By Terri Lewis PhD.
Since 2012, and more recently in intervening months, weeks and days, the climate of health care for persons who require support for chronic and intractable pain has deteriorated – in part because of the politicization of health care that includes mental health, substance abuse services, care that addresses pain. The conflation of health care with other social issues, crime statistics, and the introduction of illicit drugs into the public mainstream blurs the lines across the system and creates fear at every level.
This is simply unacceptable. The continuing campaign by DEA directed at targeting small healthcare specialty providers who treat complex illness is an example of this contaminated environment. Not only is it destroying the capacity of the healthcare system to serve its sickest citizens, it is contributing to reactive legislation and regulation that cannot possible contribute to any kind of a system solution for directing resources appropriately. It is based on lies, bad data, fear mongering, and the maintenance of structural inequities that assure the resources of the many are reserved for the few.
We are feeding the bear of fear, but it’s not the bear we should be feeding. The evidence for the feeding of hysteria is all around us. Structural deficits contribute in a large way to increasing deaths by overdose, drug poisonings, suicides even as scripts for legal prescriptions are reducing. The volume of persons battling addiction is increasing even as communities are unable to fund appropriate services for treatment. Mental health and economic strain is directly reflected in mass gun deaths.
Picking on sick people and the doctors who treat them is shooting at the wrong target and directing the wrong resources into these problems. We are done putting up with it.
We are done allowing anyone to make us feel afraid, invisible, powerless.
If you are a policy maker, you are accountable to us. We will have policies that serve us.
If you are a physician we will support you in the practice of your profession but only if you provide equitable services to all while seeking collaboration with your colleagues. Our precious dollars will be focused on those who serve us.
If you are a lawmaker we expect your activities to open the door to ensuring the least among us are represented, served, and have access to participation. Our votes will be reserved for those who serve us.
If you are an educator, we expect you to arm yourself with the best science and research to groom the next generation of care givers and policy makers. We will be served by professionals with the knowledge and skills that lead effective community change.
If you are a consumer trapped in this nightmare, we will support you to develop the self-efficacy skills to work your way past this nightmare.
But here’s what we won’t do. We won’t put up with this anymore.
We are DONE being invisible, powerless, silent.