Give Pain A Voice


By: Suzanne Stewart

(With excerpts from Tina Petrova)

Tina Petrova is a motivational speaker and an award winning filmmaker. She is also a person who lives with chronic pain and knows what it feels like. Along with many others, she agrees that pain is being under-treated in both America and in Canada.

She and film partner Eugene Weis are trying to bring awareness of the dramatic loss in pain-care through their new Documentary film “Pandemic of Denial. “ It is their hope that this film will help educate general society about what it is to live with a life long diagnoses of Chronic Pain.

Tina shared with me “there isn’t any real “guide book” to give direction as to “what to do next,”when living with daily chronic pain”. The film follows the lives of families torn apart by suicides due to chronic pain, those who contemplated it during filming and those left behind to grieve.

Her pain physician in Canada believes intractable pain has to do with pain being an “outward sign” of a damaged or traumatized “pain system”. He believes that humans have a “pain system” just like the other systems in the human body; for example: lymphatic, cardiovascular etc. In his views, the chronic pain patients struggle to makes sense of their lives after being productive and then suddenly not being able to do what they once could do.

Tina shared with me , that she felt if a patient cannot make sense of such a dramatic life altering event; then how are our loved ones and colleagues supposed to do this?

We all agree that chronic pain can end dreams and even lives; especially with medical complications and now today, with the rise in suicides due to under-treated and untreated chronic pain. This film tries to help us all make sense of what is happening to one in four North Americans who live with daily pain.

The filmmakers have said that “this disease now affects more people than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined… It is no small disease, ”which is the reason for the title of their new film, “Pandemic of Denial”. There can be article after article to read about chronic pain and how it is affecting people even more so now with the “War on Drugs”. But when you turn the channel and a compelling film, with interesting footage, comes to life on your Television screen; you are more likely to become engaged with the story that is being told. We are drawn in by the images, voices, music and drama.

This film focuses on the main themes of “abandoned chronic pain patients, pediatric pain and the collateral damage of suicides due to under or untreated chronic pain.” The Filmmakers feel that while “addiction and overdose are important issues to tackle, Chronic pain is equally serious and important.”

This writer agrees that addiction is also important, but these are two very different illnesses being “lumped together” as one. While the addicts are being given clean needles at a free clinic set up in several cities; the chronic pain patients are being turned away by their Physicians, Pharmacists and lawmakers; to fend for themselves and live with horrendous daily pain.

Addiction is being talked about and it is a serious disease as well. But these abandoned chronic pain patients , the tortured existence of the lives they must now live, are not being discussed nearly enough. The film explores how these people could once work outside the home, even part time. They were raising a family and housekeeping. But now pain patients are left to be bed-ridden in torturous pain with no relief and no end in sight.

The film “Pandemic of Denial” also addresses the current hostile regulatory environment towards our medical professionals. It shows how the pendulum has swung much too far the one way; while marginalizing and making outcasts of one group of human beings. In this respect, they are talking about long term chronic pain patients and putting them in one small group, with a “one size fits all” mentality.

It also sheds light on physicians who have been also living with many losses; such as their practices, livelihoods and even their careers at times.

Some of them losing all of this and being “attacked” while still try to uphold their Hippocratic oath and continuing to treat those who live with the tortures of under and untreated daily chronic pain.

Without this kind of education, discussions and strategies on how to face this health crisis that we are already living in- we are going to be facing new hardships with a population that is ever growing and aging. Filmmakers like Tina and Eugene are trying to educate the public on this “Pandemic of Denial”.

NOTE: Tina and Eugene hope to have the film released widely in 2018. At this moment, they are “still seeking Pain organizations, Broadcasters and Distributors who would like to partner with them to reach the maximum audience for the biggest impact.” They are also compiling a list of interested persons who would like to co-host screenings in their local communities. For regular updates you can follow their official Facebook Film page, at: http://www.facebook.com/pandemicofdenialmovie. You may contact them at: pandemicofdenial@gmail.com

New Year, Old Fear


The New Year always brings hope of a new beginning and fear of the unknown. Especially in this time of unrest and uncertainty; there is a panic in the pain community. I see it around me and I feel it each new day. People are starting to come apart and pull away instead of moving together as a community to fight the thing that we all fear most.

