Addicts, Chronic Pain, and Scapegoats

Tina Blackledge

July 13, 2016

            As humans we look for people with similar characteristics then we proceed to group, sub-group, label and characterize all the bad traits of a few errant members and then deem the entire group as “crack heads”. Although this can describe any number of human interactions within our decaying society, the one I speak of is access to prescription pain medication. The government uses doctors as scapegoats blaming them for the high addiction rates to not only prescription pain killers but also to the slide of the addict into heroin, crack, and other drugs.

Does a problem exist? Of course, but the blame cannot rest upon the shoulders of one profession because this country’s slip into a mind numbing state of being did not start with the doctor’s prescription pad.  The government and some unscrupulous lawyers are trying to convince the public of the doctor’s malicious intent to numb America and lead us down the path of addiction. After all, someone has to be held responsible and God forbid it be the person committing the crime.  The public buys into it due to the big paydays promised  to “victims” of doctors whose fault it is that they are addicted. Likewise, there is no  “patient zero” identified who started us on this slippery slope.  The problem of drug addiction has been around shortly after humanity walked the earth escalating ever further as time progressed. Humanity found ways to warp creation for their own pleasures and so corrupt the original intent of the natural sources of pain relief.  In the modern era, it is all about making money and there are far too many politicians who have a vested interest in the pharmaceutical companies to reverse the trend of over prescribing all medications. Therefore, folks who have real ailments that cause unimaginable pain and suffering are lumped in with the addicts. We are all painted with the same brush by the unscrupulous and the ignorant.

Pain relief means nothing to those who have never experienced chronic, progressive pain every moment of every day. Hence, these folks cannot imagine needing anything more than an aspirin to take care of some aches and pains.  These same folks push their social reform agendas that sweep anyone who uses pain killers into one big messy tangle. I know this first  with my own ailments and second hand by watching my mother suffer and die. The logic they are using is inherently flawed because they are going after the medical profession. Those in the medical community who are abusing the system to make money know how to avoid detection and those doctors who are honest and want to help their patients are too afraid to offer the help by prescribing pain medication. The government has put the doctor’s medical license on the chopping block if their strict regulations are not adhered too. Guess who pays the ultimate price for this narrow minded, blind approach? Its certainly not those who are addicted because an addict would sell their own mother for their next fix so they will get it no matter what.  No, it is the genuine suffering patient with a legitimate ailment that is being hurt, literally.

Yet, it is not only physical suffering we must endure. Since all patients dealing with chronic pain are referred to the “pain clinic” They are lumped together with folks who have a history of abusing the medication. We are treated like criminals, we must pee in a cup, have our pills counted and adhere to strict rules. It doesn’t matter if you have a legitimate ailment or not because everyone is treated the same as if they just got out of rehab and are trying to stay clean. It is degrading and outrageous. I have never had a drug or alcohol problem in my entire life but that did not matter. It also matters not, that I have a proven ailment that causes severe debilitating pain and deterioration. It does not matter if I had multiple medical records from the age of five up, including imaging that showed the advanced deterioration of every joint in my body and every vertebrae. Nope, none of that mattered. I went to a pain clinic when my specialist referred her pain management patients out to the clinic to avoid being pulled into the quagmire of drug abuse.

Immediately, you are treated like a drug addict. The personnel are curt and matter of fact devoid of all compassion. To them, you are just another crack head who is going to lie to get the drug. Then you must be humiliated by peeing in a cup every month to make sure you aren’t selling your pills or taking too many.  In the meantime, they are constantly judging you and treating you as if you are an ignorant child who needs to be policed or parented. The entire experience was degrading and ridiculous but that is not where the absurdity ends when pain killers are involved.  I personally know several individuals who have had to endure major joint replacement surgery with a severely limited supply of pain killers. This is not for the benefit of the patient but for the doctor who does not want to be accused of trafficking or over prescribing pain medication. Worse, are the doctors who limit the pain killers to patients who are dying touting that they do not want the person to become addicted! Really? The person is dying so who cares if they will become addicted to the stupid pill? Things need to be changed because those who need the help are not receiving it and those who do not are getting their drugs anyway. Rules, regulations, and laws never affect the crime statistics because those who were breaking the law are going to continue to break the law. The only thing they do is make it that much harder for the legitimate patient to get the help they need.

Some readers may be sitting there thinking that I am just another crack head upset about not getting a fix and I cannot change your mind because you are part of the problem. I am living my life without pain relief and the Lord is keeping me going and I greatly appreciate that but that does not lessen the culpability of the citizen, who is very eager to stigmatize a group of people who they see as responsible for destroying American society. A scapegoat is being sought and the doctors are just a patsy but the real villains are those profiting off the entire realm of drugs whether they are legitimate or not. The victims are those who are suffering at a level no one could possibly understand or handle unless they have felt the same for multiple years with no end in sight. We need a better system because millions of people are considering suicide as a valid option. There comes a point that you will do anything to end the suffering especially when you know there isn’t a human alive willing to help you. As a result, many people seek relief in other venues like the illegal drug trade, alcohol or death. Good people, who have likely worked their entire life, contributed to society and the tax base now to be abandoned in their darkest hour becoming what they were initially accused of being because they feel that making a deal with the devil is preferable to the pain caused “helping professions”.

One possible idea is to have two different types of pain clinics, one for former addicts and one for legitimate, confirmed chronic pain suffering patients. Since the care and perspective between these two cohorts should be vastly different, the care plan should match that difference. People who suffer chronically battle depression and a feeling of hopelessness. I have my faith to sustain me but there are days that are very low indeed because when every waking moment has always meant pain and your ailment robs you of sleep then the days become nights then weeks, months, years in which you sleep little and have plenty of waking moments to think, pray and suffer.  You know the severe future that awaits you unless you are willing to break the law, become an alcoholic, or just move into increasingly dark levels of pain and suffering until you finally die in horrendous agony. Suffering may be a foreign concept to you as you have never been sick a day in your life or had a loved one decay and die in agony but hundreds of thousands of people know all too well. We know that it is a victory to get out of bed, get dressed, and make yourself some breakfast. Your life choices consist of going grocery shopping or washing clothes. Playing with your kids or being able to walk upstairs at the end of the day. A day you didn’t break down is a victory and week without tears is a party.

The drug addiction problem is multifaceted so the solution must be as well. One thing that must be corrected is for the sufferers and the helpers/protectors to get on the same page. I think we (the chronically ill)are considered an acceptable casualty of the war on drugs. I disagree. Educate yourself before judging and then try suffering the ailment before you utter your opinion. If you do not possess compassion then you will be taught it and only way to learn that lessen is through suffering. Be careful who you condemn because you never know how the Lord will choose to teach you compassion.