Can you feel my heart breaking?

I keep reading story after story of pain patients being abandoned:

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=15172

Last Friday my longtime physician refused to fill my order of tramadol. He said he was apparat how high the dosage was and that I’d need to go to a pain clinic for my pain from now. He cut me cold turkey. He wouldn’t taper me down, he wouldn’t decrease the dose either. He said the DEA is on their way here as we speak. There is no way I will fill your script…

And it’s breaking my heart. Seriously, my heart actually hurts. And I’m so very sad…

From Wikipedia:  Emotional pain that is severe can cause ‘broken heart syndrome’, including physical damage to the heart. The emotional “pain” of a broken heart is believed to be part of the survival instinct. The “social-attachment system” uses the “pain system” to encourage humans to maintain their close social relationships by causing pain when those relationships are lost… The neurological process involved in the perception of heartache is not known, but is thought to involve the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain, which during stress may overstimulate the vagus nerve causing pain, nausea or muscle tightness in the chest…

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Swearing Tolerance

“It’s been scientifically proven that if you swear while in pain you can tolerate more of the pain. In fact, there’s even a scientific term for this phenomena:  it’s called Lalochezia. [Wiki:  The use of vulgar or foul language to relieve stress or pain.]

But there is a catch… Basically, there is actually a way in which you can build up a tolerance to Lalochezia. The more you swear, the less it helps with pain tolerance…”

Let your profanity fly. LOL.

Would Harriet Tubman want her face on the $20 bill?

From Wikipedia:

Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad…

Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child. Early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave and hit her instead. The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred throughout her life…

When the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves. After the war, she retired to the family home on property she had purchased in 1859 in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She was active in the women’s suffrage movement until illness overtook her and she had to be admitted to a home for elderly African-Americans that she had helped to establish years earlier. After she died in 1913, she became an icon of American courage and freedom. On April 20, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a plan for Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson as the portrait gracing the $20 bill…

Would Ms. Tubman think it was an honor to have her face on money, like Lincoln and Washington, slave owners? I think she’d rather have her face carved on top of some mountain.

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.

Neurontin, Gabapentin, and Lyrica, oh my!

This is one of my most popular posts:

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/neurontin-and-lyrica-are-a-death-sentence-for-new-brain-synapses/

It seems that a lot of people are curious, confused, and worried about the use of Neurontin, Gabapentin, and Lyrica — all anti-seizure medications that are also used off-label for a bunch of other conditions, including the treatment of pain. Here are some of the questions in my search terms:

does lyrica lower your immune system

can neurontin cause long lasting brain damage

how do you know if neurontin gave you brain damage

does taking gabapentin stop my tattoo from healing

gabapentin immune system

reviews on gabapentin for anxiety

will lyrica hury my brian  (Oops! Too late.)

I don’t think anyone really knows the answers to these questions, even the one about a tattoo. A patient may experience a side effect or two, or none at all. And if your doctor tells you that these drugs have been proven to work, he’s relying on opinion, not medical science (what little remains of it). Unfortunately, doctors haven’t figured out yet that each patient may have different reactions to each drug. (Just like the food we eat, which are different kinds of chemicals.)

These drugs are used to treat seizures, mostly from epilepsy. Doctors (and government agencies) say that seizures and nerve pain travel on the same brain pathways, which is why these drugs are sometimes used to treat pain.

Really, if you think about it, we use all of our brain pathways, like intersecting highways, so this reason for why anti-seizure medications work to treat pain doesn’t make much sense to me. (I wonder, does cancer pain have a different brain pathway than chronic pain?)

But considering the large number of patients who aren’t helped by anti-seizure drugs, and the large number of adverse reactions, I don’t think the “experts” really know how these drugs work. For patients, using them is a crap shoot.

Keep in mind, when looking at the patient populations that use anti-seizure medications, you have to separate out those who take it for epilepsy and those who take it for chronic pain. You’re going to see a higher success rate for the treatment of epilepsy, and a much spottier record for the treatment of pain.

In case you didn’t know, cannabis is also considered an anti-epileptic, just with a higher success rate (and fewer side effects), both for the treatment of epilepsy and chronic pain. Medical science hasn’t proven that yet, but millions of patients already know it.