Nobody wants to be left to die. We don’t like feeling ignored and uncared about. Drs are running away and leaving in droves. There’s no one left to listen, care or treat those with horrible & high chronic pain conditions. There are groups sprouting up from other groups. It feels as though there are many who wish to be the one to “save the pain community “. But in reality we each can be our own hero. We need to depend on ourselves to get out of this mess.

Try your best and do whatever you are able to do. I’m sure you talk with your families on the telephone? So call up your Senators office and tell him your story! You’ll probably get a staffer, but that’s OK! Write emails much? Write an email to your state reps, Senators and your Governor. You don’t need to be eloquent. They need to see faces, hear stories and come to know us as a community of real persons. Ask them if they can remember a time when they had the worst pain ever? Tell them that this is how we feel most days! Let them know that our Drs need to do the Doctoring. The government has enough to deal with; and so allow the Drs to make informed decisions. After all, they went to school for 12-15 years, some of them. They do know what they’re doing.

Turn your fear into action and if you’re just too sick; see if someone will advocate on your behalf? If nothing else, we need to realize that we are worthwhile individuals. Each of us has something to offer in this life and we are not expendable. We deserve to have love, respect and caring. We have a right to be taken care of just like anyone else does.

We must remember that there are bad people in every walk if life and in each profession. There are the good and the bad; the ying and yang with a balance someplace in the middle. There are good and bad politicians, teachers, and more. Drs, go into this career mostly because they want to heal and help others. There are bad patients too, but most of us just try to do whatever we are told and we follow protocol.

The thing that those in power are forgetting, is the balance. They are going with an all or nothing attitude. Why not realize that there are many precautions in place now with the PDMP and more? The people who want to break the law are going to find a way to do it! Those who are good, law abiding citizens living with daily chronic pain are the ones suffering. I think somehow they know we are physically weak. They think we are unable to fight for what we need and therefore they will make decisions above and for us. But we are not mentally weak. We must join together as one voice and support each other. There is no glory or fame here! There are peoples lives at stake. The right of every human being to live in some semblance of comfort.

Inhumane Treatment Of Pain Patients In USA


I opened up My friends blog today (“Pharmacist Steve”). It is Steve Ariens Blog; and I saw a story of torture. There is torture going on in America! I’m seeing it every day now on the Internet! More & more chronic pain patients are being treated like common criminals! This is despicable! My God, are we living in North Korea, Afghanistan or in some 3rd world country (whos people , by the way; don’t deserve this kind of treatment any more than we don’t!!)?

How can the news media @Foxnews.com, @CNN, @MSNBC and all of the rest, be so one sided? Please, I implore you @POTUS, @GovChristie @PetersforMichigan (Senator Gary Peters), @NYGovCuomo (Governor Andrew Cuomo), @onetoughnerd (Governor Rick Snyder of MI). I implore you to think of the forgotten legitimate chronic pain patients. People are now living with daily chronic pain and receiving no treatment at all. They being totally forgotten & considered collateral damage of this “fake war on drugs” ! It’s a war against the chronic pain community; because they’re the ones who are dying. The pain community is stuck with zero semblance of a life as all of this is crashing down around them/us! The posted video is not just sad, it’s torturous to listen to. It’s terrible to watch. But it’s true and it’s happening all over the United States Of America! This is a story about a young mother, wife and daughter; who’s going through sheer bloody hell in Albany New York Trauma Center!

“Amy” Amy’s story of Human Torture in a NY hospital! is a young woman who just went through a painful stomach surgery and her stomach ruptured as well! The contents are therefore spreading throughout her body inside and this causes not only sepsis, but horrible excruciating pain! My husband went through it years ago, but they gave him a Morphine pump while in the hospital for several days following surgery. He was given pain relief, as any HUMAN BEING or any living, breathing animal should have!!

