My Response to CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
I’ve been overcome by repeated crying jags for the last couple of days since the 15th of March (2016), when the CDC finally released its “revised and reviewed” final version of the Opioid Prescribing Guidelines. I should not have been so surprised that they were almost identical to those released about 6 months ago to so much opposition.
My initial shock and disappointment in my country, so callous and dismissive of our pain, has hardened into overwhelming disgust with the CDC, the influential recovery industry, and the media-manipulated pain-free public.
The news crippled me with grief the first day and overwhelmed me with repeated meltdowns of frustrated rage the next. Today, I’m just very sad, but finally calm enough to address what happened.
Clearly, addicts are more important to this country than pain patients. The CDC guidelines limiting opioid medications for patients in pain are intended to prevent opioid/heroin overdoses, few of which are due to an accident with a person’s own prescription pills.
How can the arbitrary restriction on pain relief for suffering individuals bring an end to, ease, or even address heroin overdoses?
The statistics upon which these guidelines were based added together overdoses from both heroin and from pain medication, justifying this baised data mingling because the two drugs are from the same chemical group (opioids).
The totals do not differentiate between a pain patient’s legitimate prescription and illegally obtained opioids, either heroin, clandestinely manufactured fentanyl (being added to heroin to create a deadly mixture), or diverted prescription opioids.
The motivation for the use of these drugs is completely different as well and is driven by completely different human drives: the desire for pain relief, versus a desire to escape life through destructive and mindless recreation.
Yet the CDC guidelines address all forms and sources of opioids as though they were identical and interchangeable parts of the same opioid overdose problem.
By lumping the fatality numbers for all opioids together, the opioid prescribing guidelines are a response to seriously flawed and suspiciously misleading data, the kind that leads to unintended public policy disasters.
The CDC is trying to address the “overdose crisis” through a convoluted sequence of questionable cause and effect: that if a patient’s pain intensity is not treated with opioids, then they will not get addicted to opioids, and then they won’t move on to heroin and then die of a heroin overdose.
This complicated chain relies on so many unproven assumptions, that it’s hardly plausible. In the real world, less than 5% of legitimate pain patients become addicted to their medication and of those, even fewer proceed to heroin.
The CDC is focusing on a shadow of the problem instead of the problem itself. It would make much more sense and be much more effective to address the real problem, addiction, and leave pain patients alone.
But there is little effective addiction treatment available in this country because it is dominated by the 12-step recovery industry. Even now, this industry operates on unscientific principles (forbidding any medication to aid with withdrawals) and has only about a 10% long-term success rate, and usually still.
Instead of increasing the suffering of people with painful conditions, the CDC should be calling for the development and availability of effective addiction treatment to address what is clearly an “addiction crisis”.
Please pardon any typgraphical or organizational mistakes in this essay. My brain is still frazzled from the emotional upheaval of the last few days.
I can’t read one paragraph without forgetting what the previous and following paragraphs are about, so my ideas (and even words) are probably jumbled, but I think I’ve made my meaning clear despite my sadly exhausted brain.