Catch 22 — Denied Pain Relief and No Way Out

Catch 22 — Denied Pain Relief and No Way Out

Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D.

“Catch 22” is a phrase that most of us recognize. It refers to a satirical novel by Joseph Heller (and later a chilling movie) about flight crews operating from North Africa during World War II.  Casualty rates were so high among these fliers that some of them considered trying to be eliminated from duty on grounds of insanity.  But one of a long list of “catches” standing in their way was the idea that if you were sane enough to recognize the insanity of the war you were flying into, then you were sane enough to fly into it — even if you didn’t come home.

Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D.

Pain patients can find themselves in the very center such dilemmas.

My most recent experience of Catch 22 began with a really good article in the November 2017 issue of Scientific American, by Dr Carl L. Hart, Chairman of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. “People Are Dying Because of Ignorance, Not Because of Opioids”  []  In this article, Dr Hart utterly demolishes the nonsense surrounding President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in response to the widely hyped “opioid epidemic”.   He demonstrates that addiction in America is neither a new condition nor a real epidemic. As he writes,

“The vast majority of opioid users do not become addicts. Users’ chances of becoming addicted increase if they are white, male, young and unemployed and if they have co-occurring psychiatric disorders. That is why it is critical to conduct a thorough assessment of patients entering treatment, paying particular attention to these factors rather than simply focusing on the unrealistic goal of eliminating opioids.

I found Dr Hart’s paper to be profoundly on target.  So I looked him up online to send a note of appreciation (Scientific America doesn’t invite comments by non-subscribers).  I congratulated him on a well reasoned and supported narrative.  I also suggested that he might lend his voice to forcing the US Centers for Disease Control to retract and rewrite their enormously destructive and ill-founded opioid prescription guidelines of 2016.

A Canadian friend of mine independently decided to add her voice in a similar comment to Dr. Hart.  I won’t name her here, for reasons that will shortly become obvious.  I describe her circumstances below, with her permission.

My friend is a chronic pain patient who recently learned that her doctor of nearly ten years is leaving the practice of pain management years earlier than he’d intended, saying he was “ANGRY” and had “had enough”.  Enough hounding by regulators, she has to assume he means.  She’s now paralyzed with fear. Canadians are being deserted and abused in much the same manner as Americans, because of their version of our CDC prescription guidelines.  In Canada, enforcement of restrictive policy is managed by medical colleges rather than by Health Canada, but the result is the same:  patients are being coerced to taper off pain medication they may have been on for decades, or outright discharged without medical support.

My friend has tried every pain management doctor nearby, as well as every family practitioner. (Most family doctors will no longer prescribe narcotics in any case; and other pain specialists are closing shop too.  In the last two or three years, half the pain practices in her province have closed.)  She’s also looked right across Canada; but no one will take her as a patient.  She’s even looked in the U.S., where she has friends who are alarmed for her, and as far away as Europe.  She has a lot of company among other frightened, desperate, and abandoned patients in her home town, and across Canada. Pain clinics are now flooded with new referrals, and most won’t consider patients who “simply” need their prescriptions renewed.  Typical wait times to be seen at a Canadian pain clinic are at least two years and in most cases far longer.

Because she’s a thoughtful individual, my friend and her husband have discussed their situation and prospects in detail.  She has a plan for ending her own life, rather than allowing agonizing pain to overtake and disable her completely.  She is not “suicidal” in the usual sense that most doctors use the word.  Her decision is rational, proportionate, and made necessary by the refusal of Canadian medical colleges to allow doctors to treat her.  In essence, the colleges have chosen to make themselves agents of torture for hundreds of thousands of people whose only crime is that they hurt.  The college in her province is one of the worst offenders.

Adding to the credibility and poignancy of my friend’s comments, she briefly described her situation to Dr. Hart in her letter.  And here’s where the Catch 22 came in.

An hour after she hit the “send” key, there was a thunderous knock at her front door.  When it was opened, she was greeted by two uniformed police officers who informed her that they were there to conduct a “wellness” visit.  Dr. Hart’s office administrator had contacted police concerning a potential suicide victim who might be “insane” (a word used by the officers).  In another hour of interview, they learned quite the contrary and went away shaking their heads. Her story is quite well known by friends and even by Canadian national media.  She is by no stretch of imagination anything less than clear-headed and utterly sane.  She is instead being persecuted and tortured by her own government—to which her college (like all the others) is accountable.

