“Because Opioids Are Bad for You”

“Because Opioids Are Bad for You”

This summer, a family member discovered he would need surgery for an Umbilical Hernia. This “occurs when part of your intestine sticks out through the opening in your abdominal muscles through which your umbilical cord passed before you were born. Umbilical hernias are common and typically harmless. They are most common in infants, but they can affect adults as well. In an infant, an umbilical hernia may be especially evident when the infant cries, causing the bellybutton to protrude. This is a classic sign of an umbilical hernia.” (Mayo Clinic, n.d.)

His surgery went well but it was his return home from the hospital that had us worried. It seemed that his mother was concerned about him taking the opioids that he was prescribed for after surgery, which in turn made him concerned about the medication and the necessity for needing them at all.

Liza Zoellick

Couldn’t he just take Tylenol?

But it was clear that after my husband spoke to him on the phone that this was more than just take some Tylenol and call me in the morning, type of pain. He was unable to speak a few words without wincing in pain and he was breathing heavy and he was having difficulty just moving around in a recliner, unable to even get in a bed. This was alarming. I’ve had enough surgeries to know that if you aren’t able to sleep, you are unable to heal. My husband told me I needed to call him and find out what was wrong.

I called up him up and gently prodded for answers.

Was he just being stubborn?

I know how some men could get. I was married to one. After a long silence on the phone he said no. The nurse at the hospital had warned him about addiction and he said he knew he had an addictive personality. He could binge on coke and bad foods. He isn’t married and he’s been trying to get a better handle on his diet, eating better and taking better care of himself. He’s never learned to cook and had been watching cooking shows and has been trying to educate himself on things to do that will be better for himself in the long run. It sort of clicked one day he wouldn’t be 21 forever. Maybe he’s got an addictive personality, maybe not, but not taking opioids because you drink a lot of coke seems a little ridiculous to me and I told him as much. I didn’t beat around the bush. He does a lot of manual labor for work, and if he didn’t heal up right, he wouldn’t be able to do his job properly. His meds were only ten days’ worth. He needed to follow instructions and take them as prescribed and when he felt better, he could stop. I promised he would be fine. He called me a week later and told me he did as I instructed, and he felt better and now had begun the Tylenol course and was doing much better, but the opioids had helped him heal and sleep.

“You’re Welcome, I said. As long as you don’t abuse them, you are going to be fine. And I had told him, if you felt like you were going to abuse them felt like you needed them more often, call me. We’d get you to the doctor ASAP.”

I don’t like what they did to him in the hospital. Maybe they had to, I get that. They have to cover their bums, lawsuits all over the place. But the way they’re pushing NSAID’s these days, without so much as a precaution? Or the way they are pushing steroids for inflammation, the same way, without so much as a warning label? I have an issue with that, because you have thousands of people being steered away from opioids because of the fears of the addictions, when the NSAID’s are doing damage to the stomach that can lead to ulcers, GERD, gastritis and other serious damage that can include death. Many people treat their arthritis for years before it becomes a serious enough problem where they go to a doctor with over the counter drugs, or treat injuries or headaches with things like Aleve and Ibuprofen nearly every day, without even a thought or care for what it might be doing to their stomach. (Davis, n.d.)

Why?

Because it’s not prescription and because you buy it in a drug store and because opioids are the big story; the big scare. But listen, I’m not here not to tell you to stop worrying about opioids. There’s a lot to worry about if you aren’t careful. Addiction is real. What I am saying, is you should be careful about everything you are putting in your mouth, and just because you got it from a drug store without a prescription, doesn’t mean it’s safer.

Works Cited

(n.d.). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/umbilical-hernia/symptoms-causes/syc-20378685

(n.d.). Retrieved from webmd: https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/features/anti-inflammatory-drugs-rheumatoid-arthritis#1

(n.d.). Davis, J. L. Taking NSAIDs? Protect Your Tummy. Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/features/anti-inflammatory-drugs-rheumatoid-arthritis#1

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: http://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Jen Smith

I’m so sick of being treated like a drug addicted criminal by my old pharmacy and current insurance company, which is delighted it’s got an excuse not to pay for my pain meds. Now I’m supposed to work full-time in agony. I get that some people abused opioids. What about the millions who abuse alcohol? Let’s make that illegal again?!

