What You Might Tell Your Local Newspaper or TV Station About Chronic Pain

What You Might Tell Your Local Newspaper or TV Station About Chronic Pain

We hear from the readers of the National Pain Report about the lack of coverage that the media are giving those chronic pain patients who use opioids. “Why won’t they listen to our side of the story.”

One answer might be that you are aren’t asking them to.

The head of the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain, Richard “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D., is hearing the same from many of the people he interacts with on social media. He crafted the following and suggested that you could send your local newspaper editor or television assignment desk this or something like it.

Dr. Lawhern gave us permission to send it along to you—-assuming you might want to do something with your local media. You have his permission to use it—or to put something in your own words– to educate your local media.


Prescriptions Aren’t the Problem

Doctors “over-prescribing” opioids did not cause our “drug crisis.” Nearly half of all overdoses don’t involve opioids at all. Among remaining drug-related deaths in 2017, half involved illicit drugs — imported fentanyl and heroin. Only about 18,000 deaths involved a “prescription opioid” — and most of those also involved multiple illegal drugs and alcohol. Medical exposure is not the problem.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says most addicts begin to abuse alcohol and drugs in their teens or early 20s – before they encounter opioids. Contrast that with folks over age 55. Seniors are prescribed opioids for pain three times more often than youth under age 18. But seniors have the lowest overdose rates of any age group. Kids now overdose six times more often.

We do have an addiction crisis in America. But it’s related to lack of care, not prescribing. Prescriptions to people in pain are rarely involved in this tragedy. Restricting drug supply and counting pills won’t help. Forcing pain patients off the only medications that work won’t help.

Restrictive policies are now driving pain management doctors out of practice across America — and driving patients into agony, disability, and sometimes suicide when they are deserted. Most of what we hear in media about opioids and addiction is flat out wrong.

We know what is really needed. Politicians just don’t want to pay for it.

Nobody knows how to “cure” addiction. We may never know. The best we can do is early prevention and later harm reduction. Some educational programs starting in Middle School don’t work (“Just Say No” was a total failure). But others have shown results. For people already addicted, the most effective harm reduction is Medication Assisted Treatment (Methadone or Buprenorphine), combined with long term community reintegration.

Reintegration means job training, safe housing, mental-health and recovery counseling — and support for people who relapse. 28-day detox clinics and Narcotics Anonymous don’t work alone. Such programs have high relapse rates when recovering addicts are discharged without support into the same circumstances that made them vulnerable to drugs in the first place.

Addiction recovery is neither cheap nor easy. We must invest billions every year in our labor force, housing and communities. We must also divert non-violent drug offenders out of the justice system. Even the Christie Commission got that one right. But more restrictions on doctors and their patients aren’t the answer.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Nancy Hovey

Getting old is not for whim’s!

I just posted Red’s excellent letter on my FB page and will also put it on my depression2perspectiveshealth.blog. Yesterday Johnson and Johnson were sued successfully in court for “hiding” the potential addiction, overdose and deaths related to prescription opioids. I am afraid that this will be the “death knell” for our legally prescribed, life changing pain medications. I’m sure that by the end of the day, I will have plenty of negative criticism, accusations, and blatant hate mail/comments sent my way. I will probably also lose some more “friends” like I did when I made my political views known. I feel hopeless about the future of pain management and see our struggle only increasing from here. I hope and pray every day that I am wrong.


I should have quit 30 years ago when I had the chance to remain healthy. Instead, I’m doomed to a life of suffering. The programs could have worked for me. I was just too troubled. Sad, being 58 and looking back at myself in my 20s. Totally different person.

