Pain patients: newest targets for abuse and discrimination.

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In our increasingly sociopathic and cold-blooded society, the most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks and no one seems to care. It’s a popular sport these days to target the poor, elderly, mentally ill, sick, disabled and otherwise vulnerable and blame them for all of society’s ills–and of course for their own lot. Many people today think helping these people is just “enabling” them and that somehow they deserve their lot. Some Prosperity Gospel “Christians” even say that to help them is a sin because the reason they suffer is because they are morally inferior and displeasing to God. All this is nothing more than societal gaslighting, and to Christians who want to live as Jesus did, such views are pure heresy and evil.

Now there’s a new group of targeted people–chronic pain patients. My housemate, who I’ve written about before, suffers from chronic, debilitating pain due to fibromyalgia and injuries sustained in a car accident she was involved in more than thirty years ago that has caused bone fusion and scar tissue buildup. Some days are so bad she can hardly move, and spends the entire day in bed, sometimes crying from the pain. But she’s been unable to get any pain medicine that works. She has been to 20 or 30 different doctors, and all refuse to prescribe any kind of opiate medication, the only kind that works for her.

My housemate is not a drug addict. She has no history of drug addiction. Before she moved to this state, her doctor prescribed her Oxycodone, which relieved her pain. She did not get high from it or take more than the prescribed amount. When she moved here, her medical records were transferred, but no doctor here will even look at them. She’s been to several pain management doctors, but all they will do is give steroid injections, which require twice weekly visits (she does not have any method of transportation so this is a hardship) and are much more expensive than her previous opioid medicine was–the frequent copays cost much more than she can afford, and only a portion of injection treatments are covered. They also don’t work for her pain. Physical therapy hasn’t worked either. In fact, she says it makes the pain worse.

But because she has asked doctors for the same pain medicine she was getting in her old state, and keeps trying new doctors, she has been redflagged as a “drug seeker” and “doctor shopper” and “shows addictive behaviors.” She was required to attend a drug assessment and passed it, but she still can’t get any doctor to give her a prescription. Pain patients are being stigmatized as addicts even when they are just doing what anyone in their right mind would do when denied medicine that works–going to a different doctor. My housemate (who is moving back to the state where her old doctor was) continues to suffer and can barely function due to the pain.

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I decided to do some research on this issue, and it turns out she’s far from alone. Profiling pain patients as if they’re criminals and stigmatizing them as drug addicts has become a new epidemic in this country, and it’s because of the recent DEA crackdown on opioid pain medicines, which have been sold for years on the black market as recreational drugs. Some people have speculated that the increasing difficulty in obtaining pain medicine legally is due to the relaxation of marijuana laws that have decriminalized or even made medical marijuana legal in many states. The DEA needs a new bogeyman, because that’s their bread and butter and there’s a lot of money involved, so now they’re going after pain patients.

Only cancer patients can (theoretically) be legally prescribed opioid pain medication without having to submit to all sorts of unnecessary drug and psychological tests (these protect the doctor rather than the patient) and jump through medical hoops to get the medicine they need. But even they sometimes fall through the cracks, especially in states like Florida where the drug laws are especially draconian. Darlene Patsos, a Florida woman with Stage 4 lung cancer, was denied access to any kind of palliative pain relief, even though she was terminal. This is unconscionable and appalling–and cruel beyond belief. You’d think we were living in the Middle Ages instead of 2016.  This simply should not happen in any technologically advanced society.

No one, whether they have cancer or some other condition causing chronic, severe pain, should be profiled like a criminal and denied medicine that improves their quality of life and allows them to function instead of being bedridden because they’re in too much agony to do anything else. Yet doctors are denying patients these necessary medicines because they’re afraid the DEA might come after them. So they’ve adopted a one-size-fits-all pain management regime that consists of less effective (and more expensive and time consuming) “alternative” treatments–and that size doesn’t fit everyone. Whatever happened to the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship? Since when do doctors have less authority than these law-and-order thugs who tell them what they can and cannot give to their patients? Methinks the people who approve of these ridiculous new drug laws are the same ones who loudly scream about “too much government.” This country is running amok with these sort of heartless hypocrites who want everything for themselves and could give a rat’s ass about you. You’re in so much pain you can’t sleep at night, can’t work, can’t take care of your kids, are a burden on your family, can’t have any quality of life at all? The injections of dangerous steroids and physical therapy aren’t working? Oh well, sucks for you. I’m fit and healthy and can afford to pay an expensive specialist out of pocket for opioids if I ever have chronic pain–but I’ll never be in your shoes anyway.

