Time for Action by The Chronic Pain Community

Time for Action by The Chronic Pain Community

By Steve Ariens.

For the Chronic Pain, these are very, very trying times. The pressure on opioid prescribing combined with the lack of any public policy progress in developing a chronic pain policy have created a malaise that is palpable.

One very intelligent and somewhat iconoclastic chronic pain advocate is retired pharmacist Steve Ariens. He has been a valued contributor to the National Pain Report over the past several years.

Recently he wrote a number of us an email that struck me as something we should share to our audience, which he agreed we could share. Read it and tell us what you think.

Dear Fellow Advocates,

I am concerned about the bureaucratic “knee jerk” reaction about what is happening. With more and more information coming out about the illegal opiates showing up in overdoses, in some areas up to 99%, it hasn’t made a dent in the direction and intensity of the war on drugs. if anything, it is behind an acceleration.  Our judicial system has seemingly been knocked off the tracks.

Steve Ariens

One segment on “60 minutes” interviewing a former disgruntled DEA employee appears to has set the wheels in motion in undoing the 2016 law that was supposed to enable chronic painers to have better access to therapy.

The DEA seems to be going after prescribers that are 50-to-60 years old, and those that have a fairly decent net worth–almost as if the DEA is maintaining a spread sheet on prescribers with their estimated net worth and using that to target the prescribers that are worth going after to use civil asset forfeiture to the benefit the DEA’s coffers.

When you think about it, confiscating illegal substances has little/no financial upside for the DEA–street dealers don’t have a lot of assets other than product to sell.

After their success with the Tobacco industry back in the 1990 and the 200 billion settlement for selling a legal product…it would appear now that the various state AG’s, cities and counties are lining up to going after the Pharmaceuticals and drug wholesalers… perhaps to reap another huge settlement to replace the tobacco settlement money that is scheduled to end in a few years.

Wholesalers are rationing controls to pharmacies, and normally that would be considered restraint of trade and collusion, but since it is being “encouraged” by the DEA, the Department of Justice is not going pursue charges on those wholesalers and three wholesalers who control most of the market.

These same state Attorneys General have issued a letter to the insurance industry that they need to pay for less opiates. One can imagine if the insurance industry does not cave to their “request”, they could be the next industry to get sued for assisting the opiate crisis.  Besides the insurance industry makes more money by not paying for any particular therapies.  The insurance industry’s bottom line is going to fare very well if they comply.

There was a recent article and one insurance company plans on cutting what they reimburse for opiates by 50% over the next few years.  Chronic pain is already the most intentionally under treated chronic disease and looking forward to a 50% reduction and that does not take into account that our population is growing about three percent a year.

Pharmacists are in a “safe harbor”. The Boards of Pharmacy are sitting on their hands about denial of care, chain corporate headquarters could care less if their pharmacists fill control. And, remember that the insurance companies and PBM’s make money if pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions.  We have a growing surplus of Pharmacists. By 2025 we will have 50,000 pharmacists looking for jobs that don’t exist.

It doesn’t help that Congress is made up of attorneys (40% are lawyers by education) and the common denominator in the war on drugs is our judicial system. $81 billion funnels into all parts of our judicial system every year from the cop on the street to prosecuting/defense attorneys, courts, jails/prisons, Attorneys General and all the way up to the DOJ.

In 1917 the judicial system declared opiate addiction was a CRIME and not a DISEASE and would jail any prescriber caught treating/maintaining an addict. The DEA licenses clinics and prescribers to treat the CRIME of addiction with Methadone/Suboxone – two different controlled medications.

The chronic pain community is being painted into a corner and abused by those who have the authority to create laws and/or create new interpretation of existing laws–many of which may be unconstitutional in the first place–but no one has taken the trouble to challenge their being constitutional or not.

I believe that disseminating the TRUTH and FACTS is going to have to unwind the propaganda that the DEA has put out over the past half century.  All one has to do is look at all the press releases from the 25 district offices and HQ since 2002. Take a look to see what we are up against.

In my opinion, the chronic pain community has few choices but to create a legal defense fund to go after some of the low hanging fruit–challenge the constitutionality the original judicial system’s decision that opiate addiction is a crime as being unconstitutional–if nothing else our previous surgeon general claimed that addictions are a mental health disease and not a moral failing.

