Oxycodone tablets

Watch the news on television or read a newspaper and you will likely see a story about the dangers of opioids. Here is just the latest sampling:

  • “Lawmakers Seek Crackdown on Opioids” WRAL.com, Raleigh, NC
  • “7 in 10 US Workplaces Hit by Opioid Abuse” WebMD
  • “Opioid Rx Abuse Probe Sees A Record 31 Doctors Hit With Sanctions in New Jersey” FOX News, U.S.
  • “Dentists Work To Ease Patients’ Pain with Fewer Opioids” NPR – Weekend Edition Sunday
  • “Should You Fill That Opioid Prescription?” U.S. News & World Report

People In Pain Deserve Relief:

When something goes wrong in your body, the signal you get is pain. Whether it’s an emergency like a broken bone or appendicitis or something more chronic like degenerative back disease, pain is usually the common denominator.

A Short History of Opioids:

Before there were modern pain relievers, humans relied on the natural world to ease suffering. The Sumerians were using opium from the poppy plant by 3,400 BC. They shared the pain-relieving potential of this plant with the Assyrians, who passed it along to the Egyptians. Eventually Alexander the Great took it with him to India and from there opiates spread around the world.

Today, this category of drugs has captured national attention. The opioid epidemic has caused untold misery, and politicians have weighed in on measures to prevent abuse and the deaths that result from it.

The DEA’s War on Opioids:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has cracked down on the medical use of synthetic narcotics such as oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone, found in Lorcet, Lortab, Norco and Vicodin. Although such drugs have led to addiction and death, they also remain among our most powerful and effective pain relievers.

There was a time when physicians were trusted to use good judgment in the prescribing of hydrocodone and oxycodone. No doubt some were far too promiscuous in prescribing such powerful pain relievers. But others were very thoughtful and cautioned patients about abuse. These doctors prescribed opioids judiciously.

The DEA changed the rules in October, 2014. That was when the Drug Enforcement Administration moved hydrocodone combination pain relievers (HCPs) like Lortab, Norco and Vicodin from Schedule III to Schedule II. That meant no more electronic prescriptions to pharmacies. And doctors could not call in a prescription either. Each prescription was good for only one month. That meant it was much harder for patients suffering from severe chronic pain to access opioids.

Many Physicians Now Worried About Prescribing Opioids:

The media spotlight on the epidemic of opioid-related deaths has scared many physicians away from prescribing such medications. Pharmacists worry about dispensing them, and some patients are too anxious about possible addiction to take these drugs at all.

Most experts recognize that opioids play a key role in easing pain for people at the end of life, particularly those whose pain is related to cancer. Surgeons continue to prescribe such drugs following a major operation.

Chronic Pain Patients Are Suffering:

The controversy is focused on the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain. Doctors have been told that such drugs are inappropriate for people with persistent pain, and CMS (Medicaid and Medicare) has drafted a policy that would make it difficult or impossible for many patients to get prescriptions for such medications.

What impact will that have on their medical care? We have heard from hundreds of patients who are now feeling desperate. Here are just a few examples:

D.M. in Baton Rouge, LA, shared a poignant story:

“It is really a shame how a physician who took an oath ‘To Do No Harm’ out of medical school can bow down to a government that has no business meddling in the practice of medicine.

“I was injured twice in Vietnam, and in 1988 a backhoe drove over me. I’ve had four back surgeries as a result, but am left with chronic pain. I haven’t told the VA that this 65-year-old soldier who proudly served my country in time of need often thinks about taking my own life. It is truly sad that the very country I went to war for is the one that is going to be the death of me.

“I will fight this pain with all I have because I care about my family. But since my dosage of Oxycontin was reduced, I have a hard time getting even two hours of sleep a night. I can not find a position in which I am not in pain.”

Many other chronic pain patients who never abused opioid pain relievers are now at the end of their rope. Many have suffered unbearable withdrawal because they can no longer access medications that allowed them to function. Others, like this Vietnam vet, are becoming suicidal because the pain is so excruciating.