We cannot blame Dr Hart’s staff for doing anything wrong.  They didn’t.  Under US law, the doctor could be prosecuted for facilitating suicide and barred from professional practice as a psychologist, if his administrator had done anything less.  This is the law in both countries.  And it is yet another “Catch 22”.  Our government is willing to unleash the DEA to drive pain management doctors out of practice by the dozen.  But they’re not willing to wake up and smell the coffee on addiction and chronic pain, as ably portrayed by Dr Hart and many others.

The war on drugs and addiction is bogus and dangerous.  It is a phony war directed to the wrong causes and punishing the wrong people.  It punishes millions of people who use opioids responsibly for pain management, while avoiding the real needs — which are  intensive education against drug use in kids as early as Middle School, and community re-integration programs to provide present addicts with safe housing, employment training, Methadone or Suboxone maintenance, and extended access to regular counseling for both addiction and mental health issues.

Footnote:  the author does not advocate suicide in any sense as an “answer” to chronic pain. He merely understands the bind in which pain patients and their families increasingly find themselves.  He has supported pain patients for over 21 years as a non-physician healthcare writer, social media support group moderator and patient advocate.

About the Author: Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D. is a technically trained non-physician with 20 years of experience in peer-to-peer patient support groups for chronic pain patients. His work and commentaries have been published or featured at the US Trigeminal Neuralgia Association, National Pain Report, Pain News Network, The American Council on Science and Health, The Journal of Medicine of the National College of Physicians, the National Institutes for Neurological Disorder and Stroke, Wikipedia, Mad in America, Psychiatric News and other online venues.

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Richard A Lawhern, PhD is a technically trained non-physician patient advocate and healthcare writer, with 22 years experience in moderating social media support groups and over 70 published papers and addresses. He is a frequent contributor at National Pain Report.

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I’d like to point out – Carl Hart PhD – set out to prove that drugs were the cause of all the problems, crime, poverty, addiction, etc etc etc.

After traveling the world Dr Hart learned the exact opposite and his book High Price was the result of what he learned. Hart states that the USA is lacking in education and treatment and the DEA is fighting a war against people that have committed no crime.


John J Sandherr

If I may respond to Robert: at our present state of knowledge, the prospects for “cure” of addiction are not good. The best we can do is harm reduction. Medication Assisted Therapy may replace street drugs with safe and regulated Methadone, Naloxone, or Buprenophine (sp?), combined with community support programs that help people deal with mental health issues and reduce incentives for addicts to relapse or become pushers.

Note that the operative word is “reduce”. Relapses will still occur. But rates can be reduced from the 90% often observed in 28-day Detox programs and Narcotics Anonymous within the first year after intervention and discharge.

Nobody who knows a damned thing about addiction seriously believes that the addiction crisis can be solved with less than a sustained investment of billions of dollars per year in workforce development / job training, safe housing, reeducating physicians, and intervening aggressively with Middle School and High School kids to break the cycle of addiction before it begins. The Trump Administration’s declaration of a 90-day public health emergency on addictions is literally “much ado about nothing”, until it is backed by real money.

Danny Elliott

Robert, thank you for sharing the link to the CDC report. I highlighted what I consider to be the summation of the report:

“however, only a small percentage of fentanyl deaths had evidence consistent with prescription fentanyl (e.g., transdermal use versus injection).

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is now a major driver of opioid overdose deaths in multiple states, with a variety of fentanyl analogs increasingly involved, if not solely implicated, in these deaths.”

My doctor has been prescribing the fentanyl patch for me for over 15 years, alongside with the fentanyl lozenges for breakthrough pain. Now I’m getting negative, stigmatizing comments from some family members and friends (the few who know what medication I use) because they’ve heard that “fentanyl” is causing overdoses. But because the CDC and DEA aren’t widely publicizing these findings (like the statement above), the average person doesn’t understand that it’s illicit, synthetic formulation of fentanyl that’s killing the people who are “getting high”, not regular pain medications. The study also points out that a very high percentage of overdoses happen because of the combination of cocaine, heroin and other drugs (including alcohol) are used in combination with this incredibly dangerous synthetic heroin. It’s not the chronic pain sufferers using pharmaceutical grade fentanyl as prescribed that are overdosing, just as the first paragraph above states.

If, however, the CDC and DEA actually did make the effort to get this information widely publicized, then the CDC’s bogus pain prescribing guidelines and the hysteria created by the DEA that’s terrorizing doctors and chronic pain patients would be exposed as the ignorant and malicious actions that they are, and these federal agencies are actively covering up this development, in my opinion. Think about the last part of the statement above: “(illicit fentanyl) is increasingly involved, if not solely implicated, in these (overdose) deaths.” UNBELIEVABLE! There’s a good place to start, using the CDC’s own data, if a class action lawsuit is ever seriously considered.