1917 was during our country’s “prohibitionist period” … it was before the alcohol prohibition, it was before women were given the right to vote.  The Harrison Narcotic Act 1914 was based on racism and bigotry.  I believe most of what is happening is in violation of the Americans with Disability Act and Civil Rights Act.

Where do we start?

Is the chronic pain community going to continue to run in place?

The time for action is long overdue.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

There are 32 comments for this article
  1. Barbara W at 4:10 pm

    Yes Steve thank u for this u & everyone here can have my information from the NPR . I want to sue all DEA CDC FDA. Finding an attorney has been hard but if we make headlines on exposure “crimes against humanity “just like they have done with the massive opiod propaganda machine, follow the money! I think the attorneys know the laws r on our side. One lawyer in Los Angeles told me he only needed 1 doctor stating that the DEA told him to prescribe less drugs,& 1 pain patients that is suffering with less they could do a class action for all to join in on. His firm has overturn the constitution on cases to correct injustices they are a civil rights firm, problem is no advocacey patients had got to the point of wanting to sue 9 most ago,& now they tell me they can’t take the case, they take no money till they win, so maybe overloaded or they have the same fear all have about not being able to have enough money to fight the US Government! One Pain specialist doctor told me this too. But Exposure is huge so I want to write Sunny Hoston of the View & CNN & was wondering if u Steve & a Pain doctor would be willing to go on & speak. I am reaching g out to Van Jones because has is so bought in to the one sided story of the addicts, I am going to email him the other side since he wants the Ugly truth & has left us out, I will explain but him & David Muir r strong speakers!!! What do u think? I would be willing to participate with money for a fund!

  2. Rae at 6:46 pm

    I’ve been a member of the US Pain Foundation for yearssssss!!!

    Any word on policy action from these guys?? I get beautiful motivational emails >?

  3. Scott michaels at 3:13 pm

    We must unite
    1 GROUPAT CDC
    1 GROUP AT CAPITAL
    1 GROUP AT KAISER CORP

    PICK A DATE. WE NEED AT LEAST 100 DISABLED PEOPLE AT EACH LOCATION, PMUS FRIENDS AND FAMILY
    GET PERMITS TO DEMONSTRATE
    CALL PAIN MED PHARM COMPANIES FOR DONATIONS TO HELP PEOPLE WITH
    TRAVEL and hotel
    SAME WITH PAINN DOCTORS.
    INVITE ALL PRESS. INCLUDING INTERNET
    MAKE POSTERS AND BE LOUD AND ANGRY!

  4. Carl S. Dunn at 7:23 am

    Your article was spot on, and I have to say that it is going to take a revolution in Washington to change the terrible direction politics in America is going to. I am not subscribing to this action, but for example maybe all those who are positive of dying, (those with inoperable diseases), need to go there in the halls of Congress and self immolate, (burn themselves up), like the Buddhists protesting the war in Vietnam did, in order to get the nations attention centered on the issues at hand. Yes, this may be the only way to change things in America! Crazy? Oh, yes indeed, but consider the insanity of the situation chronic pain patients are suffering through now! I won’t elaborate on that, but now is the time for radical and insane action to get the attention of those absolutely bizarre legislatures and drone employees of the DOJ and administration of the White House. Are there better ways than insane suicides by self-immolation to get change in our crazy system of governing? Maybe, but consider how change was brought about to stop alcohol prohibition. Millions of citizens had to get involved politically and call and write and visit their legislatures, senate and congress and President and demand change or they would not vote them in office again! This is the only way! You don’t need to give a dime to an organization to do the work for you, you need to do something personally! Tell your elected official, all of them from the lowest level to the very top that you will vote for anyone else but them if they don’t hear you out and support your right as a citizen of these United States for representation! You pay your taxes and demand a voice in these decisions that affect your life as a citizen! Be heard or be ignored!

  5. Rita KIMBEL at 5:44 am

    No reply, all of my requests for state and local offices/Representatives to get back to me has been ignored. Fox29 wrote back, they do want to cover both sides of the story on the opiate epidemic, that was all. Can I get a lawyer to help voice my opinion? My opinion obviously doesn’t matter and the cost is something out of my reach. So yes, anyone that can get a lawsuit started, I’d be right there beside them. I’m not afraid to stand up and speak up, I am ready with all my money’s and my will to survive this. We’re losing right now, it’s getting worse, this has been the worst year for me since the spinalcord injury in 2003. Still suffering after being reduced to satisfy CDC, who is to blame here.

