Opioid Addiction

I want to talk about opioid addiction. It has become a national epidemic, fostered by the numerous “pain management clinics” that have sprung up across the country.

According to American RSDHope,  “A pain clinic is a health care facility that focuses on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. Some specialize in specific diagnoses or in pain related to a specific region of the body. Also called pain management clinics, pain clinics often use a multidisciplinary approach to help people take an active role in managing their pain and regaining control of their life. These programs are focused on the total person, not just the pain.”

My family is one of millions who have been affected by the over-prescribing of opioids, so yeah, this is a hot-button issue for me. Chronic back-pain due to degenerative disc disease. Fifteen years of “pain management”. Multiple surgeries, injections, etc. I’ve seen the results first-hand, and I call B.S. on the above statement.

Giving patients an “active role”? That’s actually laughable. The only action that the patient takes is having the prescription filled. “Regaining control of their life”? Seriously? Do these people watch the news? Does it sound like people have control?

And, let’s not forget that they are “focused on the total person, not just the pain”. Sure, they do pill counts and urine tests. But trust me, an addict will make sure they pass both in order to obtain what they crave. As long as those two hurdles are jumped, another prescription is written.

Pain getting worse? They’ll increase your milligram in an effort to get the pain under control again. Eventual surgery? Absolutely, and they’ll give you more pain meds to control the pain from that. Believe it or not, addicts will go under the knife just to continue getting their fix.

But here’s the kicker: opioids can prolong and intensify pain. Meaning, patients receiving opioids aren’t really getting any pain relief at all. Thus begins a deadly spiral. I dare you to Google it, but I’ll give you a link to make it quicker:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201605/unexpected-double-whammy-opioids-prolong-and-intensify-pain

This, my friends, is how addicts are created. And, this is how the so-called “pain management clinics” stay in business – they’re basically  gathering guaranteed repeat customers.

These clinics are prolific in my area. In response to the fast-growing rate of opioid addicts, methadone clinics have sprung up everywhere, too. Our unemployment rate has skyrocketed, with people receiving disability checks due to their addictions. The poverty level has increased, more children are living in shelters, and families are being destroyed.

We, as a society, know that there’s a problem. Our government knows that there’s a problem. Research proves that there’s a problem.

So why the hell isn’t anybody doing anything about it? I’m so frustrated by the lack of action on this front.

Now, having said all of that, I realize that these clinics are a God-send for some people. Those people may not have an addictive personality (yes, that’s a real thing) and may never have an issue with addiction. Each person is different, and each set of circumstances is unique. I understand that.

But, I can almost guarantee you that no one walks into one of those clinics thinking, “Gee, I want to become addicted to opioids.” For those people who do become addicted, that clinic is nothing more than a dressed-up drug dealer, doing business legally and getting a large paycheck for it.

It’s the availability that makes me angry. It’s the ease of getting a script that makes me angry. Fifteen years of taking a highly-addictive pain med. Fifteen years of increasing pain levels, due primarily to the extended use of this pain med.

All the while, there are non-narcotic pain-control alternatives. I realize those may not work for everyone, but are people even being given that option? Are they being educated on the choices that are available, or are the highly-addictive opioids simply being prescribed without discussion?

I’m now off to educate myself on the subject of addiction versus dependence. Apparently, dependence leads to addiction, and there is a fine distinction between the two. Sounds like splitting hairs to me, but I want to understand as much as I possibly can.