I read a website by an empathetic doctor who wrote a blog about this issue, and there are hundreds of responses, mostly from chronic pain sufferers. They are heartbreaking. Many describe contemplating suicide because the pain is so unbearable. Some had been getting opioid pain relievers without any problems for years, and their doctors suddenly stopped their prescriptions when the DEA began to crack down, in some cases pulling the medication from them cold-turkey, so not only did their patients have to deal with sudden severe pain, they had withdrawal symptoms as well.  Some were forced to go to the black market to obtain pain medicine, risking arrest and the possibility of taking something impure or dangerous.   The suicide rate among pain patients is up 30% since the DEA began to crack down, and many of the entries describe friends and relatives who died by their own hands, because they were no longer able to cope with their pain. But to the DEA, I guess it’s better to have no quality of life and end it in suicide or turn to the black market (heroin is easier to obtain than legal pain medicine) than to run a small risk (4% for pain patients) of becoming addicted.

This issue needs to be addressed.  You can help by sending a letter to Congress.

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About luckyotter

This blog is my journal. I just choose to share it with the world instead of keeping everything inside my head. I'm a recovering Borderline and have also struggled with Avoidant Personality Disorder. I also have Complex PTSD due to having been the victim of narcissistic abuse for most of my life. I write mostly about narcissism, because I was the child of a narcissistic mother, and then married to a sociopathic malignant narcissist for 20 years. But there's a silver lining too. In some ways they taught me about myself. This blog is about all that. Not all my articles will be about NPD, BPD or other personality disorders or mental conditions. I pretty much write about whatever's on my mind at the moment. So there's something for everyone here. Blogging about stuff is crack for my soul. It's self therapy, and hopefully my insights and observations may help others too.
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29 Responses to Pain patients: newest targets for abuse and discrimination.

  1. “Some Prosperity Gospel “Christians” even say that to help them is a sin because the reason they suffer is because they are morally inferior and displeasing to God”

    I wish they would practice Christianity. That theological stance is ancient Judaism. The only thing more contemptible then the use of God to justify greed is being a pushy theocrat who knows nothing about his religion.

    Liked by 4 people

    • luckyotter says:

      It’s also a common stance among certain fundamentalist Protestant sects that are based on Calvinism. Probably other religions too. Personally I find such views repugnant but I respect the right of everyone to believe what they want–but when their views become excuses to target victims I am going to open my big mouth.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I can’t begin to express the contempt I feel for people who abuse life in the name of God.

        Liked by 2 people

      • katiesdream2004 says:

        I quit Protestant churches after decades of watching the condemnation of suffering people. Catholics at least have a theology that accepts that suffering is found in the path of truly becoming Christ-like. It is why Apostle Paul said. That I might know Him and the fellowship of His suffering becoming conformed to his death. I doubt prosperity Christians are actually Christians there is little evidence of love for anything but themselves which their narcissistic religion encourages

        Liked by 2 people

        • luckyotter says:

          I don’t think all Protestant denominations are like that–not the mainstream ones anyway–but they seem like watered down Catholicism to me. But I agree with you that the Catholic church always made an attempt to understand suffering and presents Jesus as compassionate and of course, there is Mary…I agree with you that prosperity Christians aren’t real Christians.

          Like

  2. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    It’s a popular sport these days to target the poor, elderly, mentally ill, sick, disabled and otherwise vulnerable and blame them for all of society’s ills–and of course for their own lot. Many people today think helping these people is just “enabling” them and that somehow they deserve their lot. Some Prosperity Gospel “Christians” even say that to help them is a sin because the reason they suffer is because they are morally inferior and displeasing to God. All this is nothing more than societal gaslighting, and to Christians who want to live as Jesus did, such views are pure heresy and evil.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. katiesdream2004 says:

    Reblogged this on Dreams of a better world blog and commented:
    Excellent article

    Liked by 2 people

  4. geezer94 says:

    As a sufferer of extreme Diabetic Neuropathy pain, I run into many of those that don’t understand or even care. Thankfully I have a VA doctor that helps and understands. Unfortunately, the meds I take only relieve only half the pain and I do not function well physically and at times mentally.
    g

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SonniQ says:

    I can relate to this as I sit in pain as I always do at this time of day, or any time of day making myself have a normal day. After all it’s just pain, right? So they think.I’ve been on pain meds for – I can,t remember… 28 years. Nerve damage lots of medical issues. I’ve always had caring drs – until now. I take methadone. You don’t take methadone to get high. You take it for pain. Even after a liver transplant I kept it to 20 mgs a day even though I hoped to die. Now that I’m getting older there is just too much damage everywhere but I suck it up. My primary care Dr agreed I needed to go up TEN mgs. TEN LOUSY MGS . But there is a law now. She can’t raise it unless a pain clinic Dr says is okay. My PC Dr moved out of state. A woman took over who spent 5 minutes with me tapping on my reflexes, didn’t even have my chart, told me there was nothing wrong with me and I was shopping for pills. I wanted to push her face through the door. I filed complaints which of course came to nothing. My primary care Dr apologized. Her hands are tied. That other woman shouldn’t be allowed to treat pain patients. She made me feel like an addict, which of course I am addicted but it isn’t the same. I haven’t had the mental energy to suffer through another inquisition at another pain clinic so I suck it up.. I’m ready to start smoking pot again

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      I am sorry you are having to put up with that, and sorry about your pain issue too. Yes, my housemate went through the same thing when she went to pain management. Some no nothing nurse or DA told her she was pill shopping. She wanted to punch her in the face like you did. I don’t blame you for feeling that way, I sure would! It makes me mad just hearing these stories, even though I don’t have pain problems–yet. Yes, unfortunately the dr’s hands are tied and they have to do what the law says. I thinkit’s outrageous the government is getting in between doctors and patients now. Things never used to be that way, but the stupid drug laws make it so. As for weed, is it legal in your state, or at least legal for medical use? You may be able to get medical marijuana. It hasn’t helped my housemate (it isn’t legal here but she was trying it anyway) but it does help many. Good luck!

      Like

  6. SonniQ says:

    I found you on Rob’s blog. We’ve been writing for quite awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Forgive my language but FUCK those “prosperity gospel Christians.” Easy for them to say, while they’re living in their multi-million dollar mansions…the mansions the congregation pays for with their hard-earned money….who are probably one paycheck away from being one of those “people” those fine Christians are belittling.
    And, labeling people who are in pain as “drug seekers”…I’m sorry. This kind of shit just sets me on fire.

    Like

    • luckyotter says:

      It sets me on fire too. I can’t dwell on it too much because the anger it causes in me turns me into someone I don’t like. There are so many things that really eat at me and this is one of them.

      Like

  8. nowve666 says:

    Please don’t blame “sociopaths” for the insanity with which society deals with drugs.

    I have such contempt for the whole mind set that opposes anything that can make people feel better. You and your commenters have said a lot about the Calvinists and “prosperity Christians.” I agree with everything y’all have said about them. I want to talk about Puritans. Some wag defined Puritans as people who live in fear that somewhere someone is having a good time. As a sadomasochist, I suppose I should appreciate them for their desire to suffer and make others suffer but I just can’t. If nothing else, their stupidity, THE stupidity of the anti-drug mentality is more than I can even wrap my head around. This new trend of persecuting pain patients (it has really been around for a while but it is escalating alarmingly) smacks of the opportunism of cheap, demagogic politicians. But the fools who buy into it are even worse. I don’t suffer fools gladly.

    One more point. It’s saddening that some of the worst offenders in the drug wars are on the left.

    Like

    • luckyotter says:

      The DEA is right wing conservative, not left wing. And yes, it is sociopathic. I am sorry if that offends you. It’s my blog, my opinion. Otherwise I agree with you. Thank you for your comments. Yes, there are some antidrug crusaders on the left too.

      Like

      • nowve666 says:

        Brrrrrr! I wasn’t trying to silence you. I was expressing my opinion. Plenty of anti-drug legislation passed under Democratic administrations. Just saying. On the main point I’m agreeing with you so let’s not fight.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Momof2 says:

    At work, someone told me that one of his neighbors in his apartment building committed suicide because she couldn’t live with her pain anymore and no one would give her pain medicine. So she went out her window one night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that. 😦 Yes, suicide sometimes seems like the only option or those who can’t escape their pain. It’s a travesty that an advanced country would allow this to go on.

      Like

  10. Tammi Kale says:

    Very enlightening article….thanks for sharing. My heart is now more open to these suffering individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

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