The vast majority affected are those who have had no input nor voice in this controversy and as the title of this article, we are FedUp. Who stands up for the millions of our population (2/3rd’s baby boomers) who are now the elderly and suffer each and everyday?
I hear only one side of this story. A story propagated by someone whose myopic view believes everyone who takes opiate/opioid analgesics are addicts.
Dr. Kolodny is a psychologist who specializes in addiction. He has no background in medicine or prevalent pain. He also has a vested interest in addiction clinics.
Can any medical doctor give me a rational explanation how someone addicted to Oxycodone or Hydrocodone can benefit going to an addiction clinic and be given Methadone? According to the CDC guidelines, 90mgs of Morphine is equivalent to 60mgs of Oxycodone which is equivalent to 30mgs of Methadone.
Dr. Kolodny’s opinions on the all encompassing epidemic is like asking a car salesman to accurately diagnose a mechanical problem with an automobile.

As for the CDC guidelines, here is an interesting update as to the current state of overdose statistics from non other than the CDC –

Hazzy, send me a note at, with a short (five line) paragraph on your background and lobbying interests. The Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain will send you training materials and coach you to prepare for in-person appointments in legisltive offices at State and Federal level. Wailing about the problem won’t help. We’ve got to go out and kick tail and take names in person. If you’re too ill to do this work, then find a friend or family member and send them to us.

Freda, suicide is not an answer. And if you want to make a difference, then schedule an appointment at the district offices of your Congressman/woman and Senators to make the case in person that they need to take action to force the CDC to withdraw and rewrite the opioid prescription standards because you’re being KILLED an inch at a time by their inaction. It is much harder to ignore someone who is right in front of you and suffering.

Look up the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain. We’ll train you to be an effective citizen lobbyist with the people who made the mess in the first place.


@Hazzy. In my opinion… all opioids are. Fentanyl is still prescribed, as are most others. As far as I know,only Opana has been removed from the market. It’s a hydromorphone med. That makes it just the beginning..time will only tell what is next. For now, it is th dosages and amounts of some opioid meds that have had to be lowered, unfortunately.


Wow! Where did this STOP!! I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1980 and I have fought pain for years with every drug that Big Pharmaceutical Companies could push on doctors to push on patients. It started with antidepressants, my doctor pushed Trazodone, this will help you with pain, with sleep and with depression and it did nothing for sleep, but make me hung over, pain was still horrid, the drug caused weight gain to the tune of approximately 20 lb for each year that I was on the drug. I went from 125 pounds at 5’8″ to 185 pounds in the four years that I took the drug, always battling weight gain which I never had to do before ever in my life. I fired my doctor, who was who was her rheumatologist, and took myself off Trazodone and tried to loose all this weight that I have gained. In the meantime, other doctors, PCP, had we try other antidepressants, one being Cymbalta, where I actually became depressed, gained more weight, and after my dose was moved from 30 mg. to 60 mg. came down with serotonin syndrome. Then another doctor had be try Lyrica, more weight gain and the diagnosis of diabetes and then my feet and hands swelled so terribly at night it interrupted my sleep such that I was up all night with swollen feet and hands. I had to get off of the drug. The came Gabapentin or the other name for it Neurontin and I thought okay I’m going to do better with this medication but then I was showing signs of stroke symptoms so my husband took me into the hospital and had me checked out for a stroke, no I did not have a stroke, but my speech had been impaired because the Gabapentin had cause my tongue to swell up in my throat. So, my pain management doctor who put me on that drug said, get off of that drug too!! I had a pain management doctor who did indeed think that I was an addict and tried to put me on methadone I took one tablet and took a nap and when I woke up I was red as a lobster from the scalp of my head down to my toes as red as a beet a very deep red I had had an allergic reaction. I’d had a doctor that had put me on a pain medication with codeine and I broke out and a slight rash underneath my skin and the same thing when I took a sulfur medication for a UTI. Later they thought I had A-fib they put me on a drug for the afib and it cost me to have migraines everyday that I took that particular drug and also with soul off everyday I took that antidepressant I had migraines. Now my pain management doctor has me on Dilaudid for the serious pain that I am in because I have compressed nerves that’s been proven… Read more »





All opioid medications are being attacked, Hazzy. ignorant or biased advocates like Andrew Kolodny have claimed that drugs like oxycodone are the equivalent of “heroin pills”.

