Rebutting Media Hype About Opioids

Rebutting Media Hype About Opioids

By Angelika Byczkowski

Open Letter to the Media:
Angelika Byczkowski

Angelika Byczkowski

Ever since you started writing about the “Opioid Crisis in America”, you have ignored the millions of us that suffer with serious and incurable, but treatable, pain. You ignore or distort scientific facts and propagate manipulated statistics that conflate pain treatment with addiction.

You are being duped by the addiction treatment industry and used to promote their agenda. You accept and publish their information and admittedly corrupt data without question and don’t bother to dig deeper to find the subterfuge.

You have become a mouthpiece for the grossly distorted “information” and questionable agenda of the politically powerful Addiction/Recovery Industry. The situation is frighteningly similar to the McCarthy era, when the media was a willing participant, and even advocate, of the judicial witch hunts for supposed communists lurking in the shadows everywhere.

Then, as now, the media found it profitable to kindle this destructive drama and then feed its flames as long as possible. Have you no decency, no conscience?

You present the horrors of addiction and overdose as inevitable consequence of any opioid use, and fail to distinguish between supervised medical use and recreational use.

You rely on the opinions of self-declared experts as truth, brushing aside inconvenient facts:

  1. Less than 5% of legitimate pain patients become addicted.

  2. Most opioid overdoses are not from an opioid alone, but from a combination of drugs that enhance the effects of the opioid, like alcohol or tranquilizers.

  3. The vast majority who overdose on opioid pain medication do not have valid prescriptions, but are using forged prescriptions or drugs bought on the street (which often contain lethal doses of fentanyl)

Your articles so completely demonize opioid medication that you lead readers to believe there is no legitimate need for them at all.

I wonder how many of you would be as vehemently against opioids if you developed chronic pain. It’s easy to say “no opioids” until you’re the one in agony. Many of us end up in so much pain that we’d rather die.

I’ve been taking opioids daily for over 20 years and they still give me relief. Most pain patients like me have tried absolutely everything else and only use opioids as a last resort, but your articles stigmatize us all as drug-seeking addicts.

You seem unaware of how careful we legitimate patients are with our medications.

We don’t dare risk our standing with our pain doctors, who can cut us off upon the slightest suspicion of misuse. We don’t dare abuse our pain medications because the quality of our lives depends on their effectiveness; many of us cannot live without them.

You neglect to mention an essential fact: Dependence is NOT addiction!

Dependence is a purely physical phenomenon as the body adjusts to an altered environment, while addiction is a bio-psycho-social issue. Many other substances cause dependence: antidepressants, sleeping pills, cigarettes, even coffee. Heart patients and diabetics are completely dependent on their medications, which can also cause death upon overdose.

You never mention that opioids are still by far the most effective pain relievers known to mankind.

While you insist chronic pain can be better treated with other non-opioid pain management medications and treatments, our experience is usually different. At best, these other medications and methods are just marginally helpful, so we can only use them to minimize, not prevent, our need for opioids.

You consistently imply that opioids cause addiction, even when taken for legitimate medical reasons. This is simply not true; addiction is in the psyche of the person, not in the drug.

While opioids can be addictive if misused, they have been proven effective and without long-term damage for thousands of years when taken properly as medication. We don’t outlaw alcohol or guns just because some people use them abusively, so why should I be denied the use of prescribed opioids only because other people abuse them?

Like many other socially acceptable substances and activities associated with risk, opioids only become dangerous when abused. Some people will always be driven to excess, and we can’t simply outlaw everything risky to save them from themselves.

Please make your reporting more factually accurate and unbiased; show the tragic misery of pain patients, not just addicts; publicize the suicides of people who could not tolerate their pain any longer.

I beg you to end your unjustified “War on Pain Patients”.

Until she was disabled by progressive pain and fatigue from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, Angelika was a high tech IT maven at Apple and Yahoo, and a competitive endurance athlete. 

When her pain allows, she spends her limited energy researching and blogging about Chronic Pain, EDS, and Fibromyalgia at http://EDSinfo.wordpress.com and writes poetry to sustain her sanity. 

Her essays and poems have been published in the New York Times and several healthcare blogs, including Stanford University’s Scope Blog, Kevin MD, Substance.com, and the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Angelika Byczkowski

There are 56 comments for this article
  1. Tim Mason at 5:55 pm

    James, I have heard this argument before. A relative of mine is an addict. He started stealing his mothers medication at 14. He stole my dying fathers medication and my dying mothers medications. He even broke into her home while she was in the hospital. He was looking for my mothers liquid morphine. (used in an atomizer to prevent panic). The morphine was the dark, gold colored grade. It was specially compounded for her final days.
    My relative was told that HE is the victim, just like a cancer patient. The methadone place tells them all this so they feel less guilt.
    The leaders of addiction centers want to get pain patients grouped into their lot so if legislators can get this done the Addiction clinics can file and collect insurance and copays.
    You can see some doctors taking the bait by putting patients on methadone.
    This would never work because the addict would lurk out and follow patients home, rob, steal and murder the elderly.
    It is a very grim picture. Already, pharmacies instruct customers to NOT throw away their paperwork in the trashcan outside so they will not fall victim to thugs.

