Chronic-pain patients suffer as agencies try to regulate addiction – by Wendy Sinclair – Jan 2019
I’m encouraged to see our side of the opioid story published in the mainstream media like this. We must expose more of the public to the nightmare experienced by pain patients, one they are only one accident or misfortune away from landing in themselves.
Opioid. For many, the word elicits images of addiction, but that’s only one side of the story.
This is our side, the one that’s no longer socially acceptable, that shatters bias and stigma. It’s the side of the story that I live — that of the chronic pain patient (CPP), not the addict.
The vast majority of people who use prescription opioids never become addicted; they use their medication as prescribed. It facilitates their lives, and if it’s discontinued they will lose quality of life.
My mom worked at the United States Post Office, a job she loved. After a work injury and failed surgeries, she was left in pain, permanently disabled, and unable to function.
She tried every alternative, but nothing helped.
Finally, she started opioid medication and began living again — raising her grandchildren, maintaining her home and life. Then her primary doctor retired.
She was referred to a well-known Salem pain doctor who, despite 13 years of MRIs, other tests and records, insisted she either accept a diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and receive Suboxone or be tapered completely off medication, and receive nothing for pain.
She did everything right, didn’t fail one drug urinalysis (UA), took medication as prescribed, but it didn’t matter.
This is probably the worst aspect of all these restrictive “anti-opioid policies”: they make it impossible for patients to “prove” their worthiness to receive appropriate opioids.
Previously employed and active pain patients become unemployed burdens, unable to care for themselves or others.
Today, a father is confined to his bed with untreated pain because his doctor was forced to taper him off analgesics.
A parent looks down at the deceased body of their child who chose to die rather than face another day in horrible pain.
Legislation, proposals and rules threaten this fate for every CPP. While opioids are not the answer for everyone, for some they’re a life saver.
Recently, there was a press release for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program which began with a tragic account of addiction. The solution was to further restrict CPPs, instead of curbing addiction. This is a common tactic.
You’ve heard one person every three days dies of an opioid overdose in Oregon (not necessarily CPP). In those three days, over 15 times more people die of alcohol-related deaths.
Four years ago, a drunk driver permanently broke my body so now I’m a CPP, and yet he is free to drink as much as he chooses while I am in danger of losing my quality of life.
All in the name of fighting addiction.
Wendy Sinclair, who lives in Adair Village, is co-founder of the Oregon Pain Action Group and Oregon Legislative Coordinator for The Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.