Thinking of you, Tonya Martin

http://www.thenation.com/article/state-where-giving-birth-can-be-criminal/

At around midnight on November 13, Tonya Martin slipped out into the yard that separated her trailer from the one in which her grandparents live on a lot in the eastern hills of Tennessee. Just two months earlier, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department arrested Martin after she gave birth to a son. Her crime: delivering a child at Sweetwater Hospital with drugs—some kind of opioid—in his system.

Martin couldn’t shake her addiction or the depression that plagued her. The 34-year-old mother gave up the newborn for adoption. Not long after, Martin’s boyfriend found her dangling from the clothesline pole in her grandmother’s yard. He tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late…

DSC02327 (2)

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/03/tennessee-drug-use-pregnancy-fetal-assault-murder-jail-prison-prosecution

When she went into labor in late 2014, Brittany Hudson couldn’t go to the hospital. The 24-year-old East Tennessee native had been abusing prescription drugs for years and knew that, under a new state law, if her baby was born showing signs of her drug use, Hudson could be sent to jail. That was the reason she’d forgone prenatal care for most of her pregnancy. Hudson was already in labor when she went with a friend to see a midwife, but it was too late. She gave birth to her daughter in the backseat of her friend’s car on the side of the road, where her friend cleaned her up after. Then she turned around and went home….

Hudson didn’t have much time alone with her new daughter. Someone reported her to law enforcement, and just days after giving birth, she was contacted by the police, who asked her to check in at the hospital, where her newborn, Braylee, went into withdrawal. Almost a week later, while Braylee was still in intensive care, Hudson was arrested, charged with assault, and jailed.

Hudson was charged under Tennessee’s new fetal-assault statute, passed in the spring of 2014 as part of a push to combat an opioid addiction epidemic in the state. The newly revised measure, which is the first law of its kind in the nation, allows the state to prosecute women for illegally using narcotics while pregnant, if the child is born “addicted to or harmed by” the drugs…

For example, a pregnant woman in her ninth month was arrested in 2014 for “engaging in conduct which placed her baby in eminent danger or death or serious bodily injury,” according to the warrant. What did she do? Drove without a seatbelt…

By 2010, Tennessee’s opioid overdose rate was almost twice as high as the national average, and in 2012 Tennessee was the second-highest opioid-prescribing state, after Alabama. That year, the state’s lawmakers enacted the Prescription Safety Act, meant to combat opioid abuse. The statute required that physicians use a centralized database to look up their patients’ records before prescribing more pain medication. But it didn’t make a dent in the problem. Opioid abuse continued to rage throughout the state, and in 2014, the number of opioid-related deaths increased from the year before, surpassing the number of people killed by car accidents or gunshots…

theinfluence.org/how-the-myth-of-the-addicted-baby-hurts-newborns-and-moms/

The idea that vast numbers of pregnant women are putting their infants at risk by using drugs like heroin is misguided; nationally, about 5 percent of pregnant women report use of illegal drugs (mostly marijuana) during pregnancy. Nonetheless, media hype has crafted a narrative of disgust around parents of babies with NAS…

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/12/pregnant-women-addiction-healthcare-not-handcuffs

NAS is a highly treatable condition without long-term effects… But even more damning is this: the law hasn’t decreased NAS births statewide. Since its implementation, such births have actually increased…

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Thinking of Nathan Eaton and Tod Abrams

http://thecoastalstar.com/profiles/blogs/delray-beach-xanax-addiction-and-death

Tod Abrams’ last act, in a life that included a once-thriving career as a Hollywood film executive and fathering a son whom he said he adored, was to tie a pair of bathrobe cords together, loop them around his neck and fix a knot below his left ear. Then he hanged himself from a metal rod in a closet.

“The anguish, anxiety and nightmares were unbearable,” the 52-year-old Abrams had written in a note to his family. Police found it on a dresser in his room on Aug. 30 last year, after he had been dead for a few hours. It was only a month after he had sought help with his addiction to Xanax, a sedative used to treat anxiety, at a $60,000-a-month residential facility run by Caron Treatment Centers in an upscale oceanside neighborhood in Delray Beach.

