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PALO ALTO, Calif. — For Thomas P. Yacoe, the word is “terrifying.”

Leah Hemberry describes it as “constant fear.”

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  • I just asked my boss who hates people working remotely if I can work remotely today, my back pain is intolerable. I was on 2 10 mg. Norcos daily before the CDC terrified my pain doc with their “recommendations” last year. He stopped the dose I had been on for 2 years cold turkey. When I asked what I should do if I couldn’t deal with withdrawal, I was advised to go to the ER. I haven’t gotten medical treatment since. I asked my pain doc why he chose to placate the CDC/DEA over honoring his Hippocratic oath, but I know he’s just scared of losing his license. Hopefully the CDC, DEA and all the anti-opioid do-gooders out there are sleeping well at night, knowing I’m writhing in pain, but safe from the perils of the two tablets per day that gave me quality of life.

  • Please don’t group everyone together, this is a case by case situation. We are dealing with real people in real pain, not drug seekers. All they want to do is continue to live their lives the best they can, and sometimes as with many people I’ve worked with without the use of properly monitored opioid medications there lives would be contained to wheelchairs at best. Fine, be careful to monitor the pain patients, those with chronic pain conditions welcome the conditions…urine tests, pill counts at random and constant blood tests to be certain that no ill effects of their meds take place. But for God’s sake understand that living in a state of constant and debilitating pain is not living. No one wants to be tethered to a bottle of pain meds, but it beats the alternative. And if you have never had to live in real pain you have no right to judge those who do. Every person has the right to live their life free of debilitating pain. Don’t judge.

  • Most of us who have had the unfortunate problem of chronic pain have sought out natural remedies, massage, physical therapy, meditation, SURGERY, TENS units (which can’t be used for all problems), behavioral therapy etc. BEFORE turning to opiates. Everyone’s situation is different and nobody should act like they know more then another. As the saying goes, Walk a mile in another’s shoes before placing judgement.

    • So true! No one knows what it’s like yet they want to radically change OUR lives. What I find the most frustrating is WE, pain patients taking opioids, aren’t trying to have an impact on anyone’s life except our own – and other patients who feel they benefit from opioids. Sometimes I feel like the people in the recovery community think that we are trying to add morphine to the water supply and vaccines or the like. I don’t want anyone to ever feel that they are pushed toward a particular treatment for ANYTHING. That’s not fair and I don’t want to be treated to that way and wouldn’t ever want to make a someone else feel like that. We’re all human and deserve quality care of our choosing. No one gets to choose their genes or childhood so they definitely deserve to have a caring medical professional help them choose the treatment when they have a problem – whatever it is.

  • I have been in pain since I was 18 and am now 71. I have taken almost everything available and almost every new doctor wants to try everything I have already taken. I get less and less pain medicine and my conditions worsen. I know careful control is necessary but why must I suffer because doctors cannot tell the difference between omeone that desperately needs pain relief and the addict. Help for all..x

  • Thank you for writing one of the most balanced articles I have read on this subject. It should truly be about what’s best for the individual patient. That’s not not how the issue is approached more often than not it seems. If what’s best for the patient were truly the priority, stable patients wouldn’t be tapered and held at doses that negatively impact their quality of life on a daily basis in offices all across the nation.

    Anytime you can reasonably avoid ANY medication it’s always a good idea. When pain is causing you to miss out on life and more basic measures have failed, medication CAN help SOME patients to be more active. If it doesn’t doesn’t help, it needs to be stopped. I know for me personally tricyclics, Cymbalts, and Lyrica had side effects that made continuing the medication difficult or impossible. I have never had ANY side effects from the opioids I’ve taken and the difference in my life is night and day. I’ve been taking them for 17 years (almost all of the past 13 on a high, but stable dose that makes a huge difference in my life). I don’t want to go back to the horrible existence I worked so hard to overcome but that reality is rapidly approaching me.

  • I broke my neck in a diving accident and can still feel pain. As the years go by the pain gets worse because of osteoarthritis and fractured bones. I’ve been living on and off opioids for years. I’ve gone on oxycontin and off oxycontin. I’ve been on methadone and it was a nightmare and I was a nightmare going off methadone. Now I am trying to fentanyl patch and it is not helping at all. I think that if it helps people they should be allowed to have it and should be closely monitored for addiction although addiction is not to be confused with abuse. We can’t help to be addicted to narcotics we need them to control pain but if we abuse it and run out of it ahead of time before were allowed to have more than there is a problem. However people like me to hold even have luck with different opioids. For People Like Us chronic pain becomes debilitating because open your eyes stop working or we become intolerant to them or something so I believe that if it helps take it if it doesn’t find something else or we’re just going to have to suffer. And for the people that want to take over yards away just remember it doesn’t take all the pain away if it only takes the edge off it’s doing something and it rarely takes more than 13% of the pain away and that’s barely functional. It’s a crime to take medication away from a person when they’re barely getting any relief to begin with let alone cut them back after all it’s their liver. If I had a choice of a little bit of a quality of life and dying sooner with my liver getting trashed I rather take the narcotics I meant my liver get trashed however for me I am always going on and off different over yards and nothing is working. Each patient is different. If the government tries to get in the way of people getting their medications this going to be a big problem and a revolt because some people needed to function and function is better than committing suicide but then again maybe the government doesn’t think that’s a big deal. I know my doctor is very concerned about every facet of life when it comes to monitoring me on whether or not a certain narcotic is helping and if not what else to do because he doesn’t want me to keep taking more and more and more and have it not help because it is harder to go off of it but if it did help he would let me have it so go figure people if it works do it if it doesn’t don’t use narcotics if you’re not getting any adequate relief. We have to learn to use our heads and listen to our bodies. Always let your doctor help you out but don’t let the government be your doctor. When people in government start to suffer with chronic debilitating pain they’re going to want their medication and they’re going to get it one way or the other they will not get denied. For me I would like to see insurance and Medicare pay for alternative procedures like massage therapy and acupuncture instead of Narcotics because sometimes that can be more effective for some people but not all. Not everything is black and white. There is gray and there are shades in between that we have to learn to treat each person as an individual when it comes to chronic pain.

  • I’ve got degenerative disc disease in back & neck. Pain mgmt since 2001. You start w/lowest possible dosage of non-opiate & increase over Years! I’m only 54 yo. I couldn’t function w/out the meds. Maybe they need to concentrate on those w/symptoms of addiction issues, help them- send them to therapy for that, but DON’T make those of us who are just trying to stay functional suffer even more! My pain never goes away completely, just lessens it!I also don’t think it’s right for people who have NO CLUE what it’s like , to be making the rules! I’d give ANYTHING to be able to stop taking these meds, but that’s not an option! Those who commit suicide had other issues! If those of us w/true pain are punished even further, then there will be more people on disability, more trying to get help on the street, more thefts, and MORE SUICIDES!! I think the govt.needs to stay out of medical issues they have no clue about!! Thank you!

  • Very in depth article. The most poignant part was the identification of the direct source of stigma and harsh judgment began. The stress of not knowing if the next Rx will be available tampers with any peace and reduction of stress that the medication offers.
    The sad news is that with one face to face visit a qualified clinician can identify the pain patient from the pretender.

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