  2. James at 1:42 pm

    Here are the facts of the matter; only 10-20 percent of drug users, regardless of the drug used, will become addicts. For those persons whom do become addicts, our most formidable challenge is not our addiction, but the systems, persons and organizations that either want to punish us, or take charge of our disease, to to such an extent, that our lives are no longer under our control.

    Addiction is a disease that can be compared to diabetes in that the addict needs to consume or inject the substance they are addicted to on a regular basis in order to not fall ill and function normally, just as the diabetic must consume and or inject insulin and other medications in order to not fall ill and function normally. Sadly, addicts, unlike diabetics, are often deprived of either enough of the substance which allows them to feel well, or they are deprived access to any legal supply of that substance. It is this deprivation which triggers the typical anti-social and even criminal behaviors, commonly associated with addicts and addiction.
    What the so called experts and the anti drug advocates either do not realize, or perhaps do not care to acknowledge, is the fact the same behaviors can be illicited from the diabetic whom is intentionally deprived of insulin, or for that matter, anyone, deprived of anything, which makes well being possible, whether it be food, water or protection from the elements. Scarcity and deprivation are the sources of obsession, thus addiction is at least in part the result of efforts to prevent addiction.
    The difference between the addict and the drug dependent, is only a matter of supply and or acsess. While like any chronic illness, addiction is a painful, life altering condition. That said if addicts and addiction were treated by society the same way other diseases and the victims of those diseases were treated even the most addicted of persons, could live relatively normal lives with a minimal amount of suffering.
    It is far past the time that we accept the fact that drug use and drug addiction, are unavoidable aspects of the human condition and respond to these issues in a sensible and humane manner.

  3. Tim Mason at 6:25 pm

    It is obvious that those of us here, in pain, telling our stories are adults. These situations cannot be made up.
    Opioids have been and will remain the staple treatment for the diseases that affect the millions of people that have worked physically their entire lives. With some, onset is early. Arthritis is insidious. It takes us all out eventually. We slow down, we tire.
    Those that cannot see this either have not seen it or not had the empathy for those they see struggling to purchase groceries and do simple daily tasks of getting dressed. To some, getting in and out of an automobile is a though less process.
    I grimaced today at pain management when I witnessed a wheelchair bound, gray headed lady in a wheel chair waiting for an appointment to see “The Doctor”. She had a caregiver helping her fill out the sheet indicating where her pain was located and what kind of pain it was. I was certain her morning began much earlier than mine as she gather herself together to make the trip. The two gallon freezer bag of amber prescription bottles hanging off the back of her transport chair told me a great deal.
    I have had hip replacement surgery two back surgeries with a spinal fusion with instrumentation. (plates and screws). I have central canal stenosis that limits my mobility substantially. My problems seemed immensely small compared this kind old lady who waited patiently with care give to see “The Doctor”
    All any of us want is a little empathy. Walk a mile in my moccasins.
    I was reminded of an epitaph I once read on a headstone.

    “Where you stand I once stood. Where I lay will someday be”

  4. Doug at 10:51 am

    Tim Mason, I personally agree with you 100%. The media is and has been our biggest hurtle since all the bureaucratic lies started. After Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta basically attacked the chronic pain community, the others swiftly followed suit and blamed prescribed opiates for the 50 year old heroin epidemic. Our goal shouldn’t be to change the closed minds of politicians in office. It should be to force the Media to report the facts.

  5. Tim Mason at 2:00 am

    60% of the people out there without pain have no opinion 1 way or the other about opioids.
    All they learn is what they see and hear on media formats. TV i.e. Oprah Winfrey to HBO and Drug documentaries on Netflix and Hulu that only show the underworld. THIS is where we need to be. Reaching the 60 percent that have not yet been swayed by hype and 5th grade statistic tricks. If the DEA was concerned about stemming illegal drug use they would confiscate the meth pipes in the stores and not the Kratom. Think about that for a minute.

  6. Judy Jaeger at 9:29 am

    EXCELLENT Article, Angelika……thanks for speaking out for all chronic pain sufferers.
    I would love to send a copy of this to every local media outlet in my area, every newspaper, every doctor, my senators & representatives, and anyone else I could possibly think of.
    Thank you so much, Angelika.