This is torturous and despicable treatment of anyone in a hospital, or any patient care facility; let alone, following a stomach surgery! How can the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, allow their patient to be treated in such an inhumane manner??? The behavior of the nurses who pledge also, to “care for the sick” and to “do no harm”; is unforgivable! This sort of treatment to other human beings deserves termination. Those so called patient care employees need to be fired and they should never be allowed to not care for another patient! This woman, who has a name, a face, a husband & a family; is living through hell!

You know what though? This is entirely preventable! She is not a prisoner of War! This is a young woman who’d much prefer to have a “normal” life! This young woman has a name, and that name is “AMY”! She has a young child and a husband. I’m guessing that her husband had to leave her to go home and take care of their little one! He had to do that and he thought he’d left his wife in the care of a reputable hospital facility!! Obviously, he was mistaken and that’s really sad!

What if Amy was unable to show us this video? What if she was incapacitated and couldn’t tell anyone what’s happening to her? Please share this video and Amy’s story. Write to your legislators and put a name and a face to all of our stories. Nothing can change if we cannot be brave and do something to help ourselves and to help Amy!

Our government leaders, the news media agencies and society need to as many faces and hear as many stories as possible about us! The chronic pain community being left behind and treated as though we are just collateral damage in the war on drugs! This has taken a turn for the worse. It’s gone from a “war” against illicit drugs to a war against the legitimate chronic pain patients. We will lose & continue to lose if not for people being brave like “Amy”.

Please speak out and tell everyone your story and the stories like this one! Get the word out about how chronic pain patients are not drug addicts. We are not addicted at all! Ask them if they can remember a time when they had lived through their worst pain imaginable? Then ask them to think about that pain never ceasing! Tell them this is what it’s like for us, for you!

Please pass this story around. Know that I received Amy’s video & story from Pharmacist Steve Arians Blog, at: PharmacistSteve.com….. It is posted in several places on Facebook. He asked if we could “please make this video go viral”?

Thank you for your help! Please…. let’s all help Amy & all of the other “Amy’s”! Thank you Steve Ariens too!

Conspiracies Against Wellness Radio Broadcast


Hello Luvs,

I was recently a guest on a radio show, “Conspiracies Against Wellness “. I was interviewed by Jonelle Elgaway and I spoke about the Opioid crisis. Please listen and answer my “call to action” plea at the end.

Please feel free to share this. I encourage you to share it so as many people as possible will learn about all that the chronic pain community is going through.

Here’s the link:

Thank you!

https://youtu.be/N8cBhUStCnA

The Enemy of The Pain War


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I know in my heart, that some of what I had originally written in my first “PAIN WARS” article (9/19/2017 see it in its almost original form below—I did still change a few small details. But for the most part, the original article is below ) in the National Pain Report), are Kolodny’s true “opinions”.   We all are aware of those; because he’s proven his opinions over and over again to all of us. But I made a mistake and there were two issues to which I could not find an exact citation. I rewrote the article with citations down to the details. This time there was no reaction; no response from him? The fact that he thinks Intractable and/or chronic pain patients should be able to be OK with Tylenol or Ibuprofen is just laughable. It reads on the bottle of Tylenol “for minor aches and pains”. Obviously Andrew Kolodny, the shrink/Psychiatrist; has not ever lived with chronic intractable pain. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t treat Chronic pain either!
IF he is not educated in the treatment of chronic paian, then how is it that he is able to dictate what happens to the chronic pain patients?