“I haven’t slept in 4 days and I’m probably beginning to hallucinate,” his note went on. “The people here were very kind but the program was too rigorous, too difficult. I’m too fatigued to proceed on. I don’t have the strength.” …

http://www.marinij.com/article/NO/20160327/NEWS/160329827

The father of a man who died at a Center Point drug treatment center in San Rafael three years ago has sued Center Point, alleging the facility’s failure to follow state regulations led to his son’s death.

Nathan Eaton, 32, was found dead in his room at the Manor, Center Point’s facility at 603 D St., at 7:05 a.m. March 9, 2013, according to the county coroner’s report. Dr. Joseph Cohen, the county’s chief forensic pathologist, concluded Eaton died of “acute methadone intoxication.” …

There are 14 entities licensed by the state to operate drug treatment facilities in Marin County, operating out of 27 separate locations. Of the 200 licensed drug treatment beds in the county, all but 90 are licensed for detox services. Center Point operates 84 of those beds in centers not licensed for detox.

Adam Weintraub, a spokesman for the state Department of Health Care Services, said both licensed and unlicensed detox centers are not required to have medical personnel on the premises or on call…

Weintraub said the state does not keep track of how many overdose deaths occur at drug treatment facilities. He said coroners are not required to report overdose deaths to the Department of Health Care Services…

Harris said the Department of Health Care Services’ Licensing and Certification Division made inquires about Eaton’s death in April 2013. There is no indication, however, that any disciplinary action was taken…

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.

When pain patients attack each other (and the CDC)

You’ll have to be patient with me, as it appears I’m not quite done ranting against the CDC…

http://www.buzzfeed.com/danvergano/cdc-opioids-guidelines

“We know of no other drug prescribed so frequently that kills so many patients,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, at a briefing for reporters.

Statements like this are so generic that they could be true, but that would depend on a lot of things, including the CDC’s definition of “drug” — which doesn’t appear to include alcohol or cigarettes, as these drugs are not prescribed by doctors. (Alcohol and cigarettes are drugs that are mainly used by poor people to self-medicate, although the recreational market for these two drugs is obviously very large.)

And to put it into context, MRSA infections kill about as many people as opioid-related deaths. Is the CDC panicking and holding press conferences about MRSA? (Freaking hypocrites.)

While hardly any of the media adds the “related” part to “opioid-related” when talking about overdoses, that is the correct term. And because the CDC includes both legal and illegal opioids in their statistics, it inflates the problem even more — yet the numbers still don’t rise to the description of an “epidemic.” And if they do, then the CDC needs to post a list of epidemics in this country, and let’s see where opioid-related deaths are listed in the overall picture.

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/which-is-an-epidemic/

I think that opioids, by themselves, probably kill more people who are actually committing suicide than unintentionally overdosing, but no one can know for sure. However, since more people die from suicide than from opioid-related causes, why hasn’t the CDC declared suicide as an epidemic? (Freaking hypocrites, that’s why.)

Considering the media blitz on the opioid war, the CDC has had plenty of opportunities to talk about suicides, especially in connection with opioids and chronic pain.

Dawn Anewday · Magnolia High
What is the suicide rate in chronic pain patients now?

Hey, CDC, why don’t you answer this commenter’s question? (Because even if you did, you would be wrong. No one knows the answer to this very important question.)

“Almost all opioids on the market are just as addictive as heroin,” the CDC director said.

I guess the director is excluding opioids like methadone and bupe, as they’re used to treat addiction. (Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite.)

This is just a bald-faced lie. If you’re talking about the population of the U.S. — at 318 million — then for over 90% of us, this is not true. Because about 90% of us will never suffer from an opioid addiction, so these drugs are perfectly safe to use. (Unless you have an allergy or suffer from intolerable side effects.)

If that was true, then many patients who’ve been given opioids in the hospital would have later turned to heroin. How many women are given opioids during labor and delivery? How come the majority of mothers don’t turn into heroin addicts?

There are only 47 comments on this article right now, which partially illustrates how the CDC (and FDA) have been able to join the opioid war — there are more people fighting on the drug-war side, and they have much more money and influence. The voices of pain patients are too little and very easily overlooked. And it looks like a lot of pain patients are just giving up, not even bothering to comment anymore.