  7. Desiree Loutitt at 7:05 am

    As Dr. E.Lyle Gross, a pioneer in the area of Chronic Pain used to say….Most doctors, and all politicians, don’t give the human brain enough credit, not to mention the rest of the human. We learned in his clinic, and I was his last Canadian one on one patient….the pain meds are what allows us to ‘do things’….not to make us comfortable on a couch watching TV…although there are diseases that will eventually have a person end up in that situation. And those of us with chronic pain know that if we choose to do certain activities, we will have increased pain, but that doesn’t mean ‘new injury’….that is what the ‘breakthrough’ meds are for. Dr. Gross, unfortunately, sold his Canadian clinics and went to work in the Mayo Clinics to teach the teachers. He should have tried to ‘teach the politicians’…but I guess if he drove the ones in Canada nuts, it wouldn’t work any where else!

  8. James Ubbans at 4:46 pm

    I, too, feel as if I could have written your essay, but I’ll just make a comment. This criminalization of the pain sufferer seems something new to me. I’ve been on opioids since 2003, going through pain management programs three times to get to the “tolerable for the most part” stage. I can gauge the tolerable and intolerable stages by how loud I scream and how often I cry.

    In 2002, at 43-years-old, my specialists were telling me that I only had 3-6 months to live and they were happy to ease my pain. By 2012, when I hadn’t died (yet my diseases and pain had progressed) as predicted, I went through the same pain management program again. While most of my specialists wanted me opioid-free, at least the pain docs realized that was an unrealistic goal and they got me to the point where my screams were not constant and they apologized for not being able to do much else. “Times have changed; the government is cracking down.”

    My cancer is “in remission” for the moment. My oncologist has promised “good palliative care” when I get to the point of it becoming unbearable.

    I have no idea what that means any longer.

    If I were going to abuse opioids, I believe that I would have done it by now. As you point out, those who need opioids would sooner pimp our grandmothers than sell one precious pain pill. I’m unable to get out on my own (no legs + I live in an elderly/handicapped apartment building) and rely on a bi-weekly caregiver to get my groceries and meds. Because my morphine tablets are written exactly to the day, I sometimes must go without for a day or two. I will sometimes drop one on the floor and be unable to get it from my wheelchair. I would say that I lose three pills a month in that manner. When my caregiver is unable to make it, I can have a carpet of pills and capsules under my desk.

    Something is not right. I don’t know where or on whom to place the fault. All of my doctors broadly blame “the government.” But, surely, the FDA, CDC, etc., boards that come up with these guidelines are staffed by doctors? Surely these boards have health professionals and not just law enforcement lads with statistics?

    The media love pain and suffering but it seems as if they love self-righteousness more than anything. And as they watch as we wallow in pain, they can sit back and tisk, tisk and wonder why we just can’t learn to live with it.

    God help me, but I find myself hoping that their time will come. Thank you for the essay. I was once an Apple employee, myself.

  9. Tim Mason at 5:08 am

    You can report your Pain Management Doctor to your State Department of health. You can download the forms and mail them in. You can report ANY healthcare professional including Nurse, NP, PA. You will need to put their NPI number (Found on your Prescription) on the form along with their name and address. There is a place on the form to put a witness. You should take someone with you to your visit to substantiate your attempt to have your pain managed. They are no posting signs prohibiting recording of your dialogue audio.
    You sign a release of your medical history showing what you have been through to get to this point.
    To help you understand how our voice is being heard go to http://www.fda.gov and search chronic pain and “2016 Meeting Materials, Scoreboard to the FDA 6-13-2016.
    You will be glad you did.

  10. Catherine at 11:10 pm

    As many have already stated , I felt like I could have written this myself. I’ve known or been afraid I’d get caught in this ” trap” eventually and sadly that’s where I find myself right now. I suffer from Interstitial Cystitis ( end stage ) , fibromyalgia , severe early onset osteoperisis that has resulted in a debilitating back pain problem . I’ve been on disability bc of my IC for 15 years , I have the #1 IC Dr in the country and have had my pain treated so effectively by my PCP for 12 years. I’ve had acess to ALL IC treatments, trials etc.. but reached the stage where Opiods were required to give me some sense of ” quality of life” . I’ve been on these meds for years, I’m not a drug addict but now find myself being sent to a Pain Mgmt Dr. On my 1st visit, her initial comment was , we’ve got to get you off these meds. She didn’t even know what IC was, never asked me about my pain. Her only concern is like so many , a tunnel vision look at me and only seeing the opiods . This has been so terrifying for me bc like many bc of these absurd new ” regs and guidelines” that’s ALL she saw or concerned herself with. Chronic pain pts ( except cancer) have been totally overlooked in all of this and it’s us that will suffer , not the true addicts bc they’ll always find a way to get drugs. I too do wish that each person treating legitimate pain pts as well as everyone involved in creating these new rules/ guidelines , could walk several miles in my shoes . Sadly, I don’t know how we can create change on this issue but it’s articles like this that encourage me bc I feel validated and know I’m not alone . I’ll be sharing this w/ my Drs , again thank you so much for putting into words exactly my thoughts and feelings. I continue to pray that our ” VOICES” will be heard and ultimately make a difference .

