New York Times Looking At the Opioid Issue

New York Times Looking At the Opioid Issue

By Ed Coghlan.

When you speak to chronic pain patients who use opioids to manage their pain, often you’ll hear the lament of “why aren’t the media telling our story?”

While there have been exceptions, most of the “mainstream media” (as some call it) have focused most of their attention on the addiction angle of the opioid “crisis”.

Well, the nation’s most influential newspaper wants to know what you think about the opioid crisis.

The New York Times is running a survey to find out what people want in the coverage of the opioid issue.

Let us suggest you take it:

Take the New York Times Survey.

One of our readers suggested to us this weekend that promoting this survey to the chronic pain community could help get the chronic pain patient and provider point of view in front of the paper - and perhaps influence their coverage.

Seemed like a good idea.

For the record, we took the survey ourselves and tried to communicate to the Times that it could do a better job of remembering that millions of chronic pain patients are using opioids and that the anti-opioid group fails the patient by not recommending alternative therapies—or in other words, they don’t even acknowledge this question:

If you’re going to eliminate opioids, what is the treatment alternative you recommend for the millions of chronic pain patients who use opioids responsibly?”

As 2018 gets underway, getting the media to look at the whole story of the “opioid controversy” seems like a good resolution.

This is your chance to influence the narrative.

One piece of advice.

Be concise.

In the commentary section of The National Pain Report, our readers - the chronic pain patients often will write in great detail and blow off steam. That’s understandable.

Not sure that will be effective in this survey.

Be clear, declarative, and concise.

One more thing:

Let us know if you hear back from them.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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I started to fill out the survey, but lots of the questions are sort of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” — there wasn’t an option that didn’t make it sound as if you were concerned about the “opioid crisis.” I also thought that my filling it out at all might convince the NYT statistically that another person out in the world is concerned about the “opioid crisis” and wants to see more [edit] slanted coverage of it.


Barbara W

Hi on 1/25/2018 CBS EVENING NEW with Jeff Gloria they showed a segment on the 5 Pharmacuetical manufactuers having dinner meetings to give money to both Republicans &Democrats to lobby not to sue them for their supposed false or over prescribing of Opiods. (Bribes I guess) Purdue Pharma way back when said that less than 1.3% get addicted to prescription opiods. Comparing this with today what LEAP reports that r0 yes ago there were 1. 3% drug addicts from all drugs in the US & exactly the same percentage now. So in a sense Purdue was correct or even less since he was talking about Legal prescriptions not illicit drugs. Most of the prescribed opiods r taken with some other drug or substance or taken irresponsibly like 5-12 pills in one sitting. Not prescribed to them. But besides that CBS reported that Congress wants to here from the Advocacey groups on the subject. So I guess we just go on CBS & follow the instructions or use #Opiod Epedemic/how it effects Chronic pain patients & their Doctors! Or write to our congress people in each state I already have some communication lines for mine. I think we should have Videos & story lines as a group to put on the Media so they can here us as well. Tell the horrible tragedies of suicides & deaths, & terminal patients refused at pharmacies. Job losses Etc


Done, I had to reread some of the questions as they were a little tricky coming from the ccp, and not the addict ! I think the survey was a good starting point, but if you do the survey, you may want to fill in the questions as they fit you personally. The NYT, didn’t quite ask the questions in the right way to pertain to the ccp, but in no way did I feel they were trying to take up for the addict, they just didnt have the knowledge on how to ask the question they were seeking answers to, to help us who so badly need this medication to live a normal life ! ( I hope I made sense describing my experience filling out the survey, if you never dealt with the chronic pain community, and only have knowledge of the addiction side, how would you know to ask the questions your looking for answers to show the chronic pain side ? ) confusing ?? Anyway, thank you for allowing us to share our insight, hoping it sheds some light on our plight !!

Thank you Natl Pain Report & Mr. Ed Coghlan for all you do.
I took the survey

- Steve M. 24yr Crps/Rsd survivor, using opioids most of this time & still here, no overdose, no addict, no death & some relief of the human suffering that goes on daily in this here world.

johnny pain

Thank you, Done.