Barbara, National Pain Report has published an open letter to Brandeis University advocating that Andrew Kolodny be fired as an incompetent and polarizing figure who contributes nothing to the needed national dialog on addiction and chronic pain. I headed up a group of 50+ medical professionals and knowledgeable patients who signed that letter.

Likewise FYI all: I will be interviewing on the Roy Green Show at 3:05 PM Eastern Time on Sunday October 29. Roy has three times received the Gold Medal award of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters — their equivalent of a Pulitzer. His website is easy to look up on google.




Thank you for the great article. I got it the other day and filed it away to quote in my letter to the committee on opioids for the Public Law 114-198. I am hoping that enough of our voices telling the horrific pain we endure without proper opioids , in many of our cases, will be viewed as a large group and not an individual. No matter how well one feels they write they really should file their thoughts and questions for the committee to consider. I, too, have my plans already. I cannot use the opioids as I process them too fast. Back in the early 90’s, I was told live with the pain. I knew I couldn’t. I had saved 72 10/325 Percocet. Things didn’t go as I planned and I got stuck talking to someone in the student union. By the time he left, I used a payphone, to not be traced, and left a message telling them to tell my family I love them but the pain was too great. So, I never made it out to a field and instead ended up trying to hide behind some bushes next to the student union. I woke up several times for people, but eventually didn’t and a rescue squad brought me to the hospital. I refused to tell them anything until 3 hours had passed. When it finally passed, I told the doctor. His response, you are a liar as you would be dead by now. So he waited until the tox panel came back over the mountain. Then he realized, I told the truth and treated me very nicely , 7sing a nasogastric tube for the yucky meds. I only tell this part because when I recovered, I was told,” never, ever do that again. That was one doctor unwilling to gove narcotics. There will always be more willing to give then not willing to give, so don’t lose hope!” How ironic. When my arachnoiditis turned into adhesive arachnoiditis in a momentary second in time, my pain went far higher than I could imagine. It started in Sept 2010. Immediately I was laced on percocet, valium and Fentanyl. It didnt touch it. I have almost no memory until Jan 2012/ when I had a wedge removed from a vertebrae to give some slack to my spinal cord. It then took until Aug 2015 to get my pain to where I could lay down all day and handle the breakthrough pain. But now, I worry everytime I go to fill my prescriptions. My internistI dont worry about now, but what if they say internists can no longer write schedule Ii drugs? I worry about insurance rejecting, although after my last rejection, on my final appeal, the outside doctor wrote I had a very rare , very painful condition known as AA and doctors know that their is no pain level ceiling. So I hope this letter stops insurance from doing anything. But I do have a plan… Read more »

Jillian Buza

I would like to say FINALLY a Doctor who understands. I have RSD/CRPS since I was 15yrs I’m now 38. My husband and I haven’t got a clue how we are supposed to survive in chronic pain once our meds are gone. I told my Doctor that the people making these ridiculous laws should have to live my life for one week and see if he changes his mind then. They haven’t a clue about our everyday lives. Once we leave the office they forget about you and move on to their next patient.


Thank u Dr Lawhern I think most comments regarding far to civil for Andrew Kolodny the CDC. STEVEN is right they have awoken a sleeping Giant all the pain patients in these various countries, They have taken every ounce of Freedom from us shredded every constitutional right civil rights all treaties of humane treatment, This is all about the CIA Dea sell out Congress Dirty Rehab business for money!! Nothing is true or real , the Addicts r just the excuse, The first responders in my state claim all these addicts are trendy & they will just get high on what ever!! Like LEAP says more heroine then ever in the country at higher dosages, all the whistle blowing by the Criminal justice system proclaims the USA has gone all over the world preaching this propaganda because they are in bed with the Cartels, dirty Congress, bankers pharmacey ,manufacturer of anti addiction all for the money, Illicit drugs for 80 years prescriptions for 30 yearsin south American coca inexpensive, Afghanistan etc opium heroine etc etc, We need to Scream on every news media nationally & internationally just like they screamed OPIOD EPEDEMIC THIS IS MURDER TORChURE & GENOCIDE, WE need to expose Kolodny PROP Tom Friden etc, Major Class Action Lawsuit costing Mega Millions each for all the damage to us,our physcians the Pharmacy & pharmacies lawsuits already done for 25 years, National pain report may use my info to create a group to SUE! I am writing to AARP Bulletin countering Kolodny etc Los Angeles times etc my Senators. My Ralph’s Grocery store has opiod propaganda over the loud speaker (grannies medicine cabinet) Gross ignorance I will cancelled insurance with AARP if they do not print my counter!

