Anti-opioid Propaganda and Profit
I’m sickened by the tone of the anti-opioid lobby these days, which has become aggressively hostile to pain patients.
They present more propaganda than fact and attack pain patients who are legitimately taking opioids for chronic pain. They invent their own truths and blur the line between known facts and biased conjecture. Any dissent is met with hostility.
Their denigration of pain patients has reached a new low with their latest claim by A. Kolodny, leader of the anti-opioid organization, PROP:
“Anyone taking opioids regularly is addicted. They believe they are taking opioids for pain, but they are actually taking them to avoid withdrawal.”
Whether you are in pain or not is irrelevant, whether you are taking prescription medicine or scoring heroin on the street, whether you are conscientious hard worker, or living by crime, none of that makes any difference; if you take opioids you are an addict, they insist.
They do not believe in the well-known medical condition of dependence independent of addiction. Many other medications cause physical dependence and then withdrawals when they are stopped, but they insist that the same dependence, if on opioids, is addiction.
By unilaterally deciding that tolerance and dependence signify addiction, they find addiction where it simply does not exist (according to modern definitions of addiction and dependence).
Their definition includes literally everyone who takes opioids regularly for any reason whatsoever, creating a vast (and inappropriate) market for their services. Yet, if we refute their biased judgment, then we’re just in denial about our addiction.
This is the lucrative catch-22 of the recovery industry: Once accused of being an addict, anything you say in your defense is considered denial, which is just more evidence of your presumed addiction.
Let us not forget how much money the recovery industry stands to earn if every pain patient is forced into a “recovery program” for addiction.
Despite their long history, addiction recovery programs based on the ubiquitous 12-step model are almost criminally ineffective (less than 20% success), so the vast majority of patients must return to them (and pay for them) repeatedly.
Unlike any other healthcare services, the additional profit generated by repeated failures creates a perverse incentive against improvements.
At the same time, drug courts are still forcing people into these unscientific, ineffective, semi-religious programs. While this seems a clear violation of the separation of church and state, the recovery industry has lobbied heavily to keep this ridiculous status quo in place.
So this industry is being handed an endless stream of customers by the government, the medical system, and our cultural misconceptions of addiction.
Anyone even spuriously accused of being an addict gets caught in the airtight dogma of recovery (your denial of being addicted is a sign of your addiction) and, instead of receiving proper treatment, they are placed at the mercy of an industry that is not regulated or controlled by anyone other than itself.
With the help of grieving parents, politicians, well-financed special interest groups, and even our government, the recovery industry has created a modern-day gold rush by exploiting the misery of pain patients.
Some percentage of human beings will always suffer life-limiting extreme or prolonged pain and opioids will always be necessary, so our prohibitionist policies regarding opioid pain medication have created a lucrative business model that cannot fail.
Published in National Pain Report as Anti-Opioid Propaganda and Profit 6/5/2016