A Year Ago

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Sadly (and dryly), there hasn’t been much rain this year.

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I don’t have a view in my new apartment, and while I love the view I have here, it’s hard to enjoy it while looking at all the trash.

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Photo taken 3/17/2016.

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Photo taken 2 days later.

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The Jesus Shot

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/tns-texas-sid-miller-jesus-shot.html

(3/21/2016) Texas Ag Commissioner May Have Billed Taxpayers for Trip to Get ‘Jesus Shot’

Miller, a former rodeo cowboy who suffers from chronic pain, told the Houston Chronicle earlier this year he has received the “Jesus Shot,” a controversial but legal medication administered only by a single Oklahoma City-area doctor who claims that it takes away all pain for life…

The “Jesus Shot” costs about $300 and includes Dexamethasone, Kenalog and B12, which have each been approved to treat inflammation…

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/03/18/oklahoma-doctor-claims-300-jesus-shot-can-cure-chronic-pain.html

Dr. Vania Apkarian, a physiology, anesthesiology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation professor at Northwestern University, called those claims “outrageous.”

“This is some variant of giving some anti-inflammatory drug and cortisol, which is what all chronic pain patients are treated with regularly in almost all pain clinics,” Apkarian, who has studied pain in animals and human models for two decades, told FoxNews.com. “It’s effective for a week or so, and eventually the pain comes back.”

He said the success rate of anti-inflammatory drugs like these is 10 to 20 percent at best.

“This is quackery,” Apkarian said. “There is nothing in here that is anything different from the standard lines of managing pain.”

He said the shot probably wouldn’t cause harm but rather, “It’s guaranteed not to do anything.”

Maybe I’m just overly tired, but what I see here is a pain management doctor calling his own practice “quackery” and “guaranteed not to do anything.”

Poor people don’t vote

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nixon-drug-war-racist_us_56f16a0ae4b03a640a6bbda1

Ehrlichman provided some shockingly honest insight into the motives behind the drug war. From Harper’s:

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

It’s not news that the drug war is all about racism. But the “antiwar left” included white people, so it’s not just about race. If I were to guess, I’d say that more poor people voted in the 60s and 70s. Now? Not so much. Hard to blame us, really…

I have to wonder, who are the enemies of chronic pain patients? Why have we been targeted? Just like the “antiwar left and black people,” pain patients are poor and can’t fight back. But are we big enough in number to make a difference at the voting booth?

Maybe, but who the fuck would we vote for?

Under comments:

Ian Mentken · Founder at Cod and Cowboy Design
I will say the obligatory “what happened today in Brussels was horrific and tragic,” but truly it is nothing compared to the devastation we have wrought upon our own citizens.

Dan Ibrahim
Even with this revelation, I neither bear or carry ill-will against any man. Black people, collectively have no agenda to hurt any race or group of people. I don’t know what might a plausible justification for a scheme to cause grave harm to this group of people by some people in certain quaters. Please help us make the world a better place for all in every small way you can. It begins with speaking out against injustices like this. Please do something in your own small way. Thank you.

Because her pain never stopped

Let me tell you a story about a friend I used to have, let’s call him Paul. He was in his 60s when he fell in love with a 20-year-old prostitute, let’s call her Ashley. Ashley was also a meth addict.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t like the movies — and this story isn’t like the Julia Robert’s film, Pretty Woman.

Paul mentioned that Ashley had been on drugs since the age of 13, and started selling her body not long thereafter. He told me of the many occasions when he found Ashley at his back door, smelly, dirty, broke, and in need of care. He would get her cleaned up, but she never stayed for long. The last time I saw Paul, he told me that child protective services had taken away Ashley’s two-year-old, which sent her into another meth binge.

Paul said he had tried over and over again to get Ashley into rehab, but she didn’t want to go. Just like many other drug addicts, Ashley probably didn’t believe she could get clean. She didn’t believe in herself. And even after 7 years of this life, Ashley still didn’t want to stop. Because her pain never stopped.

