The newest obstacle for opiate addicts, Chronic Pain Patients.
An update to this article has been posted here.
Chronic Pain Patients, the latest in addict bashers
This is a subject that really wears on me, and many other addicts. For decades now, society has been fed an image of addiction that made us out to be nothing short of weak willed, monsters. That image has fueled a stigma that now keeps many addicts from asking for the help that they so desperately need. There is now a new kid on the block, ready, and waiting to jump the first addict that walks by, “Chronic Pain Patients”.
I see ads on Facebook all the time for addiction treatment centers, or treatment for this addiction, or that addiction. I like to read up on some of them to see which ones seem to be legitimate, most are just out to make a buck though. But, anytime you read the comments though, it’s full of “Chronic Pain Patients” with comments like “Because of these junkies, I can’t get the pain meds I need to live”. And my personal favorite, “I’ve been taking my pain meds for 176yrs, and I’m not addicted!”. I always have to laugh at those ones! Stop taking it for 24 hours, and when you can pull yourself away from the toilet long enough, tell me again if you think you’re addicted to it or not. I have to wonder if they honestly don’t think they’re addicted, or if they’re in denial? They say that they’re in so much pain when they don’t have their meds, and that they can’t function without them (Sounds very similar to what addicts say about their pills, too?). Do they not understand that the pain they’re feeling is most likely withdrawal symptoms, and not pain from a physical condition?
Regardless, posting that hateful stuff on an ad for people that DID get addicted, is unacceptable, and posting that on an article about someones child dying from an overdose, is definitely unacceptable!
Physical Dependence VS Addiction
I know this is what you’ll immediately jump to. You’re correct, there is a difference between being physically dependant, and addicted, to any substance. The problem is though, it’s like saying you’re fine because you only have HIV, and not AIDS. Both are equally as dangerous, and can lead to death.
These opiate pain meds that you’re so thankful for, are for more dangerous than any of you seem to know. They wreak havoc on your brain, and completely transform who you are as a person. I bet most of you, before starting these meds, would never have been stopping by anywhere just to kick an addict? Never would have stooped to that level. But, look at yourself now. If this struck a nerve, check out the science behind addiction to see what’s actually happening to you.
Knowing what you know now about the opiate epidemic, would you want your child to take an opiate, and risk becoming addicted? I didn’t think so. I wouldn’t either.
The problem is not pills, it’s Heroin!
This statement always gets me as well. First of all, it’s not just a heroin problem. Just because people are dying from heroin more, does not mean that prescription pills aren’t equally as dangerous, and devastating. People seem to think that heroin addicts are just hatched on a street corner somewhere! I can assure you, no one starts out a heroin addict. No one goes from drinking a beer, or smoking a joint, directly to shooting heroin with a dirty needle in an alley somewhere. If they don’t start out with Heroin, then where does it start, you ask? Right there in the same Dr’s office you sit in waiting for your prescription.
Studies have shown that 75% of heroin addicts started out with a legal prescription for an opiate pain medication. They got these prescription for legitimate pain, just like the “Chronic Pain Patients”, and they get cut off, the Dr. dies, moves his practice, or goes to jail for over prescribing medications, and the patient is left stuck, sick, and in pain (sound familiar “chronic pain patients”?). Now, not only is he in more pain than when he first started because opiates increase pain over time (we’ll get to that shortly), but he’s also sicker than he’s ever been. So, the only way he’s able to function and make it through a day is with an opiate (sound familiar “Chronic Pain Patients”?). He’s left with no option but to buy them on the street. That’s the beginning of the end right there.