What I find also odd, in a way, its that he thought what I wrote in the original article was “unfair”? What about what he’s doing to a large number of chronic pain patients? I want to scream that it is UNFAIR that he is responsible for the rise in suicides due to the immediate drop or quick tapering of our pain communities medications that are & have been used as directed and in a responsible manner. He has our communities deaths from suicide on his conscience and on his hands. He is lying to the people, tugging at unknowing, good peoples heartstrings, so to speak. By telling them that these medicines are killing people and they are dangerous etc.; he is getting many of these people to side with him! They are only “dangerous” if misused or taken improperly, just like anything else! Water is dangerous and you can die if you drink too much!
The Dictionary’s definition of “enemy” is = a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. Also it states that “enemy” is a thing that harms or weakens something else. Well, Andrew Kolodny M.D., may harm us and we may die due to suicide or increase BP and HR from higher pain levels; because of his opinions. This is on his conscience as well. But he will never weaken the strength of compassion and endurance in the chronic pain community of the USA.
What I don’t understand is why can’t the government officials see through him?
Why don’t they see him trying to have “saving the addicts” (certainly not saving the chronic pain patients) as being his claim to “fame”? Why can’t anyone else see that he owns treatments centers with a “revolving door” policy and he makes a ton of money off these poor people?

He tries to tug at the heartstrings of those who have lost loved ones to addiction. Chronic pain management and addiction management are two different areas. Those who have lost someone to an overdose want all Opioids gone now; because someone that they love has passed away due to addiction and /or the misuse of opioids. That’s horrible, terrible and unimaginable to say the least. But Well, now we, the chronic pain community are losing people daily; due to the quick tapering and abrupt ending of opioid treatment to chronic pain patients. Chronic pain can kill as stated in the National pain report article from June 20, 2017. The terrible true fact is that Opioids don’t kill people any more than guns kill people? If you misuse either of them, you can die. If you don’t follow the instructions of a legitimate pain management physician, then you have a higher chance of dying from overdose. People can overdose on insulin that they have in their home for Diabetes. Just as someone on High blood pressure meds, anti-depressants and other medications can overdose if they misuse their medications. We are not children and if we are responsible adults who are doing well on opioid therapy and do not get high, do not ask for more, are not groggy or foggy from the medications, and we don’t take more or less than prescribed; then we should have a right to live our lives in as little pain as possible! Nobody should be forced into having risky and/or expensive surgeries either.

Whatever works for each specific person, is what should be done to allow that person live the best life that they possibly can. If medical marijuana is legal for you and it works, then you should be allowed to make that choice. If acupuncture, yoga or meditation relieves your pain, then so be it. Everyone should leave you to do whatever works for you. But for me, with my complicated medical history, Long QT syndrome and more; the opioids have no side effects and they are still working, without raised doseages.

They need to totally get rid of the CDC guidelines and start over from the beginning. They need to do so with educated pain management physicians and not PROP and /or treatment center owners who stand to make money from the drop in pain medications. This entire conversation has the pain community afraid, panicked and in more pain because of their fear of living in pain or dying because they cannot live with it.
It seems to me that Andrew Kolodny will not respond to the National Pain Report because he knows that Ed Coghlan is an upstanding publisher. He doesn’t allow people to use propaganda or say things that cannot be proven. That Health News magazine has a great reputation and that is because many peoples voices are allowed to be heard. Andrew Kolodny was offered the chance to have his voice heard.  He wont respond because in the pain community, he is the “enemy” and not the “star”.

These are my own private views.

                 Pain Wars – Uncensored 

(*This article was posted originally and then removed because I made a mistake. I failed to post 2 citations.  I rewrote it, changed it a bit. I added some information and subtracted a few items. The end result was posted on National Pain Report on September 20, 2017)