Sure, the media pretends that patients have a voice through advocacy groups, but there are only a handful that do good work — and they all have their own agenda. Currently, there is no lobby for pain patients. Now, compare that to the anti-drug lobby that includes the federal government (and now Big Pharma). Seriously, we never had a chance.

Pain patients who commented on this article are very angry (and you can use swear words on BuzzFeed). I get that. But it’s no excuse to attack other pain patients:

Susan Carnes · Western Illinois University
Hydrocodone for BOWLING TOURNAMENTS? Are you kidding me? Your doctor is one of the reasons legit chronic pain patients have to fight for their medicine. I don’t think I could even pick up a bowling ball.

No, the doctor is not to blame for the opioid war. You’re obviously believing what certain media sites are telling you (which are just regurgitating the government’s view). And there’s no reason to compare each other’s pain levels — as if we should be judging who deserves adequate treatment. (In other words, stop being a dickhead.)

Maggie Karabel Christy · Indiana University Northwest
Why are you taking opiods for migraines?

Why are you asking this question? Let’s learn more about Ms. Christy, shall we?

Maggie Karabel Christy · Indiana University Northwest
I understand people are mad about this. I have chronic migraines and neck and shoulder pain because of a genetic fluke in my skeletal system. I was addicted to painkillers for 7 years. Having come out of the other side, I understand this.
Painkillers cause rebound pain. You go to the doctor and ask why they aren’t working. He or she ups the dose. It still doesn’t work. You switch medications. The new pill works for a while and then the same thing happens. I almost died of an accidental overdose so I had a medical withdrawal and went to rehab. It’s a shock to find out how much the pills that you think help you get through the day are ruining your life.
I get the Harvard Botox Migraine Treatment once a year now (you start doing it once every three months) and aside from maybe a month of slightly droopy brows each time I get it, I have no complaints. It’s funny, they use roughly the same amount of Botox recommended for each smile line, but there are 32 places on the head and neck where you get tiny amounts. Creepy to think about how much of that a woman can legally get injected with.
I had two surgeries and although half of my shoulder pain remains, physical therapy and massage help me deal.
These pills are SO DANGEROUS. I’m 8 years sober and still recovering from Seratonin Syndrome. Synthetic opiods can make your brain lazy and stop it from knowing how to make seratonin. It’s hell and I’m still on medication to help. That’s just one example of what they do to you.
GO TO A PAIN SPECIALIST. A doctor (legally) has to give you pain medication (not kidding) when you complain of pain. Pain specialists want you to try everything under the sun along with small monitored doses of painkillers.
There is always something else to try. Try it.

For one thing, obviously a doctor is not legally bound to give you pain medication when you complain of pain. (Not kidding.) In fact, this article is all about how the CDC is giving doctors support (and a legal defense) so that they can refuse to prescribe pain medication. (Duh.) (As if fear of the DEA was not enough.)

Along with hyperalgesia, serotonin syndrome is used as part of the rhetoric in the opioid war to scare the public. But doctors often put a label on medical conditions before they understand them, which I think is the case with these two conditions. Caused by over-use of opioids? Could be, at least in some patients. Perhaps in those who build up a sensitivity to opioids, or perhaps it has to do with changing hormone levels or a mental illness.

Ms. Christy is also putting forth the argument that opioids can “make your brain lazy and stop it from knowing how to make serotonin.” Actually, I think chronic pain patients have a lack of serotonin — the constant pain either sucks it all up, stops it from being created, or both. And opioids also treat that part of chronic pain, affecting serotonin levels. But just like antidepressants have negative effects for many patients, opioids can also have negative effects on some patients.

And really, is injecting a poison like Botox better than opioids? Perhaps, at least if it works for you. (And you can afford it.)

Maggie Karabel Christy · Indiana University Northwest
How often do you go to physical therapy?
Chronic pain sufferer and former prescription drug addict here. Long term use of painkillers causes rebound pain. Your back probably wouldn’t hurt as much if you STOPPED the drugs. You’d still be in pain for sure. But you’d be motivated to try other methods that aren’t causing brain damage and stopping you from producing seratonin naturally.
You have options. Hopefully you won’t almost die of an accidental overdose like I did before you figure it out.
I have been in your shoes. Life seems impossible without the pills and I feel your anger. I remember it. I hope it stops.
Please don’t take this as condescension, if you feel I was rude I apologize.

