Without industry backing, pain patients are screwed

I can’t help but look at successful advocacy work and compare it to the fight of pain patients against the opioid war.

Marijuana advocacy is backed by its own industry and heavily-funded groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, so it’s no wonder that the movement has been successful. While I was surprised at the success of the Standing Rock protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I think it was when the veterans got involved that some success was reached. I’m also thinking about the long-term success of gun rights advocates, which also include a lot of veterans, as well as powerful industry backing.

And then there’s the recent success of kratom.

As an intractable pain survivor, I’ve kept up with the news on kratom. In fact, another pain patient even mailed some to me. I haven’t tried it yet because I’m afraid of the nausea, as I’ve read that this side effect can be severe, depending on dosage. And who knows the right dosage for me? Not me. And I don’t have the money to experiment.

When we look at the success that kratom advocates have achieved so far — against the DEA, of all foes — we have to wonder why. What have they done that pain patients have failed to do?

For one, even the kratom movement has industry backing. Which industries would back pain patients? Not the medical industry, that’s for sure. No, in fact, there are very large industries working against pain patients, including the addiction industry and the federal government.

There’s also the issue of who these advocate are — what positions they hold in this society. Most pain patients are disabled and poor. It’s hard to get anyone to listen to you when you’re disabled and poor, unless you’re supported by funding from… somewhere.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-12-12/is-kratom-a-deadly-drug-or-a-life-saving-medicine

Kratom gained popularity in the U.S. over the past decade or so, as its availability spread online and in head shops. Two or 3 grams of powdered extract steeped in hot water or whipped into a smoothie offers a mild, coffee-like buzz; doses double or triple that size can induce a euphoria that eases pain without some of the hazardous side effects of prescription analgesics. Preliminary survey data gathered recently by Oliver Grundmann, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at the University of Florida, found that American users are mostly male (57 percent), white (89 percent), educated (82 percent with some college), and employed (72 percent). More than 54 percent are 31 to 50 years old, and 47 percent earn at least $75,000 a year…

At the time, the DEA seemed less worried than the FDA. The DEA had listed kratom as a “drug of concern” for several years, but spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told the trade publication Natural Products Insider in March 2014 that kratom had “not been a big enough problem in the U.S. to control.” That posture changed several months later. On the afternoon of July 16, 2014, according to the Palm Beach Post, a 20-year-old Ian Mautner drove to an overpass in Boynton Beach, Fla., left his Isuzu Trooper, removed his sandals, and threw himself to his death on Interstate 95 below. Police found packets of kratom in his vehicle. Lab tests showed mitragynine, as well as prescription antidepressants, in his blood. He hadn’t left a suicide note.

Ian’s mother, Linda Mautner, blamed her son’s death on kratom addiction, telling the FDA that her son had ingested the leaf frequently, causing him to suffer from weight loss, vomiting, constipation, and hallucinations, among other problems. He had dropped out of college and entered rehab, but relapsed the month before he died.

Five weeks later, the DEA asked the FDA for a recommendation on whether to name kratom a controlled substance…

In the U.S., the kratom business consists mostly of retailers who buy raw leaf product from overseas farmers or a distributor. There are also wholesalers who package and encapsulate the stuff, though some retailers contract this out themselves. A recent survey by the Botanical Education Alliance, a business lobby group, counted about 10,000 vendors with annual revenue slightly over $1 billion…

The DEA issued its formal notice about kratom on Aug. 30, calling it “an increasingly popular drug of abuse readily available on the recreational drug market.” By law, the DEA’s final ruling wasn’t subject to court review. Nor did it require public comment…

Within a week, the Botanical Education Alliance and [Susan] Ash’s association hired a lobbyist, a public-relations company, and the Washington law firms Venable and Hogan Lovells, where Rosenberg had once been a partner…

More than 200 of the 660 kratom-related calls to poison centers had also involved alcohol, narcotics, or benzodiazepines, Hogan Lovells said. “Never before has DEA invoked its emergency scheduling authority to take action against a natural product with a long history of safe use in the community,” the letter read. It was signed by David Fox and Lynn Mehler, former lawyers in the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel. According to Ash, the letter cost her organization $180,000…

Can long-term pot use cause Alzheimer’s?

I don’t know much about Alzheimer’s, but I did have a grandmother who passed away from that disease. Am I worried about my pot use causing Alzheimer’s? No.

This research was published today in some Alzheimer’s magazine. It centers around a very expensive brain scan (not covered by insurance) which the author has been selling at his California clinic for almost a decade.

At first, I thought there might be something to this research. After all, we’re talking about a brain scan here. But I wondered how they can tell if a brain is acting abnormally when they don’t know what the brain looked like before the so-called long-term pot use.

