to the individual, and their personal health care provider…NO ONE ELSE!

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  • Reply
    June 8 at 7:40 am

    Isn’t it always the many who follow the rules that pay for the few who abuse the rules. The majority of the people who abuse opioids are not under a doctor’s care. So why make those seeing a doctor and not abusing their prescriptions need to jump through so many loops for something that is so necessary.
    I recently needed to switch to a new medical provider and they believe that pain is all in the brain, and through mindful meditation and exercise you can eliminate the pain. The science behind it makes sense – very straightforward and accurate. But, they also indicate that opioids make the pain worse over time. The problem is trying to put that into practice when you have a chronic illness. It works for those who had an injury that has been fixed, but it’s very different for chronic illness. Chronic illness does not play fair and the symptoms (and severity of those symptoms) vary greatly between each person and each day for each person. Plus, I could never pinpoint what makes me have a bad day and what makes me have a good day. So it’s hard to avoid that which makes me hurt all day and continue to do that which makes me feel good all day.
    So, I’m being forced to cut back drastically on my pain meds with the end game of being off opioids for good. While I look for another job with better medical coverage, I try to keep a positive outlook and practice my mindful meditation. I hope their plan works.

    • Reply
      June 8 at 8:06 am

      Thank you for this Julie! You are absolutely correct about the many having to pay for the few. The problem is, those who abuse these drugs are STILL going to get there hands on them. Stricter laws are NO deterrent to OBEYING those laws. Also, you can not ‘mandate’ addiction. In other words, telling a patient they cannot continue their LEGITIMATE pain relieving method because there is a POTENTIAL for addiction, is like saying “sorry, you cannot drive your car anymore because there is a chance you may choose to drive too far and run out of gas”. There is always the risk of abuse in anything because people have the free will to CHOOSE what they will or will not do…it’s called ‘PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY’.
      Good luck with the job hunting, and your coping practices! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 14 at 6:13 am

    Ah…this is sad, and I’m sorry that those that need these pain relievers are having a hard time getting them. But I am coming from the other side of the coin. My son is an opiate addict. So I’ve had to do a lot of research into this topic. It goes much deeper than the Government saying who deserves them and who doesn’t. And this is where we need the changes to be made. When the drug Oxycontin was created they should have made it in a waxy form so it could not be easily snorted, crushed, or shot-up by those who are using it as a drug, not a pain reliever. The drug company had to know that this would/could be an issue with this medication. When the addictions became over-whelming the company, and the drug company was being sued for the misuse of the med, they reformulated the medication to be coated with wax in order to reduce the chance of it being used “recreationally” . At the same time they came out with Opana, which is stronger than Oxycontin and quietly released it into the market, without coating the med with wax. This became the new pill of choice with addicts. The company received kudos for changing Oxy to lessen the chance of it being misused and at the same time created another, stronger med and released it without the public’s knowledge.

    Here in our city, within the last 5 years, we have had multiple Doctors arrested for “selling” these pills or for over prescribing to many patients. One Doctor was arrested 5 years ago, my son became addicted during this time, and another one was just recently arrested. He was seeing 100 patients a week, and prescribing to almost all of them. Pure negligence. Now we have thousands of addicts who cannot get their meds. And our city does not have the treatment that is needed to help these people.

    There are many layers to this problem. I hate that people that need this medication to live productive lives are unable to do so. But I also hate that those who are addicts, which has been diagnosed as a mental issue, are suffering too. In both cases, not only do those with the issues suffer, so do their families. Opiate addiction is extremely hard to overcome. Much harder than other addictions and treatment is not offered in many areas. At least not effective treatment.

    Now that they have made it harder to obtain these pills many addicts are turning to heroin. And many are dying. That is so sad.

    I don’t know how to make it easier for those who need this as a pain med to get them, but we need to crack down on the pharmaceutical companies and not allow them to release a drug that is easy to abuse. And we need effective treatment for those who do become addicted to opiates. We need to track the prescriptions written to make sure that the patient is not someone who is receiving more than what they need-and not selling the meds, and that the Doctor is not making money from writing prescriptions to those who will sell the pills.

    We’ve put a man on the moon. The Government has the capability to listen in on our phone calls, spyware can get into our phones, computers and Televisions, we can clone animals and human cells. If we can do all this then why can’t we have a system to track medication and the prescriptions written for them? So many are suffering, on both sides of the coin. And there are so many profiting from this pain. That’s heartbreaking.
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    • Reply
      June 14 at 7:30 am

