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The pain price




Opioid Addiction Is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions Are Not the Cause

What Anderson Cooper's Show About Prescription Addiction Got Wrong About Chronic Pain

In response to Anderson Cooper's show I sent in this response:

Here is what I sent to CNN:
People with relentless chronic pain take painkillers as a last resort. Not a first, second... fifth. A last resort. It does not get us high. It slightly dims the pain so we can be somewhat functional in our lives. With unmanaged pain I has suicidal ideation and intent. Because that is what pain does when it is relentless and unmanaged. It exceeds your capacity to cope with it and every day you push beyond your limits. Until you wish desperately for the pain to end. You don`t have a life, you have a horrific existence. No sane person would want to live like that. When finally you get referred to a pain clinic to get a treatment plan; including medications, a psychologist to help with coping strategies, an exercise plan and so forth it is like finally someone cares about your quality of life. All this coverage in the media is making it out like addiction is this massive issue when only around 2% get addicted to opiates.(amend that to 10%. I forgot the specific stat there and had to look it up. 10% of the population as a whole is susceptible to any addiction) Less people are die from opiates than die from NSAIDs, which doctors are now comfortable to prescribe despite the side effects. They are taking away medications people need to manage their pain and this will increase the suicide risk, which is already high in pain patients. I can hardly see why that fact is so okay. Let them die, right? We are just the ones with an invisible disability. We don't matter. The hype of addiction... that matters. How you skew the story, that matters. How actual pain patients are getting affected by this? No one seems to care. It is shameful. People have the right to have their pain treated. They have the right to quality of life. I speak for my American friends. Who are treated like criminals at their pain clinics in order to get a refill. I am Canadian and I hope none of this madness trickles over the border. Living with that raw desperation and suicidal ideation and intent... is not a place I want to go again. Try doing a story on how they are being affected by these changes. How they are treated in ERs and at pain clinics. What chronic pain is really about. We all get ill, someday all of you will too. Maybe pain will be your disease. Wouldn't you want to be treated with some dignity? Wouldn't you want some quality of life?
This is because addiction has always been a problem for 10% of the population. Always. And if you read the first article I posted most who become addicted to painkillers are not becoming so by getting them prescribed to them in the first place. Addiction has and will be a massive issue that is complex and must be addressed by society. I recommend watching Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery.

But the other side of the story that is completely ignored is the massive amount of people being treated with chronic pain, which is very complex.

The suicide rate among people with chronic pain is known to be roughly twice that for people without chronic pain.Since there are 41,149 suicides every year in the 
U.S., according to the National Center for Health Statistics,  it’s possible that roughly half of these suicides are driven by pain. Not proven fact, but plausible hypothesis. This would suggest that perhaps up to 20,000 Americans a year with chronic pain kill themselves, which would be more than the government’s tally of 16,235 deaths from prescription opioids every year.  commonhealth

These suicide stats are worrisome because we have suicidal thoughts when our pain is not managed. Suicidal Intent when we lose hope that it will ever be managed. The pain just consumes our capacity to reason. Destroys hope. We lose so much to it, there is little left to live for. If it is not managed. What will happen when pain is not treated properly? When pain meds are reduced? Taken away? This number will go up. And THIS is okay?

This is why this whole issue has made people with chronic pain more invisible. Our care. Our quality of life. Our very lives themselves. Don't matter as much as the 10% of people who have the risk factor for addiction..  So yes, for temporary injuries, manage your pain prescriptions. Don't be all willy nilly with them. Makes perfect sense. But don't punish the pain patient. Don't make up stories that they are all addicts and drug seekers when we know for a fact they are not. When we also know for a fact untreated pain is a suicide risk.

When I hear stories of how pain patients are being treated in the United States it infuriates me. How they are being shamed for an illness they cannot control. Belittled by ER doctors who think they are drug seekers, and even turned away. Having to take urine tests to prove they are taking medications as prescribed and pill counts. How embarrassing and what bull. How doctors are telling them they can't have their medications any more, cold turkey, or have to be on less. And how they feel defeated, hopeless and scared about their future with that looming pain. How it sickens me that doctors are pressed to ignore the care of their patients because they don't want to be seen as handing out too many pain meds. The profound stigma enhanced by the media creating a public view that pain medications are worse than alcohol abuse. Leading to more judgement and stigma. What have you done? And who will suffer for it? Who will lose their lives for it?

I know this is a rant but you just see it over and over again. Prince dies... and must have been addiction because he had painkillers in his system. No one mentions he had chronic pain and maybe it was simply to manage that. Or that sometimes for a pain patient that is our choice for suicide as well. Before anyone knows anything they judged him as an addict. Because that is the cool thing for the media to do these days. Never mind all us invisible, silent sufferers just trying to live some sort of life with our pain. An endless battle we struggle so hard to earn a day. I can't think of the future because it looms with pain and that thought depresses me... or terrifies me. I just have to think, 'How will I get through This day of pain.' With my small accomplishments and little victories. At other times losing a day to intense pain. All those lost days adding up to years worth. Our lives are still worth something. This struggle should be worth something. We deserve some basic rights and quality of life. I rant because I know what it feels like to just want to end the pain. To think it. Plan how to end it. Then take that step into action.

I rant because I feel they are ignoring the massive problem right in front of their faces. The significantly more people suffering with chronic pain, who need quality chronic pain management. Who has our voice? Who is going to stand for us?
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