Linda Duckworth

I am in the same shape. I have had my nerve pain alot of inflamation and arthritis since i was 30. The doc gave me Tramadol. my whole life changed to the good. I was able to live again with all my daley jobs i had to do. My main job was hard and fast work with my pain meds i was able to continue my work. I am 64 now and have more pain, but! My doc can’t give them to me now, they told me to shut up about the pain meds not to even talk to the doctor about my pain. When i hurt real bad i have friend that will help me with some. You know what i think sometimes, where are they hidding all the money saved and what do they do with all the meds since we can’t purchase anymore. Who is taking them. Needs investagated!


I spent a few hours trying to be concise. I am in a lot of like many who are afraid they will be cut..I was cut off like a rat.. after 20 years with no notice. And no addictive behavior -or emergency problems. It was not enough as I was trapped as a caretaker..but I made do..and made vascular compression worse.
I focused on media that is not reporting the demise of pain patients and the suicides.
I mentioned the reckless way that the top networks accept the blanket blaming on ALL who have taken opiates legally under Federal monitoring.
In fact prescriptions are scrutinized one by one..and addicts are not getting THEIR BACK ALLEY fixes based predominantly on opiates
Which media continuously and recklessly blames as the source of 98% of all overdose deaths….
Clearly the media cares about the truth.
..I did not mention Catch 22
I was blocked
Don’t look for me.I don’t need to feel more lost and alone
. thanks RED

Keith Panzer

What will it take for ALL media outlets focusing on the so called ‘opioid epidemic’ (which is actually a heroin epidemic) to voice the positive side of opioids in treating people with chronic pain??????


Dr. Lawhern,
Such a well-written piece about the dilemma of chronic pain patients in this country, Canada and beyond. I am hoping more and more voices will be heard by the president and the opioid commission so that they will reconsider the language the CDC guidelines for opioids. It is sad to think how many other people will be considering a permanent way out from the pain they feel. I am one of those who will consider every option on the table if my pain cannot be managed by opioids. Thank you for all your efforts!

Alan Edwards

Chronic severe pain sufferers exist in the millions and not many I know seek suicide as a way out. Doctors are not expert thinkers when it comes to severe pain until they are hit by it and Tylenol gives nothing more than a massive rebound headache. Whst if the pain is caused by multiple conditions like spasticity, unknown neuropathy, arthritis, spondylyitis, degenerative disc disease, nerve irritation and damage, kinetic injury, doctor mistakes causing brain damage soon after birth and late stage pancreatic cancer. This person is me. I was not treated for pain until 2012. Pain began in 1969 with thrice weekly migraines. Spasticity due to CP began in 1980. The medical establishment did nothing. Degenerative disc disease and spondylitis thrived along with the pain. Pain is now known to be a disease which causes disease. Yet no doctor on NPR has ever stated this and maintains a politically correct posture, guarding their reputation and medical license. Not even when cancer pain started was I treated for pain. My dying pet dogs were not given opioid medication for fear I would take it. How absurd and sad. Pain speaks loudly. The fda, cdc, and family practioners were deaf for forty years. There is pain and suffering everywhere. Wake up Ph.D’s. You are rich but have failed in your chosen profession.

Karen duffy

Thank you for your dedication and commitment in advocating for pain patients rights.

Debbie G.

Dr. Lawhern, you have just written a perfect article. I think it is safe to say that you have relayed the feelings of ALL of us chronic pain/illness patients. Now here’s the question to you and to my fellow chronic pain patients: What are we going to do about it?? I mean, it’s great to feel validated by reading all of these types of articles and the comments that ensue. But the clock is ticking, and people are suffering, and deciding if they want to continue a life of suffering or end it all. We need to take ACTION….LEGAL ACTION of some sort. But we need HELP. Would you help us by starting a petition, or starting a fundraiser here? Then perhaps hire a public relations team or an attorney that will assist us in REALLY making our voices heard in WASHINGTON? I want the CDC and the POTUS to hear “We the People”, LOUD and CLEAR! Please someone HELP! We are tired, weak, worn, and HURTING too much to do this on our own. We need a leader in this fight.


