Thursday, February 24, 2005

Is your pain legal?

I was doing some research on the DEA Pain FAQ[pdf] and why the DEA pulled it. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has some thoughts on the matter.

Now the DEA document is very interesting. It says that you can't tell objectively by behavior the difference between a legit pain patient and a "drug addict". Now the question is why?

My theory? Supported by at least a few facts as I have documented before: people in pain and "drug addicts" are trying to fill the same receptors with the same medicine. Which is why the war on people in pain documented here and here is so unremarkable. Once you start the attacks on people in pain there is no way to objectively tell legitimate pain from the illegal kind. Because when the pain receptors are empty they send a signal to the body - fill me. It makes no difference - PTSD or a broken leg. Those receptors want to be filled.

Now of course if you have PTSD and fill those receptors with opiates you are an evil drug addict. If your leg is broken and you wish to fill those receptors with opiates. Well no problem. Now if you were at one time or now still are one of those evil addicts who breaks your leg and it heals poorly leaving you in chronic pain good luck to you. Not even signing a pain treatment agreement will be enough.

Which brings me to the story of Hunter S. Thompson's death. Let me quote you from an AP story that I think gives a lot of insight into why the good doctor might have blown his brains out.

ASPEN, Colo. - While Hunter S. Thompson's suicide shocked many in his out-of-the-way neighborhood, one of his closest friends said Monday the writer had been in a lot of pain after a broken leg and hip surgery.
Now why in this age of miracles and Oxycontin would Dr. Gonzo be in pain? A pill every 12 hours would solve the problem. Pretty simple, the DEA is at war with pain doctors. And woe be unto a pain doctor who prescribes pain relievers to a current or former addict. This is what is currently called diversion and can get you 30 to life. Because, obviously, addicts do not deserve pain relief. Drug abusers deserve to suffer. It is their lot in life. As decreed by law.

And if you have never been a drug abuser, but your pain is long lasting? Well who can be sure you are not just one of those evil addicts conning doctors for the next fix? So the pain goes untreated. And the suicides (unless of the Thompson kind) are recorded as accidents. That way the insurance money gets paid, no questions asked.

This whole effort at drug control seems pretty unAmerican to me. If any body asks me I tell them flat out: persecuting people in pain is wrong. And it makes no difference to me if the pain is legal or illegal.

Sadly, we might have had a few more years of the Good Doctor's presence if we didn't have an ongoing war in America on people in pain.


Pete Guither said...

I'm with you on the complete point of the post, particularly as it relates to the average human. However, I've got to believe that if Hunter Thompson needed drugs, he would have gotten them easily.

M. Simon said...

I made that very point to a person conversant with pain issues. They said it was not necessarily so. Perhaps Thompson was afraid of being watched. Perhaps he was afraid of being denied medical care. Perhaps he was just tired of the underground.

In any case my correspondent (who suggested the piece in the first place and sent me a bit of the AP story to work with) had no definite answer except that people in pain do not always make the obvious decision.