  6. Jillian & Joseph Buza at 1:41 am

    Thank you for stating the truth. My husband and I both suffer from severe RSD/CRPS. Our favorite thing to say is YOU CAN’T PAINT EVERYONE WITH THE SAME PAINTBRUSH. Neither of us has ever failed a urine screen or pill count. I’ve had RSD for 23 years and I didn’t want to take my pain meds three times a day it was my doctors idea. Now they are taking away all our pain meds. I’ll say it again let them live in our lives for one week BUT I highly doubt that they could stand 24 hours. My husband and I have a small stockpile of pain pills put when they run out we have two options live in agonizing “DISCOMFORT” or suicide. We both agree were not long for this hell our lives have become if we don’t find help SOON. On another note I just started CBD OIL ( I got from Amazon ). And it helps with my arthritis I have which helps. Just not enough. If you wish to talk to me my email is jjbuza@charter.net. (#RSDWARRIOR).

  7. Rick at 11:45 pm

    A quick fix might be to share this link of all these responses and BEG our social networks to…

    Just give us 5 min of your time to read. I know I probably already talk too much about my condition, but PLS PLS PLS share with your friends.

    Anything to keep what spark of momentum we have???

    I used to have a Natl Recognized Marketing firm before I lost it to my syndrome. Who cares! Now I fight each day just to b a ‘human.’

  8. Noel T Ciancio at 10:01 pm

    Write the president . Over and over and over . He has personal issues with this topic . Keep writing him

  9. Laura at 7:39 pm

    I have suffered with CRPS for 2.5 years and it was only last year I was allowed to even try Tramadol in which I still take the lowest dose. I have said numerous times through this pain that animals are treated better than we are. It should be my right to try different medications to see if they can help. Why are we left to suffer like this? I wasn’t one to believe there was such a horrid pain out there before I got this. I am now 48. We definitely need to do something to stand up for ourselves. I am afraid there will be many more suicides to come as it is hard enough to live with this pain. I have lived on hope to afford pain management and I finally get to see a specialist in January. Talk about taking hope away! This is NOT making America great again!

  10. Linda at 6:40 pm

    Praying about the awful mess this is, and that those who are at their Witt’s end just keep on hanging in there. Give this all a chance and don’t give up, not yet!

  11. We need a defense fund! Rae at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for your contribution to our cause: if only all pharmacist were as knowledgeable about our plight, I do believe my pharmacist is, but hands are/will be tied.

    I don’t talk much about my CP condition because my mind has been on the fall-out from the crisis created by this injustice. I was in a near fatal car accident while in college years ago resulting in multiple trauma: many many broken bones & fractures. Ie: shattered pelvis. Recently recovering from 2 surgeries (#3 soon: fractured hip: most likely caring for my terminally ill mother–recently passed & that’s an entire story in & of itself)
    The 1st surgery 6 months ago was a corrective surgery due to my femur being reconstructed 45% off onto a long plate: meaning i had an inward rotation previously thought to be caused by the hip but NO: my femur was the issue. I could go on & on (multiple back & neck problems, immune illnesses thought to be as a result of nearly 11 units of blood between 2 hospitals)but will try to keep this brief.
    I hear the reports of suicide & have always thought i beat death for a reason! Knew we CP patients had to jump through hoops but never saw the force coming down to wipe PM & CPP’s off the map.

    * A defense fund: didn’t i once hear that a lady sued Mc Donalds for dropping a cup of coffee on her lap while driving or something!?* Not sure? THIS IS A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS & people are dying & will die! My BP drastically goes up when my pain isn’t under control–this patient abandonment due to govt over-reach HAS TO Be SOME legal grounds or recourse!! There are millions of us??? I don’t understand!!!

  12. Wendy P. at 5:29 pm

    I think it would be helpful if National Pain Report had a section entitled “Statistics,” with subheadings that served to organize the statistics by group / topic (i.e., heroin overdoses 2017; legal prescribed opiate overdoses; NSAID deaths 2017, etc.) I further propose that every statistic be accompanied by a link that provides the source of the statistic. Doing this would provide the chronic pain community with clear information with which we can more effectively address the media propaganda when we counter it with truth. Thank you for your consideration. Thank you Steve, for another laser sharp insightful article. I appreciate you.