DONE! It was a pleasure!
Had to control my temper a few times,but I got through it.Thank you for supplying the website,it should help, I hope it helps.With us contributing to the swarm of liberal readers answers it has to help,right?I hope everyone does it for all our sakes.Why did the powers that be, not even bother to talk to doctors,voters someone on the right side of this story our side of the story,they talked to parents,cops other ppl on the other side of the story.

Tim Mason

Kathy, years ago, back in the late 80’s when Rush Limbaugh was King of spinning the news there was a monthly newsletter that came out called AIM. AIM was an acronym for -Accuracy in Media.
You are correct. It is all about the money and advertising - nothing else matters.
Fast forward 20 years and everyone is holding a device that was only science fiction back in the 60’s when Star Trek was on.
Electronic media is garbage as well. Take Yahoo for instance. The same identical portal exists in the UK. Same format, same feel it even looks the same except the people are different.
I started to notice some science language errors in supposedly peer reviewed articles. When I drilled down a litter deeper the peers did not have good credentials and the editor I spoke with said “We have cut back funding for peer reviews”.
Believe none of what you read and concerning the things you see, only believe the things you understand.
If you are an advertiser of anything on Yahoo you are allowed to write a new article. Most of these articles are similar to the articles in the rags you find at your grocery store check out line.
See link below. How to spot fake news.
How to spot fake health news

Katie Olmstead

Oops. I was so anxious to fill out the form that I didn’t read through this article first. Hence, NOT concise on my part! Well, I did vent. I included some of the things we talked about yesterday and the day before about suicide. Remember when there was a questionnaire that led to the fine Boston Globe article by Felice Freyer? Let’s hope for more of that.

Kathy C

Don’t get your hopes up people. This “Survey” was designed to elicit a certain group of responses. The question are narrow and a majority of the respondents will just re-iterate the current narrative. The riveting, but sensationalistic stories of people who unwittingly got “Addicted” by accident, “They did not know” will overwhelm any response by the pain community. There were no question directed at pain patients, which the NYT left out of the equation.
I live in a community ravaged by Opiate Addiction, with long term generational heroin abuse. Our local news, which reprints cherry picked articles from the NYT and covers the “Prescription Drug Epidemic” they leave out the facts. The NYT has a responsibility first and foremost to it’s advertisers and owners. Any way this coverage can sensationalize to attract readers, while promoting this as an investment opportunity, they will continue to do it. Anecdotal Stories of Veterans committing suicide to to opiate restrictions, or People with lifelong debilitating pain, are just not as riveting as the accidental addict narrative.

The NYT was a leader in credible news, but years of Neo Liberal, Journalistic nonsense have permeated our entire culture. They continue to avoid any discussion of the Medical System, Corporate malfeasance or the economic factors that led to this. They reviled and stigmatized people with chronic pain, and focused on emotional stories of addiction. Before the ACA rolled out the NYT presented all of this as a opportunity to invest, an not a Public Health Crisis. The NYT cherry picked “opinions” which re-iterated their corporate ideology. We have not seen one of their “Journalists” break down the numbers, or look at Reporting Requirements. Not one article has covered the failure of our healthcare system, instead they chose to run articles which demeaned pain patients and at the same time show draconian and ill advised “solutions.”

James Watkins

wanted to share 2 news reports on 01/25/2018, and yet Chronic Pain Patients are still being treated like criminals by some in medical profession, and our goverment:
Lawmaker pushes to focus opioid epidemic fight on international mail
Powerful opioids are easily sold through the Internet and shipped in the mail, investigation finds

Neldine Ludwigson

Kept it short and concise, hopefully they will reach out to some of us. Living in a flesh prison is enough, being punished for it is insane.

I’ve had a lot of comments posted on the Times website, but after subscribing on the 1st the day they offered online subscriptions, I cancelled 2 yrs ago when they published an appalling article on the opioid crisis. When I called in the cancellation they asked me why and I told them. Hopefully it will all be on record. I subscribed again last year so maybe they’ll listen. Thank you for sending this link! It’s great to see everyone responding. You’re doing a great job, Mr. Coghlan, thank you so much, it really means a lot to know what we can do and to see all these great responses.


I signed sealed and delivered! They can call me!!!! I hope they do! Thank you for posting! Maybe we won’t be ignored like always…..


