Fight government abuse of patients in pain!
- 2010/05/03 18:11:38
- Read all 1 opinions
Inadequate treatment of pain is widespread throughout surgical wards,
intensive care units, accident and emergency departments, in general
practice, in the management of all forms of chronic pain including
cancer pain, and in end of life care. This neglect is extended to all ages, from neonates to the frail elderly.
In September 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that
approximately 80 percent of the world population has either no or
insufficient access to treatment for moderate to severe pain. Every year
tens of millions of people around the world, including around four
million cancer patients and 0.8 million HIV/AIDS patients at the end of
their lives suffer from such pain without treatment. Yet the medications
to treat pain are cheap, safe, effective, generally straightforward to
administer, and international law obliges countries to make adequate
pain medications available.
Reasons for deficiencies in pain management include cultural,
societal, religious, and political attitudes, including acceptance of
torture. Moreover, the biomedical model of disease, focused on
pathophysiology rather than quality of life, reinforces entrenched
attitudes that marginalize pain management as a priority.
Other reasons may have to do with health personal inadequate training,
personal biases or fear of prescription drug abuse.
-- Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_management)
The situation is growing desperate for far too many Americans. Fabricated media frenzies have been rising up for years about drugs such as Purdue's "OxyContin" (a brand-name for a time-released formulation containing oxycodone). American law-makers have made repeated jabs at the so-called "epidemic", but it has had the opposite effect intended. Not only has the "crackdown" on doctors and patients only provided greater street publicity and hugely increased profits for drug dealers, but the true victims are legitimate patients living with constant, agonizing pain. Many pharmacies now refuse to stock particular opioid pain relievers; particularly, OxyContin. Patients not only have more trouble getting prescriptions and finding doctors who can provide adequate care, but filling the prescriptions thereafter can be all but impossible in many places. Unfortunately, many patients have resorted to suicide or turned to the streets in the face of endless suffering. This is more common among the terminally ill and elderly, but is also increasing in younger patients with severe acute or chronic pain.
Pain sufferers are often mislabeled as "addicts", because the general public does not understand the ferocity of their pain and their desire to end it (in any way possible). "Addiction" is characterized by continued use despite harm, bizarre drug-seeking behaviors and usage of the drug(s) for the sole purpose of pleasure and recreation. Physical dependency, on the other hand, is normal for opioid pain relievers. It is not dangerous, and is expected in any patient under opioid therapy for more than several days. It is easily treatable, and tolerance and dependency can be reduced under medical supervision; the drugs can be easily stopped (if necessary) under the advice and care of a doctor. There is also a condition called "pseudo-addiction", which most people are unaware of. It occurs in patients who have FOUND relief in a particular drug or treatment, and know that it can effectively relieve their pain or illness. The patient may exhibit a desire for the drug or treatment because of their foreknowledge of its effectiveness; it is NOT for the purpose of pleasure or recreation. Concerned relatives and friends often mistake this as drug addiction, when it is not; physical dependency itself is often misinterpreted as "addiction", though completely normal. To put physical dependency into perspective, think of a diabetic taking insulin or a heart disease patient who must take blood-thinners. Like a person suffering from pain, they need the insulin and blood-thinner (respectively) to live comfortably, healthily and for their well-being. It is evident that cultural paranoia has blinded us to the truth.
