Anti-opioid Propaganda and Profit

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.

This biased mindset and dangerous circular reasoning is used by the groups that have been guiding our country’s opioid policies. (See PROP conflict of interest in Phoenix House rehabs)

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.

(See The Opioid Treatment Business Is Booming)


Published in National Pain Report as Anti-Opioid Propaganda and Profit  6/5/2016

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10 thoughts on “Anti-opioid Propaganda and Profit

  1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

    The fact that when the CDC wrote “there is no evidence that chronic opioid treatment has any benefit” actually MEANS “there is no evidence,” which MEANS that STUDIES HAVE NEVER BEEN DONE, never crosses the information threshold. The statement does NOT read, “randomized, double-blind controlled studies have proven that [opioids] are ineffective at controlling pain long-term.” It only says that there is insufficient evidence to say whether it does or not. NO recommendation to actually carry out the necessary studies has been issued. Therefore, all statements by these private special interest groups that are foisting their manufactured false “truths” on whoever will fall for their absurd lies, are based upon NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER.

    Liked by 1 person

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      1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA

        Just wait….there’s something in the works. Synthetic “abuse deterrent” drugs, tier 5, not covered by VA or Medicaid…or Medicare. Big bucks. Add that to the threat of “rehab,” what a perfect extortion! Of course, if you happen to be a “person of means…” Just like it used to be, before Johnson’s “Great Society,” only worse. Those who can’t afford will turn to the street. The suicide epidemic will wipe out thousands of the most expensive “health care consumers.” How’s that for a conspiracy theory? Ha. I wonder how much of it will actually come to pass…

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. Zyp Czyk Post author

          Meanwhile…. I’m making the most of every possible positive moment, knowing such opportunities to enjoy being alive may not continue much longer.

          We are living in “interesting” times…

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  2. Kathy C

    There are other Industries that profit too. The Insurance Industry stands to make a lot of money. Anyone injured at work, will no longer be believed if the injury leads to long term pain. Even if they deny 10% of these claimed it is billions. The medical Industry, it means even less accountability. Any patient who has pain as a symptom can now be dismissed, so what if it was cancer, if pain was the first symptom, the diagnosis can be postponed until it is no longer treatable. Big Pharma benefits too, many of the opiates used to treat pain are no longer under Patent. Now they can market expensive alternates that are not as effective. Pain patients wil be desperate,a dn try anything including Anti Depressants, Anti seizure drugs, and even atypical Anti Psychotics. There is no real evidence that they work, but they are not opiates so it is for the patients own good.
    There is no Agency or advocacy group counting the damage done, they simply don;t count it or report it. Then there are all of the “Alternative” practitioners, Chiropractors, Rolfers, and sundry “Alternative” quackery. They might be less destructive in some cases, but once again they just don’t count the adverse events. They can get thousands out of a Patient with pain, their whole life savings as they go deeper into debt. they are under no obligation to tell a person their pain is due to a medical condition, like cancer. The peddle all kinds of Cures, to desperate people, from regular visits and adjustments to IV drips of no known efficacy. Once they get their hooks into a desperate person, the only limit is their back account. Of course the wealth will always have access to real Medical care and medications. The industries had to do something they could not just give people decent medical care they had to come up with something. This population is disposable, so many of sue are disposable now.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      The sad truth, again, and your anger at these lies and deceptions is clear.

      I agree that the standard opioids, especially genetics, are no longer profitable, which “forces” pharma to develop newer ones, repackage the old ones (abuse resistant), or demonize our inexpensive and effective opioids to create a market for “alternative” medications.

      I dread being forced to try some “new and improved” drug whose side effects, perhaps permanently damaging, are not well known and mysterious long-term effects won’t be known for decades.

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    2. david becker

      Its a terrible thing to see and have no vision. You have merely described what you believe to be some of the problems in pain care without articulating a solution. Anyone can criticize. Whats your solutuon.
      I made my solution clear in a comments to the NPS, as well as the American Pain Rights Petition.

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  3. Carl Dobs

    There are a ton of comments on the original post and it is really good to see this article reposted…..just to keep the TRUTH ALIVE!

    I would only add this: Kolodney and his associated propagandists do seem to have a medical condition: They are practicing FACTITIOUS DISEASE IMPOSED ON ANOTHER (FDIA). It is a medical diagnosis described in detail in the DSM-5, the official list of Psychiatric Disease in the US. This condition was formerly known as Munchausen’s by Proxy. In FDIA, PROP, CDC, Kolodney and their compatriots are the ones with the disorder, because they are wrongfully imposing a “Factitious Disease: Addiction” on “Another: Those suffering from Chronic Intractable Severe Disabling Opioid Resposive Pain (CISDORP)”. The people disabled by CISDORP of all causes are the victims.

    I think it is critical that we begin to openly label all those who practice Anti-Opioid Propaganda and who deny the very existence of CISDORP with the label they deserve: Perpetrators of FACTITIOUS DISEASE IMPOSED ON ANOTHER. Let them defend themselves from the label they so rightly deserve.

    And one of the hallmarks of the medical management of FDIA is to remove the perpetrator from ALL decision making when it comes to the medical management of the victim. The people with CISDORP have the right to be protected from the perpetrators of anti-opioid perpetrators of FDIA!

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Natalie C. Hyatt

    Yes, I have seen the decline in quality of care for those of us who are in chronic pain. Now, the DEA has insinuated itself between us and our doctors by limiting the amount of pain meds they can give us. Thanks to that maneuver, I have been told that, depending on how well I can plead my case with my pain “management” doctor, that I may lose slightly over half of my medication rather than have it titrated up until it actually covers my pain. ( I have vascular EDS, and am at the very end of my life expectancy. ) I guess only those with the Big “C” are allowed full pain coverage, even though they can go into remission, and live much longer than I. My own father has metastatic prostate cancer and is hardly in any pain at all, while I can’t even make it to the store or even do basic hygeine without help from close relatives. This is beyond ridiculous, and it needs to change now, before anyone else has to suffer.

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. david becker

    Truth is not enough. Do you believe if you told the powers that be the truth that they will change? You will have to present a much better way of doing things and be prepared for them to duck, dodge, dismiss, deny etc.

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