I submitted survey but received an error code

Jenny Picciotto

Thank you!


I took the survey and did my best to convey what we in the pain community are going through (including doctors). I have an immune deficiency disease, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia as well. After years of trying to figure out why I hurt so bad, and why I was so tired all the time. Going to every kind of dr for X-rays, blood tests, MRIs, physical therapy, massage therapy, nsaids, muscle relaxers, xanax etc.. It took a pain dr to say I think you need to see a rheumatologist. And bingo finally diagnosed with RA & fibromyalgia. Started all the medicines to fight this disease and still hurt so bad. Once introduced to opioids my life changed dramatically in a good way. I could finally feel better at work and take care of my family as I should. It’s probably closer to 20 + years that my doctors were so happy to see me functioning better (and these were the days you were given refills for pain meds so the needless trips to get your refills were not an issue.) For years now people in pain had a safe miracle drug, opioids! I say safe because when used as prescribed it’s unbelievably safe! If you’re up cleaning or cooking you’re fine, no drowsiness or dizziness. You can drive, go to work, have a dinner party! You’re pain is still there but reduced to the point that you can live relatively normal. Without it my body screams with stabbing, aching, sometimes burning pain. My fatigue levels rise to the point that I’m useless. I think about how I can live like this. This has been our 21st century miracle drug for pain. Suddenly, for reasons pointing towards illicit drug users, in 2010/2011, rules started changing, by 2012/2013 dr’s were being arrested, shamed and blamed and suddenly those in pain had no help or recourse. Marijuana became the favored drug that almost no one can get. Many desperate pain patients turned to illegal street drugs like heroin and illicit fentanyl. They began overdosing along with the already present heroin addicts. Then a few loud voices started screaming about there being an “OPIOID CRISIS” that literally they had just caused!! I think whoever wanted these opioid reduction rules had and has an agenda. Find out what that is and we’ll finally understand why the miracle pain relievers derived under opioids is under attack and why pain patients and veterans in pain are being left to try and survive or simply give up.

Julie C.

Thank you for providing us with this invaluable opportunity. I responded to the survey, saved my answers under separate notes, and look forward to the NYT contacting me to hear OUR side of the story. Considering they have NEVER provided content from the perspective of chronic/intractable pain patients, I will not hold my breath. However, I do appreciate the paper’s willingness to offer this survey. I cannot help but think Dr. Josh Bloom helped encourage this to happen:

Thank you Dr. Bloom and Dr. Lawhern and all of the advocates writing well-informed articles and letters advocating our cause.

I completed the survey. CP patient for 12 years and fighting with CVS to get the medication that allows me to work, parent and live my life. Because no one is telling our story, we are losing our lives.

I did speak to Keri Miller for about 15 minutes on Minnesota Public Radio about being a CP patient within this crisis:


I’m so glad you shared this.
I had found it on my own a few days ago and wasn’t share how to do so.
Hopefully we can really draw attention to our side of the issue and stop the needless suffering!


Thank you I also did it short and to the point I wish all large or small newspapers would do this
Thank you for saying what we all have said not enough or any attention to the damage and deaths from intractable chronic pain patients dying ifrom suicide when opiates that helped them are cut too low or stopped. Why does Are life have less value then the heroin addicts or people steal meds and overdose??

Christine Miller

I took the survey. Chronic Pain Patients do need to be heard. Thank you.

80’s lady

What did I want to know more about?

What are the changes doing to the pain management of chronically ill patients? When does the issue for both sides gain coverage in the media?

I compare the pain patients to those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS patients in the mid 1980’s. The patient has such a negative stigma attached to it that the person is not seen. It took media attention to turn the focus of the struggle with the AIDS patients. In this case, the media is compiling weight towards the negative stigma attached to the pain patients.

It is easy to become concerned as a reader about a crisis when the story has a face or a name. Media has shown pictures of people that have overdosed and shown the horrors of the wake of abuse. There is no human face nor story to go with the person that is chronically fighting pain. They are forgotten or essentially thrown out with the bath water.

How many educated, professional, people have suffered a health loss with little or no acknowledgement including severe unrelenting pain? Pain from what? It would be nice to read about people fighting daily with medication as a last resort. To describe what it is like to live in the day of a pain patient. What is the routine? What therapies beside medications are used. What is the cost of combined therapies and management in the average pain patient?