I agree,. The war on drugs and addiction IS bogus and dangerous. I am ass uming that millions of patients that have been prescribed opioid medication to manage intractable pain have documentation with prescribing scheduled substances and any positive effects seen are being disregarded. Wnen…..did it become illegal to be treated for a disease, injury, surgery or other pain generating health condition? Many patients, myself included, have ALREADY been treated with MANY different resources of pain management including a doctor telling me that I……can control the overwhelming pain from botched surgeries without any medication. That was over 20 years ago. I have been treated with all methods of pain management and told that an intrhthecal “pump, a pain pump was my “best” way to manage pain. After I researched the possibility, I DECIDED to not have the pump. It was my choice. IF there was an effective way to manage my eternal pain, I have tried it. I don’t “like” being bound to any medical treatment for life but, medication has helped me for over 20 years without incident, of any kind. With the new “policy” I have had to file for DOT/GOV assistance, which I have already funded through SS tax but, no doubt as is customary even with no future insight I will most likely be “turned down” the first time. I no longer have an income, I can not get a dosage of any effective medication. I have tried “cbd oil” and all other forms of treatment. DOT/GOV has offered NO other resource of treatment absolutely KNOWING that opioid medication was the ONLY treatment viable, realistic, effective for pain in millions of Americans. A “social reform” meaning that drug abuse can be curbed through any government “policy” is rediculous. Abuse of alcohol is accepted yet pain management with patients treated as being “privileged” to receive effective management has been stopped. Stopped without even acknowledging documentation of “any” success of patients ability to remain self sufficient in some manner with prescribed medication. Of course the people not living with pain 24 hours a day can not understand the patients plight. WE would rather NOT be in continuous pain but, it is factual, recorded, documented, and exists. It IS manageable with appropriate treatment methods which INCLUDE opioid medication. It is unreasonable for DOT/GOV to simply reduce all patients in medication, harass our providers so badly that they are not willing to attempt to treat patients and expect ANY type of positive results all while not really giving a damn what happens to us. DOT/GOV “strongarm”……at its’ finest. All DOT/GOV policy reserves a position to amend “policy” to achieve the desired result. Evidently the desired result IS being achieved. A purge from society. Thanks “Red” for your perserverance to assist the patients with pain.

MA Stewart

Since when did restoral become an opioid. My wife’s Doctor is taking her off of it because he said it was a controlled substance.. I have found out this is not true and has nothing to do with what the CDC is doing. She also has chronic back pain and her pain doctor took her completely off her pain meds. Now she suffers with hardly any sleep and is in pain all the time. Our government needs to step back and let doctor’s do their job. My wife has had almost 40 surgeries over the last 40 year’s.


When my pain medicine is denies, then is when I either go to jail for using cannabis or end it all! Prayers are the answer, for me. But, I can’t see them controlling the damaged nerves in my cauda equina!? The neuropathy is not the regular type. I have severe parasthetic pains. The tingling is so severe that it hurts to move. Then the pain gets to be spontaneous, shooting the tinging down into one of many places in the left ankle, foot, and/or toes. If this became a 24/7 thing, living would be out of the question. Now that I have understood that people are abusing gabapentin. The government is talking about making that a controlled drug, too! It is just another example of patient torture to stop that 1.5% of people that are addicted to opiates. It is even less than that for chronic pain patients! It is “throwing out the baby with the bathwater!” Having “Certificate in Pain Management Studies” and past fellowship from The American Academy of Pain Management, I understand the practice well!


Talk about ‘catch 22’… I’ve got one but hands bad. Any chance I can get Richard email. Or text? I’m w/o opies now 6 mo. Was told I’d feel better. Have aged 10 yrs n 6 mo. now can’t get back on opies as I’ve been treating w mmj. Can’t go w/o pain help for a month to clean system. CRPS 2 all limbs and spine. Crazy ‘cartoon’ pain. I’m too tired, sore to fight.


We have another book, more voices from “Pro’s” and still the genocidal policy of the government I served for 29 years continues to see me as their singular threat. I fought in Vietnam (Where the beginnings of my injuries occured) and later flew as a Sensor System Operator in “The Air War on Drugs from South America”. I sought out the VA after retirement and a car crash that killed my youngest Daughter (She was brought back to life after 6+ minutes) and after 16 years of help was taken down to bedridden level. But I’m more dangerous now than ISIS, the North Koreans and anyone else the last two Presidents and Congress can “zeig heil” to.
Without facing these lawmakers face to face, all of “this happened to me” from all of us means nothing. Nothing short of marching on Congress and THEN bringing out our “Professionals” along with the tragedies of those who have not made it, will we be heard and legislation may then have a chance of separating those of us who live in physical hell daily from the recreational user. At this point, that’s a “maybe”.
What the heck are we afraid of? Being called “drug addicts”? What the hell do you think they call us now? I realize bedridden people worse than myself cannot make it, but blogging, crying to the choir, and all the “maybe in the future” talk is in the present depriving ourselves of our right to live and function, knowing that the pain will still be with us. But we (All of us “Pain Warriors”) have squandered our chance to be heard and instead we’re laying down to an inept Psychiatrist (Kolodny and his klowns) who are reaping millions of dollars filling beds and addicting addicts while saying what we know works is all in our minds. And we let him get away with it time and time again.
Hide your valuables before the cattle car train comes to pick us up.