  13. Cherylmarie at 5:19 pm

    I will send whatever I can to any defense fund. Has anyone started a go fund me page? Lots of people who post in here have fb groups and others they belong to
    We talk about this all the time but how do we even get started?

  14. Dave at 4:27 pm

    We start anywhere and everywhere to reverse the Brave New World of Cruel carelessness toward the millions of people in pain who have benefitted or might benefit from opioid use.
    Just as government is using a strategy of imposing different costs on those that are in anway involved in prescribing or using opioids so too must those who wish to defend a presumptive right to pain care to make government, the dea, legislators, cdc, pharmacies, insurers have costs as well for destroying access to opioids. Call it civil disobedeience letter writing campaigns protests, interventions etc- the key is to make it too costly for Big Brother in pain care to restrict access to opioids.
    Remember government officials, insurers, the dea etc are not Gods- though they act as if they were. They are only human and will give in just as government gave into civil rights movement and those who protested prohibition. We have to believe enough in ourselves, our cause, our rights and our God to move forward to end this cruel humanitarian crises in pain care.

  15. Doug at 4:25 pm

    I have been notified by Caremark that they will be limiting my pain med and will only supply 25 days a month. I can purchase out of my pocket the last 5/6 days per month This is only after prior approval is granted as of 1/1/18

  16. Rebecca M. Reaves at 4:08 pm

    I appreciate knowing what’s coming down the road, but it’s frightening for those of us who are living with diagnosed, legitimate, incurable CHRONIC PAIN to know our government is usurping our physicians’ right to treat us so we can function at some level. We’re not the ones abusing opioids, but we will be the ones who will pay the ultimate price. CRPS is my thorn, and it has the catchy nickname of the “suicide” syndrome.

    Please keep us in the loop of how we can mobilize as a larger, cohesive group, to speak and speak until our pained voices are heard. Thank you N/P team for all you do.

  17. Maureen Mollico at 2:55 pm

    Thank you Steve, and Ed for posting this.
    Yes, ‘where do we start’ has been the big question for a very long time!
    WHO…can be the leader?? is the next big question! How do we begin?
    We’ve all written the letters and made the calls. It’s time for an uprise, loud and clear.

  18. Robert from Michigan at 11:10 am

    SPOT ON STEVE!!
    I have been saying for several years that this is history repeating itself. The new and improved Genocide, but instead of having the Star of David stitched on our coats, we have “Bullseyes” squarely aimed at the nerve bundle of our spinal cords and most importantly, our wallets. Have you noticed the stereotype of the typical junkie with a needle in his arm and the irresponsible pill popping chronic pain patient have merged in societal norms?

    The Christian program “The 700 club” just did a story of how prescription opioids are destroying our youth. Yes it has come to that too, Pat Robertson has drank the Kool-Aid or should I have said the Kolodny-Aid.

    How many people read or heard the story of NYC seizure of 270 pounds of Fentanyl this past month? Enough to kill 32 million people. None? I read it on the Daily Mail UK – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4899286/Officials-seize-fentanyl-kill-32-million-people.html

    Or how about the CDC report on why opioid related deaths have more than doubled since the CDC guideline Crackdown. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6643e1.htm?s_cid=mm6643e1_w

    Make no mistake about it, no matter what obvious common sense truths unfold, the agenda is set. Under no circumstances can we have all those “Baby Boomers” set to retire and collect SSI benefits. My God, don’t they make up for 2/3 rds of our population? How can we possibly pay that bill?
    Sign a Pain contract, surrender your 4th amendment rights away and if the government doesn’t confiscate your total net worth, maybe you will be lucky enough to end up in a Kolodny Addiction Clinic for your daily dose of Methadone. That will break that annoying opioid addiction for you. After all, 90mgs of Morphine is equal to 60mgs of Oxycodone, which is equal to 30mgs of Methadone.

    Did I get that right Pharmacist Steve? Methadone is not only a completely synthetic opioid, but it is also more potent that other class II opiate/opioid analgesic?

    So the lesson today is; get your leg torn off by a Zombie, take a Tylenol.
    – brought to you by your sensitive, compassionate and caring Center for Disease Control

  19. Lynn at 11:04 am

    So true and a pathetic reality of our corrupt bureaucracy!!
    This info needs to go mainstream and to every Pain Mngmt Dr.