Some pain patients advocate to stop all drugs, claiming that pain levels will decrease after doing so. I’m sure this happens, but it’s rare. And then there are the patients who stop taking prescription medications, preferring to suffer rather than jump through hoops and be treated like a drug addict again. Some will switch to alcohol or bud (if they can find and afford it), some will choose stoicism, and some will distract themselves from the pain with gambling, sex, and/or food. Other patients will give up on life and just stop eating, and some will engage in risky behavior to hasten death, including suicide.

Pushing patients into a desperate state so that they’ll “try other methods” is one way to treat pain (which the CDC has chosen). I don’t know if these patients didn’t try other options first (before opioids), because they obviously don’t understand that most pain patients have already tried all the other options, paying for them out of their own pockets. Health insurance doesn’t cover much for the treatment of pain, and the CDC has now been instrumental in the removal of one of the most successful treatment options.

I believe that affordable access to all options is the solution, and even the CDC agrees that pain is best treated with a combination of therapies. But when you take away the pain relief that allows patients to participate in a lot of these other treatment options (if they can afford it), you’ve basically taken away just about everything.

After the CDC guidelines…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-frieden-md-mph/do-no-harm-cdc-guideline_b_9471168.html

Jett Ward · Troy, Ohio
I had three wisdom teeth pulled and the dentist would not give me anything. Told me to take some Tylenol…

People already avoid the dentist, mostly because of cost, but what do you think will happen when more people realize that dentists are refusing to treat the pain from dental work? Surgeons refusing to treat pain after a certain number of days after surgery? All the healthcare insurance coverage in the world will not provide better outcomes for a large population who refuses to even seek treatment.

Whatever good Obamacare has brought is now destroyed by the CDC (and FDA).

Carole Dunn · SUNY Empire State
I have to look at this from the perspective of people who are in horrific pain. For two years I had nothing but bone on bone in my left hip. I was prescribed opioids that barely took the edge off the pain. I had days where I couldn’t walk at all, but I was never able to get the amount of medicine I actually needed. I had thoughts of suicide a lot. I was finally able to get my hip replaced after doctors repeatedly told me the pain was coming from my back. After the operation the pain meds were so inadequate I couldn’t do the physical therapy. The physical therapists realized I was not adequately medicated and they convinced the pain management specialist to give me adequate meds so I could do the necessary exercises. They said it was a common problem with patients who were in terrible pain and were so inadequately medicated they couldn’t participate.

They talk about people overdosing, but no one talks about the suicides of people who are denied the help they need because of the drug laws and doctors using a one size fits all approach. One of my neighbors killed himself by using his electric drill on his head…

When pain patients attack each other

I suppose it’s not easy to talk “to” people instead of “at” them, especially if you’re on opposite sides of an issue. I realize that my blog allows me to articulate my opinions in ways that I might not be able to if face-to-face with my opponents. However, I put more thought and effort into my writing than I do for verbal communication. In other words, I stand by all of the words and opinions expressed by me on this blog.

I’ve seen the drug war force many changes on the pain patient population in the past 30 years, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt such desperation in my fellow sufferers. Unfortunately, desperation has caused some patients to draw lines, like how many pain patients blame drug addicts for the opioid war. Like how the DEA and grieving family members of overdose victims blame the drugs.

My blog is mostly about my own opinions of living with chronic pain, although I also include the thoughts, feelings, and comments from other pain patients. Which brings me here…

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/future-visit-to-serenity-mesa-addiction-clinic/

Sun, Mar 6, 2016 1:10 pm
Re: Blog posts about Jennifer Weiss-Burke
From: Jennifer Weiss-Burke (jenweiss24@msn.com)

Dear Johnna,

You are right I am not an expert in chronic pain and I’ve never claimed to be. My husband suffers from chronic pain and, like yourself, was dependent on painkillers for a number of years. They almost killed him and destroyed his life so he now seeks effective alternatives and non-opioid medications. So while I do not have direct experience with being a chronic pain patient, I know what my husband went through and continues to go through each and every day.

When you decide to visit Serenity Mesa, I will be happy to have someone other than myself guide you on a tour. You can call 877-3644 which is our main number. Anyone who answers can help schedule something.