How much did each person use every day? What kind? Was it homegrown or doused with chemicals from a dispensary? What were the ages and genders of the patients? Did any of them suffer from addiction, depression, PTSD, or chronic pain? Because you can’t blame pot when other medical conditions affect the brain.

In other words, I think this research is full of shit. Yes, we all know that pot can mess with your memory. But so can a bunch of other stuff, including pollution and old age.

So, here’s the information I found. You decide.

http://www.content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad160833

Conclusion: Multiple brain regions show low perfusion on SPECT in marijuana users. The most predictive region distinguishing marijuana users from healthy controls, the hippocampus, is a key target of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. This study raises the possibility of deleterious brain effects of marijuana use.

Authors: Amen, Daniel G.; Darmal, Borhana; Raji, Cyrus A.; Bao, Weining; Jorandby, Lantiea; Meysami, Somayeha; Raghavendra, Cauligi S.

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/dec/01/psychiatrists-couch-dr-daniel-amen-md/

The Washington Post wrote that by almost any measure Dr. Daniel Amen is the most popular psychiatrist in America. He is a double board certified psychiatrist, who has written 10 New York Times bestselling books, including the mega-bestseller “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.”

I’ve never heard of this doctor, but then I don’t buy self-help books.

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/shame-on-pbs/

I used to have a high opinion of PBS. They ran excellent programs like Nova and Masterpiece Theatre and I felt I could count on finding good programming when I tuned into my local PBS channel. No more.

It was bad enough when they started featuring Deepak Chopra, self-help programs, and “create your own reality” New Age philosophy, but at least it was obvious what those programs were about. What is really frightening is that now they are running programs for fringe medical claims and they are allowing viewers to believe that they are hearing cutting edge science.

Neurologist Robert Burton has written excellent articles for salon.com pointing out the questionable science presented by doctors Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman in their PBS programs…

http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2008/05/caution_that_program_may_not_b.html

“It’s 10 on a Saturday night and on my local PBS station a diminutive middle-aged doctor with a toothy smile and televangelical delivery is facing a rapt studio audience. ‘I will show you how to make your brain great, including how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,’ he declares. ‘And I’m not kidding.’

“Before the neurologist in me can voice an objection, the doctor, Daniel Amen, is being interviewed by on-air station (KQED) host Greg Sherwood. Sherwood is wildly enthusiastic. After reading Amen’s book, ‘Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,’ Sherwood says, ‘The first thing I wanted to do was to get a brain scan.’ He turns to Amen. ‘You could start taking care 10 years in advance of ever having a symptom and prevent Alzheimer’s disease,’ he says. ‘Yes, prevent Alzheimer’s disease,’ Amen chimes in.

“Wait a minute. Prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Is he kidding? But Sherwood is already holding up Amen’s package of DVDs on learning your risk factors for A.D., as well as his book with a section titled ‘Preventing Alzheimer’s.’ Then, as though offering a landmark insight into a tragic disease — and encouraging viewers to pledge money to the station — Sherwood beams and says, ‘This is the kind of program that you’ve come to expect from PBS.’

http://www.yelp.com/biz/amen-clinics-costa-mesa-4

Amen Clinics
Counseling & Mental Health; Psychiatrists

5/2/2015
Worst experience ever. Especially when you’re in a extremely depressed state of mind. I did all the tests and it came down to just an internist “reading” my results and pushing their vitamin supplements onto me. Ugh. Don’t go here. They’re no help.

3/3/2016
Beware – Amen Clinics preys on mentally ill people and the families who love them. The clinic will bleed you dry with “off label” treatments, nutrition classes, supplements, charges to fill out insurance paperwork, and routine services that cost 2x what regular providers charge. Amen Clinic’s pushes their expensive services even when they aren’t working…

11/20/2016
The cost associated with said process/treatment is staggering…

http://www.nextavenue.org/can-marijuana-save-aging-brain/

Cannabinoids, the active chemical components of marijuana, can regulate inflammation in the brain and promote neurogenesis — the growth of new neural pathways — even in cells damaged by age or trauma. As more research has indicated that brain inflammation appears to be a cause of several degenerative diseases, marijuana has been getting a closer look as a potential preventive medication.

In a 2006 study published in Molecular Pharmaceutics, a team of University of Connecticut researchers reported that THC, the chemical compound responsible for marijuana’s high, “could be considerably better at suppressing the abnormal clumping of malformed proteins that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease than any currently approved prescription.”