Other Stories from People In Pain:

Jan in Plano, IL, is also at the end of her rope:

“I had a crush injury to my feet and legs 17 years ago. All my nerves died. I have been on everything, but mostly just Fentanyl patches every other day.

“A neurologist who knew nothing about pain stopped my Fentanyl when I tried to have a spinal stem implant. I felt like Joan of Arc burning at the stake. I couldn’t lift my head off the bed, and vomited till taken to the hospital.

“The pain was excruciatingly unbearable!! If I couldn’t get my Fentanyl I would have to find a way to end it. So the deaths from drug addicts that the DEA is trying to prevent will just be made up in suicides from people in severe, unending pain! The government needs to stay out of our lives.”

Rose in Cape Vincent, NY, is also desperate:

“I injured my back at work 8 years ago. I have herniated, bulging discs and scoliosis as a result of my accident. I have Protein C deficiency, a blood clotting disorder, and therefore am not a candidate for surgery.

“I’m 42 and live with horrific pain. I’m on disability and walk with a cane. My quality of life continues to deteriorate every day. I spend much of my time in bed and am no longer able to enjoy the things I used to do.

“Because of the Protein C deficiency, I am not supposed to take NSAIDs or steroids. These drugs can cause fatal bleeding problems. Last year my pain management physician was arrested. At that time, I was prescribed morphine. After his arrest, I ran out of medication and suffered terribly from withdrawal.

“I’ve suffered so much since then and I’m no longer able to live alone. I was taking copious amounts of ibuprofen, despite the risks of internal bleeding. I was recently hospitalized for chronic pain because I could not get out of bed and could not walk. I spent 8 days in the hospital where my pain was controlled for the first time since my former doctor’s arrest.

“While I was hospitalized, I was referred to pain management. I was given enough pain medication to get me through until my appointment. The medication barely makes any difference whatsoever in controlling my pain. I never abused, misused or sold my pain medication. I don’t understand why I’m being punished, along with so many others who suffer from chronic pain.

“I’m so miserable that I wish I’d get another DVT [deep vein thrombosis] or pulmonary embolism and just be put out of this misery. Animals are treated more humanely than those of us who suffer this way. I really believe the CDC and DEA are depending on all of us to kill ourselves. I believe that they want to eliminate all of us who are disabled and rely on SSD or other forms of government assistance because we’re “burdens” to society. I know this must sound crazy, but why are those of us who suffer so terribly being treated like drug addicts?”

“Perhaps if we all joined together, we could stop this horrendous patient abuse. I only want some quality of life back.”

The Terrible Dilemma:

There are few medications that work as well as opioids to control severe pain. That is why surgeons still prescribe drugs like Vicodin after a major operation and why hospice workers rely on narcotics to ease the pain of terminal cancer patients. Medications like NSAIDs or tramadol just do not work as well and they carry their own risks.

It is not clear that the war on opioid medications will reduce the death toll. Some drug abusers will turn to heroin or other illicit drugs instead of prescription narcotics. It does appear that these policies have left millions of chronic pain patients abandoned without much of a safety net.

If you would like to read more about how patients are coping with the new laws, here are some links:

Patients in Pain Are Outraged about New Hydrocodone Rules

Will People in Pain Suffer Because of FDA’s Scary Opioid Warnings?

What do you think? We would like to get your perspective in the comment section below.

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  1. Lee
    Maryland
    Reply

    This is scary. Why are we being punished? Whoever these peoe are that created this mess, are they better thab us? God forbid they get ill or injured. Will they get special treatment? Probably. But us in chronic pain are definately bei bff punished. I got told, well, you’re just not getting better and you need to see your doctors. Huh? I see a doctor at LEAST once a week, and my condition will NOT get better. That is my reality. I do believe now this is a form of genocide from our government. It is an overreach of power, socialized medicine. I am highly offended. I cannot take anything over the counter. When I walk, the metal plate holding my back together rubs on my hips when I walk. So, the pain is a delusion? Unreal! I have no options. So, cant take anything over the counter, now cant get medication from any doctor. Where do I go? Bubba on the streets? To be another statistic? And all these poor peoe who want to end it all? This is very scary. It is like Hilter has come back.