  20. Rick at 9:20 am

    Steve, you are spot on. It’s time to ACT. We ALL need to get on Twitter and do something controversial to get VIRAL.

    Mikst, in on point. The human rights angle is our best bet. Utilize all our contacts to spread the story.

    Question is: We need a leader, and organize NOW. Get that Twitter STORM going and follow a strategic plan with a template for all of us. Some CP patients have trouble contributing because of our disabilities. These folks can help too. We just need a leadership structure, agreed upon plan,…AND do it SWIFTLY!!!

    Steve, Mikst, heck, there r many folks on this platform whom r high iq. Find them, and ask them to hep us now!

    Can’t get opiates because of mmj in blood. Can go 1 month w/o something to cut egde off ‘Intractable Pain’ 24/7.

    ONE sick country we live in.

    Rick

    Rick
    CRPS- severe late stage
    Dystonia
    Seizure disorder
    Fibromyalgia
    Many more

  21. Mikst Granny at 8:14 am

    (Steve, please delete my first comments and replace them with my edit comments below! Sorry! I found typos, omissions & had to edit! 🙂 Thank you! Oh, my number in case you want to call is 630-273–2455. Take care!)

    YES! I’m for a legal defense fund and other campaigns, Steve! One that’s centered on the fact our pain IS our disability! The ADA and numerous human rights laws exist that we can petition a federal court (or several courts) challenging the criminalization of our common disability: PAIN.

    We should protest and boycott and hook-up with ADAPT, the disability advocacy group that won lifts on buses long, long ago, and more recently put their bodies on the line to stop the repeal of the ACA. Those of us who belong to pain organizations and groups specific to our conditions need to get as many of them to join us as we can and ask them to sign on in support of our cause!

    WE NEED TO GET BUSY!

    We MUST demand these state agencies, nonprofit groups and our legislators make room for us at the decision-making tables!

    NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!

    We will file complaints with our own state’s human rights enforcement agencies and get proclamations declaring our #HumanRight2PainRelief from our cities, counties and states.

    Here’s the International Association for the Study of Pain’s Declaration of Montreal that maintains “the Access to Pain Management Is a Fundamental Human Right.” https://www.iasp-pain.org/DeclarationofMontreal?navItemNumber=582

    I went to a High Level Meeting at the UN a few years ago and believe I know folks who can assist us in getting this issue in front of the CRPD Committee. How about circulating this call to action, then setting up a conference call to discuss it and to make some short & long term goals?

    WHAT DO ALL Y’ALL THINK?

  22. DCGalante at 7:49 am

    I am a 74 yo chronic pain victim due to degenerative joint disease, psoriatic arthritis, spinal stenosis, and painful spastic muscle cramps. I have been down the road…spinals, PT, pain clinic, ad infinitum. Pain has seriously impacted what once was an active life. Thanks to the pain clinic I am subsisting pretty well on oxycodone. It makes it possible to remain somewhat active. If this ‘war on opioids” takes that away from those of us who wish to do more than simply wait to die, you will see an increase in suicides…collateral damage??? I do understand the problem…but taking relief from those of us who legitimately need them does not solve the problem. Just creates new ones.

  23. Mark Ibsen MD at 7:32 am

    There is a trial going on in Hamilton Mt. Dr Chris Christiansen was charged with 400 felonies on 11 cases.
    That’s 37 felonies per patient.
    His clinic was rated in early 2014, no charges filed until 20 months later. Assets were seized, 5000 patients at their church confiscated and were unable to get referrals to other doctors. 800 patients became opiate refugees on April 1, 2014, and notices were placed in the paper that none of these patients would get care in Ravalli county.

  24. K. Barrow at 7:23 am

    Mr. Ariens,

    I read everything you post, follow you on Twitter, have immense respect for you; but I have a problem with this post, and a suggestion or two.

    Some large percentage of the estimated 100 million chronic pain patients have been effected now by the hysteria around the so-called “opioid crisis.”