  11. ,Tim Mason at 5:09 pm

    Anyone else notice how the whole world is full of complacency? It is everywhere from the hamburger restaurant to the powers that run our government. Where has logic gone? Where has understanding gone. Nobody wants to DO anything? We hear. “It’s not my job”, It’s not my turn!, “I don’t get paid to do that!”
    No one wants to take responsibility. God forbid we take risks. We got to the moon on a sliderule and a great deal of risks.
    New chemists in our labs are chemophobic. They do not want to even catch the slightest whiff of a little acetone or ether. They had teachers that taught them that these thing were very dangerous. The truth is they can be. But if you handle these things correctly you will be ok.
    Many of these new doctors never took an organic chemistry lab like I did. We used to make all kind of things. There was the occasional small explosion or fire but we took care of it. Nobody got hurt.
    The same doctors that took a weak laboratory also had weak pharmacology professors.
    They were taught that narcotics were evil. Now we have Opiophobia.
    If you take morphine (morphine sulfate) for your pain do not tell anyone. What they picture in their mind is what is used in a hospital setting. Intravenous morphine!!. We know there is a big difference in action depending on the route of administration.
    No one that has ever had to take our medications simply do not understand.
    Furthermore, not all doctors fully understand or understood the pharmacology or pharma kinetics. Many of them can’t even calculate an equivalent dose.
    The pain patient knows a lot. The doctors that write our prescriptions could not even take the medications we do without breaking the rules.

  12. Tracy at 1:49 pm

    Great post. Only, and only when someone developes chronic pain relieved only by opioids, will minds be changed, so ignorance will prevail until.

  13. Cathy M at 8:20 pm

    That’s a wonderful post!! I just spent most of this afternoon rebutting comments on a post about the “opioid epidemic” over at Daily KOS – a political site that usually doesn’t have such articles – and it was the usual conflation of opioid use (responsible) and abuse (a small percentage) – with the usual fallacies about “highly addictive” (no data), “ineffective for chronic pain” (no data). I pursued the argument through the very long threads that followed the blog and since she says she’s gonna write another one next Sunday, I may have to write my own blog post to lay out the real data and address the errors that too many people seem to have absorbed in this media firestorm. Thanks for laying it out so clearly – I’ll be linking to this!

  14. Beth Acker at 7:05 pm

    Thank you for giving us a voice. My incurable condition would be unbearable without opioids. I don’t take them because I want to, I take them because I have to. I don’t dare abuse them as doing so would literally put my life in jeopardy by not having access to them to survive my massive pain. Without the opioids my pain would be so bad I would not have a quality of life that I currently have. I can function and live a nice life, not without pain, but with managed pain I can go on. I hate the the “pill mill society” has made a legitimate patient, like myself, into feeling that the world looks at us first as an addict (through no fault of our own) before looking at us as good honest human beings that just need major help with pain relief.

  15. Dina at 11:05 am

    If I could type w/out pain, my response would be lengthy in thanking u for all u have said on behalf of chronicpain patients who have been taken off our life saving opioid therapy. Thank You. Thank You. Thank YOU. *tears*

  16. Krissy at 11:05 pm

    Angelika Byczkowski

    Good to read what we are all frustrated by. With a couple of us working together on a piece that we can send to the media (through a press outlet), we can cite this site (ha! how do you like that phrase?) and do it in such a way that unbiased journalistic websites and papers will pick it up. Let me know??

  17. Tim Mason at 6:41 pm

    Hi Joseph,
    I also recommend http://www.theacpa.org. This is the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) Resource Guide to Chronic Pain Treatment. It is an integrated guide to physical, Behavioral and Pharmacological Therapy. The 2016 Edition is available. These are the concepts that your pain management doctor will be using this year.
    Include are many helpful tools, i.e. pain trackers, medication trackers, apps for your phone and even forms you can fill out and take to your doctor. There are
    even videos about how to speak to your pain management professional.
    There is a ton of information in this edition. Best of all, it is FREE!

  18. Joseph Gonzales at 5:22 pm

    I am new to the collective pain community and I have to say that what I am reading is encouraging! I have suffered with chronic pain for most of my life. I didn’t take any opiate pain meds until the age of 35, now I get about a limited amount of pain reduced time which I would not trade for anything. Your article was the first of its kind I have read that says what I have been trying to relate to everyone that will listen for years! Thank you and keep it up for all of us that suffer with you.