There’s a lot going on with regards to chronic pain during the month  of September. There are events and fundraisers in the name of raising awareness for persons living with chronic pain illnesses.  These are good things and they help dismiss the myth of the chronic pain patients. We are not addicts; we aren’t complainers or whiners. We are real people living with chronic pain and high pain illnesses 24/7/365. The majority of the chronic pain population sees a pain specialist, a Dr. who helps with pain, or we visit a pain clinic and do whatever it is that is requested. Whether it be to urinate in a cup, give blood or jump through any and all of the other hoops asked of us, we just do it. The end result is to relieve our pain.
But our day to day life, as hard and complicated as it can be, is becoming more difficult. This doesn’t help with things such as depression and/or anxiety; which often go hand in hand with chronic pain, especially in these uncertain times. There are things that are happening around us that we feel no control over. Our feelings are correct. I read an article the other day that pretty much says, Andrew Kolodny, a PROP (Physicians for responsible Opioid prescribing) physician and Dr. Jane C. Bellantyne, the president of PROP; both feel that we all need to just, in other words; “deal with it”. Bellantyne says that “patients should pursue coping and acceptance strategies that primarily reduce the suffering associated with pain and only secondarily reduce pain intensity.” They both have said that “patients should not focus on reducing the intensity of their pain, but their emotional reactions to it”. I’m feeling that maybe the two of them need to take a “pain challenge” and be part of an experiment where they somehow feel the pain that many of us feel and they don’t know the time frame for how long they will feel that way? I’m not sure they would feel the same way afterwards, are you?

Andrew Kolodny is a proponent of a law that can detain pain patients against their will. According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, 37 states already have statutes that allow substance abusers who have not committed a crime to be briefly detained against their will. Often they must find that the person being committed is a harm to themselves or others. Well, that is “substance abusers”, but Kolodny wants to increase that statute to include chronic pain patients deemed to be taking “too many” Opioids. But to Kolodny and others, this can be subjective, what is “too much”? Are we still living in America? If this is the case, then why aren’t we putting people away for having heart disease then, if they continue to smoke? We don’t institutionalize persons who are diabetic and who don’t manage their diets well? (Yes, I’m being facetious here but just to make a point).

Kolodny and his minions feel that pain patients and drug addicts are not two distinct groups. He says “the opioid crisis is about addiction, and the reason that overdose deaths are at historically high levels and the death rate for middle-aged white Americans is going up, is due in large part to the epidemic of opioid addiction with overdose deaths occurring most commonly in people with legitimate prescriptions.” Do we have a buzzer or a gong here? May I push it? Andrew Kolodny you are wrong! The problem is actually illicit, NOT MEDICAL, drug use. A Cochrane review of opioid prescribing for chronic pain found that less than one percent of those who were well-screened for drug problems developed new addictions during pain care. A more recent review put the rate of addiction among people taking opioids for chronic pain at 8-12 percent. What this truly means to us is that all of these limits on Opioid prescribing for chronic pain patients puts us, the pain patients, at great risk of harm. But guess what? It is not going to do much to stop addiction!

We, the chronic pain community not only have to live with physical agony but with this “Opioid Crisis”. The the true crisis is that the chronic pain community is losing access to reduction of their pain. This is affecting the patients work, if they in fact are still able to work. It is also affecting our families, relationships and at its worst, our sanity! The American Academy of Pain Medicine says that there is a “civil war” going on in the pain community. Their president, Dr. Daniel B. Carr, says that “One group believes the primary goal of pain treatment is curtailing opioid prescribing. The other group looks at the disability, the human suffering, the expense of chronic pain”. Our Pain specialists are saying that nothing can be done? We must continue to stand up and keep fighting for what we need. Andrew Kolodny says that in the end, chronic pain patients need more and more opioid medications in order to curtail the pain. But there are an abundance of pain patients who never increase their dosage of opioid medications throughout many years. They are are still getting pain relief. Stanford University’s Dr Mackey said that there are some risks for some people but that “nearly 15,000 people die each year from anti-inflammatory medications like Ipbuprofen. But people aren’t talking about that?” He also feels that “there needs to be a thoughtful balanced approach”. He said “Opioids are a tool-they’re more often a fourth or fifth line option.”

What’s happening right now with this crisis is that pain patients are having their medications taken away “cold turkey” or reduced greatly; thus causing them great pain and torture. All of this just proves how the PROP Dr.’s and others, are taking the CDC guidelines to the extreme and hurting and demeaning innocent people who already have to live with sometimes several chronic high pain conditions. What I find interesting from my own research is that many of these PROP Dr’s like Kolodny and Ballentyne,, have a lack of empathy and also have a stake in making money off of chronic pain patients; in that they own drug treatment facilities. We’ve got the medical wars on one side and then the government people stepping in, who have no idea what they’re doing. All that they know is that “drugs are bad”.

