Patients, not criminals 

​Interesting and thought provoking article from Piers Morgan on the current opiate situation in the USA. However I’m in two minds here. The illegal sales and addiction and over prescribing absolutely have to be dealt with effectively. 

However….by taking a play to the popular media stance the US government has sadly started treating genuine chronic pain sufferers like criminals. I speak regularly with a large number of people in the US, mainly with RA, but also other chronic pain conditions. There is no cure. There is no way out. 

The US media has in my opinion completely misunderstood and misrepresented the difference between dependence and addiction, just calling all opioid users addicts. 

I rely (am dependent upon) two opioids to allow me to achieve some level of comfort daily. Tramadol for regular daily use and oxycodone for breakthrough pain (when tramadol is not enough).  I am in no way addicted to either of these drugs – to be honest I don’t see the attraction. Tramadol just dulls my pain with no other effect at all, and if I on rare occasions need more than two doses of oxycodone a day (well under what my prescription allows) I feel very nauseous and slightly dizzy, neither of which are a pleasurable experience. I literally have to make the choice between turning down the pain and feeling sick or putting up with the pain and wanting to scream. Hobsons choice. 
Maybe I’m doing it wrong(!), maybe I don’t have an addictive personality, maybe my body metabolises drugs more efficiently, but I certainly have never gotten high (before oxycodone I used morphine but the nausea turned to violent sickness after one dose which is not amusing). 

Am I dependent on these drugs? Absolutely.  I have multiple joint damage, cervical and lumbar spine problems all from RA. Should I have to sit here in agony because some idiot wants to get high using the same substance? Absolutely not. Leaving patients in pain when there is an effective drug available is inhumane. 

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening to my friends in the US. I’m talking about doctors and consultants refusing to prescribe pain relief. Patients being sent to specialist pain clinics. Middle aged housewives being asked to take urine tests every four weeks before they can get their next prescription. Disabled patients having to travel distances in discomfort just to get to the nearest person who will prescribe them pain relief. 

Yes, the massive over use of opiates needs addressing, but there must be some way to not make patients feel like criminals just for wanting some relief.

As usual thoughts are completely my own and do not proffer medical advice. 

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12 thoughts on “Patients, not criminals 

  1. I live in the US and have been blessed by the team of medical professionals at the University of Minnesota. They treat their patients with dignity. I have 24/7 support and know exactly the best way to reach every one of my doctors. I take the exact same meds as you and have never had an issue at all. The “pain clinic” that I will eventually be transferred to within the university offers not only traditional drugs but also acupuncture, massage, water PT, PT, and other treatments. They are wonderful.
    I have heard from friends that have to deal with this and it is a shame that some doctors have allowed our FDA to intimidate them to the point of losing patient/Doctor relation over red political tape bs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Moe I’m so pleased for you, as we both know it’s unfortunately very different for some, access to medical treatment should be at the same standard for all.
      I love that you get holistic support too, PT, acupuncture, even aromatherapy can all help xx

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  2. I believe your opinions mirror mine almost exactly. I also believe that what is often overlooked is the lack of quality research towards a suitable alternative. I do not know of a better medication, but again 30 years ago no one had any inclining of modern RA medications. So what I hope for is that this hysteria (we Americans often seem hysterical about such things) will lead to a much better solution. Here is hoping that happens sooner than later.

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  3. I share your opinions as well, Denise. What I found in my research is that indeed, the “opioid crisis” lumps street drug abuse statistics along with the admitted prescription drug abuse. The US has met the crisis though — with funding! $181 million to be appropriated annually to fight the crisis. And new drug formulations premiering to prevent abuse. In the meantime, patients like me have suffered. When my excellent rheumatologist moved across the country, my new rheumatologist reduced my opioid prescription by 60%. Now if my body would get the memo and reduce symptoms/disease effect in a corresponding fashion. Waiting…

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  4. I’m a chronic pain patient after a work related injury and now suffer from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome which is EXTREMELY painful affecting muscles, nerves and vascular structures in my arms, chest, neck & back. I go to a pain manager I love it! I also have no problem doing a drug test (which is 6 months apart not every month). There are several reasons for the drug tests. First off to prove that you are taking your prescribed medication which makes it harder to illegal sell them. Also your doctor’s need to know if you are talking any other legal or illegal substances. Opiate use unfortunately leads to illegal drug use. If you were doing other prescription drugs there could be a deadly interaction and if three test positive for illicit drugs they will refuse to give them opiates which protects all of us including the patient. Drug tests really are a good thing. I don’t want someone faking an injury and selling their medications. First off it wastes prime appointment times causing even longer waits in between appointments for patients that don’t really need to be there. Also I don’t want druggies having an easier time obtaining drugs. Lastly someone that is getting scripts costs all of us more money whether it’s with insurance or with taxes.
    I think all major opiates should go though pain management. You must sign a contract that you will only get medications from them. This stops doctor song and going to multiple doctors and getting multiple prescriptions. Pain management actually gets a print out of what you pick up and when. So everything is tracked.
    But that all being said I do understand getting pissed off because someone thinks you’re “drug seeking”. I take morphine and dilaudid twice a day and never feel high or impaired in anyway. But I am dependent and I’ve spoke my concerns about that to my doctor at length. I HATE IT! I know I’m gonna hate it even more when I ween off of it. Now all of my doctors know that i truly need these meds and no one has treated me like a druggie but ER doctors don’t know me. Once and only once a ER doctor treated me like I was drug seeking, I broke down. I cried so hard. He happened to walk by and see me crying and stepped into the room. I explained why I was crying and luckily he got it. He actually apologized and began treating me the way he should have from the beginning.
    It’s a hard sad reality that we are so misunderstood but we are in charge of telling people how they should treat us.

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  5. Thank you my friend for this. I have a great pain management Dr who after we had a long talk about my needs and the downward physical spiral of RA he got it. You see he is a pain Management Dr for backs and didn’t know a whole lot about RA. So we are working together to keep me as comfortable as possible. I am always looking for alternative ways to help alleviate my pain, eg: PT, heat, ice, ointments etc. Love you Denise!! ❤

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  6. I am very lucky to have a good pain management doctor. She does a drug test every 3 months which I have no problem with whatsoever. The drug test to make sure that I am taking my medicine and that I’m not over taking my medicine or undertaking my medicine. What I don’t like is that people think that anybody that takes opiates is an addict. That is not true. As long as we take the medicine as prescribed we are not addicts. A definition of an addict is a person who takes the medicine who doesn’t need the medicine and wants a high off that medicine and has done it so often that they are now dependent on that medicine. I have seen people go through detox that are true addicts. It is not something to watch. I know my body is dependent on my pain medicine however I take my medicine as prescribed. If all of a sudden I had to stop taking my medicine because of all the hype about addicts and taking prescriptions that don’t belong to them I would go through the same withdrawals as a regular addict and that is not fair. I follow my doctor’s instructions. I don’t mess around. I had to sign a contract with her that I would not get any pain medicine from anywhere else. If I happen to end up in the emergency room and they give me pain medicine there the next day I’m on the phone with my pain doctor and I let her know what happened. That’s part of the deal. That’s being a responsible adult. For those addicts out there that misuse the medicine that we so widely need I am angry with them. They are ruining it for the people that really need it.

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