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Dear Pharmacists, I'm Not a Drug Seeker. I Have Chronic Pain.

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I stood at the pharmacy today waiting to hear once again why my prescription was not being filled. The technician had sent the pharmacist over.

“We’re sorry, but it won’t allow us to fill your prescription.”

This is the same prescription I had been filling every month, for the last five years, at this same pharmacy. Annoyed, but trying to not start a scene, I thanked her for time and left.

This was the beginning of my experience with the new changes being made to our health care system and the control of opioid medications. I had never had an issue before. I had filled my prescription every month, on the 30th. I had always taken my pills as prescribed, and yet here I was feeling like a child being reprimanded for a sibling’s mistake.

What ensued over the next few days was embarrassment, being stereotyped, and treated as a drug addict. I assume what the pharmacist didn’t realize when she denied my prescription, is she didn’t turn away a drug addict, but a chronic pain patient.

After that encounter at the pharmacy, my actions actually did begin to mimic a drug addict as I desperately tried to find a way to fill my medication. My medication. Not my “fix.” Not my high. My medication. The medication that was needed to keep my pain at a level that allowed me to work, be productive at home, and have a quality of life that included playing with my children.

Four days later, I found myself crying to my physician, trying to understand the situation that I was in. How? How could someone who had followed the rules, signed the demeaning contract, and taken the drug screens not covered under my insurance at $200 a screen, every three months, suddenly be denied a medication that was needed to improve quality of life?

It’s the government, I’m told. “Everyone is on edge right now with the new restrictions going into place, but I will see what we can do,” my doctor informed me.

Yes. Please do something! I felt like I was beginning to characteristically act like a drug seeker the moment my pain medication was denied. The fear that overcame me, the fight I had to take on to be given my medication put me exactly where they said they were trying to avoid. It didn’t make sense. I fortunately was able to obtain my prescription with my physician’s help.

At the pharmacy, as I was picking up my script, I overheard “But why is it being denied? This is my pain medicine, I need it!”

I watched, as the pharmacist’s face changed to judgment, witnessing the cycle begin all over again. Another “drug seeker” created from the impact of the new regulations. But this, this is what they wanted to avoid.

Originally published: June 26, 2019
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