I get it. I’ve had RSD for 20 years, and until last year it was always well treated. With the CDC Guidelines came changes that could’ve killed me. My PM dr says he has no choice but to taper everyone down, but there’s no law in my state preaching how many mg can be prescribed.

We ARE collateral damage in a ridiculous war. The anti-opiate gang cares nothing for pain patients and seeks to make us jobless, homeless, and dead.

I believe there will be many suicides in the next few years, and that makes me sad. But suffering terrible pain day in and day out isn’t normal. I hope we can hold on as a community, but I doubt it. When people stop grouping Chronic Pain Patients in with addicts, maybe we’ll see some forward movement. Until then, God help us.


This article is sadly bang-on. However, the “uneducated” public see it as another excuse. I wonder where we can find someone able to lift the fog and allow those without chronic pain to see how devastating this pain is.




This is so sad. All these doctors, administrators and politicians cannot figure out that they are hurting people that rely on these medications to survive? Cutting back on the chronic pain patients medication is supposed to somehow stop others from becoming addicted to opioids? This makes no sense. What do people who receive these drugs and take them responsibly have to do with people addicted to opioids? The only thing I can see is that it bothers the “Powers That Be” that chronic pain patients use opioids responsibly, live better lives and do not need increased dosages to achieve the desired pain relief. Thus flying in the face of the propaganda of needing constantly escalating dosages.

Or maybe this is a way of paring the population of those that they deem a drain on society. It is exactly what was done in the late 1930’s and 1940’s by the National Socialists in Germany. Hmmmmm


This is an astounding and shocking story, a depressing story which may become common in America soon unless the CDC acts rationally and sensibly concerning this “epidemic”. The one sentence that stood out to me most of all is that this should be a war against ignorance, not opioids. The goal of eliminating this medication is unrealistic at best. There is nothing out there that can replace it, nothing, and until there is we will suffer and some will die, maybe more will die than die from opioid overdoses. Pain is real, the pain will take your life.

Carl S. Dunn

Unfortunately, I write to all those expecting the worse case scenario, that of being denied narcotic pain relief. So what to do? Well, do what one person facing this same thing suggested, and I say that personally I do not subscribe to this method, it is a suggested alternative to suicide. Namely, this, before you run out of narcotics, go to the methadone clinic and sign up. At least you will get pain relief and a method to slowly wean off methadone medically supervised by a doctor. I am afraid that this may be the only way around the issue of a state controlled medical necessity. Again I do not condone this or any way support this method, but merely am passing on information you can decide on by yourself.


Thank you once again Dr. Lawhern for keeping us informed and your continued advocacy on our behalf. Not surprising as Health & Welfare Canada is the exact model of what a one payer system looks like. Americans have had a perfect example of what our healthcare future looks like for years. One of the interesting takes from your article is the obvious fact that Dr. Hart’s friends Internet was being monitored by law enforcement.

I went to my monthly doctors appointment yesterday and received another anticipated cut back on my pain medication. One of the consequences of having my pain meds rolled back now 65% of what I was taking for almost a decade is an increase in my bpm, now regularly between 90 to 110. Because of Tachycardia, my GP has sent me twice to a Cardiologist who has come back diagnosing my problem as being under medicated for pain. My Doctor has suggested beta blockers several times which do not work for me. The side effects; headaches, heaviness in my chest, feeling cold and making my pain worse. Yesterday he actually agreed with the Cardiologist, agreeing that the cause was a result of my current level of pain medication, but he wanted me to consider trying a reduced dose of beta blockers to protect my heart. I should add that I have no problem with blood pressure, I came in at 110/72 yesterday.

What he did surprise me with yesterday was he believes the government was planning to eliminate opiates and opioids by 2018/2019.
What choice does that leave me with?

Thank you George Orwell for the advance notice.

Deborah Fochler

I got the following letter today:
Dear Patients:
Beginning January 01, 2017 all of our providers have made an unanimous decision that they will no longer be prescribing pain medications.The Virginia Board of Medicine has placed strict guidelines on practitioners regarding the prescribing of opoids and analgesic medication, including Tramadol. Our providers will work with you to help wean you off narcotics, make alternative therapy recommendations or attempt to refer you to pain management.There is a large shortage of pain physicians so please be patient. We will do our best.