  2. SARI
    Connecticut
    Reply

    Why is it that the government will talk to others in govt. But not us? How do you get to speak to the legislators that are deciding whether or not i can get even minimal relief of my pain? What do we have to do to be able to attend the meetings going on so we can advocate for ourselves.

    I truly feel we need to go back to the 60’s and do some protests or march on our capitols, do something en masse to get the FDA and CDC to hear from us.

    We can complain all we want about the unfairness of it all, but we need to band together to be heard!! I have tried to get to the capitol and speak to the legislators when the drug problem was starting to scare drs. Into no longer prescribing opiates, I was not allowed in to speak. Worse was the fact that no one could tell me who to talk to or what I need to do to be heard.

    If any others out there think we need to march on our capitals or demonstrate in some way to be heard by the powers that, be please contact me. I am hoping we can be heard- we are supposedly 10 million strong if not more. We need to support the drs. Fighting on our behalf. As an RN for 45 yrs and disabled since 1995 I am terrified every time I see my pain dr. That he will say, “sorry, I cannot prescribe any longer”. Suicide would become a fast reality, I’m afraid.

    • Joanna
      Canada
      Reply

      I am in Canada. We have the same problem here. I am doing what I can here w/ respect to contacting politicians. I contacted the medical college in my province and advise AGAINST this – just made my situation worse. Horribly traumatic. One month I’m a nice lady getting my meds every month, the next month my med records stamped “addict/troublemaker” BY THE COLLEGE. Total police state stuff. Bur I totally agree that we need some political action like in the sixties and I don’t know how to do it…but I really think this is what is needed.

      The ‘system’ in US and Canada is far less porous than it was 40 years ago – really becoming police states and it is scary. This is a war and it especially distresses me how US veterans are being treated. I am with you. I am not in perfect health but would take to the streets if I could find others to help me. God bless all pain warriors. Please don’t give up. God is on our side.

  3. D Everett W
    Tennessee
    Reply

    67 year old male with DDD, Sever scoliosis, spinal stenosis lower back and cervical, spondylosis and long time pain management patient Morristown TN. I finally give up, the feds and Tn legislators know what I need better than the Dr’s and Me. I’m weaning off the fynt patches and quit the oxycodone completely. Am I in PAIN, excruciating, yes, but the GOV. KNOWS what’s best for me. I can’t afford all the test they want so I can get a little relief from this life of pain. What can I do, just go somewhere and die, that’s all that is left. I hope that all these so called do gooder politicians die in pain, but we all know they will GET THEIR PAIN MEDS, nothing too good for the politicians that rule our lives. Good luck pain sufferers, your on your own, we are nothing but pain med seekers and worthless humans to these political elites that want to save us from ourselves, GOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS.

  4. kristine
    minnesota
    Reply

    I was a teacher and therapist, and I am now disabled because of Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis, 6 collapsed vertabrae, several failed fusions, and severe bone pain. I tried to commit suicide from the unrelenting suffering. For days I would lie in my bed praying to die shaking, vomiting, and fainting. Opioids saved my life. Before my suicide attempt I was turned away by a pain clinic in Minnesota that said post-fusion with rods sticking out my spine that I had hyperalgesia with the low morphine I was taking. In hindsight it was the wrong medication and did not work well for me at low doses. We treat our animals in pain better than this.

    Shame on the law makers who are responsible for the deaths of many who kill themselves because they could not find relief from intractable debilitative pain such as mine. Addiction is the least of my worries. I want to live another day to be able to shower, make a meal, and walk my dog. That is all I ask. I had tried everything else: Shock therapy, injections, water therapy, pt, biofeedback, DBT, gabepentin, celebrex, eating organic, drinking clean water, and many other treatments to no avail. Opioids still are working well after 2 years of the same dose that got me out of pain. God bless those who saved my life. I am going to have a pain pump installed which can have numberous complications but I am afraid my doctors will quit prescribing, and I feel pressure to have it put in. We require compassion not treatment. Addicts will find their drugs. People like me will slowly die.