I’d like to see stories of how people are worried now because their lives will be less because medication dispensing is being decreased. People are being told to ignore their pain. Pain coping skills that have been suggested include “pain acceptance” strategies. It doesn’t seem viable when chronic pain raises the blood pressure and causes distress. Here, go deal with your issues over there - like in 1985. We do not want to help you.

Kay Sodowsky

Done! Thanks for alerting us to this opportunity to speak up for chronic pain patients. I noted that opioids have been used for decades for pain management, so why are we just now having this so-called “epidemic?” What’s changed? I expressed concern about the sensationalist media coverage and loaded language (epidemic, crisis) that causes persons to shun pain treatment because they are terrified of becoming addicted, even though they may have no risk factors at all for addiction. Addiction is a mental health crisis or, from my viewpoint, a pain crisis. I also promoted the inclusion of the voices of pain patients whose lives literally depend on pain treatment in order to be functional. And let’s not forget the burden this sensationalism places on doctors who feel pressure to alter their treatment of pain patients just to stay under the radar of law enforcement.


Left my comments and suggestions, don’t expect to be contacted but I’m sure I’ll get a nice amount of spam in my inbox.


I URGE you to take a look at the carnage left behind fr depriving those w excruciating chronic diseases medicine simply get out of bed. They’re is NO Rx Opiod crisis!
It’s illicit fentnyl and heroin pouring over our borders. Patient are dying fr the pain! WAKE UP!!!

This conversation has gotten all the way to the CDC!!!! Pull up #ourpain on Twitter.

We need an army NOW as seems the policy plan was put in place yrs ago and now their goal is Opiod Prohibition sponsored by OUR Govt. this is real people.

Doc Anonymous

I completed the survey, trying to make a plea for them to look at the issue of chronic pain and the torture being imparted to pain sufferers who are forgotten in most of the mass media.

The survey is obviously geared toward input from the addiction community, but it is formatted so that chronic pain community members can give their stories too.

Well worth completing.

Nora Smith

Thank you for this opportunity as those suffering with chronic progressive illnesses and irreversible surgical failures living in pain are now dying from the absence of pain management. Those that never abused their pain medicine and are left without it, and have tried every other possible treatment will pay the ultimate price for this.

James Watkins

Filled out survey, left overall opinion, and did acknowledge the lack of the Chronic Pain patient included in many discussions, or even acknowledged.

Penny L King

Poltics will not save the world.

Monica Harper

As a Chronic pain sufferer of more them twenty years, i just want to say I use my opioid medicine only when I am in great pain. This has been the only medicine to help me with my pain. I am in pain daily, and most of the time I suffer through it. Nobody has the right to take away our pain medication, until they walk a day in our shoes. I can’t walk very far, and it is even hard for me to make the bed. I can’t work, and do very little household work. This is the third time I am trying for my disability. I am so severally depressed now, I am also on anti depressants. I don’t enjoy life anymore, and my daughter suffers for it. I pray for just one day to be pain free, and able to sleep a full night’s sleep. That would be heaven.

vicky swift

yes, I filled that out and encourage all of you to do the same. If we speak as one voice, we have bigger impact.

Patients United for DEA Reform
Patients are suffering, in untreated pain, due to the inhumane policies of the US DEA.
My 34 year old daughter, has suffered for the past seventeen years from multiple, overlapping, painful and debilitating, auto immune disorders. Muscular Dystrophy, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Scleroderma, among them, and is 100% disabled.
Despite her obvious health issues, which make travel very difficult, she’s required by DEA policy (not actual law), to endure a 200 mile car trip, every 30 days, to see a doctor who can write prescriptions, for the pain relief medicine that her very life depends on.
Then, if I present her prescription to a pharmacist who doesn’t know her personally, the dirty looks and refusals begin. “We don’t have that !” usually precedes throwing the prescription back on the counter, as they walk away, acting disgusted. They look at me, a 68 year old father, who only wants to help his little girl survive, as if I’m a fake, a liar, a cheat… a junkie.
I can ignore their insults, but I simply cannot ignore the prejudice which affect my child’s ability to obtain the medicines that her doctors say she must have.
I began the Facebook page Patients United for DEA Reform to raise public awareness of this unfair, and life threatening situation, which so many sick and elderly, Americans face.