    Of course, the rich and powerful will always have access to all the pills, powders, and injectables, legal and illegal, they want. See how America’s first “drug czar” made it possible for a certain Communist-hating Senator to feed his morphine addiction, legally and secretly, for the rest of his life:

    https://www.thefix.com/content/mccarthy-aslinger-secret-morphine-addiction-source8203

    Excerpt: “According to the country’s first de-facto drug czar, Harry Anslinger, McCarthy’s addiction was enabled by the federal government. Anslinger, who served as chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, is credited with successfully demonizing “marijuana” as causing addiction and insanity, murder and mayhem. More than any other political figure, Anslinger was responsible for criminalizing opiates and its users. And his word was gospel when it came to the country’s nascent war on drugs.

    In his 1961 memoir, The Murderers, Anslinger wrote about finding out, in the 1950s, that a prominent senator (whom he left unnamed) was addicted to morphine. When confronted by Anslinger, the politician refused to stop, even daring Anslinger to reveal his addiction, saying it would cause irreparable harm to the “Free World.”  Anslinger responded to this gambit by securing the lawmaker a steady supply of dope from a Washington, DC, pharmacy. (Morphine taken by prescription was, then as now, legal.)”

    Why, I wonder, is this still a little-known fact? Anyway, the rich and powerful aside…

    The lucky chronic pain patients out there in every city and town in America still have a doctor managing their pain and prescribing opiate medications, albeit, some (many?) of them on reduced dosages, their pain inadequately treated. Then, it just gets worse and worse.

    There are the patients who still have doctors managing their pain but in doses so low their pain is barely relieved.

    There are the patients whose doctors, fearful of escalating threats to their practices and their freedom, closed up shop without warning, leaving all their patients to suffer through devastating effects of withdrawal without any medical support. Some of those patients didn’t survive the process. The ones who did are now left suffering from relentless, untreated, 24/7 pain that is ruining any chance they had at an even relatively normal life.

    Other patients have been and are suffering the same, having been “released” by their doctors because of alleged “dirty” urine testing and/or a plethora of “violations” of their Chronic Pain Patient contracts, such as not being able to leave work every week, with no notice, after receiving a phone call from their doctor’s office demanding they come immediately with their pills so the doctor (nurse, PA, office staff) can count their pills to see if they are taking too many. Chronic pain patients have lost their jobs because of this intrusive behavior on the part of doctors so paranoid and terrified of our government they seem to have lost all sense of propriety, respect, privacy, kindness, understanding— in fact they’ve lost their ability to act as the decent, highly trained, intelligent doctors they presumably once were.

    And God help you if your urine allegedly shows you’re not taking enough of your medication. Though, in fact, it may be a faulty test, or a quirk of your unique metabolism, or that you are taking less than prescribed and hoarding the rest, knowing this witch hunt will be catching up to you sooner or later— it doesn’t matter. You are assumed to be “diverting”— that is, giving your Vicodin to your grandkids or selling it on the street for big bucks so that you, too, might one day be one of the very rich who’ll never have to worry about not having access to medicine for whatever ails you.

    Legitimate chronic pain patients are not selling their medication, but an unknown number are, in desperation, buying from the street— and an unknown percentage of them are dying from pills that look like their Vicodin but are actually compounded by illegal drug manufacturers with Fentanyl (which is 100 times stronger than morphine) or Carfentanil (which, according to the DEA, is 10,000 times stronger than morphine). I have read of young adults dropping out of college to help their suffering parents access street drugs because the parents, never having done so, have no idea how to buy off the street from dealers. This is now another way whole families are effected by insane “one size fits all” prescribing “guidelines” out of the CDC and, now, our government’s attempt to seemingly wipe opiate medications off the map. Also, obviously, this adds to the number of people using illegal drugs. Brilliant!

    Finally, of course, there are the rising number of chronic pain patients who’ve lost their doctors and have no medication to ease their suffering who are killing themselves because there is no quality to a life of constant, severe pain.

    And, from the “luckiest” chronic pain patients on down, with the exception of the ones who have ended their suffering forever, all are in constant states of worry, anxiety, depression, terror, agony, and utter despair. When will his doctor close up shop? How many fewer pills will her doctor prescribe at next month’s appointment? How many more days, weeks, months can these patients survive in constant states of withdrawal and increasing levels of pain? Chronic pain, by the way, caused by congenital conditions, severe and often multiple injuries sustained at play, work, and on the battlefield, cancer and residual post-cancer pain, botched surgeries, and an alphabet soup of chronic illness contracted by insect-borne pathogens, environmental toxins, genetic predispositions, and many other sources which, incidentally, can and do happen to anyone at anytime.

