Has anyone bothered to check out the link to the "CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly"? Table 2 has Washington State OPR deaths listed under non-medical use- now that's interesting. I would venture to guess that most of the deaths cited are coming from this category- the "recreational drug use" sector, although the link of poverty to chronic pain is not a new one. When I was growing up, many of the blue-collar workers in my neighborhood had been repeatedly injured on the job, and many of them had become alcoholics, or both legal and illegal drug addicts, by necessity of having to continue to work with injuries so severe, they had no other choice but to become addicted to feed their families. I experienced this first hand when my ex-husband, after a severe auto accident, injured his back badly. In order to continue working, he began to drink daily, and to take the Vicodin that our doctor offered him, along with the alcohol- his injuries were not amenable to therapy or surgery, so what was he supposed to do? And I assure you, he was not alone in this lifestyle.
I myself, have been a medical drug addict for over ten years, after a lifetime of severe rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and now multiple sclerosis. I have been to all the appropriate specialists, and had to undergo a grueling "Step Process" of trial drugs, to find the ones that relieve pain that is non-responsive to therapy, surgery, hypnosis, or any other modality. I have also been in cognitive behavioral therapy for nearly 15 years, and can tell you this pain is definitely not in my head. I eventually ended up on time release morphine, the only drug that has alleviated any of my pain, and I signed a contract with my doctor that I take very seriously. And the only reason I'm on morphine is because Medicaid has restricted the allowable pain medicines to morphine and methadone- and methadone doesn't work for me. It also has a horrendous reputation for overdose deaths, probably because doctors and patients do not realize how strong it is.
The treatment of chronic severe pain is not just about how many people are dying because they are too screwed up to stop using these drugs recreation-ally- it is a political, economic, and subversively moral issue- I'm not interested in some religious entity telling me I can't take my pain pills because some deity wouldn't like it. This problem needs to come completely into the open now, so that all aspects of it can be examined and dealt with in an intelligent, unbiased way.For further information regarding the politics of pain, I refer you to The American Pain Foundation's excellent web site.
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