J. S. Flowers

I agree 100% with Erin Sullivan & Glen. Plus, this seems to be the *only* thing we IPP’s, CPP’s haven’t tried. It couldn’t hurt…
The news media personnel sit there and ‘read’ – they don’t know what’s “really” going on- just as majority of people don’t know.
Another thing we could do is contact “investigative news reporters” who help people who have been done wrong by others (by companies, etc., ripping people off by doing shoddy jobs on their homes, as well as other circumstances, and getting the wrongs reversed). An excellent investigative news reporter here in Orlando, FL is Todd Ulrich @ WFTV, Channel 9 (WFTV.com > 9 Investigates).
Somehow, someway, we *have* to get help as way too many of us IPP’s, CPP’s are just “existing” as I am- being bed-bound most days and house bound the rest. The only time I go out is to Dr. visits, to the pharmacy, haircuts every 6 wks, and to the corner store. Just ONE of these errands (except for the corner store) will put me into bed the entire next day if not two days afterwards! I am Over “existing” *just* to go to Dr’s visits, spine surgical procedures, the pharmacy, and to sleep to heal from the unrelenting pain and resulting fatigue and other symptoms the intractable, high impact pain brings and causes me every single minute of every day!! This is my “existence” (no “life”) without the proper amount of opioid medications. When I was being properly medicated, I had at least 1/2 of a day where I could be functional- to the best of my ability. Being under medicated, I have become a useless “body mass”, a *huge* burden to my husband (who Still doesn’t believe I’m in this much pain, etc), and my friends and family members have become pretty much nonexistent in my life since I’ve become bed and home bound due to underteatment of my pain. I get *all* kinds of spine procedures from pain mgmt dr from cervical to sacral + other types of alternative treatments have become ineffective as I’ve been battling CP for 33 yrs. I’m done!


Unfortunately, I don’t think the media is interested in hearing the other side of this issue. Overdoses, and parents shedding tears over losing kids to illegal drug abuse, make better headlines and sell more ads than chronic pain patients who use medication responsibly and are just trying to survive and remain functional. What’s sexy or sensational about that?!

We need a high-profile celebrity or politician living with pain to take up our cause, but that probably won’t happen either. Not that I plan to give up the fight, but I’m only cautiously optimistic.


I have complained, multiple times, to my local paper (which is part of USA Today) when they emphasize opioid OD’s in headlines but dont’ get into any details in the articles about exactly what caused the tragic deaths of the wonderful promising teen athletes, etc.

But it hasn’t made any difference and I’ve never received a reply.

I haven’t written letters to the editor for publication on this topic; just emails to the editorial staff and news staff via the paper’s website.

I’ve mentioned the relevant facts about legal Rx’s not causing OD’s and about CPP’s not OD’ing.

Maybe it would help if a bunch of locals got together to coordinate efforts for each newspaper.

The big problem, of course is, that I feel too horrible most of the time to do anything, and most CPP’s are in the same boat.

Even if I felt better, my aversion to online social media won’t help with this problem.
I won’t participate in Facebook etc.






Glen- we’ve protested numerous times all over the country multiple times! All at the same time on the same day!
Check out Dont Punish Pain Rally.com
Join us for the next one coming up in October! None in your town? Host your own! I did!!
We’ve done this, we’ve contacted media, been on news, radio, newspaper, etc.
Its never enough they run our coverage & media ends it with the overdoses and show bottles of pills instead of needles, etc. 1 step forward and 2 back….

Gainesville Times . Com Rhoden article called the” distribution of pain pills” unfortunately you have a pharmacist that is bashing doctors in this article & claiming that Physicians wrote legal prescriptions of opiates had increased that led to the overdose deaths. Unfortunately he leaves out a lot as if he was the Doctor Who did autopsies on the people who died. He leaves out that there were other prescriptions illegal plus alcohol that killed those people. Fake news continues. it doesn’t help when you have a pharmacist who’s full of himself that wants to spout off but then if he felt this was contributing to the overdose death then why did he fill the prescriptions ? he didn’t mind the money did he? I wish whoever it was interviewing this pharmacist asked him much money did you make off of those prescriptions that you filled. I bet this pharmacist would shut up. also this pharmacist says that the prescriptions are legal but act like the person just had a small injury but the prescriptions kept coming. Really? Dirt sales better than reality. The faint news has so ingrained people that are not in pain.

Debra Aellig

Thanks again for sharing Mr. Red Lawhern’s concise and factual paper about our pain crisis in 400 words! Such an important message for the National media to report. Thank you!

Jody Hoffman

I contacted our news station a year ago & got no response not even a “go [edit] myself. They had just finished a news report about the number of overdose deaths due to opiates & I contacted them about the fact that it was illegal Fentanyl that was the cause not the prescription opiates. They don’t care about the truth it’s better to create a new scare & feed on the frenzy.


Sounds like blaming the victims to me. As if the DEA doesn’t have access to the real numbers by the CDC.
As if government & media aren’t the problem.
Let’s go ask the problem to fix itself! It is DELIBERATELY a problem, why would it be interested in fixing itself.
Nothing new under the sun.

