The topic of addiction came up and there are so many incorrect beliefs when it comes to addiction. Some people think that everyone who takes pain medications will become addicted, my dad is a great case in point. I had a cousin in law who got in trouble with pain meds and totally screwed up his life. However I have been on them now for over 5 years with no addiction issues. These type of people believe that these medications are evil and should be banned. They say it ruins people's lives and destroys families. That is their opinion. It may have happened to a close friend or relative. On the other hand we have millions of people who are taking these medications daily, without becoming addicts. They don't abuse their medications. They don't divert their prescriptions to sell on the street. They use these medications to return to some functionality in their lives. They see these medications as fantastic and wish they were able to get stronger medications so they could do more in their lives. Hard stuff like going to the grocery store, playing with their kids, gardening and yard work, their golf game or family functions.
So who is right ? Are these medications evil and should be banned ? Do they ruin lives and destroy families ? or are they fantastic and without them millions of people couldn't function as they do now in society ? The honest truth is both are right up to a point. Their is an addiction epidemic here in America but just because you are put on them you will not become an addict. Teenagers are abusing prescription drugs in record numbers. The latest stats I could find were from an organization called Foundation for a Drug-Free World so and for 2007. They state 2.5 million teens abused prescription drugs for the first time, up from 2.1 million the year before with prescription pain meds being right behind alcohol. However teens.drugabuse.gov puts it 3rd after marijuana and alcohol. Either way it is a growing problem in America. The foundation for a drug free world says 2500 teens abuse prescription medications for the first time. drug free world
So we have a definite issue with people abusing prescription medications and not just pain meds. However we don't see all the hype and scare tactics being used to make the others harder to get for legitimate patients. It is only the pain meds that are being singled out for this type of tactics. The DEA just announced another huge bust in multiple southern states. DEA Scares More Doctors. So what can we do ? We need to educate the public about a few things. That is a huge task. Society sees all these busts by the DEA and flies into a panic. They don't understand that it is a very small percentage of doctors who are doing this and not every single pain management clinic. As of now if you were to ask the average person on the street what they thought of when they heard pain management I could bet and win they would answer "Pill Mills" Thanks to the DEA going all out to publicize their efforts against these few doctors ( Few when compared to the millions who are not pill mill doctors. ) The public thinks the problem is huge.
Then we have the public's perception that all opioid pain medications lead straight down the path to addiction and that anyone on them must be an addict. They do not get the major distinction between addiction and dependence. Heck even some doctors aren't that sure of the difference. Both addiction and dependence can have physical effects on the body but addiction is mainly a brain thing. That is where the "craving" starts. From there it triggers a need in the body and the brain over rides the logical portion of the brain allowing addicts to "justify" their actions to get their fix to themselves. They will do all kinds of stuff they would not normally do. We have all read the stories about the little old lady who was arrested for stealing from her church to feed her gambling addiction or the stories about people who lose their families to alcohol. The same thing happens with drugs but the effects are amplified. People might turn to prostitution to feed their habit or other crimes like burglary or even robbery and armed robbery. They lose all sense of what is right and wrong and the only thing that matters is getting their fix. Now however with dependence their is no psychological craving for something, it is 100% physical. Doctors can wean patients off opioid medication and there is no physical or psychological issues other than the persons pain level going up. Yes the body depends on the drug and the person depends upon it to allow them to function. The statistics show that roughly 75 to 80% of pain management patients are legitimate patients who do not divert their scripts to sell the drugs on the street or use them to get high. Yet this 75 to 80% is being forced to pay the price for the 20 to 25% that are addicts. Doctors are being held criminally liable for not detecting patients that have lied to them and that is insane. There is no fool proof way to detect when someone is lying and yet doctors have gone to prison because they couldn't tell when someone was lying. That is what the DEA is expecting from doctors. That they know 100% when someone is lying to them. So is it any wonder that pain management doctors treat all of their patients as junkies, drug addicts and the scum of the earth. Even when we prove time after time that we are legitimate they force us to continue to prove that at every freaking visit. So we suffer, those of us who are legitimate pain patients. We suffer from under treatment at the hands of scared doctors who refuse to adequately prescribe because of their fear of the DEA. We suffer because doctors have been made to pay an overly high price for being taken in by addicts who flat out lied and admitted they lied time after time to doctors and yet it was not the addicts who went to jail but the doctors. We also suffer from the DEA and their war on Pain Doctors, the invisible war that they insist is not being waged. More over instead of focusing on the addicts and treatments for them which could and do costs a lot of money, they have focused on a much cheaper and much much more lucrative enforcement technique. Going after doctors. They get to seize a doctors assets and then make him fight for them to get them back. That in itself is pretty scary. Seems like the DEA has truly forgotten this is America, where you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. To the DEA though you are guilty until you can prove your innocence and even then your reputation is in ruins.