Thank you for referencing one of the overlooked ways the opioid panic has harmed people in pain: by forcing them to turn to riskier treatments. Just because opiate based meds may pose dangers of overdose and addiction, doesn’t mean they are the riskier choice. Steroids can cause dependency, bone loss, weight gain, and psychosis to the degree that the patient may hurt themselves or someone else, but because they *aren’t opioids* insurance companies are very happy to encourage prescribing them instead. NSAIDS, especially when taken long-term, can cause liver failure and gastric damage that may be fatal, but that no longer seems to be of much concern because they must be safe, they aren’t opioids. Invasive procedures have been all but mandatory for patients with back pain, whether they work or not. (I’ve had at *least* 9 injections despite the procedure never once having produced positive results.) Steroid injections have all the risks of steroid use combined with the dangers that come from directly injecting into the spinal column. Let’s not forget the people who died from fungal meningitis just a few years ago after injections that turned out to be tainted. Then there are the gabapentins, dextromathorophan, and other drugs that have helped some people get through the current undertreated pain crisis with possible risks we are yet to discover as use becomes more widespread. Opioids have some risks, but many times they are significantly *less* risky than the alternatives. Insurance companies and workers comp have exploited the (now-corrected) CDC guidelines to refuse coverage of vital, life-saving medication because it allows them to save a buck with impunity, despite it being at the expense of the patient’s health, possibly with fatal consequences. Just because it’s easier to tally overdose deaths than deaths caused by the desperate rush to prescribe anything *but* opioids, doesn’t mean they aren’t equally significant.

ElizabethR

It’s about time. How do we become one of the 500 comments–email CBS/60 Minutes directly?

Kelley Thornton

Call TO ACTION!!!!

CBS/60 Minutes says they will do a segment called:

The Forgotten Victims of the Opioid Crisis

If they get 500 comments so we need to make this happen

Randy

I agree, and the bottle of over the country Tylenol and Ibuprofen gives the recommended daily dose. They may take the tip of the edge off the pain. But in no way do they stop or deminish the pain I am in on a daily basis. I know what I feel like without the opoids and the OC. It’s much worse.

Ass holes are everywhere. In the medical field nurses ER doctors are among the worst. Because they see the addicts every day and build up a call us on their care feelings. The chronic pain patient is not the only victim. I am a chronic pain patient, the victim.

Robert Schaffer

AGREED !
Had my stomach removed last May !

Good job Liza with bringing sense to your relative. Treating pain, and especially post op, is vital!

Terry Judd

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 50 years ago. Over the years I have been treated, under doctors care, with both prescription and OCT anti inflammatory medication. Because of these “safe” drugs I now have chronic kidney disease and can no longer take any anti inflammatory drugs. Now I’m on opioids to treat my intractable back pain.

Gail Honadle

They’ve gone from killing the baby in the womb, to killing them in the birth canal. Now they want to Kill you at 75. A doctor and medical ethicist argues life after 75 is not worth living (Ezekiel Emanuel keeps at it)https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614156/a-doctor-and-medical-ethicist-argues-life-after-75-is-not-worth-living/. His brother is the former mayor of Chicago.

Enough Fentanyl to kill 14 Million people seized. And they are still blaming us.
https://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-nw-federal-prosecutor-announcement-20190830-2t32mbq5bjgcpeuoyres2ltfme-story.html

Just add in your contact info good for letter to editors when you catch them lying and for idiot legislators.

Prescriptions Aren’t the Problem

Doctors over-prescribing opioids did not cause our drug crisis. According to CDC’s data, nearly half of all overdoses don’t involve prescribed opioids at all. Among the remaining drug-related deaths in 2017, half involved illicit fentanyl and heroin. Only about 18,000 deaths involved a prescription opioid, and most of those also involved multiple illegal drugs and alcohol.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says most addicts begin to abuse drugs in their teens or early 20s. Contrast that with pain patients on opioid therapy, the majority of which are over age 55. Seniors are prescribed opioids three times more often than youth under age 18, yet somehow seniors have the lowest overdose rates of any age group, and youth overdose six times more often. Prescriptions aren’t the problem.

Restricting pain medication to pain patients won’t stem the tide of illicit fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths. Forcing pain patients off the only medications that work, providing no alternatives, and driving those same patients to street drugs and, increasingly, to suicide won’t help either.

Lawmakers must direct their attention to the real problem–the rising tide of illicit street drugs–and stop persecuting pain patients, the most vulnerable among us.