To be clear, most scientists investigating the link between cannabinoids and brain health are not advocating widespread casual marijuana smoking to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Marijuana possession remains illegal and research has shown that long-term, frequent marijuana use can impair memory, focus and decision-making…

In 2007, Ohio State University researchers published a paper stating that medications which can stimulate cannabinoid receptors in the brain “may provide clinical benefits in age-related diseases that are associated with brain inflammation, such as Alzheimer’s disease.” In 2009, Italian and Israeli researchers found that cannabidiol (CBD), marijuana’s primary non-psychoactive cannabinoid, may also block the formation of the plaques in the brain believed to bring on Alzheimer’s.

Wenk believes that, in humans, “the equivalent of one puff a day” could help ward off dementia. “I have said to older people, ‘Try it,’” Wenk says. “They email me back to say it’s helping. It’s worked in every rat we’ve given it to. We have some happy, intelligent old rats.”

Opioids are a plague?

http://www.statnews.com/2016/11/18/opioids-addiction-chronic-pain/

The opioid epidemic has rapidly emerged from the shadows and is now recognized as a plague that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status. In its destructive potential, it can be compared to the AIDS and polio epidemics…

A plague is contagious — addiction is not. And please, addiction is as destructive as AIDS? That’s what you would call a lie.

As for who this “epidemic” affects, it’s been shown that it mainly affects white, middle-class people. Those who enjoy a certain socioeconomic status are the ones with access to prescription medications like opioids.

But unlike AIDS and polio, the opioid epidemic continues to rage in large part because we, as a nation, have not yet resolved to attack it head on…

Really? Why don’t you tally up all the money that’s been spent in the war on drugs and the fight against addiction. Just like with every war, the more money you put into it, the more it takes on a life of its own, causing destruction to just about everyone.

As a pain expert, I had hoped the surgeon general’s report would have placed a greater emphasis on the need to develop alternatives to opioids that can be used for pain management, which would eliminate a key pathway to abuse…

Opioids are not a “key pathway to abuse,” just like marijuana is not a pathway to heroin abuse. And it’s extremely disturbing that a pain “expert” believes this to be true. Tens of millions of patients have taken opioids without any problems whatsoever.

And while a lot of people talk about alternatives to opioids, they don’t exist. Nothing works as well as opioids for pain. Nothing. How do I know? Because just like millions of other pain patients, I’ve tried everything. So, while this “expert” can hope for alternatives to opioids, that’s not the reality. And it won’t be for decades to come.

Here’s a more in depth analysis of the Surgeon General’s report:

http://www.reason.com/blog/2016/11/18/surgeon-generals-report-mistakenly-treat

The article from STAT reminded me of an article I saw months ago:

http://www.aol.com/article/2016/07/14/prolonged-drug-use-may-impact-moral-judgment/21432378/

Researchers from the University of New Mexico and the Mind Research Network have found yet another ill effect linked to prolonged drug use. According to the scientists, over time, both cocaine and methamphetamine can diminish activity in the brain’s moral and emotional centers, creating difficulty in determining right from wrong. The study’s subjects were inmates from prisons in New Mexico and Wisconsin. Roughly 130 of them had a history of methamphetamine and cocaine use, while the remaining 80 did not.

Whose morals are we talking about here? And with a sample size that was so small, using prison inmates, this “study” determines nothing. Also, you can’t determine what happens to a brain on drugs unless you have tests that show how that same brain worked before the drug use started. Recently, scientists have figured out how to “fingerprint” the brain. Turns out, everyone’s brain is unique:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brain-connections-map_us_582b628be4b01d8a014adc56

As some scientists are discovering, each brain is wired in a completely unique way. In the same way that each of us has a specific fingerprint, we also have a distinct map of brain connections…”

This research by UNM is the only kind that’s been funded by anti-drug agencies, like the NIDA. Do you want to know why we spend so much money on the failed drug war? It’s partially because of wasteful research like this.

What I would like to see is a test that shows the activity in Trump’s “moral and emotional centers.” You know, the ones that determine “right from wrong.” Would it look similar to the prisoners’ test results?

#DearCDC

Posted on the CDC’s Facebook page today:

#DearCDC: How does it feel to ruin people’s lives? To make them feel like outcasts and drug addicts because they suffer from constant pain?

#DearCDC: What is the agency’s position on creating stigma? Is there an epidemic of stigma in this country?

#DearCDC: Does your agency get a kick-back for every pain patient now labeled a drug addict in need of treatment?

There are no holidays for those who suffer from chronic pain.

After a doctor sells out to industry, credibility is lost

http://www.acsh.org/news/2016/11/22/trumps-wall-and-opioid-crisis-10450

My comment:

I’m a believer in science and logic. I’m also a believer in questioning everything, like who is Dr. Josh Bloom of the generically-named American Council of Science and Health? The internet does not have very nice things to say about your group, Dr. Bloom, but I suppose you know that. I figure your group gets funding from industries like Big Pharma, so really anything you say is tainted, even if it’s scientifically sound and logical, like this article.