Anti-epileptics aren’t considered dangerous because it takes a very large amount to produce a toxic overdose. (Just like cannabis, which is still listed at the highest level on the DEA’s drug scheduling list.) Gabapentin is not on the list, even though it “produces psychoactive effects,” which is supposed to be the hallmark of a potentially addictive drug.

I only have experience with Neurontin, and it was a long time ago. But I don’t remember it being a useful drug, at least for me, and I don’t recall that it produced any of the side effects that others have suffered from:

https://drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=31837

Got a bunch of Neurontin (gabapentin) from an older prescription I never used much of. Mostly been using it as an occasional sleep aid, but it’s an interesting buzz in itself… mostly drowsiness & cottonmouth, but some alcohol-like impairment as well, along with benzo-like relaxation. A kind of heavy feeling in the head & limbs. Dizziness is apparently a common side effect…

it’s trade name is “neurontin” and doctors lovingly call it “morontin”

There are a few reported cases of Gabapentin overdose, like this one:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21554310

Described herein are the circumstances and autopsy findings of a 62-year-old woman with a history of depression, whose death was caused by intentional ingestion of excess gabapentin…

But I think one of the major problems with anti-seizure medications is their use with other drugs, like alcohol, antidepressants, and benzos. When you combine drugs, which everyone does, you won’t know as much about the potential side effects, including how deadly they can be.

Just think what the list of side effects would look like if you combined two or three drugs, instead of the long list you get for each separate one. The reason every list of side effects is so long is because everyone is different, which makes the list pretty much useless. I mean, if a handful of people get a headache after taking a drug, it’s a side effect. Yeah, but what if these patients were suffering from a hunger headache?

It’s hard to pin the side effects from drugs on an already deteriorating medical condition, so if a patient were to suffer brain damage from Neurontin, I don’t know how you could prove that. An MRI might show brain damage, but it won’t show the cause.

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/americas-poorest-white-town-abandoned-by-coal-swallowed-by-drugs/

Late last year the Beattyville Enterprise reported that pharmacists in the town were appealing to drug companies for greater control over another prescription medicine, Neurontin, which is increasingly in demand and has been found at the scene of overdose deaths.

No More Shame and Blame

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/25/by-understanding-why-people-use-drugs-i-now-know-why-i-dont-use-them

(2/25/2016) Why I don’t use heroin by Chris Arnade

I spent the last five years documenting drug traps in neighborhoods poorer than is decent for such a rich country. I have become close friends with women and men who live under bridges and earn money for heroin by selling themselves for sex. I have bought heroin for them, unable to stand by as their body rejected the lack of drugs. I have provided them with clean needles, water, and a safe space to inject…

I am surrounded by heroin but have never used, because I am not in pain and have it good. I grew up with parents who cared about me and kept me safe, surrounding me with books and toys. I was encouraged, and expected, to finish high school, and to keep learning beyond that. After my education I was lucky to find a job (I was good at thinking in numbers), and was paid well.  The people I met in the drug traps had none of that. Their parents, if around, were too busy with their own problems to keep them safe. Many did far worse, abusing them physically and sexually. If the abuse didn’t come from a parent, it came from an uncle, or the mother’s boyfriend, or a stepbrother, but the abuse almost always came. It was the ultimate betrayal of trust: being raped by men who were supposed to keep them safe.

Their childhoods were spent dealing with problems that would break most adults…

And so drugs are popular, because drugs work. They allow people in pain, whom society has rejected, a way to integrate into a community that does work for them. How much someone uses drugs is often a measure of how much pain they have suffered, how isolated they are…

That in any city or town, across all of America, people live on the streets, shooting up, selling themselves for another bag, should make us all stop and ask ourselves “why does our society create and allow such pain?”.

I never saw Bernice again, she disappeared from the streets, presumably into a rehab, jail, or perhaps she moved to another town. Still, I cannot forget the last thing she said to me, “Why am I using drugs and hustling? Because I am out here trying to kill myself. I want to get a gun and do it faster, but I am too scared to blow my head off.”