I am a supporter of MAT and do not deny any of our residents access to these medicines that are proven to be effective for opiate addiction. In addition my son was on MAT so no I do not deny people access to effective and evidence based solutions, including medication.

We submitted our Medicaid application back in August and are waiting for it to be approved. We have contacted the state Medicaid office numerous times and have been told that all Medicaid applications are on hold because they are changing the application process. If you have any contacts in this area who can help me push the process through I would greatly appreciate it.

No, these are not paid positions. I am a community member of the prescription drug misuse and overdose prevention committee and there are two other community members who are chronic pain patients so your concerns are represented on this committee. The meetings are open to anyone so you are welcome to attend.

You have made a number of assumptions about me that are not true, posted quotes on your blog that I have not said and continue to try and devalue my advocacy efforts. But, the truth remains that young people are becoming addicted to pain killers at alarming rates throughout this country. Kids are dying. Kids are becoming heroin addicts when their supply of pills runs out. Those are the facts. I wish that was my opinion or my over exaggerated perception but sadly it’s not.

I feel for your pain and pray for your strength and perseverance to get through each and every day. I am sorry you are going through what you are going through and hope you somehow find peace. My heart goes out to you.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Weiss-Burke
Executive Director Healing Addiction in Our Community (HAC) & Serenity Mesa Youth Recovery Center
jenweissburke@serenitymesa.com
(505) 363-9684
http://www.serenitymesa.org
http://www.healingaddictionnm.org

Along with this reply from Mrs. Weiss-Burke, her significant other, David Burke (Dbkono@gmail.com), posted a comment to the above link (twice), which I have copied below in its entirety:

As a fellow chronic pain patient I completely agree that prescription pain medications should not be taken away from us! The last thing those suffering from chronic pain need is to suffer daily without remediation. I have been fighting since 2006 with an intense intestinal disease in which I have lost sections of my small intestine and suffer daily from villitrocious sections of my intestines that will never heal. Currently I am still on a variety of other medicines to take care of my condition but I have to live in constant pain everyday.

I, like you, was addicted to painkillers and they almost destroyed my life. I lost everything before I was finally able to detox off the opiates and am proud to say that I have been clean for over 5 years now. I have learned to live and deal with the pain and now advocate. along with my wife, for laws, funding, facilities and whatever else it takes to help stop this epidemic that results in needless opiate overdose deaths.

I have been reading your blog (more like uneducated personal attacks) and have come to one conclusion. You like me are nothing more than an addict. If you weren’t you wouldn’t be so crazed about losing your “drug” and would be more active in doing something about ensuring the laws being put into place protected your rights in being able to use them safely and ensuring that big pharma wasn’t continuing to get rich off of your addiction. If you were actually educated in the facts instead of spewing lies and mis quoting people you would also know that for the last five years we have been working hard with the department of health and many Senators and Representatives ensuring laws like SB 263 and SB 277 among many others protected the rights of chronic pain patients. If you don’t believe me, Call Senator Richard Martinez from Rio Arriba or Sen. Brandt from Sandavol County who is himself a chronic pain sufferer and advocate. Or how about Senator Cervantes. I can go on and on with all the support we have received from both sides of the aisle to show you that one of the biggest concerns from all involved was to ensure the protection of chronic pain patients. Believe me when I say this that your rights as a chronic pain patient are protected.

Unfortunately, your rights as an addict are much harder to protect. In NM there isn’t enough treatment beds for adults, teens, Men or women. When it’s time for you to get help what are you going to do? Where are you going to go? Who are you going to call? Sadly most people have no where to go or call. For the last five years we have been fighting to change that. HAC has been fighting for the youth of this state. Doing everything we can to ensure our young people have a place to go to get help. Wether they are rich, poor, middle class, coming out of jail, homeless or affluent homes. White, black, Hispanic, Native American, purple, or green. After all drugs or addiction don’t really discriminate do they? Have you ever seen anyone die from an overdose? Have you ever looked into the eyes of a 16 year old who is so gripped by opiates that his whole life is consumed by the drug? Have you ever looked into the eyes of a family that has had their lives turned upside down because they lost their son or daughter because of these drugs? Do you not care? Do you not have a heart? I don’t think you do. I think right now you are like every other addict I have ever met. All you care about at this point in your addiction is making sure you are able to get your next dose or “fix”. You are so blinded by your addiction that your lashing out at people who are actually trying to help you keep your precious drugs while trying to make sure others are protected from those same drugs.

