Opioid Fear-Mongering

Opioid Fear-Mongering

– With its alarmist and misinformed reporting about opioid addiction, the media is scaring chronic pain patients and their doctors away from opioids.

My worst nightmare is to lose access to the opioid pain medication that allows me to enjoy what’s left of my severely diminished quality of life. Despite all the recent media attention to the illegal use of and addiction to opioids, these medications are literally saving my life.

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic flaw that causes the body to produce defective connective tissue, which is the “duct tape” that holds the parts of our body together. EDS affects joints, muscles, skin, intestines, and other organs, leading to widespread chronic pain. 

I’m dismayed that the media continues to promote irrational fears about opioids, which is scaring pain patients and their doctors away from the proven pain relief opioids can provide. Instead, less effective and more damaging treatments are pushed on us. While the media portrays opioids as an undesirable option for chronic pain and more dangerous than other medications currently prescribed, the opposite is actually true.

Like so many others, I was warned away from opioids and was instead prescribed trials of multiple other medications that can reduce pain perception (Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Neurontin, for example). These drugs have well-known and serious side-effects (intense withdrawal syndromes, confusion, sleepiness, nausea, the worst dizziness of my life), yet they were portrayed as “better” than opioids. When taken as prescribed for pain, opioids don’t have many side effects except constipation – and certainly not euphoria.

Twenty years ago, doctors believed that “nerve blocks” or “epidural injections” would help my pain, so I underwent multiple painful, dangerous, and expensive procedures, all to no avail. By now there’s little evidence of their long-term effectiveness, yet spinal injections are still considered mainline approaches to pain management. The hazards of sticking needles into intricately organized nerve bundles and injecting foreign fluids are barely mentioned, though the slightest mistake can have devastating consequences.

By comparison, taking opioids for pain is much less harmful, dangerous, and expensive. Despite the glaring headlines and media frenzy about opioid addiction, only 3-5%** of legitimate pain patients ever develop this problem. Most stories I read are confusing these relatively few medical cases with the illegal use of pain pills, which is indeed rampant.

The vast majority of addicts are not pain patients (80% of opioid addicts never had a prescription for them), yet all the proposed restrictions will affect mainly legitimate opioid users. After all, we are the ones easy to track because we get our medication from doctors and pharmacies with correct paperwork. Meanwhile, huge amounts of pills are being illegally diverted to the street where they are fueling most of the alarming rise in addiction.

It’s an insult to us pain patients that people can freely chose to self-medicate with alcohol and pills from the street, yet we cannot get our legitimate prescriptions for pain medication filled.

Legislators are seeking to limit a doctor’s right to prescribe this  effective medication for their patients who need it, only because some people use it inappropriately to feed an addiction. Our society’s fears of widespread addiction are being exploited and inflamed by the media, distorting this issue so that even the medical establishment seems to be allowing its policies to be influenced by popular opinion.

Why is so little heard from all the legitimate opioid users?

Because they are in pain, often disabled, and always exhausted with barely enough energy to accomplish life’s essential tasks. If they are still functioning, the stigma associated with chronic pain, and especially taking opioids for it, keeps many suffering people silent.

We must counter this tide of misinformation with our own accounts of opioids having rescued us from a life of intractable, death-wish-inducing pain. Sadly, many of us who currently rely on opioids are afraid to publicize it and make waves that could jeopardize our fragile access to these medications. I know I was.



9 thoughts on “Opioid Fear-Mongering

  1. painkills2

    “Most stories I read are confusing these relatively few medical cases with the illegal use of pain pills, which is indeed rampant.”

    I think the media frenzy over opioids makes it look rampant, but I don’t think that’s the case. And how do opioids end up on the street? I think it has more to do with bad players in the medical industry than drug addicts robbing pharmacies or their friends’ and relatives’ medicine cabinets.

    Many of those who suffer from addiction have already turned to heroin, which is making the overdose problem even worse. And since heroin is considered an opioid, there doesn’t seem to be any distinction between the victims — between pain patients and those who suffer from addiction. Considering the lack of uniform reporting requirements, I’d say the picture was very much incomplete.