The DEA continues bullying both doctors and patients, in spite of the problems they have created. Many doctors are terrified to prescribe drugs to even the most severe rung of patients. It has spawned sayings among doctors in some areas, such as "Write a prescription; go to prison". The DEA and its agents are NOT medical professionals. They have not gone to medical school, graduated and have no experience in treating patients; especially patients in pain, which requires special knowledge. However, they have taken it upon themselves to create "drug quotas", and dictate how much of a particular drug a physician can prescribe, how much a pharmacy can dispense or hold in stock and how much a patient is allowed to take. Doctors are forced to register with the DEA to prescribe medications, and are then constantly monitored. At any point, a DEA agent with NO medical expertise can say "too much", and doctors get in trouble. Some doctors have been left with the task of caring for hundreds of terminally ill and severely injured patients, yet are subject to the same scrutiny and punishment. The real victims are the patients, and it is obvious that this chaos puts a horrible strain on healthy patient-doctor relationships. People are sent home or left in the hospital to die in agonizing pain. People are forced to lie in bed with horrific injuries such as gunshot wounds to the spine or broken bones, but are made to needlessly suffer. Chronic pain sufferers, such as people suffering from long-term or life-long painful conditions are also given no mercy. The elderly are persecuted and abused along with the rest, but the young are probably more discriminated against than any other, due to fears of youth drug abuse.
The control and management of pain and adequate relief is a fundamental human right. Drugs which can effectively control pain and provide comfort to patients are cheap, incredibly effective and have very little risks. However, they are completely under-used, and paranoia prevails. Ultimately, we sit idly by while people suffer in horrendous agony and die particularly brutal and painful deaths. We have let our misguided feelings about the abuse of illicit and prescription drugs get in the way of patients' best interest and well-being. It is impossible to understand how horrific and inhumane the system is unless you have suffered through such pain and abusive treatment yourself. Despite all of our efforts to over-regulate and intervene in the perceived drug abuse "problem", Americans and people all throughout the world continue to abuse drugs; profits soar for dealers in the scarcity and drug vacuums. The DEA's so-called "War on Drugs" is quickly turning into "War on Patients and Doctors". All of this is due to our fear of a tiny, niche group of drug users. When one compares the DEA's drug abuse statistics to the entire US population, it is immediately obvious that any such "epidemic" is a gross exaggeration. America's "drug problem" is completely marginal when the entire country is examined.
It is time for us to accept the fact that the "War on Drugs" is an utter failure, and is now victimizing the innocent, the handicapped, the dying and the suffering. Real changes must be made, and very few politicians have stepped up to the plate. Legislation is desperately needed to protect both patients AND doctors from the DEA; which has become nothing short of an unbridled Gestapo, railing against helpless people. We, as Americans, CAN make a difference. We can intervene and help the millions who are suffering, right now, for no logical or medically sound reason. Write to your local and state government officials. Call their offices, and leave messages until they listen. Write to the president, and flood his office with letters about your concern. Do the same to your DA, mayor, governor and everyone in public office. Do not be afraid to confront your local law enforcement administrators about the problem. Do research, and find out the facts. Tell them the DEA has no right to be the dictators of medical care and prescriptions, and that you are disgusted at the inhumane treatment and abuse patients suffer. Tell them that doctors should not be punished for attempting to relieve patients suffering from pain; they should NEVER be subject to punishment unless they are involved in *illegal* activities, such as distribution on the streets or assisting drug dealers (which is INCREDIBLY rare). No doctor should lose their license for prescribing a drug, like OxyContin or morphine, to a patient with moderate or severe pain, in ANY form.
More responsible policies are needed to prevent drug abuse, rather than "fighting wars" against it after the fact. Any "war" should be a war of factual information and education. Education and awareness are the most effective tool we have. We have to tell our children the truth, and educate them about the consequences of illicit drug abuse. Treatment, rather than punishment, is the best option for helping current drug abusers. Other countries throughout the world have already gotten the picture, yet we have failed to. Fortunately, some states (such as Arkansas) have stepped in to provide protective legislation for doctors and patients. It is time for all of us to do the same, and rid this country of needless and torturous suffering.
Thank you, and please do your part to help the millions in need!
-- It should be mentioned that the fault is neither with the Democrats, nor the Republicans. This is NOT an issue of party loyalty or political ideology. It is an issue of humanity and compassion towards our fellow human beings. It is also an issue of wild, yellow journalism and disinformation. I hope we can all stand together for the sake of human beings who are suffering due to government and public paranoia, and correct the problem quickly. Thanks again, and please do not forget the millions who need you to speak up for them! --