We ARE In The Room



If you visit the Emergency rooms in Michigan, you see and feel many horror stories.  I don’t visit the ER and have not since 2007, when I was diagnosed with CRPS.  I had chronic pain even before that, from several chronic pain issues and illnesses stemming from a car accident and other reasons. But the last time that I went, I was treated like a pariah because I was taking pain medication.  They never asked me about all of the different therapies and non-Opioid medications that I’ve tried.  They don’t know all that I’ve been through.  They also don’t even ask me if I’ve ever been addicted to anything in my life.  The answer would be “NO”. I’ve never smoked anything and I don’t even drink “once in awhile” socially, not ever!  Yet, the Dr.’s and nurses treat people that take small amounts of pain meds as if we are someone to be scorned.  The amount has gone down but it’s not ever going up.  It works for me and for about 25% of the chronic pain population. Only 1% of  legitimate chronic pain patients ever become addicted to pain medications given to them by a pain management physician.  For some people this is what works after numerous other medications and therapies have failed.

I want to share with you just an overview of something I read in a Detroit Newspaper article yesterday (Link to Detroit news article  .  This is what is happening in Michigan in 2017. I’m praying for change and I’m going to advocate to help the legitimate chronic pain patients. I have already written to and gotten a response from the other letter that I wrote to the White House and Governor Chris Christie.  All that I got in return was a fancy form letter from “The White House”.   I can’t give up.  I refuse to give up hope, without hope, we have nothing left.  We must not give up and we need to keep hope alive.

This is just the summary of what actually happened to a family in Michigan.  I read in our Detroit, MI newspaper recently, and it is just a summary:   “Over on a gurney, a woman screams out writhing from pain. A Dr. stands idly by, just watching a monitor. He stood away from her as she was doubled up in pain, screaming about pain in her abdomen.  Her husband walked in and saw this and he new about his wife’s chronic pain condition(s), but had never seen anything like this from her.  The Dr. was expressionless, as if she was not even in the room and as though she was a non-feeling “thing”, a non-being person with feelings and a soul”. Imagine if it was his wife, his mother or child? Would he still feel the same?

So moving on, …”as the husband approached this so called “Dr.”,  the physician was startled and reached out his hand to introduce himself. He said to the husband, “yes she’s “complaining” about pain. He said “we will “try” to address it. Next, he said something horrifying, but not new to our American chronic pain communities.  He said “addicts often come to the emergency room looking for opioids”.  The woman’s husband knew about her medical condition and he knew enough to realize that something must’ve gone terribly wrong after the nerve block procedure she’d had done earlier that day, while he was at work.  They’d been to Cleveland and Mayo clinics and even to the U of MI hospital. This poor woman had gone through numerous medical procedures and attempted over 40 medications. They finally had found a regimen that worked to relieve enough of her pain so that she had some semblance of a life now and then. The only effective regimen was very complicated but it included Opioids”.  The way she was treated just recently, in 2017 is barbaric to say the least.

This is happening not only here in Michigan, but all over the USA.  Just today, 9-17-17, I read an article that was sent to me through my email. The article written by Julie Mack in “MLive”, discusses many statistics about Michigan deaths from “overdose of Opioids, including Heroin”. Opioids for legitimate and suffering chronic pain patients and Heroin, should not even be compared in the same sentence; let alone included together in the same article showing numbers of deaths.  The article even states that “these numbers are based on death certificates and list only deaths that specify “Opioid and/or heroin” as a factor”.  I want people to see the difference here. Legitimate chronic pain patients who’ve been doing well, taking opioids, after trying many other methods to relieve their pain; are not even in the same same category as heroin addicts.  Unfortunately, from the death certificate, they just lump everyone into one category and that’s hurting the pain patients.  We are suffering due to the ignorance of certain Government officials and the paralyzing fear that has been put into our legitimate and caring Pain management physicians.