    In fact, most of the overdose stories I read (and I read a lot of them) don’t have anything to do with chronic pain patients. And if they do, many stories look more like intentional overdoses, meaning they couldn’t manage their pain and just gave up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Naomi Nation

      In Australia doctors and don’t know what EDS is – even rheumatologists. Out of the 4 only 1 knows-yet to convince me he is knowledgable about management and diagnoses techniques. I have been suicidal since my last 10/10 episode whjich was not treated-torture is all I can think. Sends you quite mad and I have not been the same since. If it were not for my son-I would not be here. I am so tired of trying to advbocate on my own behalf. Self care is poor due poor pain management. Yes alcohol-I am now an alcoholic. Ironically my GP who wont write me scripts for pain-gave me paracetamol and tramadol(10mg) combination.
      Your comments and the article made me feel human and not so alone.
      Many thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mccandlessbecky

    I am a patient of medical harm, and I totally agree with you on the dangers of Epidural Injections.. This is how I was harmed, an Epidural with Depo Medrol was injected into my spinal cord in 2005, since then I have gone thru many different therapies including the pain pump. After all of this opioids was my only defense against this pain. I have Arachnoiditis, Spinal Stenosis, DDD, and Facet Syndrome. After 2 years of being in pain management, they told me there was nothing else they could do for me, they sent me to a spine surgeon and he told me to never let anyone touch my spine again. Opioids are the only thing that let me live my life, if I did not have these medications I would be bed bound and only existing. What kind of life is that? I have been on opioids for 10 yrs, I have lowered my dose, and these medications are still effective after all these years, I do no abuse my medicines and take as prescribed. It is very scare to think that some day I may lose access to these medications. I totally understand where pain patients come from. This pain was not my choice and was given to me by the very medical community that wants to take them away.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I’m so sorry to hear how you were permanently damaged by the “help” you got for your pain. These are the procedures they want us chronic pain patients to go through instead of taking opioids.

      Pretty convenient for those that offer these services (despite the proven lack of effectiveness), don’t you think?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Pain Patients Should Come First, Not Addiction | EDS Info (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

  4. nick decolve

    I have two herniated disks in my neck, a bulging disk, facet syndrome, mild arthritis and consistent muscle spasm.
    I’m only twenty years old and I went through every medication imaginable, along with spinal injection and it finally came to the question, which opiod should I be on?
    My doctor immediately called me an addict. The whole clinic talked about the dangers of opiod use.
    This went on for months and months. I went to the ER three times for the pain.
    I passed out the first time and the second time I threw up. They gave me NOTHING in the ER.
    I was in agony and I cursed and threatened lawyers but nothing occurred.
    Fast track a bit later, now I changed doctors and am seeing a new doctor that feels comfortable with opiod prescribing but he gave me the generic, “lets try lyrica or neurontin”. THE STUFF MAKES YOU STUPID…LITERALLY. It effects you similar to xanax! and I want to have mental capacity for my job!
    Unbelievable! So I had a chat with him and he seemed reasonable and I told him, “I don’t want to stay on this for a long time”, but really I just need the script so I’m not house bound because of the pain. The pain system in the states and Canada is DISGUSTING.
    They care more about people not getting high then people in acute daily pain.
    You know people kill themselves because they are under treated for pain!?
    You know the alarming numbers of patients being treated as drug addicts and being undertreated for acute daily pain!? You know the profiling of doctors for patients in pain!?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Rollin Shultz

    This is a huge issue for those of us who suffer from chronic pain. My diabetic neuropathy is so severe I have had to take Tramadol 5 times/day for three years now. It was very difficult to even get it prescribed and that was before the new fear mongering campaign began last year in 2016. The way I put it to my doctor on the question of possible addiction was, what does it matter if I am to be on this medication for life, since you can offer me no cure and no real treatment?

    This July, my insurance company is denying me access to this medication claiming they are adjusting their coverage to align with CDC guidelines and allowing me 56 tablets per month, when I usually use 150. The CDC is one of the most corrupt government agencies and has been exposed by whistle blowers for covering up such facts as ties of vaccines to autism and creating false flue scares.

    Btw, I have experienced no addictive effects, and in fact had to set timers on my cell phone to make sure to take my medication on time otherwise I would forget, which is counter to addictive behavior. I also had very bad experiences with Lyrica (an SSRI ‘selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor’) and Gabapentin. I had feelings of suicide and depression. It is also important to note ALL SSRIs are dangerous and have been connected to EVERY mass shooting incident since 1987. So why the anti opioid fear mongering while SSRIs go un-investigated and freely prescribed? It’s because most of the opioid prescription medications are old and now very inexpensive resulting in small profits, while SSRIs are the latest tech and in constant development so they are expensive, ie. Lyrica @ $6/pill. So why the media push, because their biggest sponsors are Drug companies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I’ve had the same thoughts about how much drug companies are going to profit from being “forced” to develop “better” drugs for pain.

      This ignores the fact that the drugs we already have are safe for 95% of pain patients.



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