Google showed me your recent Reddit thread and an article from CBS News in 2014:

“But Dr. Josh Bloom of the American Council of Science and Health says these chemicals have been used in the U.S. for at least 60 years and pose no risk. ‘There are so many hundreds of things more dangerous in everyday life than this that it is not even worth thinking about,’ Bloom said.”

Hmmmm, pesticides are not even worth thinking about? You have an interesting way of looking at this issue, Dr. Bloom. Why worry about something we can’t change? It’s not like chemicals are going anywhere, right? In fact, you’re now talking about opioids, which are also chemicals.

And speaking of the CDC and DEA’s war against opioids, perhaps you should look at their side. They believe that reducing the supply and creating regulations will prevent addiction in the future. This is more important to these agencies than the current grumbling of thousands of pain patients and a few hundred suicides. After all, pain doesn’t kill, right? Drugs can kill immediately, but it takes time for pain to kill you.

The opioid war is not about the treatment of pain — it’s always been about the treatment of addiction. And focusing on the real causes of overdoses doesn’t mean focusing on which drugs are being used. If that was important, then the drug war wouldn’t be such a huge failure and we wouldn’t be in the midst of this so-called opioid epidemic.

It’s nice to see your organization paying attention to the opioid war and the suffering of millions of pain patients, but I wonder how much good it will do. Who will listen to you, Dr. Bloom? Was it worth it to sell your education and knowledge to the highest bidder, as you’ve done in your career? You may be a doctor, but I think you’ve sold out your credibility. But thanks for trying.

Addition on 11/23/2016:

Alex Berezow [Mod] painkills2 • an hour ago
“The internet does not have very nice things to say about your group, Dr. Bloom…”

And like most of the internet, the comments section has no editorial standards, which is why you are uniquely qualified to write for it. After posting 11,871 comments, one would think you would have said something remotely interesting by now.

painkills2 Alex Berezow • 12 minutes ago
The internet is a big place, with both good and bad sources. What kind of source is this website? As a reader, that’s what I have to determine. And as someone who’s suffered from intractable pain for 30 years, I would think you might be interested in my opinion on the opioid war. No? Well, that’s your choice.

I’m sorry, did you have something interesting to say?

Should we have a war against love?

http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/politics-pain-supply-vs-demand

For a small segment of society, such as hospice patients during the dying process, opioids can be one tool in the arsenal used to relieve torturous pain. Thus, the drug-makers’ efforts have made pain relief more available. But people recovering after a car crash or back surgery risk addiction they might never have been susceptible to otherwise…

Really? If you may be susceptible to an opioid addiction, does that mean you have to spend your whole life avoiding painkillers? Is abstinence the answer for every addiction? (Try telling that to people who are addicted to food.)

Is this article trying to say that surgery can be done without opioids? How many people would have surgery if they knew it would not include painkillers? Looks like the opioid war is going to put a lot of surgeons out of business. Good riddance, I say.

No one knows if they have the potential for addiction until they are suffering from it. Yes, your family history can be a clue, but it’s never 100% right. A person would have to not drink, gamble, have sex, or take drugs to avoid an addiction, whatever it might turn out to be. Sorry, but that’s not the way the world works. That’s not how humans work.

Those advocating for the opioid war say they are trying to stop addiction before it starts. Is that realistic? Is that the way addiction works? The experts tell us plenty of ways to prevent cancer, but that doesn’t stop everyone from getting it. As women, we know how to avoid domestic abuse and rape, but those crimes still happen every single day.

http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Lawmakers-seeking-change-to-help-stop-pain-killer-abuse-in-Iowa–401574726.html

Law-makers say heroin addiction often starts when people abuse prescription pain killers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people who get addicted to prescription pain killers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin…

If you suffer from an addiction to painkillers, you’re already addicted to “heroin.” Duh. Would a painkiller addict be 40 times more likely to become addicted to illegal heroin? No, that’s not right. This is just the CDC inflating incorrect statistics again, making them scarier than the reality. Like taking a painkiller is one step away from taking illegal heroin. Considering the number of people who’ve taken painkillers (without any risk of turning to illegal heroin) and the number of actual heroin addicts, the CDC’s numbers don’t compute.

“We’ve become dependent really on using strong pain killers for treatment of regular aliments, such as cancer and inadvertently many people have become addicted to those pain killers,” said Isenhart.

Yes, that’s right, medical experts are now saying that cancer is a regular ailment, not always deserving of treatment with painkillers. You think if you have cancer, you’ll automatically get access to opioids and adequate pain management? Not during the opioid war.