Try not to judge people for how they decide to manage their pain. I know that many of these ways are often destructive, like my addiction to cigarettes. I don’t have the looks to be able to sell my body, but I know what desperation and pain can drive a person to do. And if you don’t understand that kind of desperation, then you’re lucky.

According to all of my reading on this subject, most drug addicts are like the ones described in this article. And so I’m wondering about the homes they ran away from, specifically if most drug addicts are from poor neighborhoods. According to the government’s statistics, most heroin addicts are white people from middle-class homes. I’m not sure about the government’s definition of “middle-class,” but I know that most patients who can afford an addiction clinic are usually from the middle-class.

And so I’m wondering, what kind of pain are these middle-class heroin addicts running from? I’ve been comparing the current heroin “epidemic” to the drug epidemics of the past, specifically in the middle-class. It seems like boredom is one of the reasons for drug use in the upper classes, and I suppose we can also blame the immaturity of young brains.

I used to think I was in the middle-class, perhaps lower middle-class. It’s hard to remember every day of my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever been offered heroin. I don’t know what kind of crowd you have to hang out with to be exposed to drugs like that, but I’m guessing it’s people with a lot more money than I’ve ever had. And perhaps, also, people with a lot less than I have.

I can see why a lot of parents blame legal drugs and drug dealers (I mean, doctors). Who else is left to blame? There are many people who believe that parents are to blame when children do things like take drugs. But parents who don’t take drugs also have children who do, and vice versa, so I think the blame falls more on our DNA (along with the types of drugs that one is exposed to). And yet, there’s all this violence, abuse, rape, and bullying, that contributes to drug addiction…

Does the white middle-class really want to stop the heroin “epidemic”? Does it really want to delve into the reasons for addiction? Abuse and violence are already against the law, yet that hasn’t stopped drug use and abuse. The drug war hasn’t stopped it either.

People abuse sex, just like they abuse drugs. In the past, most people felt that unmarried women having babies was shameful (only for the woman, of course). People used to think that women who took the pill were sluts. One day, our society will progress to the point of not shaming those who use drugs, for whatever reason.

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Thinking of you, Bernice.

Future Visit to Serenity Mesa Addiction Clinic

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/dear-new-york-times/

Fri, Jan 29, 2016 12:17 am

Johnna,

I have “enjoyed” reading your continual posts about me and my advocacy work and your “opinions” about me give me a good laugh now and then. You question my ability to fact check and to be labeled as an “expert” in addiction but maybe you should do your own fact checking. Numerous entries in your blog are incorrect. Your most recent blog post listed several quotes that you said I made (see below). I never made these quotes and have no idea who did. Maybe there is another Jennifer Weiss in Albuquerque or someone made those comments in my name but I absolutely did NOT make those comments.

You can talk about me, my deceased son, my advocacy work all you want but please do not start posting false information about me and making up things that I did not say. I also do not receive endless amounts of funding from the state as we are up in Santa Fe right now fighting for the little funding we do get. Maybe you should do your own fact checking before you publish inaccurate information with my name attached to it.

And, as it appears that you have an excessive amount of time on your hands, maybe you should come visit Serenity Mesa and I will give you a personalized tour showing you all of the evidence-based therapy we provide our young residents who suffer from heroin and meth addiction. Maybe if you saw the services we provide and the work we are doing you wouldn’t be so quick to judge. It’s obvious you have never been an addict, loved and addict or lost an addict so maybe you should try a little more empathy and a little less judgement for something you know nothing about.

Once again, the comments below were not made by me:

Jennifer Weiss · Top Commenter · Albuquerque, New Mexico

And one more thing. Since it looks like you hate cops, how many times has APD arrested your dumb butt for just being a jackass or slapping around your p*nis because no hooker in their right mind would ever touch you. So how many times have you been locked up?

Jennifer Weiss · Top Commenter · Albuquerque, New Mexico

Loretta Baca obviously you think your s*it doesn’t stink because you think violence begets violence. Wow, you’re more into death and destruction for your own gratification because your life is so boring and lacking of what is truly important. And you know what, I actually feel sorry for you. You are a pitiful excuse for a human.

