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We Can't Let the Government Become Our Pain Doctors

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The U.S. government has decided to limit the production of prescription opioids by 25 percent next year and many chronic pain patients are in a panic. The government and the Drug Enforcement Administration seem to have lost all common sense and are punishing pain patients for crimes they haven’t committed. They haven’t started a war on opioids, I believe they have made a decision and are manipulating statistics in order to back up their ridiculous decision.

Overdoses as a result of heroin and fentanyl use have increased over the past few years and the government’s knee-jerk reaction is to limit the amount of pain medications manufactured. Does that seem logical to anyone?

This is a hot topic in all of my chronic pain and fibromyalgia groups and the biggest response I see is, “We take our pain medication because we have pain. We don’t feel high, we feel normal when we take our meds!”

But I’m also concerned about what might happen if people’s pain meds are stripped. When the crackdown on Florida pain clinics happened in 2011, heroin deaths rose by 39 percent.

So what are we supposed to do? For many people, yoga and physical therapy do little to nothing for chronic pain, but I’m afraid soon that will be our only option. The government is being reckless in its law-making. Just as people with other conditions need their medication, pain patients need and deserve treatment. The DEA refuses to reschedule marijuana which has multiple medical uses and there are no documented deaths from overdose. The DEA is also still deciding whether or not to schedule and effectively ban kratom, another natural plant that is used to treat chronic pain. If we had access to options like these, I believe there would be fewer pain med prescriptions being written and even fewer deaths.

The government does not acknowledge that there is a difference between addiction and dependence. I openly and honestly depend on my pain medication. Without it I can’t work or perform normal functions around the house or go for walks with my children. Am I addicted? Absolutely not. I take my medication exactly as my doctor prescribes it and take no illegal drugs. But the government is positioned to take away my quality of life and I am scared. We are all scared and have no voice. We have no say in the matter. It’s the government’s way or the highway. It’s like the government is shrugging off all the downsides of limiting opioid use and saying, “Yeah, but at least there are 25 percent less opioid prescriptions out there!”

This is happening and the government is bulldozing the chronic pain community. They have created a culture of fear and now many doctors are too afraid to treat their patients and patients are too afraid to speak up for themselves. If we speak too loudly we may be labeled a pill seeker and an addict. The government is not my doctor and my medication should be a decision between me and my own doctor. I will not stay silent in the fight for my quality of life and neither should you.

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Originally published: October 26, 2016
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