I would like to read a article about how many peoples prescriptions has the right doctors names on it that were correct on the controlled substance database? Do you know you can be red flag for wrong doctors names that cause patient to be dropped bc of the pharmacist mistakes. Yet, you think every thing ok until ur dropped. You never see whos doctor name they attach to the prescription photo, only the photo has the real doc name but once type in/photo that incorrect name is than registered on the controlled substance database making it look like you have more prescribers than one. It is even worse when you are in a pain clinic with different PA is writing the script. The doctor’s name in their practice name, address and anyone else who prescribed to you and sometimes the PA in your doctor’s clinic their address doesn’t match the clinics. I have over 25 different mistakes made BC pharmacy tech was putting on csmd Physicians names that only wrote regular medicine. Don’t get all your regular meds filled with your controlled. I found this out through a doctor looking on the scdm. I got it all straightened out through the pharmacy & pointed out their mistakes. At first Pharmacy wasnt going to work w/ me until I gave them a number of the company that runs csmd & said I will just turn you in. Finally got it corrected. This incorrect filing system cost me my pain meds / medical treatment. It wasn’t my fault but I got it corrected. How many more people did this stupid csmd cause more problems than it’s worth.

ElizabethR

At almost 83 I am highly unlikely to undergo ANY non-emergency medical or dental procedure even if it were “life-saving”. I am already in enough pain and am not up for enduring the increase that an invasive procedure would entail. I’m well aware that I couldn’t count on adequate post-surgical pain relief. I cannot take NSAIDs at all and plain Tylenol is totally ineffective. (Like most CPPs, I’ve tried numerous other medications and so-called alternative therapies.)

Pain has hit the delete key on much of the remaining joy in my life, and on some levels I am ready for the end. Longevity has turned out to be a very mixed bag and not one I necessarily would have chosen, but I have a soon-to-be-90 Y/O spouse whom I love and 2 senior cats who still need me.

I do not receive sufficient pain medication for enhanced quality of life or increased functionality, but at least I haven’t been cut off entirely as many others have. Major irony: although I wouldn’t risk getting my great-grandkids in legal trouble, I bet they could easily get heroin/fentanyl courtesy of the high school drug dealer. What a totally screwed-up system we have–illegal drugs flourish while old people (and CPPs in general) continue to suffer.

June Randolph

Regarding Kratom (To Harley)
I was a Kratom user for 5 years. It did everything it was supposed to do. It saved my life until it nearly killed me. Heavy metal poisoning is a real thing. It was slowly killing my kidneys. One day I came home from work, got changed and the next thing I know it’s 13 hours later and I’m in the ER RECOVERING FROM A BILATERAL FASCIOTOMY DUE TO COMPARTMENT SYNDROME. Apparently I had lost consciousness I collapsed on top of myself cutting off the circulation to my lower right leg. I had lain like that for 12 hours. This was on June 2nd of this year. The nerve damage is so severe I cannot walk. I may never walk again, and I can’t feel my leg at all. My kidneys recovered thank goodness. I had my batch of Kratom tested.. I’ve been using the same vendor for years. Heavy metals plus some unknown foreign “stuff” was found. My pain is thru the roof and now I’ve also been diagnosed with CRPS and it’s spreading up my leg. My life is forever changed because of my stupidity and Kratom. As much as I want/need it now I will never use it again. Please everyone,if you are using Kratom or considering it heed my words we really don’t know what’s in it.

I went to see and listen to a surgeon about hip replacement he had a little conference going on to get new business. One person stated what can I use besides opiates for pain treatment because I don’t want opiates., I believe this man was planted. The surgeon said we have many things to treat pain because there are different receptors some accept opiates, some accept muscle relaxers and others NSAIDs. Okay, having your bones sawed off, drilled out your leg bone to stick metal in, then your hip socket abrasively brushed out to receive a cup. They’re going to offer nsaids. It was cheesy that they had to show a bunch of movie stars that had a hip replacement. I’d also like to know did they just take NSAIDs. was seeing the movie stars a prompt to make you want your hip replace . LOL . You receive at this point in time 10 days worth of opiates if you request them. Before long they’ll start saying anesthesia is addictive and you can’t get that for surgery. Greed of corporate medicine has driven the bottom line. Needing surgery put more fear in ccp who suffers now w/o pain meds, how much more pain will this cause and should i not even do surgery again bc this last surgery left me in more pain and it was suppose to be alot simpler than replace. How do i kn / trust ,what if i am worse off like i am now, than what? No doc listen now, they sure wont later. I am stuck living this way. We live in piece mill medical care, no cordination of care after.its making them the next $.

Cindy

Also, I just remembered that the limit on Percocet I’ve always had was due to worry about the tylenol portion in it — not the oxy portion — b/c too much tylenol will destroy your liver.