Jennifer Weiss-Burke
Executive Director
Healing Addiction in Our Community &
Serenity Mesa Youth Recovery Center
jenweiss24@msn.com
(505) 363-9684

—————–

Tue, Feb 23, 2016 4:36 am

Dear Jennifer:

I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to your email, but if you follow my blog, then maybe you can understand the lateness of my reply. (Being disabled, poor, and powerless is no fun, believe me.) And if you’ve read my blog, then no doubt you are prepared for the type of response you would receive. (At least, I hope so.)

You may not believe this, but it was nice to hear from you. And it’s nice to know that I could give you a good laugh, even if it was at my expense. After all, I’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine. 🙂

We’ll have to disagree about the Facebook comments you’re now disclaiming, because I think they were, in fact, made by you. However, there have been plenty of times when I’ve responded in anger and said things I didn’t mean, so let’s just forget about those comments for now.

It’s funny what some people use to claim the title of “expert” these days, especially in the addiction industry. Considering your background, you can’t be surprised that anyone would question your credentials. Maybe that doesn’t happen in the addiction and political industries? Or is this the very first time? Being rich and white is something I’ve never experienced, but I’m guessing the combination has been really helpful for you.

Maybe you can tell me why you think your experience — specifically in pain management — qualifies you for things like this:

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/prescription-drug-misuse-and-overdose-prevention-advisory-council/

“The council shall meet at least quarterly to review the current status of prescription drug misuse and overdose prevention and current pain management practices in New Mexico and national prescription drug misuse and overdose prevention and pain management standards and educational efforts for both consumers and professionals. The council shall also recommend pain management and clinical guidelines.”

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/because-grieving-parents-make-great-medical-experts/

“We will have a discussion on how opiates affect the brain, their addictive qualities and how prevention is a far better option than treatment. We will also offer ideas on how the dental community can help be part of the solution to an epidemic affecting so many people in NM.”

I can’t help but wonder if these are paid positions, and if so, which part of your work experience has qualified you for these positions? Maybe all you need is a college degree, like doctors who become addiction “specialists”?

You say you’re now fighting for more government funding (an endless task, right?), but you didn’t mention the funds you’ve already received:

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/1172014-healing-addiction-in-our-community/

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/nonprofit-501c-organizations-albuquerque-nm-87187/

And remember when you advocated to deny the approval of Zohydro?

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/reconsider-approval-of-dangerous-new-opioid-zohydro/

I also have to wonder, what is your experience with Zohydro? Do you think that treating pain and drug addiction are the same thing? Do you also advocate to deny patients access to opioids like Suboxone, Methadone, and bupe?

And why doesn’t your addiction clinic accept Medicare/Medicaid?

With all your advocacy work on pain management and addiction, you must be aware of the crisis that millions of pain patients are experiencing. You must also be aware that even if your work helps thousands of drug addicts, at the same time, it is also part of terrorizing tens of millions of pain patients. So, with this knowledge, I assume that you also understand why I have felt compelled to publicly point out all the hypocrisy.

We might be fighting on opposite sides of the opioid war, Jennifer, but as a 30-year intractable pain survivor, at least I can say that I’ve tried very hard to understand your side. Can you say the same? Not in my opinion.

For all these reasons, I would be happy to accept your offer for a visit to Serenity Mesa. However, I don’t think it should be a scheduled visit, or include a tour given by the owner of the facility. And because of my current financial difficulties, as well as my disabilities, I don’t know when I’ll be able to plan this visit.

But rest assured, I plan on visiting Serenity Mesa in the future. And just like any stranger off the street who may have questions about your facility (and the treatments offered therein), I hope my visit will help me better understand addiction. After all, I advocate for access to all treatment options for all patients, not just for those suffering from chronic pain.

Now, Jennifer, what are you going to do to learn more about chronic pain?

Johnna Stahl
Executive Director of My Own Blog
The Disabled Community
painkills2@aol.com
No phone

Soon You’ll be Able to Buy Headphones to Get You High

http://mic.com/articles/135151/soon-you-ll-be-able-to-buy-headphones-to-get-you-high-just-don-t-drive-with-them-on#.MUFxZMU9F

The Florida-based startup claims they’ve invented a pair of headphones that can bring users a high comparable to a hard workout — if not exactly comparable to weed.