Linda Marie

Cancer patients also are being denied pain medications also. I had severe radiations burns in my throat – larynx- and was told by oncology, radiation and ENT doctors said all I can do is give you a feeding tube ENT said I do not give pain pills or just acted like they did not hear me. I had lost so much weight and was suffering from severe dehydration. I just decided to find a doctor myself by going to yellow pages but had to get someone to call for me as I could not even talk. Person who finally found a Dr. willing to treat me said they called about 25 places till the found a Dr. office willing to treat me. They said had never been treated so rude by doctor offices.

James McCay

I know what all the issues are as I’ve been advocating for Chronic Intractable Pain patients in NYC since 2011; when the problems getting opioids started here!

So I wrote (3) DIFFERENT Mass media: NBC TV, & ABC TV plus The NY Daily News (before I knew who were FAKE NEWS) about the “CHRONIC INTRACTABLE PAIN patients (either very physically disabled or disabled elderly) being IGNORED in NYC” at least 7-years ago. NOT ONE REPLIED!
Plus I didn’t send the same message to all (3), I wrote off the top of my head each time with my heart & my intelligence behind it sympathizing everyone’s views.

So I don’t want to hear that no one is contacting the media!

The FAKE MEDIA (90% of the mass media) are TOO BUSY getting the SAME Leftist Dems STUPID points across daily! Anyone who thinks they will help us is delusional. Our only chance is FOX NEWS & any media run by Fox News.

But my days writing letters to the Mass Media are OVER! My Myasthenia Gravis has advanced to the point that it’s an extreme effort just responding to National Pain Report posts. I’m am SO WEAK every day.
Plus I need a new laptop (my which won’t happen because I can’t afford it). My pointer device pad is totally worn out as are both buttons (I can’t use a USB mouse bedridden), and my spacebar is broken as well- it sticks often. So I have to reread EVERY message & fix dozens of errors w/everything I type!

GoFundMe is a crook’s wet dream, but they don’t help people who TELL THE TRUTH! I live on $1,200 a month in SSD, plus I got stuck paying my mother’s gambling loans on the house, not to mention her house taxes and insurance. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO AFFORD THESE THINGS ON $1,200 a month total income?

Then our INSANE Gov. Cuomo (and Mayor Di BOZO) makes us one of the states to HAVE TO PAY & COLLECT taxes on eBay, & eBay makes me pay an average of 15% taxes on purchases. eBay blames NY, NY blames eBay; and it caused me to STOP BUYING to resell to afford my bills every month!

Erin Sullivan

Also in CA they made marijuana legal and yet it’s not legal to the Feds. This was a trick of dangling the carrot so everyone voted yes, then they slapped a 25% tax on it making millions and it’s “not really” even legal at the Federal level. So it sits untouched on the Schedule I list of “no medical value” section, and we have proof that it DOES have medical merit. It’s more politcal propagana to take control over the personal lives of everyone who takes opioid, legally.. Because if they DON’T take it off the schedule I, then DEA keeps their power and can still raid farmers and take their crops (only to be redistributed.) What is with this double standard? Is it legal or illegal?? Follow the money. It’s all about power and money and control over the people they are sworn to serve, not to abuse or take advantage of. Sounds harsh, I realize, but I see the writing on the wall, and we all need a little dose of the red pill before we can really tackle this problem. If you give them an inch they will take a mile, and so on. Its coming from the top government “officials” who know nothing of chronic pain, and they are not doctors. We need to be in control of our own lives, take back the power, and not be dictated to by an “alleged crisis” and politicians with a big fat agenda. Thank you.

Erin Sullivan

I disagree with M. Fisk. And if you read the letter by Dr. Lawhern and by the responses from Glen you will see that the so called “opioid crisis” is a bunch of BS. It’s all about politics-CDC, FDA, DEA, and lobbyists (who buy politicians to push their agenda by telling media to spread these false narratives.) They are all colluding on this and if you watch mainstream news, they all say the same things. They’re all in bed together. They fail to mention real facts and statistics. They have it all wrong, and they know it. Newscaters are told what to say. They have not gone out and investigated the stories they tell or print, like “real” journalists used to do. This is just another false flag to divert the attention away from the “man behind the curtain.” But we patients with dibilitating, painful conditions are taking the brunt. I’ve written countless letters with no response from any. If DEA did their jobs, they would stop the import of heroin and dangerous fentanyl, that is largely responsible for the ODs. Ive been taking opioids for 20 years, without any problems, after getting hit by a car, I was critically injured, but survived painful, permanant injuries.I need my medicine, yet my Dr. is being forced to cut my meds by 75% AND took away my CBD. He is in jeopardy of losing his license if he doesn’t go along with the “guidelines” I can barely walk now. Wake up people.!! Glen has the right idea. We need to picket the news media and force them to acknowledge us as the group who is being targeted by their untruthfulness. This is nothing but hyped up trash that is being reported to the masses. That is the true crime. They all lie by omission, though they may not even realize since they have not done their homework.They only sit there and read from the teleprompter. Don’t believe what media reports! Question what they say, do some research and take what they say with a grain of salt.That would be my message to my fellow hurting humans.