In Michigan, a bill was recently introduced into the House of Rep.  This HB 4601 would put absolute limits on the dosages that chronic pain patients may receive. The patient’s medical history, illness(es) or lack of any proof of abuse or addiction are suddenly irrelevant. The Government would be mandating that “no doctor may prescribe opioids to a chronic pain patient exceeding 100 morphine milligram equivalents per day.” No matter what! Oh my goodness, everyone’s bodies are different and dosages can affect people differently.  If this bill goes into law,  legitimate pain patients will be bedridden and writhing in pain.  Please help us and learn about this side of HB 4601. Our Michigan Government needs to step in now, to help other government leaders and those in Washington D.C., to understand this huge gap between pain patients and drug addicts. There are two distinct groups included in HB 4601, but we are being “lumped together” as one.

In Oakland County Michigan, the Board of Commissioners has taken a stand against this historically old proposal. They unanimously passed a resolution stating that HB 4601 “infringes on a doctor’s ability to care for patients by substituting  the Legislature’s opinion for the opinion of individual medical professionals.” The board also advocated a balanced method “that specifically targets addiction and abuse while protecting the rights of patients for whom these prescriptions are medically necessary”.  Please help the chronic pain community. We are human beings and we deserve our rights and our lives protected by the state of Michigan and the USA government as well. Please don’t take the rights of our educated physicians away from the decision making process. Educate them more in the area of chronic pain management, but the doctor patient relationship should still stand.  Our Senators, Governors and even our President, need to be educated in this area.  They need to understand the differences between addiction and dependency; along with the difference between drug addicts versus legitimate chronic pain patients.

I implore you to help stop this in Michigan and everywhere. I understand that balance is hard, but we need to think of the real people that HB 4601 affects.  Slashing dosages of opioid pain medications or taking it completely away from people that it has been effectively helping is cruel and abusive. This is America! What is happening to us when the government steps in and takes away a doctors right to treat his patient effectively?  If we can focus more on the people, we would start tailoring laws to address societal harm and avoid legislative dragnets that sound good in headlines but bring danger and harm to too many  citizens. We need to do better for the legitimate chronic pain patients for whom all other methods have failed.

We ARE here, we ARE in the room.  Please join me in helping to make the government and elected official listen to our plea!

Excerpts taken from DetroitNews.com

9-12-17 “Opioids Treat Real Pain; Don’t Limit Drs”

Pain Wars


September is Pain Awareness Month – and people should be aware of what chronic pain patients go through.

To read the media, you’d think we are pill-popping complainers. We aren’t addicts, and it’s definitely not all in our head. We are real people living every day with high chronic pain illnesses. We do whatever is requested; whether it be to urinate in a cup, give blood or jump through any and all of the other hoops asked of us, we just do it. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, has done studies that say “75% of all opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them” but obtained from a friend, family member or dealer”. ? As Maia Szalavitz wrote in the Scientific American, “Do you know that new addictions are uncommon among people who take opioids for pain in general All of this means that steps to limit prescribing opioids for chronic pain run a great risk of harming pain patients without doing much to stop addiction.”

We have seen our lives change in the last couple of years – and not for the better. There are things that are happening around us that we feel no control over. Our feelings are correct.

The people who use opioids are under attack and the lead attack dog is Dr. Andrew Kolodny. I read an article where he says that Tylenol essentially works to combat pain as well as prescription pain meds.

“And medications that can be just as effective as, or even more effective than opioids are Tylenol and Advil”. He says that these two OTC medications “work differently, so it’s safe to take them together.” He also states in this same article that “They really are safer than opioids, and we sometimes forget how helpful they can be”. In another article, “Kolodny states “many Americans are truly convinced that Opioids are helping them”. They can’t get out of bed without them”.