While the opioid war looks at painkillers as a curse, I see them as a gift. Yes, they can be abused, just like almost everything else on this Earth. Even love can be abused. Love can also kill. Should we have a war against love?

Dear Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/vivek-murthy-report-on-drugs-and-alcohol_us_582dce19e4b099512f812e9c

“Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and it’s one that we have to treat the way we would any other chronic illness: with skill, with compassion and with urgency,” he added.

If addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, how does the surgeon general describe chronic and intractable pain? Is intractable pain also a chronic disease of the brain? I’m curious, does the surgeon general believe that addiction and chronic pain are the same medical condition?

“Many people didn’t want to talk to the surgeon general if the press was around, because they were afraid of losing their jobs and friends if anyone found out about their substance use disorder, Murthy explained. They also worried that doctors might treat them differently. The numbers bear out that fear of stigma.”

Those who suffer from chronic pain are now learning what it feels like to be treated like a drug addict — afraid of losing jobs and friends, facing abandonment and stigma by the medical industry, being told their pain doesn’t matter, and being denied insurance coverage for many prescription medications. Since the surgeon general is partially responsible for the stigma faced by pain patients every day, what is he going to do about it?

Why does the surgeon general think that treating addiction is more important than treating chronic pain, especially since millions more people suffer from chronic pain than from addiction?

“The overarching theme of the new report is that substance use disorders are medical problems, and the logical next step is integrating substance use disorder care into mainstream health care.”

Isn’t it just as important to integrate the adequate treatment of pain into mainstream health care? You know, pain — the main reason people go to the doctor? Why are expensive specialists needed to treat addiction and chronic pain, especially since the government has pretty much mandated specific standards for the treatment of both medical conditions?

“What’s really at stake here are our family and friends,” he said. “Addiction is not a disease that discriminates and it has now risen to a level that it is impacting nearly everyone.”

Everything the surgeon general has said about addiction holds true for chronic pain, too. But there’s more than one difference between the two conditions.

For the treatment of addiction, it is necessary to find and treat any underlying trauma or mental conditions that may have triggered the addiction. The mental conditions may be chronic, but the addiction doesn’t have to be. But without treating the main condition — like depression, PTSD, or bipolar — trying to treat the addiction is just a waste of time. Why doesn’t the surgeon general mention this very important part of treatment?

Intractable pain is always a chronic condition. The underlying condition has already been treated (again and again) and is sometimes caused by the very medical treatment that was supposed to help. Does the surgeon general believe there is some benefit to untreated pain and constant suffering?

“A few specific recommendations include adding addiction screenings in primary health care settings and hospitals…”

If you’re a doctor, go ahead, ask me if I’m addicted to drugs. I dare you. Just another reason to avoid the doctor, so all your personal medical information doesn’t end up in some government database. And do I have the right to ask the doctor the same question? Isn’t the addiction rate higher in the medical profession than in the general public?

The surgeon general is trying to help those who suffer from addiction, but how is he going to help pain patients? Just with the letter asking doctors to disregard and belittle their patients’ reports of pain?

What happened to middle-class America?

President Obama promised jobs and he delivered. But these were 21st-century jobs, like in a call center or an Amazon warehouse. Trump has promised jobs by negotiating better trade deals and building a wall to keep out job-stealing foreigners, but these are only pieces of the puzzle. It’s not the whole picture.

Obama saved part of the auto industry, but this year, I’ve seen lay-offs in just about every industry. Americans want good-paying jobs with adequate benefits, but they don’t really exist anymore. Corporations don’t have to pay good wages or supply benefits when they can go overseas for cheap labor, no benefits, and no environmental regulations. Even China is talking about raising prices so that wages can be increased. (China!) Many Americans haven’t yet realized that they’re competing for jobs with people from all over the world. This is the digital age, where concrete walls and borders don’t exist.

Republicans convinced Americans all over the country that unions were anti-business, so Americans destroyed the only power that could save middle-class jobs. Who else was gonna do it? American workers have had to fight for themselves, which obviously doesn’t work. Especially after Republicans destroyed the different ways Americans have used to fight back, like capping legal damages. Maybe some people think it’s a good thing that the legal industry has shrunk so much, but who’s left to fight?

If Trump is even able to bring back good-paying jobs, who will fight to keep them? (Many years ago, New Mexico paid Intel to open up a location in this state, but the relationship didn’t last. After many rounds of lay-offs, the city where most of the workers lived is now a ghost town.)

What kind of jobs will Trump help to create in this country? Could a President make Intel stay in New Mexico or is all of this going to be business that’s left up to the states? In other words, nothing will change.

