For the past year, when I’ve gone to see my Pain Management Physician, I’ve been told at each visit that my medication has to be decreased. I didn’t say too much the first time they did this, but I did speak up on my recent visits. The response I got from the M.D. and the N.P. was the same. They both said, “Due to the CDC Guidelines, we have to start cutting all patients back on their medication.” I asked them why they were following guidelines that were written for Primary Care Physicians and are voluntary? He then explained to my husband and I that they were afraid of losing their license, home, employment, income, and that they could face jail time up to a life sentence if anything went wrong with one of their patients. He continued by saying, the DEA is “Watching them”, and they could get into a lot of trouble if one of their patients misused or abused their medication, then overdosed and died. He also told us the CDC guidelines were addressing the “Opioid Epidemic,” and it was recommended that doctors reduce the amount of medication their patients are taking. Apparently, since the guidelines were made public, the DEA has been watching doctors like a hawk to make sure they follow the guidelines and will find anything they can to get a doctor in trouble. This means anywhere from checking the amount of prescriptions and the number of pills in each prescription they write, to their documentation on a patients chart.
I understand that we have a problem with addiction, drug use, abuse, misuse, overdose, and death from overdose in the US, but I think most of this comes from the vast availability of illegal drugs in our country. What I mean by illegal drugs is, anything which is not prescribed by a doctor. It is fairly easy to get anything you want on the streets in our country, and this is because the DEA and our government has failed at keeping them off the streets. The “War On Drugs.” has failed miserably when it comes to illegal drugs. An example of this is the illegal Opioid Fentanyl, that was introduced to the streets not long ago. This illegal drug has been mixed with other drugs and made into a pill form as well as being put into the heroin supplies on the street. This is a very potent, powerful drug that has killed a lot of people recently because they are unaware of it being in their “supply” that they buy on the street or from their dealer. There is no reason to have a drug like this or any kind of drug being bought or sold on our streets. Apparently the DEA cannot control situations like this so they go after doctors because it is an easier target for them.
Since many Chronic Pain Patients continue to have their medications reduced and/or taken away completely, this “Opioid Epidemic” as it is called, will continue to get worse. I fear that many patients with chronic pain will resort to the streets to find pain relief and will overdose and die, or they will commit suicide to relieve their pain and daily suffering. Those who make the decision to take their life, depending upon the method they use, could be counted as one of the CDC’s statistics. Speaking of statistics, there are rumors going around on social media saying the way the CDC did their investigation was bogus. Apparently they counted the death of a person from overdose twice if they had any prescription pain medication, as well as illegal drugs in their system. There are also deaths from heroin that were counted as opioid medication deaths because the body quickly metabolizes heroin into morphine. So I guess the question on the minds of so many people, especially those who suffer with chronic pain, is how do they know if it was actually a legitimate “Opioid Medication Overdose”, or was it really an illegal substance that metabolized into an opioid? Somehow I find these rumors to be legitimate, and wonder how many deaths were counted wrong just to make the CDC’s recommendations valid. Nevertheless, I do understand that there is a problem going on, but I think the CDC blew this all out of proportion. I think the first thing they should have addressed was the addiction to illegal drugs. This by far is more pronounced than the addiction to opioid medications. There have been various studies done stating that less than 1-3%, (depending upon the study), of people treated with opioid medications become addicted to them. And most of these opioid medication addictions were due to the person misusing or abusing their medication.
Before I close my ranting thoughts, I have included a letter that is going around the internet. A Registered Pharmacist wrote a letter to the CDC in reference to his Chronic Pain Conditions. The letter attached below is from Dr. Houry M.D. an ER doctor that works for the CDC at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. If you have read my ranting thoughts, please go one step further and read the letter from her. This patient highlighted areas in the letter that contradict what most doctors have been telling their patients in reference to the CDC Guidelines. It makes one wonder just who should we believe?
*If you are a Chronic Pain Patient on Opioid medication to control your pain conditions, and you have had problems since the “Guidelines” came out, please write to the CDC and other government agencies and/or officials and tell them what its like to live with your daily pain. It can be a brief letter as long as you get your point across to them. One thing to remember is to be as polite as you can. We will not get through to them if we write a letter when we are angry. I know this can and will be a chore for a lot of us to do, but please know that I understand how one feels when you suffer with unbearable, debilitating daily pain.
Take Care of Yourselves!
Disabled Nurse, Chronic Pain Patient, Pain Advocate,
and Mom at Rabel Ranch Kitty Rescue.
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