An online article hit home.
It was titled “America’s War on Pain Pills Is Killing Addicts and Leaving Patients in Agony.” I have dealt with chronic, sometimes fist-clenching pain for well over a decade and have long depended upon pain medications. Every day is a struggle on some level. Changes in weather patterns or overexertion can make for some very challenging days. But I’m more fortunate than many.
Increasingly, government is getting between people with chronic pain conditions and the medicines they desperately need to function.
This bureaucratic approach to medicine is in sharp contrast to prescriptions given with the actual intent of killing.
The author paints a stark reality for countless people who legitimately depend upon pain medication to maneuver through day-to-day activities. Without them their quality of life would dramatically decline.
Finding my pain doctor was an answered prayer as I had reached a point of desperation. It felt like the joy had been totally sucked out of life. I more fully understand how chronic pain sufferers can be driven to total despondency and some to thoughts of suicide.
Each year it seems government is putting up another roadblock to legitimately needed pain medications.
Patients on the receiving end of these prescriptions are routinely assumed guilty until proven innocent. And that innocence is either increasingly elusive or has a short shelf life. As a result, patients are faced again and again with proving they’re not drug addicts.
Once, during a rare good spell, I had an appointment at the doctor’s office that included a random urine analysis. I was cautioned that if the test showed no evidence of pain medication, I might be flagged for selling the pills instead of taking them.
Congress now requires that prescriptions expire within days of being written. So, if patients are able to stretch out their pain meds and delay refilling a prescription, they’re penalized and may be suspected of hoarding the drugs.
I’ve been one of the fortunate few who’ve jettisoned heavier drugs and successfully incorporated alternate methods of pain control. Those depending upon more powerful meds like OxyContin fall prey to an even higher and repeated scrutinization that sometimes crosses the line to cruelty.
Further, pain doctors are continually walking a tightrope trying to relieve patients’ pain while not drawing the attention of the Big Brother feds.
These bureaucratic hoops are especially infuriating because so-called doctors who prescribe lethal doses of medication for the purpose of assisted suicide face no such regulation or oversight. As a matter of fact, they enjoy much greater legal protections than legitimate pain doctors who work hard to preserve and nurture life.
Advocates of legalizing assisted suicide ironically invoke the mental image of patients suffering unbearable pain as a chief reason to pass laws allowing them to be legally killed. How soon will it be before chronic pain sufferers living in states where such laws exist are denied insurance coverage for ongoing pain medication, yet are offered a life-ending lethal prescription?
It’s already happening to patients with other conditions in California and Oregon.
Here is another startling fact to consider. The states that have legalized assisted suicide may be contributing to the drug-addiction scourge in America. The drugs used to kill patients by assisted suicide were once used by drug addicts in the 1970s. They are highly-addictive barbiturates.
No state where assisted suicide is legal has in place a system of accountability for unused lethal prescriptions. In Oregon there are 692 unaccounted for lethal doses.
The whereabouts of 285 unused doses of lethal medication are unknown to Washington state officials.
According to Wesley Smith, an expert in the assisted suicide arena, Oregon officials rely completely on the self-reporting of physicians who actually facilitate the killing of patients. What’s worse is state officials admitted that “Oregon’s oversight agency does not have the legal authority or budget to conduct independent inquiries even if a legal violation is uncovered.”
And Oregon is often looked to as the model law when assisted suicide advocates want to pass legislation in other states.
So as states feverishly struggle to curtail their drug addiction epidemic, those that make no effort to police these highly addictive and potentially lethal drugs may be pouring them into the black market.
Yes, the tragic opioid epidemic needs to be addressed, but those who suffer chronic, fist-clenching pain must not be abandoned in the process. Unless we exercise common sense and compassion, countless legitimate patients will suffer in needless agony, forcing many to resort to the dangerous black market, possibly resulting in additional deaths.
Of paramount importance to this discussion are the vulnerable Americans at risk for assisted suicide. We must ensure that they are cared for, loved and nurtured – not put down like sick animals.
We must offer hope and healing to those who need us most, without leaving anyone behind.
Sincerely for LIFE,