Got similar letter from my rheumatologist last week.

Maureen Mollico

Dear Dr. Lawhern, Thank you for this heartfelt and riveting post of vast reality.
Your Canadian friend is an incredibly brave woman. I’m very saddened for her and for all of the many other CP folks in the same position as she.
I can only imagine all that they and families are going through, although, my life may possibly be in the same lane, soon enough.
I hold my breath with each monthly pain management appt. that I go to…
not knowing when the tide will change for me, next.
And, I have to admit, I am often forced to entertain thoughts of your friends’ reality, often enough…
What is my future as a chronic pain person here in America?!
As always, I immensely Thank YOU for fighting the fight and being supportive of our community. Please keep strong and God bless you for all that you do for us.
Your friend is in my prayers.
As always, I


I’m so thankful for Dr Lawhern.

Sandie Hamilton

Excellent article Red. From your pen to the listening ear. Please HEAR US!

Cary Cassell

Thank you DR Lawhern.
I need all my energy to fight my medical situation, 30 yrs of very aggressive RA, has left me with a physically deformed body with multiple joint replacements.
Now I must use my precious energy to fight the opioid hysteria of my government and medical establishment. I really have none to spare, none the less I have no chioce. I am not suicidal yet I think about nearly daily. If the current atmosphere of denial of the pain meds i have used for over twenty years continues I forsee a time in the future where it will become a logical alternative to spending ever hour of every day in constant pain. These meds keep me mobile, barely and its not pretty but is effective. I do still have some pride left and I refuse to let myself become wheelchair bound and dependant on others for everything simply because the meds which keep me upright are politically unpopular.
Thank u for understanding and I ask you to continue to speak up for people such as myself. I can’t understand why voices of reason and intelligence such as yours are having no influence with our country’s policy makers. I am fully aware my voice means absolutely nothing as I have become quite hoarse speaking to the deaf ears of politicians, and lately even doctors who one would think could affect change given their status in our society if enough of them would really try.

Again I want to thank the people in charge of this site as well as contributors and commenters. One thing that can be determined is the simple fact that law abiding cronic pain patients have been singled out and abused by this scumbag Andrew Kolondy for no other reason than we are easy targets and to pad his own pocket. Thinking that we have no recourse and are forced to live in pain while he laughs all the way to the bank. That is in my opinion what he hopes but we do have recourse. There are enough of us to matter. We could all form groups, hire an attorney and file lawsuits, one after the other. With enough people put into a group the financial strain would not be unbearable. When that lawsuit goes to court another group file another lawsuit and so on until that jerk has time for nothing but court appearances. This tactic has been used time and time again to put people out of business which he sorely deserves. This would also wake up the population as to the abuse we suffer due to the lies he has told and published. I do not know how to get this started but if anyone does this site manager has my permission to share my contact info with them. I hope this will spark someone to kick this off and though it probably won’t get us our meds back it will certainly force feed some cold karma to the fiend that is behind our suffering. Good luck Everyone!


I am in the UK but I too plan to end my life at the euthanasia clinic in Switzerland ‘Dignitas’ when I run out of money to keep my Pain at a liveable level. I need £20,000 pa to pay for what our National Health Service does not provide: Massage, trauma Counselling , household help, heat packs (£80 per month for wearable heatpacks), extra travel and at present a private Pain physician because the waiting lists are too long and there are no facilities for urgent Pain Care when my pain suddenly escalates as it has several times.
I support Advanced Health Directives and have a DNR order but euthanasia is not legal in the U.K. I trust no police will be banging on my door in half an hours time!

Marna Janette Parker

Thank you thank you thank you! I wish for this article to find it’s way to the top of the pile on president frump’s desk, and to be read out loud to congress!! My heart goes out to my fellow chronic pain warrioress in Canada, and all others here. I truly understand her thinking. I have been through that already, losing my Drs and forced withdrawal and luckily found pain clinic to take me, but after a five month wait to see them. Anxiety level always on high, awaiting news that I’m being dumped again because I’m a complicated disease case. Being treated lousily by Drs and pharmacy because I have the audacity to be in chronic debilitating pain, that will only get worse as my diseases progress! Always in a flare state because of that stress level. I wish my diseases, pain, anxiety and stress on all who caused this so called crisis, and those perpetuating it out of ignorance, or trying to make themselves look holier than though!!!! Bless the Drs and others that will speak out for us, as we are so damned tired, both physically and mentally, from fighting our pain and diseases as it is!! Again, I thank you for your support.