He finds them on the street, but they’re so expensive, and because you constantly have to increase your dose of opiates to achieve the same effect, he has to buy more and more to be able to function and make it through a day. Pretty soon, he’s spending a ridiculous amount of money just to feel normal, and be able to function. So, he finds a more powerful pill. It’s more expensive, but lasts longer supposedly, so he thinks he’s going to save money in the long run. Then, one day, the guy he buys them from goes on vacation, goes to jail, or just runs out. He’s now sick as a dog on day 2 without any pain meds, and hurting more than he ever has, worse than before because opiates increase pain. So, he calls around to everyone he knows, desperate to find something so he can continue to function like a normal human being. Turns out, no one can get any pills anywhere, and the only thing around is some heroin. He’s got to have something to feel better so he can function, so he gets a little heroin. Just enough to make it through until the pill guy gets back, and as long as he just snorts it, he’s fine right? Wrong, GAME OVER! You are now heroin’s bitch.
The wild west of opiate pain medicines, pills for everyone!
Up until recently, it’s been the wild west of opiate prescriptions. To put it in perspective, the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 80% of all the opiate manufactured in the world! It used to be that anyone could go to a Dr. with a toothache, or broken finger and get Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, whatever you wanted basically.
A large reason for this was that Big Pharma had these Dr’s fooled into thinking that they were safe, and had “A less than 1% chance of addiction”. Another reason for this, is that the Pharma companies would (and still do) send out people to all the Dr’s offices called Pharmaceutical Representatives. These rep’s would show up with bags full of free samples (first ones free, sound like something you’d hear somewhere else?), they would also give kickbacks, and gifts to these Dr’s for prescribing their drugs! Don’t believe me, ask any Dr that you trust.
In the majority of opioid pain medications, they were only able to get these meds past the FDA with lies. Had the truth been told, none of this would have ever happened. Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxycontin were found guilty of recklessness in 2007, but were only fined, and it was all swept under the rug. These drug companies flooded our country with highly addictive drugs, and now the world is blaming the ones that got addicted??!?!! How does this make any sense to anyone?
Why opiate / opioid medications are NOT recommended for long term pain treatment
Opiates work by blocking the brains ability to feel pain, by blocking pain receptors. Over time, the brain begins to think that it doesn’t have any pain receptors, so it’s response is to create more. The problem is, the brain can produce pain receptors, but it cannot destroy them. So you build up more and more pain receptors, and as this happens, you have to increase your dosage of the opiate to account for the increased pain. You’re not getting an increase in your pain meds because the drugs aren’t working as well over time, you’re getting increased because you have more pain receptors, which results in more pain! This is why they were created, and originally intended to be used only for end of life treatment in cancer patients. Not treating foot pain with Fentanyl!
On top of you having to take more to get the same result, these opiates also affect the Prefrontal Cortex of the brain. This area is responsible for reasoning, fight or flight, right or wrong. After awhile, the opiates almost completely turn that part off. This is why heroin addicts are willing to go so far to get their drug.
What is going to happen to all these people being cut off pain pills?
Honestly, I can completely sympathize with you all. It’s going to be a disaster, on a scale only seen with the development and distribution of Oxycontin. Releasing all of these people with no exit strategies is NOT what they should be doing. It’s exactly why we have so many heroin addicts now. The same thing happened to them!
I can guarantee you that, in the next 5 – 8 years, maybe sooner due to the decreased number of pills available on the streets, we WILL see a huge spike in the number of heroin users and OD’s. Unfortunately, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better!
What are we supposed to do about our pain?
1.) Stop taking the pain meds and live with the pain. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years. It wasn’t until recently that pain became the 5th vital sign, and the name “Chronic Pain” was even invented!
2.) Natural / herbal medications such as Kratom, Turmeric & Black pepper, coupled with physical therapy. There are lots of other alternatives you can research. I understand that it’s easier to pop a pill and make it all go away, but that’s not safe, or realistic. That pill does not cure or even help the problem.
What is your point?
I’m not sure what the point is in coming to bash an addict who’s looking for help to get their life back? You know the medications you’re taking are dangerous, and have a very high danger of addiction, right? So, why be angry with people for getting addicted, to a highly addictive medication? It makes absolutely no sense at all! The only reason I can think that they do this is, they’re panicking because they’re about to join us addicts!
I hope to never see you in a treatment center or 12 step meeting, I really do. I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. Please stop and think about who is really to blame for this to begin with!