My wife may not be an expert in chronic pain but she has never claimed to be. I, however am an expert in chronic pain. My wife has never claimed to be an expert in addiction but an advocate and one who constantly educates herself on addiction. I am an addict and I do the same. We do both however live it everyday. We live it through the eyes of the boys we care for. Through the death of her son. Through the everyday struggle of addiction in my own disease. Through the pain we see in the hundreds of phone calls and emails we receive from parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and friends of people who have died or are struggling with this horrible addiction!

Do you even know the statistics? Do you even care about where our state falls nationally? Do you even care how many people die every year because of prescription pain pills?

I know if you truly wanted to you could advocate for your cause. It doesn’t take any thing more than picking up a phone or as you are always on your computer or outside taking pictures of planted trash outside your apartment. Just pick up your computer and write a letter to you legislator stating your concerns! Did you know they are required to respond to you? Did you know your elected officials in reality actually do care? All you have to do is try!

You constantly assume things and you know what they say about people who assume things right? There is absolutely nothing and I mean nothing truthful about one thing in ANY of your blogs about my wife or our facility.. We continue to lobby UNPAID for more funding to complete the entire facility. We travel around the state speaking to everyone possible. Anyone who will listen about this epidemic. We will speak to judges, DRs, lawyers, dentists, students, teachers. ANYONE. Especially addicts like you because I don’t want to see you die of an accidental overdose. As a matter of fact I think you should get a prescription of Nalaxone and keep it on hand for anyone around you to know how to use just In case you overdose. Doctors in NM are now starting to co-prescribe Naloxone with an opiate script because the danger of death is so high. There are lots of good NA meetings located around NM. Remember the first step is admitting you have a problem😀 You may have chronic pain but being an addict and a chronic liar can be a far worse disease than the other disability😢

So there is no chance of you misrepresenting this post or me I will be posting my wife’s letter yours and mine on my Facebook page, Yahoo page and have saved a copy of it in my notes in case you decide to alter it in any way. You know being that your so honest and all.

Dear Mr. Burke:

Sometimes my honesty comes across in a negative way…

Well, if I’m being honest (about my obsession with honesty), perhaps I should say that it’s often seen in a negative light. I suppose that’s because the truth often hurts. But since my pain levels are always higher than the pain from honesty, I find the truth to be quite refreshing.

Obviously, this obsession doesn’t win me any popularity contests. But I think the lies we tell ourselves cause us more pain — like anxiety, depression, and digestive problems — than the truth.

So, I think the very last line of your comment pretty much sums up how much you know about me. Funny, if you really wanted to learn more about me, all you had to do was take the time to read some of my blog posts — not just the very small handful that are about your wife.

There’s an awful lot of information on my blog (over 6,500 posts), so I don’t expect you to be familiar with all the details of my chronic pain survivor story. I find it terribly ironic that you accuse me of making assumptions, when it’s you who has made a great number of assumptions about me. But that’s okay, because I don’t mind correcting you.

I think it’s very, very sad when pain patients attack each other. And one of the poison darts often thrown is to accuse another patient of being a drug addict — as if suffering from this additional medical condition is something to be ashamed of. Anyone who follows and reads my blog knows about the enormous amount of empathy I have for those who suffer from any kind of addiction, as well as the in-depth self-analyzing I’ve done on my own addictions.

Tell me, Mr. Burke, do you recognize your addictions?

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/do-you-recognize-your-addictions/

For those pain patients who choose stoicism over drugs, I salute you. I can only warn you that untreated pain can very easily turn into chronic and intractable pain, increasing your daily pain levels, sometimes to the point of being unmanageable (even with drugs).

For those who choose to treat their pain with other drugs besides opioids, I wish you luck. But please don’t play the hypocrite, with the belief that some drugs are good, while others are bad. All drugs have side effects, and you can become addicted to antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and stimulants, just like opioids. In fact, some patients have more trouble detoxing from antidepressants than opioids, with longer-lasting effects. Have you read about brain zaps?