Here’s how Nervana explains it: The headphones will pump music into your ears like any other but will also use an electrical signal to stimulate the Vagus nerve from inside the ear canal. This will result in — allegedly — the release of all those fun brain compounds like dopamine and serotonin…

While it’s natural for a company founder to be enthused about her invention, critics at the CES also said the experience was something special.

“I felt the electricity go into my arm, and everything was tingling there, but the best moment for me was afterwards when I finished and stood up,” one user reported to Futurism. “I felt like I reached a personal high point. I couldn’t stop smiling or laughing. I was like, ‘Oh wow’. For about five minutes, my happiness level was a 10 out of 10. Then it got foggier, but I was still unusually happy for about an hour.”

The device is currently in the final stages of durability testing and if all goes well Nervana says they expect to go on sale to the general public next month…

“[We’re] not going to recommend driving, certainly not while using it,” Brannon said, adding that while she was confident there was no impairment, the company suggested that driver’s stay off the road for at least 30 minutes after use…

Honeysuckle Haven

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I dream of a future where pain patients come together and create their own pain clinic. The one pictured in my mind is called Honeysuckle Haven.

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Since it will be totally self-sufficient, health insurance will not be required for admittance.

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Honeysuckle Haven is not like the Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Center — housed in a building made of concrete and steel, with doctors and tests to monitor your every move — or any other pain programs that currently exist.

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And in my future, the drug war will be over, so the Haven will offer all available treatment options.

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It will be a sprawling commune, nestled in fields of honeysuckle and bluebonnets, with large trees standing guard nearby. (The land will be a gift from the federal government as reparation for its cruel torture of pain patients in the opioid war, and in memory of those who didn’t survive.)

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Each building will offer different treatments, like water therapy and massage. There will be a building for patients who want to fight their pain with vitamins, a farm for those who are currently choosing cannabis, and patches of land for garden therapy.

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There will be a building where all sound is cushioned, and another one where patients celebrate loud music. There will be a building for those who like to pray, and bakery therapy for those who like to eat.

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There will be grief counseling (and comedy therapy) for all.

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Patients will move at their own pace, not dictated by schedules and appointments with professionals.

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I also picture a building where the mastery of pain management is taught. Newly-defined experts will come from all over the world to share experiences and discuss the many different issues surrounding pain and the brain.

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Patients will come and go; some staying for a day or two, and some for the rest of their lives. But everyone will be treated equally at Honeysuckle Haven (where eviction is against the law).

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Thanks for sharing my dream with me, and have a nice weekend. 🙂

Feeling the NFL burn

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/feb/06/joe-montana-nfl-injury-problems

Joe Montana enjoyed one of the most storied careers in NFL history. But the former 49ers quarterback has detailed extensive physical problems caused by 15 years in the league, including knee pain, neck pain, eye trouble – and arthritis that “hurts like crazy” in the middle of the night…

Montana, who won four Super Bowls with the 49ers, has spent much of his post-playing career in the doctor’s office. Recently, Montana said, he had elbow surgery and now he’s got problems in his neck. To date, he’s had three neck fusions, and his knee is so badly damaged he can’t straighten it…

Hey, Joe, do you get to take opioids for your pain?

Anger Hangover

Everybody’s pain is unique. Most of my pain comes from my jaw joints, and throughout the years, it has exploded to encompass my whole head and upper body. The average head weighs about 10 pounds, yet mine feels like it weighs 100. (I might be exaggerating here.) But one of the hardest things to manage is controlling my emotions — from smiling and laughing, to anger and pain. All of these emotions are transferred to the muscles and nerves in my face, and for me, these are the areas that cause the most pain.

