My Thoughts on the “Opioid Crisis”.

 

There is no doubt, that the use of opioids has increased over the last 60+ years, spurred on by advertising to the general public, and prescribed willy-nilly by physicians. Apparently, no one saw the impact opioids would one day have on our society.

Really??!!

We have known for thousands of years how addictive opiates are. Look it up.

In 2015, one in three people in the US had been prescribed an opioid pain medication. In many cases, people use their pain medication, and don’t need a refill, however, in many other cases, the need for continued pain treatment is necessary. Over the years, doctors have created many opioid dependent patients. Whether knowingly, or not, this is an issue that the public, and some very sick people, are now paying for, with their lives.

What happens to those people who have become addicted to pain medications? Well, they either stop cold turkey when their prescriptions run out, or they learn how to get what they need. In hospitals, and doctor’s offices, this is called “Drug Seeking Behavior.” When a person is constantly falling down, having back pain, or tooth pain, they may be “flagged” as a drug seeker. This behavior only hurts the seeker, as they are “flagged”, and will literally have to have their femur sticking out of their leg to receive any pain meds., any time soon.

Problem solved? Not by a long shot.

Once the needy seeker realizes they can no longer get pain meds through the normal channels, they will no doubt look elsewhere. Elsewhere, is in your medicine cabinet, or from someone selling pills on the street. Pills on the street are expensive. This is why heroin has become the go-to drug.  Heroin is relatively cheap, easy to find, and extremely addictive. Withdrawal from heroin is a nightmare, which is why so many continue to use.

Heroin is the scourge of today’s society. It’s everywhere. Everyone from Housewives, to teenagers are using it. In 2015, at least 13,000 people died due to heroin overdose in the US. This number has likely increased since, even with this now being deemed a “crisis”. Check the CDC stats.

So, now we have a “crisis”. Well people, we had a “crisis” long ago, but it wasn’t until well to do people, in nice suburban neighborhoods began to succumb to it’s evil embrace, that the world finally took notice, and rooted out just one of the causes: opioid based pain medication abuse.

I don’t think that they realize that being on pain meds doesn’t make you an addict.

As a result of this “newly discovered crisis”, we are now at war with opioids. More specifically, prescription pain meds. This war is being waged in order to cut down on opioid related addiction, and death. Well, let’s take a closer look at what this “war” will accomplish. One thing nags at me. If you are in pain, and cannot get pain meds, what will you do? If you have been on pain meds for years, and still need them, what will you do? You will go to a pain management clinic once per week, and receive a 1 week supply of your pain meds. You will have to travel to the clinic, which could be an hour or more away, pee in a cup, and be counseled, each week. (If there is anything in your urine that indicates you are using more than you have been given, or using another substance, you will be cut off, or denied. You will also be required to go to drug counseling for 30 days, during which, you have no meds.) Yep, that’s right, cold turkey. There will be a lot of that. It’s either pain management, or hitting the streets. Which option will they choose?

Now, I’m not saying that this is the way it works everywhere, things may be different in your state. I am also not implying that everyone on pain meds is addicted, but we won’t know the full impact of this “war” until the powers that be start pulling everyone off of their pain meds.

Unless “they” have a plan, that we don’t know about yet.

In my opinion, and that is just what it is, this is going to result in an serious increase in heroin use, addiction, and deaths, either from overdoses, or suicide, by people who cannot bear to live in pain.

I have never believed that addiction is a disease. Again, I may be wrong, but I believe it is more of a chemical imbalance, or genetic flaw, that is the trigger for people self medicate with their drug of choice, and why each addict chooses a different type of drug to self medicate with.  Your neighbor, for example, may have a nicotine addiction, whereas you, may have an alcohol addiction, or none at all. (Yes, sugar is also an addictive substance, leading to an ever increasing diabetic, and obese population.)