  19. Jenn F at 4:05 pm

    I am actually crying to be reading something that so perfectly states exactly what I am feeling!!! I moved to California just less than 4 months ago, and because of new laws passed in April, I cannot even get a doctor to see me. There are new caps on how many patients on opiods a doctor can have, and no doc within 100 miles can take me. I also have diabetes, along with several other medical conditions that need treatment. I have made appointments to be seen just for those, however when presented with my medical history, I am escorted from the office for fear that although I am not asking for pain meds, I may in the future. My quality of life has gone down to almost nothing. My children and grandchildren look at me with pity and I can no longer live independently. This is all because I am medically dependent on a pain medication and someone else cannot be responsible with theirs!!! I have been on them for 16 years and have NEVER given any reason to think I was do anything but following my doctors orders. Feels like discrimination to me. Oh, and the biggest kicker? I can’t get disability here in California because I don’t have a local doctor, which I can’t get because of California law! so may be homeless soon as well.
    Thanks for listening/reading and for writing a fantastically accurate piece!

  20. Kurt WG Matthies at 10:14 am

    Nice piece, Angelika.

    Thanks.

  21. Mindy at 5:02 am

    WOW!!! SO VERY, VERY WELL WRITTEN!!! THANK YOU for writing something that you actually have scientific and factual information because there are MANY who have actually made our “situation” worse due to posting basic anger about the issue with nothing to back it up. This is such a scary thing for sooooo many of us and I worry about it almost as much as my medical conditions causing the pain. The fear of NOT having the one thing that *helps* but does NOT eliminate the pain just makes it more tolerable is TERRIFYING!
    Thank you for such a GREAT letter, I WILL be *sharing* with lots of people!!! God Bless~🙏

  22. Lenore Arbaugh at 8:14 pm

    I agree with this article. I wish I could take it to my pain doctor but I am so beaten down that I am afraid if I voice anything it will result in punishment of having my tiny dose of hydrocodone denied me. I am humiliated and scared every time I have to go in there. At this time I can hardly walk for pain. My dose is tiny and all they want to do is keep shooting me up with steroids into the joints or spine. Out of seven only two have helped and some literally made me worse, especially the last one. I can barely walk. Sorry for complaining. I went through three natural childbirths when I was young without a whimper. But somehow now I am a potential addict because I cannot bear this chronic pain. Thank you for writing this.

  23. Julia DelReal at 6:27 pm

    I agree with you 100% Maureen.. Bless us all..💁

  24. Martha Mayes at 2:01 pm

    Have any of you heard of a Bill 28 in Georgia, that would require all patients prescribed a Schedule II or III drug, to have to attend Opioid Education and Proactive Addiction Counseling? I never heard of this bill until I read about it on the Georgia Pain Advocacy website. Did it pass or is there still time for us in Georgia to contact our elected representatives and ask them not to support it? Thank you for any education you can give me about this bill.

  25. Suzanne at 1:43 pm

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!! You have eloquently put into words, exactly what I and many other Chronic Pain sufferers feel in regards to our “unheard cries” for humane treatment of our pain! I’m with you on the facts behind this witch hunt being driven by the addiction rehab “specialists”, all of which is absurd when talking about legitimate pain patients who take these much needed medications for relief of horrible pain! I am among those of you that have been using a form a opiate treatment for over 20 years, with no ill effects (unlike some other medications I have been prescribed) and on a nominal dose today because of the CDC “recommendations”. I have had to adjust, it has made my world so much smaller as my functioning and quality of life has decreased substantially along with my opiate dose. I am also one who has tried and still use many adjunct therapies in my battle for a more pain free life, but let me be clear, to this day, the best relief I get from any of my many painful diseases, is that from my legally, professionally, medically Necessary prescribed opiate medication. I fear what my life will be should the day come when that is denied me. I pray for some sanity in this issue and the return to actual care of all patients with chronic pain. Again, thank you for being one of the strongest voices in this madness, I wish you the strength to continue to represent, we need you!

  26. JoDawn at 12:51 pm

    Brilliant.

    Even though I’ve taken opioid meds for 13 years now for CRPS, and have had a partial remission which has allowed ME to REQUEST my meds lowered several times over the past months…
    I am still terrified.
    My husband might need us to move for his job. What if my doctor doesn’t know anyone in the area to refer me to? What if I can’t find anyone? What if it is like the one so called “pain doctor” that squeezed my arm (yes, that was the entirety of the exam I had waited over an hour for) and since I refused to scream he decided my only problem was that I took pain meds. No questions about if this was a “good day” or not (it was the best, up until then, that I’d had in months) no questions about if he’d hurt me (I cried in the car for more than 20 min before I could get myself together) nothing.
    That was his solution to my pain.
    Nothing.

