Opinion: The CDC Hangover Effect

Opinion: The CDC Hangover Effect

Kerry Smith

Kerry Smith

By Kerry Smith

The Maureen McGovern song “The Morning After” rang true for me Friday morning following the CDC “public” meeting. In the song she says, “There’s got to be a morning after. If we can hold on through the night. We have a chance to find the sunshine. Let’s keep on lookin’ for the light.” I was one of those pain patients that used up a bunch of spoons, holding my phone for 4 hours in order to get my 2 minutes worth in. Then after that, I am left to wonder if I was really heard.

Was the CDC really even listening?

One of the callers gave a soulful, passionate plea to the members of the CDC, and after her time was up, a member blurted out something to the extent of, “Please keep your comments to only concerning the makeup of the workgroup we have formed!” Most of us turned a deaf ear to this attempt to control our access and the seas opened up from those that were suffering and in need of the only medicine that seems to give any kind of hope, even with all of the side effects.

For my 2 minutes, I attempted to get across to those that would listen that the CDC is focused on the wrong thing. I know, I have seen the interviews, the statements by politicians, the shows, all given towards the “opioid crisis”. But my friends, this is all wrong. Every bit of it. The crisis is that we are hurting and no one rea! lly seems to give a damn! I know, I cursed, and yes my grandmother would roll over in her grave if she knew I used such language, but the CDC and our government have this issue all wrong! We do not need just opioids to fix us; WE NEED A STRATEGY THAT WILL LEAD TO THE CURE OF CHRONIC ILLNESSES!!!!!!!

Those folks from the CDC? Some of them bring their own personal bias towards the use of opioids and if I were to be a betting man today, (wait, isn’t the Power Ball over $1 billion this morning?), if I were a betting man, I would bet that they are going to use the newly formed “working group” to say to the world that there is an over prescription of opioids and that needs to stop without giving one freaking word as to how we can cure chronic illnesses! Who here wants to take that bet?

Like the song says, the sun is going to come up, just like it did yesterday and I hope that we will “keep on looking for the light”, even though it seems to be awfully dark for we who suffer. Please remember this morning that the pieces of you are way more important to our world and to your family, than none of you!

I propose that in this year, while there are some who seem to have their heads stuck in the rear of whomever it is that it is stuck in, that you the pain sufferer, and me the pain sufferer, will use some of our pieces to demand changed. That in this great country of ours, that we become whole and healed, where a strategy is created to find a cure for our pain, and that we in this year “keep lookin for the light”, even where there is so much darkness.

Editor’s Note: Kerry Smith is a former minister, a professional artist, and has suffered with chronic pain for 14 years. He has lectured and written on the topic of chronic pain for several years. Here’s a link to his art studio website.

Here’s a link to the CDC Draft Guideline for Opioid Prescriptions and here’s a link to public comment if you have not yet. The deadline is January 13.

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Authored by: Kerry Smith

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BL- yes I agree with you- having freedom of speech is no guarantor anyone will listen-and certainly the CDC has made it clear they are violating the spirit of our Sunshine laws. And so individuals are free to write a letter to the CDC or Burwell or Obamaor their Congressional representatives if they arent happy with the CDC commenting guidelines-and trust me yours truly will do just that- go to my senator Gillibrand- and im confidant she will honor the spirit of our laws. You missed my other point- every government derives its just power from the governed. It is the CDC that must ultimately take their orders from the governed-not vice versa.
And trust me i understand that the CDC lacks the ability to hear and consider views that are not their own-after all they didnt use TPS to create the guidelines. They didnt bother to do a needs assessment or call for a referendum on the guidelines. I guess as the saying goes tyrants fear democratic excess. No doubt simple minded folks who have ontological insecurities have trouble with free speech and democratic values-no wonder Jefferson wrote every government degenerates if left to the rulers alone. Strong leaders make for poor followers. But Im sure like the CDC you believe in eliminative materialism and dont support democratic values and dont believe people should have free speech or exercise it-after all since we have experts their is no need for nonexperts to have an opinion or voice it.


dave, yes we have Freedom Of Speech in the U.S. But, if there is a topic and it clearly states that only comments within certain guidelines will be accepted, and the public makes comments that are outside those guidelines, you have to expect for the out of guideline comments to not be welcome and to not carry any weight. Freedom Of Speech doesn’t mean that you can make others listen nor does it mean that what you say will carry any weight.


BL- We have freedom of speech in America. And every government receives its just rights from the governed. There is nothing wrong morally with commentators making any comment on the guidelines-except those that are illegal.
In addition, to commenting on the federal register- people are free to reach to express their opinion to Obama, members of Congress, to Secretary Burwell, etc.
It is clear the CDC didn’t even wish to honor sunshine laws, in the first place-nor their spirit. They cherry picked, not only professionals that had a vested interest, in the outcome of the guidelines, but professionals who are more then a little closed-minded about pain care. I challenge you to prove otherwise. I have reviewed the works of the professionals they chose- if we have a discussion about eliminative materialism, probabilism, moral error theory, enactivism, evidentialism, prescriptivism, fgf21, orexins, acupuncture, emergentism- I think they will be shown to be lacking. And here is the problem with proponents of guidelines- uncritical commitment to a narrow range of ideas, without regard to the will, values, history of any individuals- without much exploring of alternatives. Its just a form of McDonaldization of medicine. For everything they consideration- I can name 5 times as many considerations they overlooked..Its only too easy to prove. But my guess is your one of those who believes in reductionism and ignoring what any individual in pain wants.