Excellent article even with the letter used for guidance or an introduction the facts are simple.
The narrative of truth and facts will not get a newspaper or television station to listen to those of us that depend on opioid medications. Why? Because it doesn’t fit their narrative of using one broad stroked brush to paint us all the same as those addicted.

Deborah M Babcock

I have one question…Are they mostly limiting opioid prescribing to the people on state or government medical,or is it the same with private paid insurance ?

Thomas Kidd

Thank you Mr. Lawhern. I appreciate your work for us who suffer. I am 67 and have been fighting for treatment for more than 30 years. Again thank you.


What needs to be done probably won’t happen. Pain Patients could get protest permits and picket the entrance of Newscastors and Publishers. Signs should read “Unfair coverage of Opioid issue” or “Drug restrictions are Unconstitutional or Opiate Epidemic is Propaganda”.

Gail Honadle

Thank you Dr Lawhern, this can be used as a letter to the editor or given to your doctor, or your congress person at both the state or Federal level. Remember we have 51 sets of Laws to change. 50 State and 1 Federal set of Guidelines NOT law, unless it applies to MMJ. It maybe legal in your state but it is still Federally Illegal. It is not a simple solution, as mental health issues have to be addressed, homelessness. While some congress critter is more interested in spending money chasing a Wood Pecker in Arkansas no one has ever seen. Or some fish needs a river crossing, The Pig Book 2019, you will see where your taxes are wasted. https://www.cagw.org/reporting/pig-book.

Why is the FDA still approving drugs like Thalidomide?https://allthatsinteresting.com/thalidomide-babies?fbclid=IwAR3PQ8m71ck_nDxnEDAsXHIhtO3ja4GpZdb9bC7CiJ1S7W7Xf4a3j9j10WE


Dr. Lawhern’s letter will be balled up and launched at the waste bucket. They have gotten thousands of narratives like this. Editors, Publishers, and Broadcasters have the same General policies as the Legislators that license them. They sell advertising and anti-opiate stories are bad for business.

Alanna Wilgus

I did contact my local station and didn’t even get a form letter in response. It seems that true journalism is dead.


Red is awesome he has a site on Facebook .check it out . He is helping us and our chronic pain we are all being treated in fair .. Like he stated Contact the media ..Go to or ask to speak with someone at a station .on Breaking news or Political . Now with the war on Drugs we are all being Scapegoats..So in fair and in justice .This is the Time with the election s and the primaries coming up in November .. We can’t give up we Have to CONTINUE TO FIGHT ..I thank Red I read his 📫 on Facebook at times I will share .. I am in Chicago we have rallies with low low turnout rate not even sure if 1 will be help this October .. But to those whom are suffering with chronic pain fight back .. Call your Congress get involved .. There are sites on FB. Don’t PUNISH THE PAIN … In every state in the 🇺🇸 ….Have a great day and please to those whom are on Facebook look up Red …Great Guy

Michael Fisk

I have had chronic pain for over ten years.
While i am now under the care of a responsible pain management physician, in the past I have experienced being a patient at a major pain management chain of clinics
This chain with over a dozen clinics in a major metropolitan area in my opinion was and is a pill mill.
The waiting rooms are packed with patients waiting sometimes hours to see a nurse practitioner who spends no more than 5 minutes with a patient and can write a perscription for 180 morphine pills in the time it takes to say Hello.
They have four or five nurses handing out perscriptions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This is in my opinion A PILL MILL and is still open.
The physician I now see in a small private group spends adquate time every visit making sure his patients are properly counseled and perscribes to a level that treats my pain at the lowest possible level adjusting doses depending on time of the year and my input.
It is the big chain major city pill mills that do more harm than good and do in fact fuel the opoid crisis
These pain management chains are doing more harm to their patients and are the root cause of a major portion of the opoid crisis.