  27. Angelika at 12:36 pm

    Thank you all for your praise and encouragement! Your enthusiastic responses keep me motivated and give me the energy (and endurance) to write.

    I thought about sending this to a media outlet but realized they would never publish it because it’s so critical of their actions. But perhaps in your forwarding it around it will reach someone in a position to take action or at least investigate further.

    Perhaps some positive change is coming. Lately, I’ve noticed a couple of media outlets that are showing our side of the story, like the NPR station WBUR.org and the Boston Globe. It seems to me that the public might be getting tired of reading the same old “opioids are evil” stories and find the increasingly desperate drama of pain patients more interesting.

    That our growing suffering might lead to more media coverage is perverse, but it gives me hope that the pendulum of prohibition, if not exactly swinging back in our favor, might at least be slowing down.

  28. Denise at 12:20 pm

    What a fabulous letter! THANKYOU Angelika, on behalf of the millions of chronic pain patients who have been devastated by this biased, one sided war against chronic pain patients & the use of opioid medications that successfully help countless pain patients manage their debilitating diseases!

  29. Jean Price at 11:24 am

    Such a passionately truthful letter!! And so in need of being plastered all over the Internet, doctors offices, news rooms, the offices of the CDC/DEA/Senate, the Oval Offfice, churches, pharmacies, teacher’s break rooms, and probably even Dairy Queen!! We must tell this story over and over…to everyone…until we can raise public and professional awareness of the truth to a level that will drown out the deceit and the discrimination of those whose lies are hurting so many!!

    Send this to our news agencies and include your personal story. Our family doctors should see this too, their abandonment has only made it harder for them, us, and those with even acute pain! The truth would set us free if we can let enough people know it!!

  30. Stephanie Nelson at 11:19 am

    I agree fully. I have suffered from chronic pain for over 20 years, but now am being taken off of my opioid medications and nothing is being replaced in their spot for pain management. It’s time something happens. Suicide is not an option to relieve chronic pain.

  31. Paula Brown at 10:34 am

    Yep.

    For me, personally, there are two things that are very ironic about this issue.

    First, I absolutely know for a fact that I am not prone to addictions in general. Between 6 hard drinking brothers the first 17 years & a drug-addicted, alcoholic husband the next 17 years… I have not only had access to… but had both booze & drugs violently forced on me the first 34 years of my life.
    My aversion is such that I refused to take traditional pain meds for the massive accumulated damage to my body for 10 years. I underwent innumerable various epidural nerve blocks, fascia injects, etc., and off-label non-narcotic prescription attempts to treat the pain. None of them helped. Many made it worse &/or had horrific side effects.
    Even when I finally accepted that I would have to accept taking pain meds… at least during the most intense debilitating time periods &/or when I absolutely HAVE to physically accomplish what I am not able to do, I have always taken as little as possible as seldom as I can get away with.
    And I refuse to take any that make me “feel high”. I have always needed my wits about me to survive… never more so than as my physical abilities have been systematically destroyed.
    How ironic that I am now treated as a potential addict.

    Second, it is also ironic to me that so many people who get irate at the masses being punished for the crimes of the few… OF WHICH I AM DEFINITELY ONE … such as gun control and the plethora of other excuses to implement excessive control and strip citizens of their income to keep them in a state of perpetual desperation and exhaustion that have been put in place over the past 35 years… many of those same people do not see that the “War on Drugs” is EXACTLY THE SAME THING!

  32. Doug Marsh at 10:00 am

    Great Letter Angelika. I feel the issue with the national news media reporting the effects of opiate pain medications the way they do is because their networks get so much advertising money from the Addiction Recovery industry. I was watching CNN last night and at every single commercial break there was at least 2 advertisements for Recovery centers. They are not wanting to report our stories or the honest to God’s truth simply because of the fear of loosing one of their advertising CASH COWS. In my opinion we all need to write letters to other news media outlets other then CNN, FOX NEWS or MSNBC expressing our concerns towards the WAR ON PATIENTS. Can you imagine standing in the supermarket checkout lines and reading the headlines on every tabloid, DEA and CNN DECLARES WAR ON 100M PAIN SUFFERS?
    Anyway, Thank You for your article, it is very inspiring.

