How the War on Drugs Is Hurting Chronic Pain Patients

Maia Szalavitz interviewed me and wrote about my recent accident and subsequent reluctance to seek emergency medical care…

July 16, 2015
by Maia Szalavitz

When 58-year-old Zyp Czyk* had a serious mountain biking accident in June, she refused to go to the emergency room even though her injuries knocked her out cold and her husband pleaded for her to seek help.

Instead, Czyk slept for two days—contrary to the conventional wisdom of what you’re supposed to do after sustaining a head injury. Only then did she finally agree to go to an urgent care center, where she discovered she had broken her collarbone and some ribs and needed surgery.

Czyk isn’t afraid of doctors, hospitals, or pain medication, and she’s not opposed to Western medicine. In fact, she’s been taking Oxycontin for chronic pain for nearly two decades. And that’s the problem: She feared that if she went to the hospital she might be labeled a drug-seeker, which could lead to her doctor cutting off her opioid prescription, leaving her without the treatment that makes her life bearable…

“I can’t begin to tell you how stressful it’s been,” she tells me, echoing the voices of other chronic pain patients who are often ignored in media coverage of the opioid “crisis” but appear in the comments en masse under most such articles…

(6/12/2015) Baker: $27 Million Needed To Fight Deadly Painkiller Addiction Epidemic

Since addiction often begins with the abuse of prescription painkillers, the task force’s recommendations include strengthening the state’s prescription-monitoring program and requiring education in safe prescribing practices. It also calls for appointing addiction specialists to state boards that oversee doctors, nurses, physician assistants and dentists…

The task force, which was chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and included Attorney General Maura Healey, seeks a change in the state’s civil commitment law that would allow an individual with a substance abuse problem to be taken, involuntarily if necessary, for assessment.

“We are not going to arrest or incarcerate our way out of this,” said Healey, who along with Baker noted the opiate crisis was affecting families in all corners of the state, urban and rural, and regardless of income. Sudders said addiction must be treated as a chronic medical disease no different than diabetes, heart disease or others….

I wouldn’t describe the activity in the comment section of any article on the war against pain patients to be “…en masse under most such articles.”  After all, there are so many of them, how is one supposed to keep up?  It’s exhausting, fighting the same ignorant comments, time after time (after time).  It’s never-ending.  (Like bugs.)

One thought on “How the War on Drugs Is Hurting Chronic Pain Patients

  1. this is unbelievable. now they want to involuntarily commit someone because they ‘appear/seem’ to have an addiction issue? they will quit coming to the clinics, they will quit treating their other illnesses, if they are afraid of being committed because a provider perceives them as being an addict. ya, that’s gonna really help them.

    and the addiction specialists overlooking/determining what prescribers prescribe? absolutely ridiculous. they did not/do not have a medical degree and years of experience, and they do not know anything about the patients’ pain and needs. now they are just bullying us to quit asking for pain relief and to just miraculously stop being an addict, or they will cut off help and services for people in both groups.

    how do people change their government when their voice is stifled? who will/wants to speak for those in either group? no one. we in both/either group will simply be added to the other groups that have already been marginalized, adding to the number of people whose rights have been legally trampled and have no voice to protect themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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