Thank You for helping to expose this horrible situation.
George Sullivan

Honestly I read the survey and not one topic has anything to do with the millions of people who suffer 24 hours a day 7 days a week with unrelenting severe pain. Not one topic touched on the majority of these patients that take their medications and treatments as prescribed. Why will nobody poll this demographic from the point of view of those suffering from constant pain and the stigma, fear, and under treatment that sometimes ends in suicide because these people are literally lost in this “opioid crisis” narrative? I was 43 when diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer with metastases to my liver and spleen. Wanting to survive to see my only child graduate from college I agreed to the “standard of care” that included 3 chemotherapy drugs and radical hysterectomy among the rest of the debulking surgery that sent me into menopause at that age and in constant pain since. Yes I survived but I no longer live anything that resembles life. It’s only been in the past few years that CIPN is acknowledged as a “real” condition. If it we’re only that one thing I have to live with. I barely get out of bed. If the New York Times wants to tell the whole story, please tell ALL of it! Like getting sent to a pain clinic where after everything I’ve been through I was treated like a common criminal. Finally after 7 years of agony I have doctor’s who treat me with dignity but in those long years in agony I thought very drastic illogical thoughts. If this is all that’s left, why did I bother. I hate to sound negative but there are so many of us who have a right to live a life without pain. Thank you for letting me comment. I don’t think I ever have had the courage before.


Thank you so very much. I will.

Done and without giving a huge Personal sob story .I left my personal issues out of it and thought the big picture .
Those untreated and undertreated bed ridden from being abandoned and forgotten. The suicides for those who have given up.
I did notice how they worded their questions and how it was hard for me to click one without feeling like i am betraying other Chronic pain patients their idea of Opoid crisis centers around addicts and how it effects me and family as people who use are addicts that is the tone of ?’s I came out thinking. That could be just me and the way I was thinking knowing more people are againgst me gettting tratment than those rooting for me getting my meds and having a quality of life ..forgive me if I am wrong.

I completed the survey. Thank you very much for sharing this.

I agree that we all have to do our part in making sure the general public knows both sides of the Opiate epidemic. I have been staying informed, I have been sending letters, my FB friends are probably tired of my posts about how I’ve been treated during this. Most of my family knows I’m not getting any better and the reduction in my medicine has me homebound. I’ve not seen or heard any news on the subject of chronic and intractable pain patients being affected. Why won’t anyone with power in government come to our aid and stand up for us? Nothing, it feels horrible to think that no one really cares how it goes for me and others like me. I haven’t been able to get any support as of yet, some advice would be nice.

Tim Mason

I took this survey about a week ago offered via another blog. I spoke of myself as a CCP with Intractable pain and made the distinction that it needed to be felt to be understood. I mentioned the lack of accurate facts and data. I also mentioned that some media outlets cannot decide if it is a prescribing epidemic or a consumption epidemic. I did make it clear that few CPP became “addicts” and Intractable pain patients were “dependent” on medications.
I did make the correlation between the increased suicide rate and the sudden unavailability or willingness on some in the medical profession to continue treatment out of fear of legal reprisal.
Also mentioned was the stress and depression legitimate patients face in light of
the misinformation.
I did not yell or scream. I simply stated that there needs to be accuracy in media,
Thank You for listening.

Karen Simpson

I spent ages completing survey and on submission got a ” code 5 error”0Please advise

Candee Heller

As I’m not a Times reader, thank you for bringing this survey to light. I’ll be sharing it with other pain sufferers to fill out as well.

Jeannah Haber

Done and shared! Hopefully we’ll give them some good food for thought. Will update if I hear back from them.

Drew Pavil

I filled out the survey, let’s see if I get contacted? The times like most of media seems to want to grab low-hanging fruit IE heroin overdoses and deaths. They do not want to focus on the issues that chronic pain patients have getting their prescriptions filled.

Kel b

Finally!! Now let your LOCAL media know that the New York Times is showing interest in the Pain Patients side of this so called epidemic.
Maybe we can get all newspapers and news reports to talk about “US” for a change!