    Besides death itself, serious illness and severe chronic pain are perhaps the only things in our world that fiercely and fully refuse to discriminate based on age, gender, economic class, race, ethnicity, appearance, education, sexual orientation, gender identity, wealth, social status, etc etc etc.

    What is being done to chronic pain patients and their doctors is criminal, period. It’s unconstitutional, inhumane, inhuman, cruel, punitive. It is legalized torture. If it continues and worsens, it’s nothing short of genocidal.

    My father left college to fight in WWII. He could’ve gotten a deferment, but he was young, strong, healthy— and he believed our country and the rest of the free world was worth risking his life for. Genocide was well underway in WWII. Very few of the men and women who helped democracy and freedom win that war are still with us. My father died in 1999. Though I selfishly wish he were still here, I thank God he isn’t. If he could see the suffering, despair, and death being visited upon chronic pain patients by their own country, perpetrated by some of their fellow Americans in a mad grab for money and power who are intentionally targeting, and ignoring the reasoned pleas, of one of the most vulnerable segments of our population, he would be shocked and horrified. He would remember seeing this before when he was a young, brave man fighting against the Axis powers that were committing genocide on their own people.

    I only saw my father cry twice— once when he knelt between my big sister’s and my twin beds to tell us our baby sister had died in the hospital where she’d been born 20 days earlier. Seventeen years later, he held me in his arms and we both sobbed at the open coffin of his wife, my mother, dead from cancer at just 59 years old.

    If he were here today, I would see him cry for the third time.

    Mr. Ariens, you ask:

    “Is the chronic pain community going to continue to run in place?”

    The chronic pain community is not running in place— it’s not running anywhere. Much of it can barely get out of bed. Many in it are already dying, or dead. In addition to the physical and psychological toll, many are also in dire financial straits. As Abraham Maslow proposed in his hierarchy of human needs 74 years ago— a model still used today— if a person is struggling to keep a roof over her head and food on the table, to take care of all her children’s needs and to care for her husband, a chronic pain patient who lost his doctor, lost access to his medications, and, thus, lost his well-paying job, neither she nor her spouse will likely have the ability, energy or the resources to join the revolution.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

    This community cannot continue to be called upon to rise up and fight this battle the way young, strong, healthy men and women are called upon to go to war. Advocates who are not themselves suffering, who are not themselves worn thin from caring for a loved one with chronic pain, need to start that legal defense fund. I dare say that everyone in the community who can will contribute every penny possible to such a fund. This is the time for people like my father who are willing and able to fight for other human beings who, right now, cannot fight for themselves, to step up and go to war against the enemy who couldn’t care less how many of their 100 million (and growing) fellow citizens suffer and die— whose very purpose may be to rid the planet of this population of “undesirables”.

    Where is the ACLU? Where is WHO? Where are the constitutional lawyers who could deftly defend the rights of the suffering, the disabled who have done nothing wrong who are clearly, viciously being attacked? Where are the everyday Americans with eyes that can see and ears that can hear, with hearts and souls to stand up for a minority group (albeit a large and ever-increasing one) that is being discriminated against, beaten down, and demonized to death?

    You’re right— talk is becoming very, very cheap. It isn’t getting anybody anywhere, except the propagandists who are stoking the fires of this witch hunt with scary words and images and big, fat effing lies. If we’re going to keep talking, we need to think of strategies for reaching the sheep out there who are happy letting Fox News do their thinking for them all day every day and and the ostriches who’d prefer not to know anything— because one day even they will likely find themselves in pain, and nobody deserves to be in agony when legal medication that has been considered the gold standard painkiller for centuries is readily available.

    When American doctors are being forced by our government to deny all opiates in any amount to our country’s wounded warriors— telling maimed, disabled war veterans to use yoga and coloring books, coloring books, to ease their severe pain, we are in serious trouble. The water’s not just heating up— it’s boiling, and if any of the frogs in the pot are to survive, they need helping hands, a lot of helping hands, and they need them now.

    This is a crisis of epic proportions, and it’s not the first one in history. Many, many innocent men, women, and children have died in such crises— and many are dying in this one.