This from Rudy Giuliani on CNN today:

“You’re forgetting his campaign promise of increasing dramatically the size of the military and doing away with the sequester. We’re going to go up to 550,000 troops… we were going down to 420,000… and we’re going to increase the size of the Marines… So he’s going to be facing Putin with a country that’s not diminishing it’s military, but a country that’s dramatically increasing it to Reagan-like levels, so that he can negotiate… he’s going to negotiate for peace, but with strength…”

I suppose dramatically increasing our military will put more Americans to work. (There are probably not very many foreigners or immigrants in our military taking jobs away from Americans, but since Bush’s wars, the military hasn’t had that high of a bar for admittance.) Are these the jobs that Trump supporters want, to work for the government, specifically the military?

As far as I know, it’s mostly corporations that outsource contractors from other countries, not the military. Thing is, the military relies on contractors from the private sector quite a bit. I guess it will be poor Americans who fight on the ground, while the “elite” work at their desks from around the world — the type of job that pays well and has good benefits. (The recession caused a lot of job loss in state and local governments — but not so much in Washington.)

I recently saw a billboard advertising for the Marines. It talked about honor. There may be honor in serving this country, but I can find no honor in war. (And just because I’m anti-war, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-military.)

Every day is veteran’s day because America can’t stop fighting wars. Trump wants to increase our military when we haven’t even financially recovered from Bush’s wars. How many women and men will he send into danger? How many will come back broken beyond repair?

There are men and women who will suffer for the rest of their lives with medical conditions caused by their military service. It would be one thing if the healthcare system took care of our veterans, but that’s not always the case.

This country has been cutting back on spending for services we depend on just so we could pay for Bush’s wars, like infrastructure and education. Americans have been cutting back to pay for 9/11 for the last 15 years.

Here in New Mexico (as reported on 11/4/16 by the right-leaning and financially-in-trouble Albuquerque Journal):

“With New Mexico in the middle of a budget crisis, cities and counties around the state are going to have to look for new ways to boost behavioral health services and fight the effects of opioid abuse. Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins made the comments while visiting Washington, D.C., for a meeting hosted by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Hart Stebbins and other officials on Thursday talked about the potential of pay-for-success programs in which local governments make payments to contractors and other service providers only if they meet certain milestones and outcomes…”

It appears that government has embraced the idea of corporations proving success before they get paid. But is this a good idea in the healthcare industry? What kind of successes are they expecting in addiction programs? What will clinics do — how far will they go — to make their patients “succeed”?

The drug war costs billions of dollars. States can’t afford to provide adequate healthcare. We’re in a gigantic financial hole from Bush’s wars — wars that Obama has continued, albeit at a much smaller pace. Military spending was out of control for so long. Americans have given their military a blank check, with very little accountability. Obama reigned in the spending, but just in how fast it was growing. Military spending has always included an annual increase. Can’t say the same for Social Security. In fact, presidents have stolen money from Social Security to fund the military.

And now Trump wants to make our military even bigger. We already have the biggest military on planet Earth. Maybe even in the whole galaxy. Our military is everywhere. Why do we need to make it bigger? As a show of force? Does Trump need a gigantic military at his back so he can negotiate with other countries? Well, guess what? He already has one.

Let’s hear from Trump’s new national security “guru”:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/11/opinions/trumps-national-security-guru-general-flynn-bergen/

Luckily, there are some answers to Flynn’s views in a book he published in July, “Field of Fight: How We Can Win the War Against Radical Islam”. Flynn claims that the United States is in a “world war” with radical Islam, a war that “we’re losing” that could last ‘several generations.” He also asserts that “political correctness forbids us to denounce radical Islamists.”

American Islamists, Flynn claims, are trying to create “an Islamic state right here at home” by pushing to “gain legal standing for Sharia.” Flynn cited no evidence for this claim.

In particular, Flynn portrays Iran as the source of many of America’s national security problems…

Flynn advocates going after the “violent Islamists wherever they are,” which doesn’t sound much different than what the Obama administration is already doing, given that it is conducting various forms of warfare in seven Muslim countries…

Looks like Trump and his cronies are gonna pick a fight with Iran. Will we never stop fighting over oil? Hey, Trump supporters, if we had more solar and wind power, we wouldn’t have to depend on other countries to supply our oil addiction. Or do all you gun-lovers enjoy wars that last forever? As Trump’s new cabinet member says, we’ll be fighting radical Islam for “several generations.”

Trump, the New Face of War. How appropriate. I guess the best we can hope for is that he doesn’t push the button.

My Pledge

As an old woman who happens to be white, I’m not proud of what other members of my race (and the electoral college) have done in electing Trump. What can I do?

I pledge to stand up with every group that Trump has denigrated. I pledge to be vocal about my support for the LGBTQ community, people of color, women, veterans, the disabled, those who suffer from mental health conditions, the homeless, and of course, pain patients.