An anger hangover is similar to a smile hangover — it’s a work-out for the painful muscles in my face. And the recent tussles with my apartment manager have given me quite an anger hangover. I really hate it when I’m pushed past my emotional limits, at least with the anger side of the equation. I usually don’t regret my smile hangovers. 🙂

But as many times as I tell myself that there is nothing worth getting angry over and suffering this additional pain, my emotions are in control, the roller coaster ride begins, and I am left with a hangover. I’ve had my share of alcohol and drug hangovers, and as much as I like to use comparisons, I’m not sure I have one that better illustrates anger and smile hangovers. I think this information helps:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/muscles-smile.htm

There are 43 muscles in the face, most of which are controlled by the seventh cranial nerve (also known as the facial nerve). This nerve exits the cerebral cortex and emerges from your skull just in front of your ears. It then splits into five primary branches: temporal, zygomatic, buccal, mandibular and cervical. These branches reach different areas of the face and enervate muscles that allow the face to twist and contort into a variety of expressions…

One of the comments on the CDC’s website was from a TMJ patient, someone whose desperation appears to have forced her into extreme treatments. I say extreme because I was lucky enough to escape from the medical industry with just one surgery, while others have stories like these:

Comment from Theresa Schramm

After 32 years of dealing with temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction, I had both of my jaw joints replaced and all of my remaining natural teeth pulled earlier this year. The TMJ dysfunction has improved, and is still improving as I slowly get used to dentures, but the headaches and myofascial pain have not. The surgeon was very clear in warning me up front that the pain might not improve with this surgery, and he was right. It seems that the 32 years I spent trying to find ways to treat this has left me with incurable scar tissue all around my jaw joints on both sides. This scar tissue affects every move I make with my face, from simple carrying on a conversation all the way up to eating. My mouth will never open as wide as it should, nor will it move from side to side. I experience pain on a daily basis, sometimes in my jaw joint areas and more often all over my head. It hurts to talk on the phone for more than 15 minutes. Singing causes such pain I have almost completely given it up…

https://ardwarrior.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/nancys-story-an-adhesion-warriors-guest-post/

I suppose all of this is to warn ya’ll that I’ll need some major art therapy before I begin my chicken soup journey, so there will be lots of posts today. My prescription for this pain storm includes no talking, no smiling, and efforts to remain calm, quiet, and peaceful. May these kinds of journeys be easier for you than they are for me. 🙂

Hunger Pains

While I sit here snacking on saltine crackers — which aren’t doing anything for my hunger — I began to think about hunger pains.

Have you ever been so hungry that it caused physical pain? I’ve gone days without eating, and sure, a growling stomach is unpleasant, but is it pain? Considering the levels of my daily pain, hunger pains really don’t count.

But think about this…

What if your hunger was not for food, but for drugs? Just like with food, we’re talking about a painful, daily hunger, which is never really satisfied.

How many of us would be able to turn down food, especially when we’re hungry? How many of those who suffer from addiction can turn down drugs?

When you read about hunger pains, just exchange the food for drugs, and you’ll probably have a small understanding of what it’s like to suffer from drug addiction.

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/hunger-pangs

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-are-hunger-pains.htm

The most common origin of hunger pains is the fact that the individual has not consumed food or drink for an extended period of time. Muscle contractions begin to occur when the stomach has been empty for several hours. As the contractions take place, the sensation may be somewhat unpleasant and interpreted as painful…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2005983/Why-biscuit-Doctors-reveal-science-hunger-pangs–them.html

We basically feel hungry if our fat levels drop or the stomach is empty. That hungry feeling is caused by the brain triggering the release of a hormone called ghrelin…  Another major signalling system is the vagus nerve that links the gut to the brain…

‘Studies looking at the sensory part of the brain being activated by food have found it is not as active in obese people — so theoretically they would have to consume more food to get the same pleasure as someone else.’ This could help explain why they are driven to eat more…

Professor O’Rahilly adds: ‘Generally, fat people are fat because their brains are wired differently and make them feel hungry all the time. It’s very hard not to listen to your appetite as it’s insistent and difficult to ignore.’ …

‘Although we may be born with a genetic predisposition for a large appetite, we can retrain the brain and teach ourselves to eat smaller portions and not snack,’ says Professor Zammit. ‘Obviously it takes great effort — the first day would be horrendous and the next few weeks very difficult but eventually we’d get used to it as the brain would make new connections.’ …

Dieting doesn’t mean that you stop eating food. Perhaps we should treat drug addiction the same way.