At least that’s what I was told…

Cindy

Absolutely. I know someone who got a bleeding ulcer and had to be rushed to the ER — he used to pop Advil all day on an empty stomach. Hard to believe, but I suppose that for OTC’s a lot of people never bother to read the instructions and/or dont’ take them seriously.

Bruce

Such a good mommy! He does need to learn how to eat better, otherwise he’ll end up with neuropathy like myself. And make sure those cokes he drinks aren’t DIET coke with aspartame. You guessed it – neuropathy.

Thomas Kidd

Thank you for your article. I had an Umbilical hernia the evening after we buried our mother, and it was painful. I have suffered from chronic pain for 30+ years and have taken Methadone for as long. If I am suddenly taken off this medication I have little doubt that I will die soon afterwards. This fake opioid prescription crisis has already killed thousands or maybe a million or more. Like Prohibition this insanity has created criminals of people who would never have done such, causing them to go to the streets for pain relief. Yet alcohol is on every street corner legal. This nothing but evil and wicked.

Cynthia Antonucci

Thank you for your continued support of pain and chronic pain patients .We need many more like you to speak with the knowledge and frankness. May you be continually blessed.

Becca

Well written!

Everything has a potential for abuse, including sugar and caffeine. Taking things in moderation, being careful and vigilant with any substance is what is needed. Keeping people informed and able to have options (including opioids) is what counts… Not fearmongering and laws for a pointless War on Drugs.

Thank you for writing this. People should be able to have informed choices and heal. Pain patients matter.

Linda Marie

So is being bedridden from chronic pain

Gail Honadle

Liza there is NO MAYBE about the hospital, in fact it was a RARITY they even gave him Pain Meds and for 10 days. I got 2 days for a Jaw Re-sculpture pain lasted 2 weeks. I ended up eating a lot of Ice Cream as the Idiots who make Ice Packs don’t make them for the interior of the Mouth. 92% of Cancer patients are sent home on Tylenol. Mastectomy patients which is now a same day surgery the same. Even Emergency C Sections are given Tylenol.

What is crazy is NO one is asking if the patients have Kidney disease. I’m Stage 3. And am a INTRACTABLE PAIN PATIENT due to FMS, totally Degenerative spine with stenosis, and a Calcified Lumbar, Gastroparesis, small hernia from all the puking, small Rotator Cuff tear, Nephropathy, Meniere’s, Hypothyroidism, and am ready to trip into Type 2 Diabetes despite watching what I eat. GP is a low fiber diet, and you still have a lot of GI Pain. I get SIBO easy. At 71 Meniere’s causes falls. I have the usual OA and OP to add to the list of pain.

The 5 yrs I was blessed to have 7.5 mg Lortabs until they became NORCO, I could function at a level 5 pain. Not once did I exceed what was scripted by my doctor. But GP put a stop to it. Didn’t have withdrawal or feel the hunger for them, sure never got a HIGH off them, just learned to put up with the pain as I knew NO OTC drug is Safe. Tylenol says 10 days max. Any of the rest are GI tract destruction drugs. We don’t fit the term Addict, dependent is more the term as we need pain meds like a Diabetic needs Insulin to have a live. This is a 2013 article on OTC’s. It doesn’t paint a nice picture of a safe drug sub for Pain. https://www.propublica.org/article/tylenol-mcneil-fda-behind-the-numbers

OTC Products: How Much Is Too Much?
Some over-the-counter medications can be deadly in the wrong dosage or in combination with other drugs.
https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-06-13/otc-products-how-much-is-too-much

Holly

I’m sitting here right now with an abscess on my old incision that’s been cut open 5 times now. I’m scared to death to go to any hospital fearing I won’t get my pain meds! I know there are many other pain patients thinking the way I am.