    • D Everett W.
      Reply

      God bless, and good luck with that. I truly believe that they don’t care one way or another. The pols have this idea they can legislate behavior. This gets votes from people who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses, bad behaviour on their part for a cheep high. You and I never abuse or abused our pain meds, I’ve been on pain management for YEARS and never once cheated, always took my meds as prescribed. Do they count that in my evaluation? NO. Why? They just don’t care. I feel your pain, because I have that pain, but they don’t care so just do as I, and give up that’s what they want anyway. Forget about the doctors fighting for us. Those old time doctors no longer exist.

  5. Paul
    California
    Reply

    I was hardly ever in daily pain until I hit age 65 and found out I had cirrhosis from Hep C, undetected for 30 years. Though the hep C is cured now, my cirrhosis does not permit me to use nsaids (Advil, aspirin, Motrin, etc) Leaving me no choice but to seek an opiod relief from what now appears to be a chronic, daily, debilitating pain in my back and limbs which I had gotten relief from previously with Advil, freeing me to exercise it to sufferable proportions. Now I cannot perform the stretching exercises, even if I were able to concentrate past the agony I wake up in. I now am actively seeking hydromorphone or fentanyl since they are the only pain relief the Mayo Clinic recommends for cirrhotic patients. My greatest fear is that I will become suicidal eventually and return to the OTC nsaids, if only to survive another day.

  6. Art
    New Jersey
    Reply

    If you have been on narcotic medication for years and have never failed a test, or pill count, or run out before your refill date — Why can’t they trust you? You think people in chronic pain take these strong drugs because they are fun? Quite the opposite. They make your brain foggy, make you feel tired all the time, and other painful side effects. But nothing compared with the pain you experience if you do not get pain relief drugs. Who wants to be a problem to the people we love — our relatives, families, friends? It makes suicide a viable alternative that one soon finds himself fantasying about. But that is the last decision a person can make. Until then, we just pray that a system will be put into effect that prevents people that would abuse drugs from getting them, but not by punishing chronic pain sufferers. Life everyone in this world, you really don’t sympathize with anyone until you find yourself in the same boat. I don’t wish that on anyone.

  7. Sandra M
    PENNSYLVANIA
    Reply

    From the time i began in pain management until now my patient experience has been nothing short of demeaning, disrespectful and disgusting. The office staff at numerous acted like I was an inconvenience instead of a person I am an x-ray tech.

    I have 4 children, a greenhouse business I am attempting to begin and a life to live. I understand the opioid addiction problem is a real issue in the united states. But the opioid addicts are going to get what they want no matter what. The only people suffering here are the pain patients.

    I have herniated disks from t3-t4 disk space down and through my spine. Bidirectional scoliosis, levoscoliosis, degenerative disk disease, osteophytes, sciatica, arthritis, SI joint disfunction, and hip popping syndrome to name a few. I’m 33 years old.

    I see the doctor to get relief. I’ve done everything they recommend for back pain. Now it’s they’re turn to help me out. They changed my medication to xtampza 9mg. Why I’m not sure. But the pharmacy doesn’t carry it and it won’t be in for a week. I tried and tried to get a hold of someone at this office, and no-one would call me back. So I eventually went in. It was Friday and I was scared to end up with no medication for the weekend.

    After sitting there for a couple of hours listening to other pain patients horror stories about this office, they gave me a coupon. For the very medication the pharmacy has to place on special order. So, I’m out of medication, sick and in pain and They don’t care. And they have the nerve to ask if we are depressed? No we are in pain and no one will help us!!!

    All I want is to be able to work and live with a quality of life that allows me to live my life a little bit. Because this isn’t living. It’s existing. Being scared month to month because we may or may not get medication from The doctor – or we failed one of the millions of hoops that we have to jump thrpugh. Or The pharmacy doesn’t have it, or won’t let us have it, or The insurance company won’t authorize it.

    And then The doctors’ office does not assist with any of the pharmacy issues. They wouldn’t change my nerve pill from lyrica ($600) with my insurance – to neurontin ($6) with my insurance. Why? They just won’t.

    The front desk staff looks down like they are better than every patient here. I can hear them laughing and saying they would never wait and cant believe people would wait this long for a script. Obviously there is a disconnect between patient and medical staff. How can they treat pain if they don’t understand what we live with.

    People in chronic pain are dying. People are committing suicide. And the cause of death will be listed as suicide. Depression. No. They died because they couldn’t live with the daily minute to minute pain. No one can live with it. And when the physicians won’t help or listen – someone should be held accountable.

    Someone has to speak up for chronic pain patients. But we have no voice. And that my friends is the most depressing thing of all.

  8. Nan
    Babylon
    Reply

    First of all, I hope everyone who is in chronic pain and did absolutely nothing wrong and took their medication properly and became injured, to not give up and try to find help through another pain management practice. I was profiled for being in pain management, and my hospital file is filled with the fantasies and lies of doctors that accused me of being a drug abuser simply because I was trying to come off of pain medication for legitimate reasons. I have been treated terribly ever since by every new doctor I see or whenever I wind up in the hospital. I have stage IV cancer now and I suffered for three years before I got desperate enough to go out and find a pain management place that wouldn’t judge Mel and who would believe me when I told them what I was put through. I was dropped by my old pain doctors after being a patient for 7 years and accused of either abusing or selling my medication!!,,, to the ignorant pain management equals drug abuse. Of cours this makes no sense. I was so terrified that I went through a detox at a hospital because I was so ill I didn’t think I could find another doctor to help me because I could barely get out of bed. I wanted to die every day for 3 years. So now that I have cancer it is a little bit easier to get the help I need, but far from easy. I am still a suspect to ANY doctor who digs through my files. I am abused at my local hospital as well. How this can happen to all the innocent law abiding pain patients, I will never know. The drug addicts who caused this entire mess and crazy propaganda still get what they want when they want off the streets and steal, commit crimes to get what they want. Normal people and legitimate pain patients would be seriously harmed trying to get pain medication from the streets. I am not Street wise and would be scared to death to do anything illegal. How much more can all the “good” people take. We are just trying to have what little life we have left pain free. Why is that to much to ask?

    • D Everett
      Morristown tn
      Reply

      Neurontin is what I use also but my GP prescribes that not my pain doctor. It has its problems also, sleepiness. I have no idea what we are gonna do, this is my third month of weaning off and not sick other than increased pain. If my pain gets any worse I just wanna die, I cannot live every moment in pain, I’m miserable and pain is all I can think about.

  9. ccridah
    los angeles
    Reply

    I was prescribed Vicodin 5/500 in the 90’s for carpal tunnel in both wrists.Back then ,drs & dentist prescribed these meds,willy nilly and some got hooked, others didn’t. Fast forward to 2017, I have had many accidents,slip and falls, that has come along with age. What I take now is 1 1/2 7/325 norco twice a day with food.

    It took me a long time to finally come to grips with my need for this type of pain management without being addicted. Some Dr’s suggested gabapentin, nortripline for me to go nutty on it, and worse. Others wanted me to go to a pain psychiatrist to see if I take these meds when I am upset, lonely or desperate.

    I dont. I ONLY take them as needed for back pain and not only does it help,Iam taking less than I had been 5 yrs ago.The issue with ADDICTION is being OBSESSED with being in a altered state. I don’t wake up, nor go to bed taking it. Twice I had more acute pain, and was ‘upgraded’ to Oxycodone 5/325, only to drop BACK to my Norco once healed.

    I am one of those with chronic pain, and take these meds responsibly. I don’t share them, I dont ‘party’ on them. For people like me? This new ‘war’ is a mess, cause there are some/many of us who need these meds to get thru our day. It’s NOT one big party!

    • Anoni
      US
      Reply

      The only ones they should be concerned with when it comes to “risk-benefit” are pain patients. Addicts and drug abusers should not be given any consideration whatsoever. I found it absolutely ludicrous that the FDA was considering them in the determination of whether a certain prescription drug was safe to be prescribed for pain patients.

      What a drug abuser/addict does has nothing to do with it; Nothing is “safe” around an them. Prescription pain relievers are about the pain patient and no one else. They need to be given the benefit of the doubt and stop treating them like drug dealers/addicts.

      • D Everett
        Reply

        Boy that’s the truth, wrote my congressman and he’s too busy to be bothered by some sorry pain patient. We are alone on this issue, you preaching to the choir.

  10. linda
    alabama
    Reply

    I have a herniated disk from being rearwnded in 2003, the person who said animals are being treated better than cronic pain patients is 100 percent correct!we need a class action suit.

  11. Pat
    California
    Reply

    Help! I am a retired RN and have administered pain medications safely for over 30 years. Now I have parkinson’s disease and horrific spasms in my rectum about 2-3 times a day. I cannot sit or stand when these attacks occur. I have to lie down now!

    For 5 years I have been taking hydromorpone as a last resort when all attempts to ease my pain failed. I never took more than prescribed and I never asked for early refills. My doctor encouraged me to take the pain med at first, then last year he began to say “you need to get off this opioid”
    Yesterday my doctor told me she could only prescribe one pill a day or she would be “in trouble. ” What is going on here?
    I always believed that when I got old and sick at least I would not have to die in pain. I cannot live like this. I spend most of the day in bed. I have an incurable brain disease and it will not be getting better. I am ready to take my own life.Please help!

  12. K
    Massachusetts
    Reply

    Why is the government able to make decisions for doctors! My husband was recently told that his brain will reset when he comes off his meds! What the hell Is that? My husband shouldn’t be a Guinea pig or test subject. I want the doctor to come and live with him while he withdraws and even worse when he is in so much agony! He doesn’t sleep as it is since they started decreasing his dose. These patients families suffer too!

    What happened to being involved in your own Heath care decisions? What he was taking at least provided some relief. He never got high or abused his medications. They are in a lock box since he is a responsible person.
    I am so afraid of what will happen. He won’t be able to work or sleep or watch our kids’ games, even.
    What are we suppose to do? Why is he being punished?

    Don’t they realize that people will resort to other methods to ease that pain? At least they have a little control when writing prescriptions. When people who wouldn’t dream of it start going to street drugs it will be too late. Their experiment will have failed!

  13. Steven
    Utah
    Reply

    Dear Lord I just pray for these people in the name of Jesus that you will heal them not only for themselves but also for their loved ones and especially little children. In the wonderful and glorious name of Jesus Christ, I hereby ask for a full recovery from the pain for all those who have shared their stories on this web page. Thank your Lord Jesus – amen.

  14. Cheryl Conklin
    Austin TX
    Reply

    My quality of life is over because of the sharp and drastic cut in my pain medication. I have scoliosis with scarphosis (humpback) and am in CONSTANT DEBILITATING PAIN! No let up. Sleep is just a memory so I am exhausted all the time. I was also forced off a benzodiazipine that I’ve taken since the early 90’s for panic attacks. The withdrawal was unreal. Need I go on? I can’t stand the pain and it is highly probable that I will have to miss my only son’s wedding because of it.

    These are guidelines, not laws. Chronic pain sufferers are being punished, period. I relate to the people who are thinking about suicide because I think about it far too often! The only thing that holds be back is fear of going to hell.

    • D Everett Wilson
      Reply

      I may have help for the sleep, I take two Baclofen 10 MG & Amitriptylin 50MG at bedtime the only thing that helps the cramps in my legs from my back problems and the AMT knocks me out. It’s a shame we have to fight not only our pain, but the government that knows what’s best for us. Is this still AMERICA, some days I wonder.

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