End the War on Patients

"If I take this addictive substance, it will turn me into an addict!" This is a myth I hear all the time from friends, from family, from the TV, and from well-meaning but uninformed health professionals. Despite all they hype and propaganda, both the FDA and the National Institute of Health state that: "Studies have shown that properly managed medical use of opioid analgesic compounds (taken exactly as prescribed) is safe, can manage pain effectively, and rarely causes addiction." (A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medications, FDA) But for some reason we're all being taught that if you take a nice, church-going housewife and give her oxycontin, she'll turn into a back-alley dealing junkie with a spike in her arm. But this simply isn't true.

Dependence versus Addiction

"Oh, I had so much trouble stopping that medication. I was ADDICTED to it!" How many times have you heard this? It's bull$#!+. What they're describing is DEPENDENCE, which is a very different animal. I will suffer withdrawal symptoms if I stop eating. Does that mean I'm addicted to food? No. Absolutely not. There are blood pressure medications that can't be stopped suddenly because of withdrawal symptoms. That's not addiction. And yet, there is this idea out there that just because someone has trouble coming off of a medication that's a sign of addiction. That's propaganda and a dangerous lie.

A similar dangerous misconception is the idea that increased tolerance is a sign of addiction. That's malarkey too. Bacteria become drug resistant. People with seizures will become drug tolerant and need more of their medication. Many people with depression and anxiety will become tolerant to their SSRIs and have to increase dosage or switch medications or add other medications into the mix. But we don't say that those people have become addicted to their antidepressant. Epileptics aren't addicted to their anti-seizure meds. We don't say that the bacteria is addicted to antibiotics. That's just silly.

Skeptability | Politics in the ER: Five ways Doctors Decide You Are a Drug Seeker

This article is a must read and is spot on: Skeptability | Politics in the ER: Five ways Doctors Decide You Are a Drug Seeker If you're a chronic pain patient, and especially a young chronic pain patient, you know this all too well. ER doctors see patients so fleetingly. As such, they are mostly trying to make sure a process is completed, rather than a patient treated. They leave treatment to your GP. Their job is to stabilize you and get you on the road to recovery (out the door) or transferred to hospital and longer-term care (also out the door). Pain is just a symptom and an annoying one, because it instantly means the government looking over your shoulder. All narcotics require forms in triplicate with a DEA assigned number that allows the, to prescribe those narcotics. But use "too much" (and they never tell you where that line is) and you could lose your career, get sued, and all sorts of woe betides. It's easier to throw a patient out as a drug seeker than to treat them as a pain avoider. Which, of course, suits the DEA just fine. Nevermind that 50% of drug users outgrow their addiction, by their own statistics, they're winning the War on Drugs (and ensuring their pensions).

Medical Marijuana

Before we begin, I would like you to picture this. A plant is grown in a greenhouse. Its flower is harvested when it reaches maturity. It is then processed in a lab. It is given to the patient who is then able to lead a more normal life as a result. I'm not talking about medical marijuana, or MMJ. I'm talking about Digitalis, or as it's more commonly known---the foxglove---a flower that we grow and use and give to heart patients as a medication. We have also found use of this flower in science: "It is used as a molecular probe to detect DNA or RNA." (Wikipedia) We have been using plants and animals for our own needs since forever. Willow and birch bark are two of the original sources of aspirin. Novocaine, and all the other medications that end with -caine are a plant derivative. Alcohol happens naturally to fruit and grains in the right conditions. Even birds and monkeys get drunk. And yes, sometimes people use these things for recreation. So please, let's look at medical marijuana as exactly that: MEDICAL.

Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD)

PubMed folks... it doesn't get much more reputable than that! National Institutes of Health... CONCLUSION: Migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines. (That's medical marijuana for you folks at home.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18404144

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Talkin' Bout My Medication

(With apologies to the Who…) Medication can be a delicate subject with many people. In the U.S., there is the sense that too many pills can make you a “pill head,” something undesirable in a country that believes in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. So when it comes to admitting we need additional help, many people are loathe to admit it. There is also still a good deal of stigma surrounding medications, depending on the type. Pain medication (whether narcotic or not), psychiatric medication, and ADHD medication can call cause the medically uninitiated to raise an eyebrow. But those of us with chronic illness know, “They call it a drug cocktail because the number of pills you have to take can fill a shot glass.” How then can we keep ourselves safe?

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