One would surmise, after reading several of these articles, that Kolodny thinks that we as pain patients should just accept the pain as if it is just a nuisance. If it were as easy as taking a Tylenol, (which on the bottle it actually states that it’s for “minor aches and pains”); there’d be no rising suicide rates within the pain community.

In 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine published a commentary in which two physicians, Dr. Jane Ballentyne and Dr. Mark D. Sullivan argued their position on chronic pain and acceptance. Our own National Pain Report published an article on November 29, 2015, “Accepting Pain More Important Than Reducing Pain Intensity Because Opioids Are Harmful, Docs Write in NEJM Commentary”. The first line of the article is “People suffering in chronic pain need to learn to accept it because achieving a balance between the benefits and potential harms of opioids has become a matter of national importance. Dr. Bellantyne, the president of PROP (Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing), says that “patients should pursue coping and acceptance strategies that primarily reduce the suffering associated with pain and only secondarily reduce pain intensity. Dr.’s Bellantyne & Sullivan (Dr. Sullivan is the Executive Director of Collaborative Opioid Prescribing Education (COPE), stated that the patients who report the greatest intensity of chronic pain are often overwhelmed, are burdened by coexisting substance use or other mental health conditions. Instead of opioids, these doctors say that an interdisciplinary and multimodal treatment coupled with coping and acceptance strategies are critical. In addition, they conclude that a willingness to accept pain and engagement in life activities despite pain, may reduce suffering and disability without necessarily reducing pain intensity. The two Dr’s also said that “patients should not focus on reducing the intensity of their pain, but their emotional reactions to it” (NEJM 2015 Commentary). I’m thinking that maybe all of those who, in my opinion, feel that we just need to accept and cope better, need to take a “pain challenge”.

Maybe they should volunteer to be part of an experiment where they somehow feel the pain that many of us feel and they don’t know the time frame for how long they will feel that way? I’m not sure they would feel the same way afterwards, are you?

Kolodny and his minions appear to feel that pain patients and drug addicts are not two distinct groups. He says “the opioid crisis is about addiction, and the reason that overdose deaths are at historically high levels and the death rate for middle-aged white Americans is going up, is due in large part to the epidemic of opioid addiction with overdose deaths occurring most commonly in people with legitimate prescriptions.”

Dr. Kolodny this is wrong! The problem is actually illicit, NOT MEDICAL, drug use. A Cochrane review of opioid prescribing for chronic pain found that less than one percent of those who were well-screened for drug problems developed new addictions during pain care. A more recent review put the rate of addiction among people taking opioids for chronic pain at 8-12 percent. What this truly means to us is that all of these limits on opioid prescribing for chronic pain patients puts us, the pain patients, at great risk of harm. But guess what? It is not going to do much to stop addiction!

We, the chronic pain community not only have to live with physical agony but with this “Opioid Crisis”. The true crisis is that the chronic pain community is losing access to reduction of their pain. This is affecting the patients’ work, if they in fact are still able to work. It is also affecting our families, relationships and at its worst, our sanity! The American Academy of Pain Medicine says that there is a “civil war” going on in the pain community. Their president, Dr. Daniel B. Carr, says that “One group believes the primary goal of pain treatment is curtailing opioid prescribing. The other group looks at the disability, the human suffering, the expense of chronic pain”. We must continue to stand up and keep fighting for what we need. Andrew Kolodny says that “in the end, chronic pain patients need more and more opioid medications in order to curtail the pain”. But there are an abundance of pain patients who never increase their dosage of opioid medications throughout many years.

As pain patients, we simply must fight back. The people at PROP have grabbed the initiative and turned concerns about opioid addictions into an attack on millions of chronic pain patients.

It must be pointed that people who own drug treatment facilities are benefiting from Dr. Kolodny’s efforts at demonizing the pain patient.

In the meantime, state agencies, federal bureaucracies and others simply stay silent on what will happen to pain patients if opioids go away.

We cannot allow that to happen!

 **The views and research in this article are solely my own and may not necessarily be the views of the U.S. Pain Foundation. 

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