If you want to be a racist or a bigot, you cannot do so if I’m around. This has nothing to do with political correctness. This is about being a human being.

On the internet or out in public, at Walmart or in Walgreens, if you behave like a racist, sexist, or homophobe, be warned that I will call you out on it. I’m not afraid of you. You think Trump has given you the freedom to act like an asshole and a bully? Think again.

This is my country, too. I may not love it, but I’m not leaving.

dsc08857-0

Why I hate Facebook

It’s hard to educate people about chronic pain and the drug war. Sometimes, you just wanna give up…

Johnna Stahl: #DearCDC: Which federal agency will be the first to feel Trump’s ax? Do you think the CDC’s new PR firm will be able to save your jobs? #NoMoreDrugWar

Demaris Forsythe: So you think you’d be better off if there was no agency charged with alerting the country to disease threats? Great. Brilliant.

Johnna: If the agency’s job is to alert the country about disease threats, why has it regulated and standardized the treatment of addiction (I mean, chronic pain)? I’ve asked the CDC if chronic pain and addiction are diseases, but the agency never responded.

The CDC has joined the drug war and now millions of pain patients are being abandoned by fearful doctors, made to feel like outcasts and drug addicts because they suffer from constant pain. The CDC has helped to create this stigma. If Trump and his Republican cohorts decide to cut back on federal spending, I have no problem with them cutting the CDC’s budget to the point where this agency stays out of my personal health care. Enough damage has already been done.

Demaris: I see no evidence for your claim, first of all. Secondly, your issue with pain management has nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines or Zika.

Johnna: I’m sorry you’re not up to date on what the CDC has done. Maybe if you suffered from chronic pain, you would be.

Demaris: Why don’t you post evidence of “what the CDC has done.” And you don’t have any idea what I do or don’t have, dear.

Johnna: I don’t need to post evidence of facts. They are easily found by those who are interested in looking. Maybe the CDC guidelines will affect you or someone you know in the future. Or maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who never has a problem. When it comes to healthcare, do you feel lucky, dear?

Demaris: “I don’t need to post evidence of facts.” You do if you want anyone to believe you. Claims made without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. The onus is on you as you’re the one making the assertion. Back it up.

Johnna: Your comments keep proving your ignorance on this issue, but if you need proof, try the Federal Register. There were over 4,300 comments to the CDC’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, mine included. I’ve read almost all of those comments and I would suggest you do the same, but I know you’re not really interested. You won’t be interested until it happens to you or someone you know.

Demaris: “Do you feel lucky, dear?” I don’t need “luck.” I have science and facts. Sorry about you.

Johnna: Talk to the CDC about how they misuse science and facts to accomplish their agenda. Ask them how they determine who is an “expert.” Science is not what it used to be, but it can still be found — just not within the CDC’s guidelines. Funny how the government can use paid experts on addiction to regulate the treatment of chronic pain, as if they were the same medical condition. You think you don’t need luck? Okay, live in your bubble. Doesn’t bother me.

Demaris: “Your comments keep proving your ignorance on this issue, but if you need proof, try the Federal Register. There were over 4,300 comments to the CDC’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, mine included” So what?

Johnna: What exactly do you want evidence of? Wait, forget that. Like you, I don’t care. Anyone reading these comments will be able to find the information they need, and that’s what’s important.

Demaris: “Anyone reading these comments will be able to find the information they need, and that’s what’s important.” So you don’t have any? Thanks for playing.

Johnna: Do you know the definition of obtuse? Have you ever heard about Google, you lazy Facebook troll? Maybe if you learn to use it, you’ll be able to find this conversation posted on my blog. Do you think any of the comments will be in your favor?

Fat Cats

01dsc06626-2

02dsc06629-2

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2136547/Power-really-does-corrupt-scientists-claim-addictive-cocaine.html

More than a hundred years after noted historian Baron John Acton coined the phrase ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ scientists claim the saying is biologically true. The feeling of power has been found to have a similar effect on the brain to cocaine by increasing the levels of testosterone and its by-product 3-androstanediol in both men and women. This in turn leads to raised levels of dopamine, the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens, which can be very addictive…

Power has almost identical effects to cocaine and too much of it can produce too much dopamine leading to more negative effects such as arrogance and impatience. The claims by Dr Ian Robertson may go some way to explain the outlandish and impulsive behaviour of city fatcats, tycoons and celebrities. Writing in the Daily Telegraph today, he said: ‘Baboons low down in the dominance hierarchy have lower levels of dopamine in key brain areas, but if they get ‘promoted’ to a higher position, then dopamine rises accordingly. This makes them more aggressive and sexually active, and in humans similar changes happen when people are given power’.