Kerry, that’s my point, “the very committee asked to give a recommendation or guidance for medicine of a suffering people could at least have their very existence questioned and that membership scrutinized?” None of the comments in this article are about the membership, how they were chosen, what are their credientials, etc ?


BL, the defense of the CDC and their guidelines and the subsequent working group that you are offering leads me to believe that either you work for some entity of the CDC or are at least sympathetic to their causes, especially with your insensitive comment about someone that “can’t get their pain meds”. When pain patients were discussing the difficulty of obtaining their pain meds due to the pressure from the CDC on doctors or their practices or either on pharmacies was by its very nature an implication of the existing guidelines and proposed guidelines that are clearly concerning to the work group and its formation. Now we can split hairs if you would like and do this back and forth if the administrators of NPR allow us to do so. You do have a right to your own opinion and we can differ on the guidelines of that days committee hearing. But the CDC’s actions in allowing us to comment in the first place were created only after a lawsuit was threatened against them due to the conflict of interest of some of the committee members as it pertained to opioid medication and its availability. So please, shall we not infer some sense of moral high ground of the CDC while the very committee asked to give a recommendation or guidance for medicine of a suffering people could at least have their very existence questioned and that membership scrutinized?


Kerry, the development of these guidelines and the workgroup was what they wanted to hear comments about. They didn’t want to hear how unfair someone thinks they are, are how a person can’t get their pain meds. Those comments can be made in the Comment section of the Federal Register

Well said!


Its better to light a candle then curse the darkness. No doubt those in the CDC and their professional friends in the health industry believe they stand in the light of nature- while people in pain are stuck looking at shadows inside Plato’s cave.
The irreconcilible differences between people in pain and mainstream pain care and government cant be cured with polite conversation or comments to proposed guidelines or plans. They’ll only dismiss the comments as coming from dependent and inferior individuals. I have suggested seeking help from civil rights organizations to mediate. But other creative solutions are needed to empower people in pain in interfacing with government and the health care system. It would be interesting if people in pain could have a rating system online for government officials and health care providers and researchers. You can use deconstructive techniques to counter their discursive imperialism. You can criticize their texts on Amazon and complain to their medical organizations-and to their funders.
If people in pain wish to be heard- and their concerns given some consideration, I don’t think current efforts will work. Government and health care providers are so very used to getting their way without regard for people in pain-that it will take a lot of careful effort before they can be re-educated to treat people in pain as being worthy of respectful consideration. And maybe this is a lesson we in American society need to learn when it comes to people in pain.


What concerns me is , if you take away or further reduce my pain management for chronic pain then put something in place for me so that I’m not suffering. Make medicare and insurance pay for alternative pain reducing treatments like acupuncture, massage, supplements, herbs, hyperbaric chambers etc. Most of us can’t afford those treatments or supplements.


How many people started out by saying that they felt pain patients were under represented? At the end, that was dismissed by the group (no, we’re good).

Where is the open hearing on the subject so people could tell their stories and voice their opinions?

It was clear that the CDC was running an agenda and the decision already make. This was a formality to dispel arguments of secrecy… period.

They don’t care about pain patients; that much became clear.


BL, “The comments mentioned in this article, are not what the focus of these calls were about.” I’m sorry, help me out here, what are you referring to? Are you referring to the vast majority of the calls being made by and about the suffering of Chronic Pain Patients? Or are you referring to the time when an impassioned chronic pain patient gave 2 minutes worth of testimony regarding their own fear and struggle regarding difficulties in obtaining the only medicine that has been able to help them? Or maybe the fact that the CDC was simply covering their rearend by having this call in time at all given that they have already made up their minds regarding the elimination and eradication of opioids as a tool for pain meds; was that one what you were referring to? Help me out here BL because our issue as people who suffer with chronic pain is not the correctness found in the 2 minutes we were given for calling people who had already made up their minds; our issue is finding a way to live with a disease that is crippling us and killing us while those in positions like the CDC could care a freak’n less about! So help me out BL, please!

Kristl Waltershon

Chronic pain as a disease is pandemic. Why is the CDC not involved in their “mission” with regard to this? It is sad that the chronic pain patient has had no other venue to reach out to the CDC. Again, a blind eye.

Mark Ibsen

Thank you Kerry for your inspiring and optimistic article.
Keep looking up my friend.


“The conference call will focus on the background for development of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (Guideline) and the formation of the Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain Workgroup (Opioid Guideline Workgroup)

The comments mentioned in this article, are not what the focus of these calls were about.