Whatever the truth is, I believe that calling addiction a “disease” has made us more comfortable with it, and allows us to blame something other than ourselves for our issues, and actions. It has also given the media the ability to call this crisis, an “epidemic” which indicates not only a disease, but one which can spread to others. Seriously??!!  After all, no one is forcing you to shoot the heroin, drink that bottle of vodka, or smoke that cigarette. YOU have to make the effort to obtain, and use these substances.

So, what shall we do? Pass out Narcan, like candy. (Narcan will revive most who overdose on opiate based drugs.) “It’s ok, if I O.D., they’ll just give me Narcan.” Yeah, good plan. Eye roll.

We will also send people to clinics where they can get opioid substitutes, like methadone, or suboxone. Another mistake, I think, as there is no way out of the cycle of substance abuse, if you substitute one addiction for another, without addressing the root cause. Of course, each addict may need a different treatment plan.

I am sure we will know soon enough, if the handling of the opioid crisis is actually helping, rather than creating more heroin users, and, in turn, more crime, and death. I feel sorry for those of us who have chronic pain, and may have their pain meds taken away or dosage significantly reduced, and regulated. I think it is irresponsible to treat people like this, without having an effective pain relieving substitute readily available, and treatment plans implemented. Many people will be blindsided by the new regulations, and feel abandoned, by their doctors.

There is an ever increasing population of people with chronic pain who do not use opiate pain medications, and I am one of them. I cannot physically tolerate opiates in an amount that would lessen my pain, and along with my PCP, we have been trying alternatives. It is hit or miss, however, as I am unable to tolerate many pharmaceuticals. There are plenty more out there like me who, like it or not, must exist every day in pain, until a solution is found.

Many are turning to medical marijuana, and CBD products, and have seen wonderful results, with everything from pain, to seizures. This is something that needs to be available to everyone, prescribed, and covered by insurance. I shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for a new doctor to prescribe it, and then more to get the “card” then, travel to a dispensary, and spend more cash, for my marijuana, or CBD products…again not covered by insurance. People with very low incomes, and subsidized insurance, are again, left with limited options.

Are we looking at a future where marijuana and CBD products are controlled by BIG PHARMA? I surely hope not.

I don’t pretend to have a solution.  I do, however have some insight into how addiction can destroy a person, a family, and a community. I am concerned about the impact this crack down on opioid prescription meds will have. Will it drive more people to find safer options, or will it drive them to the brink?

Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the “Opioid Crisis”.

  1. Interesting thoughts that I see tagged with ‘America’ as well 😉 I’m going to risk it and say, I’m actually intrigued by the opioid issues in America. I am NOT fully knowledgeable of your system, but when I was there for surgery, what I found strange were all the medication ads on tv. I’ve never seen so many in my life. The docs were also very liberal with pain meds and anti anxiety tabs as they believed it would help me heal faster. This I agree with as it helped a great deal. I think my country (Singapore) is overcautious with such meds, and many people are forced to just live with it. After all, we’re infamous for our drug death penalty here :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that the initial intention was to help people cope with pain, and for many, it has been helpful, over the years, abuse has turned to addiction for many. and, when street pills are not available, people turn to heroin, and die. (To put it simply.) I agree that there are way too many Ads. on TV for medications. Addictive medications should be monitored, but we seem to always rush forward without thinking about the outcome. Like closing the barn door, after the horse gets out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My country is probably the exact opposite of yours when it comes to this issue. We don’t have an opioid epidemic, simply because the government errs on the side of caution. In fact, painkillers are almost stigmatised in my country and many people try not to take too much of them, despite their pains. I’m not sure that’s a good thing either. I’ve discussed such issues with my doctor before, and he did mention culture does play a role in the way we approach fatigue and pain as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I believe that is true, that culture is a big part of it. I think if we (humans) took the time to look at what is in nature, we could find remedies that will treat, cure, or at least ease pain and suffering. For example, CBD oil, which I am eager to try at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know, unfortunately, I see big pharma getting involved here, because if people stop using their pharmaceuticals, they will have to re-coup the money somewhere. Money is the driving force here, not caution, or keeping people safe.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s