      I completely agree with you 100%. My son is an opioid addict and I have a chronic illness with chronic pain. Ahhh – the complexities… He is currently clean (for the most part) when he has his suboxone Rx along with his Zoloft and Klonopin. I believe he’s switched his addictions to these, but I’m not his doctor and so he won’t listen to me. All I know is he can work and he’s passing his drug tests through his probation (for misdemeanors). Baby steps with him.
      As for me, I am now with Kaiser (yuck) due to a forced job change. Kaiser has signed on to the belief that with mindful meditation and reprogramming (so to speak) of the brain’s pain sensors. So they are weaning everyone with chronic pain off their pain meds. I agree that pain originates from the brain, but they don’t give the patient enough support to start this new “mindfulness” path before removing their pain meds. Plus, all the things they want us patients to try are not covered by Kaiser! So I’m stumbling along on 1/3 the pain meds I once had and it’s been challenging at times.
      Chronic illness does not play fair. There are days when I feel good, and then there are days that I can barely get out of bed. I’ve tried keeping a journal so I could figure out my “triggers” but there was no pattern. Chronic illness decides when I have a good or bad day more so than my actions and thoughts. So it’s been challenging explaining this to the Kaiser doctors. They say that it’s possible for someone with Fibro to be pain free with their program. But they didn’t consider when life throws you a curveball and you can’t avoid the triggers and you flare up.
      So, after they take away my pain meds and I haven’t figured out this “mindful meditation” thing, I will go back to my old doctor and cash pay for each visit and full price for my pain meds. Either way, I will have to pay because my medical insurance and the medical establishment as a whole has failed me.
      Sorry for the rambling…having a bad day but have to work. I also hope your son is clean and getting the help he needs.

    • Reply
      June 15 at 12:54 pm

      All true Nikki. I agree with you 100%, and am so sorry you have had to experience the other side which is all too real. Thank you for giving the ‘other sides’ issues to further balance out this difficult and many faceted problem. Love to you and yours ♥

  • Reply
    Brandi Clevinger
    June 15 at 2:25 pm

    Like Nikki, I see both sides as my stepmom is an addict as well as my older sister. One shops around doctors seeking prescriptions and the other buys from the streets. However, I also see the side of the person in legitimate pain and she’s scared to go to the doctor in fear of being viewed as a drug seeker.

    After reading Donna’s article (www.fedupwithfatigue.com) about why cannabis is not legal, it gave me a better understanding of the issue. I still hope it becomes legal sooner rather than later, but I now see the hold up and legality side of the issue.

    This is a taboo subject, but I’m glad you’re tackling the issue.
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  • Reply
    June 30 at 9:02 pm

    It’s interesting to note that of the purportedly 38,800 accidental overdose deaths last year, less than half of those 18,000, involved patients with prescribed drugs. The rest used drugs obtained illegally, a problem perpetuated by over-prescribing doctors seeking monetary gain (or in some cases sexual favors.)

    Bill AB 1977 before the California State Legistlature, authored by Assemblyperson Jim Wood, authorizes more task forces in 2017 to work on the “epidemic,” but makes no provisions for funds to encourage the research and production of opioid-strength pain medications without the addictive qualities. No one seems to understand the difference between addiction and dependence. The government introduces more and more restrictions with no viable alternatives for legitimate pain patients.

    Thank you for helping by writing this article.

    • Reply
      June 30 at 11:25 pm

      Thank you Cathy. That is a good point: “…the difference between addiciton and dependence.” It’s a problem on both sides of the coin with real people hurting for many reasons, but unfortunately ‘politics’ are more important than people. Thank you again Cathy ♥

  • Reply
    Sharon Hutchinson
    July 2 at 2:59 pm

    I saw the pin on Pinterest as I was browsing. It brought tears to my eyes. For the last six months (at least) both my chronic pain doctor and myself have been struggling against growing regulations. The State has been keeping an eye on him for several years although he never misuses his prescription pad. When I was in the hospital in 2012 I was treated like a criminal and they refused to dispense my prescribed meds even though I had just had surgery.

    It has gotten worse. No more refills; a new script every time (I get them monthly) and now I have to travel two hours just to pick up the obligatory written prescription. The pharmacy tracks me like a hawk. The prescription plan wanted to stop paying for another of my meds unless my doctor justified why I had to take it. Apparently he is well versed in fighting the government and they extended payment for another year. But I think, “And then what?”
    Could write on and on but in a discussion with my doctor I had remarked that now people in chronic pain will turn to alcohol, street drugs etc. or even become suicidal. I see by the video that my prediction is spot on. Strangely enough, as my doctor stated, Medicare will not pay for rehab for hydrocodone, but if I were a crack addict it would cover the cost of treatment. Makes me wonder what they really want us to do. Thank you for this page.

    • Reply
      July 2 at 11:20 pm

      Is that just plain Bat Sh** Crazy or what? I have all the sympathy in the world for people with addictions…”There but for the grace of God…” you know? But there has got to be a better way to deal with this problem than shutting down legitimate patient’s medication needs. It’s all political on the Govt’s part, I mean, is it REALLY for the ‘good’ of the people, or just part of an ‘agenda’?
      I am so sorry you have to jump through all those hoops to get your meds too. I have heard from a few people who have to travel long distances with chronic illness, and in pain, just to get their monthly MEDICATION. Sadly, I believe your ‘prediction’ will prove all too true.
      Thank you for taking the time to share your stuggle Sharon, appreciate it very much!♥

      • Reply
        Sharon Hutchinson
        July 4 at 8:26 am

        And thank you for your compassion and understanding. Even people who supposedly know me think I am nothing but an addict. Let them walk in my shoes! Stress increases pain, and now they have just added more. I too have sympathy for addicts. No one grows up saying “I want to be addicted to heroin”. Things happen to people and sometimes they have to reach for whatever lifeline they can.

        • Reply
          July 4 at 4:27 pm

          Agree 100% Sharon! Thank you 😉

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