  33. MichaelL at 9:58 am

    Well said! It is sad that most doctors, who seem to have learned nothing since their stints in medical school and residency, think they are experts about this. It is also not surprising that the “addictionologists” have claims of addiction much higher than most other medical specialties. It is a feeling I get, but it seems that the profit motive has taken over medicine, doctors included. Most pain doctors, now, are anesthesiologists, who decided to get out of the operating room for procedures that increase their income substantially. Those interventional pain doctors might even mislead insurers to allow them to put in that dorsal column simulator or “pain medication pump” that nets them tens of thousand of dollars per procedure. They now beat surgeons in their average income, doing often “unneeded” procedures. It is definitely not cost effective! I even had a pain doctor write a letter to Medicare (not at my request) telling them I had exhausted all forms of pain treatment (when it was not true), to get permission to put a dorsal column stimulator in! Other than the pain medication, that he reduced, I had had no other types of therapy, like acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy…or many other available alternative therapies! Being trained by the American Academy of Pain Management, I was well versed in chronic pain treatment, before I broke my back. I injured a part of my spinal cord, the cauda equina, resulting in a physical disability, and even worse, a chronic pain problem that I can only get partially, and inadequately, treated! Thank you for speaking up!

  34. cliff macway at 9:45 am

    I do agree on all that you said. Sooner or later the media and the government goons will realize that chronic pain patients are closer to them than they would have ever imagined. Some of thier relatives, friends and co-workers are in AGONY right under thier very noses! CPPs try to keep our delema quiet to fit in and appear normal. We want a normal life and hope for normal life.

  35. Kristil at 9:05 am

    Perfect , Thank you for speaking for me. Your words are my daily hell. If I ever have a problem with not being able to access the medications I need on a daily basis, I would rather not be on this earth any longer. 30 of my 50 years of life I have been in some sort of pain and thank God I have an understanding Doctor. My disease is hereditary and will never go away, and my meds are the only way I can enjoy a couple hours out of bed. Thank you for speaking on my behalf. Beautifully written.

  36. SHANAN at 9:00 am

    Wow, thank you for writing this article. I couldn’t have said this better myself. Every time someone famous dies & opioids are involved I keep thinking well here we go again. They are making it that much harder for us with chronic pain to either find a pain doc if we are newly diagnosed or hope our current doc doesn’t decide to stop being pain management. My pain doc got married and moved so I’m trying to find a new doc that 1. takes my insurance (Medicaid) & 2. writes me the meds I’m on now. We can’t just call up a doc & ask them if they write for opioids because then we really will sound like addicts. I shared this article on my Facebook page & asked ppl to share it to spread the word and hope someone in the media will correctly write an article that makes it a little easier for us to get the meds we need.
    Thank you & gentle hugs.

  37. J at 8:57 am

    Angelika, thank you for taking the time (and energy) to write an informed and persuasive essay about the effect of the addiction industry’s war upon us all who use opioids under the care of a compassionate physician. Your comparison to the witch hunt era was particularly apt.
    Many thanks–J

  38. Daniel Jones 352-209-1508 at 8:37 am

    Powerful letter from someone who obviously understands the situation! It’s unfortunate that this can only be completely understood by those of us who need theses drugs to survive. I have osteoarthritis and have all 5 lumbar vertebrae fused, both hips replaced along with one knee. I haven’t experienced a pain free minute is a very long time. When my Spinal Cord Simulator was new it gave me amazing relief and I was off of the opioids for 18 months but the arthritis caught up with me and there were additional surgeries and the pills (and the fear of not getting them) returned.
    I understand addiction having been addicted to alcohol and now sober thru AA for 33 years. My friends in AA question my use of these drugs, even they don’t understand. I will forward this email to many of them. Thank you for this.

  39. Michelle at 8:29 am

    A most excellent article.
    Bravo! And more like these please.

  40. Kim Miller at 8:26 am

    Another masterpiece, Angelika! Always telling it like it is!! Thanks for bringing some sanity to the situation AGAIN. Please never stop doing what you do. It helps do many of us!

  41. Carol at 8:12 am

    That the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth thank you for telling it like is for people who suffer from chronic pain!