It’s very difficult and humbling to recognize that a drug has so much power over you. That it’s stronger than you. But another part of this struggle is dealing with the physical pain and torture of withdrawal. Because, make no mistake about it, drug withdrawal can be torture. It’s a different kind of torture than chronic pain, and although I’ve experienced both, I don’t know how to describe the difference.

Searching on YouTube for “addiction,” I found visual representations of this torture:

What you’ll also see in this video is a prime example of how not to treat a drug addict — with shame and derision (even if with good intentions) — which just increases these very same emotions in the patient. He’s already disgusted with himself, which is why he agreed to the cold-turkey detox. But time and time again, he’s unable to go cold-turkey because he can’t stand the pain (the torture).

This is the kind of torture that overdose victims suffer through when they’re given naloxone:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/22/life-is-hell-after-narcan-heroin-s-miracle-cure.html

For instance, to the uninformed, it is inconceivable that someone who nearly died from a drug would run out that very same day and buy more of it. Narcan works by binding to opioid receptors, blocking the effect of narcotics like heroin. In drug users with a physical dependency, it also has the effect of causing severe withdrawal symptoms. This all but guarantees that the first thing a user will think of after their overdose is reversed is getting another fix…

“It’s snaps you right out, but now you’re sick,” she said. Tammy explained how EMTs took her to a nearby hospital for treatment, but her withdrawal symptoms were so bad she ran from the vehicle when it reached its destination. She says she tried shooting up to feel better but the naloxone in her system blocked the heroin.

“You could do 30 bags and you’re not going to feel nothing for hours,” she said…

Meanwhile, several users told The Daily Beast that police officers sometimes use the drug irresponsibly to rouse addicts who are sleeping or nodding out in public. That claim is hard to independently verify, but Jeff Deeney, a treatment professional who works with drug-addicted populations in North Philadelphia, told The Daily Beast he has heard similar anecdotes from clients…

http://www.buzzfeed.com/catferguson/addiction-marketplace

In the midst of a national opiate epidemic, politicians are talking a lot about addiction treatment… But few if any of these public discussions address what “getting help” actually looks like…

Because the best way to milk insurance is to cycle addicts through detox, rehab, and outpatient programs, there’s plenty of incentive to keep them relapsing. Five recovering addicts told BuzzFeed News that some marketers give their recruits money for drugs so they test positive on urine tests when checking into treatment…

Florida has struggled to regulate the recovery industry… The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the body tasked with regulating rehab and detox centers, is woefully underfunded, they say, and doesn’t have staff to enforce its own regulations. And it doesn’t have any power over halfway houses…

There are few numbers on how many addicts get clean in rehab, and even fewer on how many stay clean. By nature, it’s a transient population, difficult to track for the multiple years required to get solid evidence of efficacy. And there’s little incentive for rehab centers to shine a light on relapse rates, which likely hover around 90%…

Even in countries that have safe injection sites for heroin users, the relapse rate is still high (but much lower than America’s 90%). But, at least in one of these countries, the death rate from heroin overdoses is now zero.

Here’s a little good news for New Mexico:

(3/16/2016) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is giving more than $1.7 million to five health centers and treatment providers in New Mexico to improve and expand substance-abuse services, particularly the treatment of opioid abuse. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced the grants being awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The senators said grants are going to First Choice Community Healthcare Inc. and First Nations Community Health Source Inc. in Albuquerque, La Familia Medical Center and Presbyterian Medical Services Inc. in Santa Fe, and the Pueblo of Jemez…

I’ve done my best to understand addiction. But what to do about those who don’t want treatment? Who are not ready for treatment? I was thinking that if a cancer patient refused treatment, it wouldn’t be considered shameful, like with drug addiction. Even psychiatric patients usually have the right to refuse treatment. But pushing and forcing drug addicts into treatment obviously doesn’t work.