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/lilly-chalks-up-a-win-for-cymbalta-in-first-u-s-trial-over-withdrawal-symptom-claims/

Mr. Burke, you claim to have been “clean” for five years. I suppose that means you haven’t taken any painkillers, as if these are the only drugs that can make one feel dirty while taking, and become clean when they cease taking them. (Heck, some people feel that way about gluten.) If your chosen treatments for pain are working for you, that’s great.

For the past 4 years, I haven’t taken any prescription drugs for chronic pain, even though I’ve had more than one opportunity to purchase them in the underground market. And while you think that I’m addicted to drugs — only interested in getting my next “fix” — the truth is that I was really addicted to doctors and the medical industry. Freeing myself from that addiction was both the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.

So, there’s no way I can overdose, unless it’s on aspirin. But you’re so very kind to worry about me, Mr. Burke. But dude, there’s no way on Earth that you could ever shame me, although I’m sure you tried your best. Tell me, why did you think it was a good idea to assert that I plant trash outside of my apartment? I think that’s the silliest thing I’ve heard all year.

And no matter how many thinly-veiled innuendos you throw at me, you can’t make me feel bad about my blogging and art therapies — at least they’re free. And I’m sure we can agree that blogging and art therapies are not addicting (unlike the prescription drugs you’re currently taking).

The problem I have with you and your wife’s advocacy work is that it’s not helping pain patients. In fact, it’s harming them. (Isn’t New Mexico at the top of the list for drug abuse and overdoses, including alcohol? And if you check your statistics, you’ll find suicide on that list, too.)

I find it odd that you and your wife don’t understand the results of your actions, but then you both have a rather narrow focus on addiction. And until you read every email (posted on this blog) that I’ve written to government employees (and anyone else I thought might help), you have no business telling me to “try.”

Don’t get me wrong, your comments didn’t offend me. But your attitude — especially as a chronic pain patient — is offensive and harmful to millions of other patients. I think you know that. And I hope you also know how foolish you look, trying to judge me, based on your own misconceptions and the lies you tell yourself.

Dude, you’re not an “expert” on chronic pain. You’re only an expert on your version of adequate treatment options. You discriminate against certain drugs, just like your opinions about me discriminate against other pain patients. I’m not trying to change or open up your mind — no, I’m trying to inform millions of other pain patients what they’re up against in the opioid war.

It’s unfortunate that we’re on opposite sides of this war, Mr. Burke, but I prefer to be on the right side of history. The drug war is, and has been, a total failure (just like prohibition). The war against cannabis has been a disaster, too. The opioid war will also be a failure, but it could take decades — decades of increased suffering, depression, disability, alcoholism, homelessness, and suicides. Yes, and overdoses, too. All because of people like you and your wife. (And a shout out to Unum and the CDC.)

If I believed in shame, I would call that shameful. Hopefully, the patients treated at your addiction clinic are not shamed, as you have tried to shame me here.

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/what-is-the-purpose-of-shame/

What Do I See?

I see that the squirrels are back.

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I see that someone misses the snow, just like me.

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I see that my neighbors like to have a good time…

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But have questionable tastes.

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I see what looks like a vapor trail from an alien ship.

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I see the sunrise from the gas station.

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I see a disabled symbol that doesn’t fit me, as I’m not in a wheelchair.

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I see neglect.

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I’m not sure what I’m seeing here, but it could be one of the aliens.

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I see that Verbal gets around.

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I see a hole that I complained about, yet it still remains. (Reminds me of how I once broke my foot.)

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“Hello from the outside.”  Adele

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This is what I saw in my front yard this morning.

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I found this questionable work of art in the field across from my apartments.

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It’s Pot Art. 🙂

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And wonders of all wonders, they’ve invented a self-cleaning toilet:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-03/boeing-s-new-self-cleaning-jet-toilet-is-a-germophobe-s-delight

Of course, this cleaning method won’t remove hard water and mineral stains, just germs.

At this point, you should be glad that I haven’t included any photos of dog poop.

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In other words, it could have been worse.

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Last, but not least, do you remember these from summer of last year?

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Don’t ask me where the eyeball in the featured photo came from. (What, like a stressed-out teddy bear?) And if you know, don’t tell me — let it remain a mystery.