03dsc06630-0

04dsc06632

http://www.dopamineproject.org/2013/01/why-power-money-and-esteem-addicts-are-more-dangerous-than-junkies/

Understanding why power, money, and esteem addicts are so dangerous starts with a crash course on how dopamine manipulates behavior. Everything we do, we do to maintain dopamine flow…

To protect dopamine flow:

Drug and food addicts score and stash.
Safety addicts blame.
Power addicts collude.
Acceptance addicts fawn.
Esteem addicts feign.
Religion addicts pray.
Money addicts connive.

To trigger dopamine:

Drug and food addicts ingest, imbibe, inhale, and inject.
Safety addicts flock.
Power addicts dominate.
Acceptance addicts flatter.
Esteem addicts flaunt.
Religion addicts judge.
Money addicts work, work, work.

For example, esteem addicts are a lot like junkies — only less honest and more pathetic. Both scramble to score the same neurotransmitter, but while junkies tend to limit their destruction to themselves and a small circle of family, friends, and strangers, esteem addicts destroy environments, economies, and untold lives…

Esteem addiction combos are the most interesting and destructive because esteem addicts are extremely self-deceptive. Bolstered by unbridled self-deception, esteem addicts excel at sidestepping facts that threaten dopamine flow and fabricating dopamine-triggering rationalizations that justify despicable behavior…

Power/money/esteem addicts are, by far, the most destructive of all addicts because they will do anything to maintain dopamine flow. They abhor truth and ruthlessly lie, cheat, steal, bribe, corrupt, demean, persecute, attack, destroy, and/or crush. To make matters worse, their addictions provide them with the resources that make it possible to ignore, obfuscate, or eliminate any and all threats to their dopamine flow. It doesn’t help that insatiable dopamine cravings keep power/money/esteem addicts scrambling for the degrees, positions, and power that allow them to define legalities, moralities, and addictions…

dsc06627-2

dsc06633-2

This is Kiki. His owner says he’s really not fat, he just has a lot of hair. 🙂

#DearCDC: Is chronic/intractable pain a disease?

I had a recent conversation in a comment section about the definition of disease. The dude said that addiction and depression aren’t diseases. And I’m like, would it make you feel better if I called them medical conditions? No? So, when the brain is sick, that’s not a disease or medical condition?

How about when the nervous system is sick, like with chronic pain? Is chronic/intractable pain a disease? Let’s look at some definitions of disease:

(1) a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

(2) an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant; a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally.

(3) a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.

I’d say that intractable pain fits these definitions. Let’s read further:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299105/

(2004) What is a disease?

At first sight, the answer to “What is a disease?” is straightforward. Most of us feel we have an intuitive grasp of the idea, reaching mentally to images or memories of colds, cancer or tuberculosis. But a look through any medical dictionary soon shows that articulating a satisfactory definition of disease is surprisingly difficult. And it is not much help defining disease as the opposite of health, given that definitions of health are equally tricky. The World Health Organization’s claim that health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1946) has been praised for embracing a holistic viewpoint, and equally strongly condemned for being wildly utopian: the historian Robert Hughes remarked that it was “more realistic for a bovine than a human state of existence” …

What counts as a disease also changes over historical time, partly as a result of increasing expectations of health, partly due to changes in diagnostic ability, but mostly for a mixture of social and economic reasons. One example is osteoporosis, which after being officially recognized as a disease by the WHO in 1994 switched from being an unavoidable part of normal ageing to a pathology (WHO, 1994). This has consequences for sufferers’ sense of whether they are ‘normally old’ or ‘ill’, but more concretely for their ability to have treatment reimbursed by health service providers.

Another well-known example is homosexuality, which has travelled in the opposite direction to osteoporosis, through medical territory, and out the other side. After being redefined during the nineteenth century as a state rather than an act, in the first half of the twentieth century homosexuality was viewed as an endocrine disturbance requiring hormone treatment. Later its pathological identity changed as it was re-categorized as an organic mental disorder treatable by electroshock and sometimes neurosurgery; and finally in 1974 it was officially de-pathologized, when the American Psychiatric Association removed it from the listed disease states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV…

Intractable pain should be classified as a disease. It fits the definitions. It could also fit the definition for cancer:

“the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”

Chronic pain is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled activity in the body’s nervous system. Do pain patients have to die for this medical condition to be taken seriously? Cancer is no longer always terminal, and intractable pain is not immediately terminal. But this is about quality of life and how the disease of constant pain can remove all quality of life. What’s quantity without quality? It’s misery.

I posted this comment on CDC’s Facebook page entitled:  “Today is One Health Day! Diseases are shared between people, animals, and our environment.”

#DearCDC: Is chronic/intractable pain a disease? How about addiction and depression?