  42. Wayne S. Swanson II at 7:39 am

    I have taken this opportunity to share my heartbreaking story in hopes these witch hunting Opiate ill informed skeptics will read and understand that I would have no life without Medically prescribed Opiates by a physicians care and strictly monitored monthly urine and blood test. Please remember that An Opinion Before A Thorough Investigation Is The Epitome Of Ignorance! And that a little more compassion from the Medical Field and its representatives could have saved my beautiful Stepdaughters life. Let me say this! A person who has an addictive personality will abuse anything that helps them feel better. I have taken Oxycontin for 14 years , I have had 24 major surgery’s in 10 years. I have so much physical pain I can not even get out of bed with out pain meds and when I run out I run out and just lay in bed praying the Lord relieve me of this horrible condition and I pray God you pain medicine( Opiates) skeptics never go through what I go through everyday of my life when the only thing you have to do is threaten what help I get, Shame on you! There will always be drug abuse and as the so called war on drugs has failed as this will! All you do is stoke and aid the drug pushers business to new heights in the Black Market of Heroin while depriving legitimate Chronic Pain Patients as myself of the much needed medicines and the relief it brings temporarily ! My Stepdaughter committed suicide 4 years ago because of being treated like a drug addict by some of her family and doctors when all along she suffered from Lupus and Fibromyalgia which I believe was brought on by a deadly car crash at 18 , she told me between that which I was being put through and what they were putting her through she was not going to live her life in such a hell brought on by people like these Opiate Witch Hunters that are on a witch hunt to out law Opiates and pain meds that give us some sort of a life . As a retired Police officer and worked indirectly close to the DEA, you people do not have a clue how thrilled you are making the illegal Heroin trade and think of my Late Stepdaughter as you continue on with this ( 2016 Version of the 1940s Propaganda movie named REEFER MADNESS) movement to outlaw opiates! Just like the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook if there would have just been gun laws , my God they were Gun Laws , the guns that murdered all those 20 children were all registered and owned by a school teacher! You fight Drug Addiction beginning in Elementary education by teaching all children the dangers of Booze and Tobacco which if these witch hunters want for us to know the real truth but they do not. I miss my Stepdaughter so much and some of us will continue on the fight to protect our right to feel better and function without fear of these witch hunters trying to convince us to commit suicide . And they are trying to do exactly THAT!
    The under line real truth( It’s Beginning To Seem ) is THESE witch hunters would rather us Chronic Pain sufferers commit suicide are and DRINK all the BOOZE we can drink! The Federals legalized it ( ALCOHOL) knowing its a more deadly drug than Strychnine. And just because the DEA has miserably failed with their ( Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley’s )War on drugs why do they want and are trying to deprive us sick people of our Constitutional Rights to be Happy in that pursuit of with Professional Physicians to take medicines that give us temporary relief of this horrible malady of Chronic Pain ! May God have mercy on their miserable souls they that seek to destroy us Chronic Pain Sufferers only and little hope of temporary relief of this horrible sickness.

  43. maureen at 7:28 am

    Angelika, Excellent!! Thank you for the energy you put into writing it.
    If only we could put that on every billboard across America!

  44. Denise Nolson at 7:26 am

    I absolutely love this! The US media hype around opioids is an absolute joke, which you’ve addressed here forcefully & eloquently. I will be sharing the hell out of this, I know I can say a huge thanks from the RA & Fibro communities! 💙

  45. Signe Topai at 6:46 am

    Bless you Angelina Byczkowski! Thank you for writing, intelligent, factual based and insightful articles on the injustices of opiates and pain patients. I agree the media is not reporting factual evidence about opiate addiction, stereotyping all pain patients and totally disregarding the suffering of legitimate chronic pain patients. I stand firmly with you and other pain warriors that we MUST be heard! Are rights according to the Federal Goverment backed by the ADA are being violated! Angelina, research those rights and demonstrate how the medical profession, CDC, and media are violating those rights set by the ADA and write an article. You will be shocked by how many violations are accruing. Thank you!

  46. Kerry at 6:33 am

    AMEN! You are a great spokes person for those of us who now worry every day if our next prescription will be filled. Thanks for speaking up!

  47. Judy at 5:02 am

    Well said. I too would like to see those who call us addicts live with the pain. I, too have very limited life because of intense pain daily because of neuropathy and lupus .i would love to try medical cannabis but too expensive and am tired of everyone’s ignorance.i don’t want to get high. I just want a life without debilitating pain. Hopefully, many people will read this and start to understand we are not addicts. I have given up all alcohol to be on the safe side.

  48. Elizabeth Harris at 4:17 am

    This article is what I’ve been looking for. I know this is true, but I don’t have a handle on all the facts, so I couldn’t write it. I too have been on pain meds for over 20 yrs. I’m working on getting off all my other fibromyalgia meds, because they don’t work, and going natural in every way, except for the Norco for pain because it works. I really get upset when I read the new opinions about opioids because they are the only thing that really works. Even my pain dr said “the Norco is not four fibromyalgia, it’s for your back pain. Opioids don’t work on fibromyalgia.” That just isn’t true, but I didn’t argue with him because I need them.

  49. Becky at 4:07 am

    I don’t know anyone, professional or otherwise who has stated more correctly how I feel. Your article is spot on and thank you for sharing. I too have chronic and debilating pain. Without my medicine I truly would be dead. I would never wish this on anyone, however, sometimes I wish some of those passing the laws could walking in my shoes for a day or a week and see how I feel. Might change their minds.

  50. James Flynn at 3:17 am

    I was so happy to see that someone with half a brain was able to articulate the pain and suffering that those of us with chronic pain deal with. It is so important that we have someone to advocate for those of us who suffer from chronic pain. I pray and ask God to continue giving you the strength to speak for those of us who suffer from chronic pain. Your article was well said and I wish you much success in your future endeavors. James Flynn