Lauren Gilbert

Well finally! Someone has had the good sense to mention just how much harm those over-the-counter meds can do. For years I suffered with what they call tension headaches, bad ones! I didn’t realize they were called tension headaches I just knew that the back of my head in the neck area felt like if I moved my head was going to detach from my body. I took a lot of Excedrin, or aspirin. I wound up exacerbating some ulcers in my stomach that wound up bleeding. I’d had what I thought was a migraine headache that lasted 3 days. It was over the 4th of July holiday. I had taken the prescription migraine medicine as directed, and 3 days later still had the headache. I never thought to connect that to something that was going on in my stomach. I finally had to beg off of work and go home. I went straight to bed, and slept pretty much through the night. I woke up sometime early that next morning and tried to stand up to get out of bed and hit the floor. I could just barely make it to the phone to dial 911. I had at that point bled almost 3 quarts into my stomach. They took me to the emergency room, gave me some blood and the next day the doctor cauterized some ulcers in my stomach. I will never forget the words the doctor spoke to me when he came to check on me after I woke up. He told me I could eat anything I wanted to, but I could never ever take aspirin again. Those ulcers are still there and in times of real distress lately, with this opioid scare stuff for lack of a better word that they’ll print, taken an aspirin to try to help with the pain and I can still feel that churning in the pit of my gut when I take that aspirin. I have never ever had a reaction like that to the opioids that I take.

Thank you for take for bringing that up. I know that there are a lot of people out there with stories very similar that never thought to bring up. My point, as I believe was yours is that anything can be harmful under the right circumstances.

James McCay

Thank you for posting this Liza. It’s becoming MORE prevalent of an opinion (in ignorance) among NON-pain patients & NON-pain doctors everything you spoke about. But it’s not only opioids anymore…

Just yesterday I was seen by my NEW Home Care PA (I had [3] Drs/PA’s QUIT in 6-months) after having to make (8) phone calls to their office last week when they scheduled & CANCELLED (3) appointments to get my Clonazepam monthly refill (that costs me $37 a month in a doctor copay alone) because they REFUSE to let my Medicaid Spend Down to Activate because then they “LOSE TO MUCH MONEY” (they admitted this to me and it HAS TO BE Medicaid fraud!), when I could be seen every TWO-THREE months otherwise- if I weren’t on Clonazepam for 23-YEARS!

They’ve been prescribing Clonazepam for me EVERY MONTH (eight different providers; PA’s or Dr’s) for 8-YEARS! But this NEW PA Anupama Sekar (working at DOC 7-weeks) made it clear to me yesterday (2nd time I saw her; last month her attitude was 100% OPPOSITE!) how much SHE HATES THIS COMPANY that was bought out by a new company a year ago, which is what she’s using as the convenient excuse to NOT prescribe Clonazepam for me ANYMORE EVER!
She said she’s not putting herself “on the line” to prescribe my Clonazepam because “Most people on these NARCOTICS don’t need them in the first place!”. SOUND FAMILIAR, IT SHOULD.

1st: Clonazepam IS NOT A NARCOTIC (it’s a controlled substance)! It’s the weaker Benzo & least addictive. I’ve had General Anxiety Disorder my whole life & the Clonazepam has been helping my MG fatigue too! Yet she’s trying to tell me “You don’t need it!” in a roundabout way blaming everyone else.

Monday I’m going to risk losing the ONLY Home Care doctor in Queens, NY: “DOCTORS ON CALL” because they’ve become SO AWFUL in the last few years that I’d rather risk seizures with the sudden stopping of Clonazepam, rather than deal with these ICE-HEARTED people ever again!

Benzos are the new Opioids!

Linda Olds

Liza, what you did to help this man was great. Things are truly crazy when hospital personnel discourage patients from taking opiates (I hate the term ‘opioids’) after surgery.
I’d like to add more cautions about NSAIDS. All NSAIDS, including Motrin and Aleve, have black box warnings. They can cause heart attacks and strokes, in addition to the GI bleeding, with possibility of stomach and intestinal perforation. The likelihood of these problems occuring increases the longer the NSAIDS are taken.
Tylenol taken in too large doses in an attempt to deal with pain can cause liver failure.
Steroids have a host of serious side effects.
Opiates, taken as directed, as most people do, are safer than these other meds that are being pushed to replace them.

I have had Interstitial cystitis for almost 30 years the only way I had a somewhat normal quote on quote life was with prescription opioids now at 65 I’m deteriorating over-the-counter ibuprofen makes my Barrett’s esophagus worse I cannot take Tylenol over the counter because I have Nash of the liver so I suffer and now they are trying to make kratom illegal Kratom has been around for over 200 years and that is the only thing that I can get now to try to help get my pain level down which is almost impossible however the Kratom does give me some energy and being in chronic pain 24/7 for almost 30 years takes all your energy from you so what are we supposed to do now that there is a supposed opioid crisis and we are not allowed to get the meds that gave us some relief so that we could at least function a little what do we do now bite on a wooden shoe? Thank you Lisa for always defending those of us that live with invisible illnesses that have no cure God bless you!

Judith

NSAIDS can slow blood flow to kidneys. Be careful with NSAIDS.