    The chronic pain community needs some heroes. Right now, they are not likely to come from their own ranks. But I believe, if the medications that exist in abundance in the world were to be restored to the people who need them to function, the world will be surprised at how much fight they have in them. The real tragedy is if we wait until there are none of them left. That could have happened in WWII. Thank God we didn’t wait too long then.

    (Next: The growing denial of opiate pain medications to acute post-op pain patients. They’re coming for all of us. Opiates, demonized and denied to one segment of the population, will finally be denied to all. Unless you know for sure you’ll never suffer an injury or illness that will require surgery, for the rest of your life, you need to wake up and realize the danger you and everyone you love are in. If you don’t, and they get away with this genocidal first act, there will be more acts to follow. Who will it be next? Don’t kid yourself. First they came for…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_… )

  25. Cary Cassell at 7:12 am

    Thanks for cheering me up with that article. Yea ive known I have been discriminated against spc Americans with Disabilities Act. I ve already thought of a lawsuit but guess what .I dont have the money most in my shape dont and they know that. Yes the time has come and gone for the chronic pain community to do something ive done EVERYTHING I could think off nobody gives a [edit] about my excruciating pain . I truly believe my only options are going to be 25-06 or 12 gauge In the head or chest?

  26. Joseph DiCapo at 6:48 am

    Thx you once again Pharm Steve. Ive been saying for years that CPP have to get ahead of this rolling snowball and figure a away to stop it before it becomes larger then us. Well that time has now come. No politician i speak with is more then willing to give a nod a “leave me paperwork”.(and not bragging but im fairly juiced in where i reside) Recently I have gone to media to get even just 1 story done about the 90%…They just dont care or its not flashy enough for them. If they keep going at this at the same rate they have… CPP Suicide will be the next “health crisis” in a few years and they will have nobody to blame but themselves & the junkies… the junkies will still be getting as high as they want and can afford. Or even better… get to learn to “game” the methadone and suboxone clinics and get their fix on the governments dime while costing taxpayers billions. Its gone too far and the end is still nowhere in sight.

  27. Janice Snyder at 6:17 am

    So how do so many disparate, often elderly,sometimes disabled, mostly under educated about the legal and distribution side of pharmaceuticals would come toogether to form a coalition as you described.

    I agree this is what needs to be done I am just wondering what kind of individual or group would take up the banner. I believe with such leader, the Chronic Pain patients and/or their spouses and caregivers would join in

  28. Mikst Granny at 6:15 am

    YES! I’m for a legal defense fund and other campaigns, Steve! One that’s centered on the fact our pain IS our disability! The ADA and numerous human rights laws exist that we can petition a federal court (or several courts) challenging the criminalization of our common disability: PAIN.

    We protest and boycott, etc and hook-up with ADAPT, the disability advocacy group that won lifts on buses and more recently put their bodies on the line to stop the repeal of the ACA. Those of us who belong to pain organizations and groups specific to our conditions them to join us and sign on in support of our cause! WE GET BUSY! We demand these groups and our legislators to make room for us at the decision-making tables!

    NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!

    We file complaints with our own state’s human rights enforcement agencies and get proclamations declaring our #HumanRight2PainRelief from our cities, counties and states.

    Here’s the International Association for the Study of Pain’s Declaration of Montreal that maintains “the Access to Pain Management Is a Fundamental Human Right.”
    https://www.iasp-pain.org/DeclarationofMontreal?navItemNumber=582

    I went to a High Level Meeting at the UN a few years ago and believe I know folks who can assist us in getting this issue in front of the CRPD Committee. How about circulating this call to action, then setting up a conference call to discuss it and to make some short & long term goals?

  29. J.A. martin at 6:04 am

    Thanks Steve:: we need to craft a pettion which decriminalizes addiction….or make a case that clarifies dependence from addiction.
    There is such a muddled mess of mis-information, I can’t help but continually wanting to reconstruct the impactful tactics to clarify chronic pain persons situation.

  30. Michelle Ziemba at 4:13 am

    Hmm. Not to mention CVS is in talks in buying Aetna Insurance. CVS is scheduled to begin reviewing new opiod prescriptions in Feb, with the intent on limiting them to seven day fills unless you have a really good reason ( i.e. They say chronic pain, but who knows). Plus, I believe a bill was being introduced in the House with a similar point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *