Oxycontin 10mg bottle

Far too many people are dying from opioid overdoses. You already knew that. It’s been in the news for years. Many of the deaths are due to fentanyl. This synthetic opioid has become widely available. It is also being added to counterfeit products made to look like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Because of the opioid crisis, federal agencies have cracked down on this category of pain relievers. Many people in severe pain, even cancer patients in pain, are now being denied access to the only medications that allowed them to function.

Cancer Patients in Pain

Q. I am afraid the new restrictions on opioids may leave some people without good options. I don’t have chronic pain myself, but when my mother was dying of lymphoma back in the 70s, she was getting good relief from opioid pain killers.

Then her doctors, in all their wisdom, took the drugs away because they thought she might become addicted. Yes, they deprived a terminally ill cancer patient the pain relief she needed because they thought she might become an addict. I remember her screams of pain to this day.

I still feel outraged about this; I wish I could go back in time and sue those doctors. I hope reason will prevail now and people with chronic pain will be able to get the pain relief they need to allow them to function day to day.

A. Your story is heartbreaking. We hope today’s cancer specialists and palliative care professionals are not withholding narcotics from terminal patients. However, the panic over the opioid epidemic has led many physicians to restrict such drugs for people in chronic pain.

Until we have more effective and safer medicines, opioids will continue to be an important tool for those in severe pain. We have heard from many other patients who are currently suffering because they have been cut off from opioids. Here are some of their stories.

Stories from Patients in Pain:

Joe A. reports torture in Texas:

“My mother-in-law is 74 and was active, taking care of herself, and getting physical therapy. Six months ago her doctor cut her medication in half. She had been safely taking it at the same level for 20 years. He is now considering cutting her off completely.

“The doctor said she was afraid of the Texas Medical Board and the DEA. The doctor also said that my mother would experience similar restrictions from any other doctor in East Texas. She is now in constant pain. She no longer is able to do her therapy and never leaves the house without assistance. A visiting nurse and therapy provider both called the Doctor and told her how bad things were, to no avail.

“She is being tortured by the CDC, Texas Medical Board and DEA. I am shocked that the medical community has not fought back on behalf of their patients. They are the only expert advocates patients have.”

“Now doctors cower in the corner and allow their patients to suffer needlessly. If mom complains, she’s an addict. If we complain, we are enablers. I pray somebody with influence reads this and many other stories and does something. I have called my Congressman, Senator and local officials. They seem to believe the salacious stories prevailing in the current news that pain medication is the root of all evil. Help, please someone, help.”

Terry in Florida wants to function:

“Sixteen years ago I was struck by a car while riding my bicycle. An artery dissected and I was concussed and have a Traumatic Brain Injury. I try every treatment offered by the medical establishment and nothing has diminished the pain other than opioids. Even the opioids do not relieve the pain, but they do provide me the ability to function and some days enjoy life.”

“I agree that there needs to be guidelines for prescribing opiods, especially for children, but the rules need to consider the impact on the quality of life of the people who depend on them to dampen the pain allowing them to live.”

Marty is one of those cancer patients in pain:

“Hi, I’m 56 if that matters. I’ve read many posts on www.peoplespharmacy.com and agree with almost all. I had a double whammy. First a bad fall from a ladder March 2016 onto my back. That was followed by stage 4 cancer two months later. The cancer treatment was successful. (surgery, chemo, radiation). I was on 10 mg oxycodone during that time so I didn’t feel back pain.

“Once the treatment was over, oxy was cut off. Hydrocodone 10/325 works fine and I take less than prescribed, usually 2. One before I plan on doing anything physical, another after I do it. Without it I stay in bed most of the time.
“My insurance company changed so I had to find a new Primary Doc. The first one assigned me without my knowledge stated by phone message, even before I saw her, she “will not prescribe opioids of any kind to anyone for any reason” period. Shallow minded, forget her. Not a board-certified Doc anyway.

“New one I will see this week. She is aware of my various conditions as I had a phone pre-interview with her staff and they have all my records, medication list. They are directly linked in the same health system that did all the cancer work. So do I go in there acting like I’m on deaths doorstep to get a relatively mild (compared to oxy) pain medication? Over the counter drugs like Advil don’t cut it.

“This so called ‘opioid crisis’ is what many have said. People, often youngsters, get hooked on stuff to get high, turn to heroin, OD, then die. Very sad but it’s making it very complicated for people with legitimate needs to get what works. The government over reacted on this. Don’t hold your breath thinking they will reverse it. They will never admit they made a mistake.”

Queenie in Cincinnati is another one of the cancer patients in pain:

“I have had 31 abdominal surgeries in 41 years. I have been on pain pills for about 20 of those years in between, surgeries. I had a lot of tumors removed and a lot of surgeries for adhesions. In 2004 I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer. Before being diagnosed, I lived with severe pain for 6 years. I have chronic back problems with deteriorating disks.

“I cannot believe that these people should or could be allowed to take away mine and other people’s pain medication without just cause. In my case (and many others in severe pain) only opioids help. I have tried other meds and different therapies that don’t help at all. Please reconsider, and give us back our life, what we have left to live.”

What has been your experience with pain? Have you been treated with compassion and respect? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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  1. Mary

    I am afraid every day that my pain management doc will quit (as did my previous one) – and I don’t even like him – because the government is interfering with his practice of medicine. I have too many “itises” and “algias” to mention and a million dollars worth of surgeries, yet live in chronic pain.

    Without my meds I would be in bed instead of trying to stay active volunteering and doing water exercises. Aren’t politicians practicing medicine without a license? As lawyers (as most of those bottom feeders are) shouldn’t they know that is a crime? I wish each and every one of them a total knee replacement or DDD so they would know what real intractable pain feels like.

  2. Anthony

    As an Australian battling chronic pain for 15 years, l feel so bad for you poor people in the US who are now being targeted by weak doctors that are too frightened to do what is right.
    I have a long list of health issues including: CX Spine Spondylosis, Lumbar Spine Disc Degeneration, Inoperable Bilateral Rotator cuff tears, Rheuma, just to name a very few.
    My GP has me on slow release Targin (Oxy) 30/15 for mornings and 20/10 at night, Endone 5mg x3 immediate release when needed, Prednisone, D-Mards and countless other anti inflam and pain meds as well as Steroid shots in both shoulders every 3 months.
    I have been on this particular dose for the past 5-6 years, l don’t abuse them and I refuse to up the dose any more. All they do is take the edge off the incredible pain l wake to every morning, but it helps. (If l can actually manage to get some sleep at night in the first place)
    I think you all are in the same boat as me, we need Opioids to function for Christ sake!
    We don’t abuse them because we know the consequences, we use them to try to have a semi-decent quality of life, can’t these idiotic bureaucrats see that?
    These office bound bureaucrats are simply trying to cover themselves because of the idiotic, moronic junkies abusing and overdosing on the medication that is keeping us alive. I have absolutely zero sympathy for those stupid knuckleheads.
    You are scapegoats for the simple minded fools, simple as that! And for that, l feel so bad for you people. No decent person deserves to live in agony every day, nobody!!
    Chronic pain not only leaves us in pain 24/7, but it also affects every other aspect of our lives, it also certainly leads to some form of depression, that’s a fact.
    I am so thankful Australia hasn’t gone down the same path as the US and made my life hell like you poor people, we are strictly monitored in our use of Opioids, but it is still available to us in the the dosages we need to function as best we can.
    When you visit your gutless pain specialist or GP next, suggest to them to put their head in a vice, hammer a metal spike through their armpit and hang a bag of lead around their neck for a week, then get back to you on how it feels.
    I really feel for you people, and I am so angry at the treatment you are getting I am nearly in a rage as l type this after researching the inhumane treatment you are receiving. “Grrrr”!
    I wish you well in your fight for a decent living and hope like hell the powers that be see some sense in the near future.
    And always remember, you are not alone.
    Regards from Aus,

  3. Jeanne

    A couple months ago my compassionate pain care doctor said he would only be doing “procedures” from now on so passed me off to another doctor who treated me like a thieving drug addict. I was treated so disrespectfully before I got a word out. He told me patients were sent to him who had a drug problem. That was news to me!

    I’ve been on Hydrocodone about 5 years and a Fentanyl patch for chronic kidney pain, DD a self-fusing spine and arthritis. I was doing fine and able to do some things again, but not as I used to,(livestock, horses). I still have many, many migraines which requires a different med and doctor-thank God.

    I told this new doctor that I would give it a try in weaning off the Fentanyl,( and I did without a problem.) But I also said I was worried as it has taken years to have this much relief from the constant pain. He got in my face and said, “Why don’t you ask your other doctor if he will take you back!” This doctor is a pain specialist! He certainly specializes in giving pain.

    This is the way I, a Grandmother who hasn’t had even a traffic ticket was treated. Needless to say I’m looking for a new, more human doctor.

    Meantime I’m in a lot of pain and unable to do most things, including enjoying my grandchildren.

  4. Bev

    I have had chronic pain for over twenty years, and also use opiods for pain relief. I have Chiari, Fibromyalgia, Autonomic Neuropathy, and more. I have had five brain surgeries, neck and back surgeries, abdominal surgeries, and many joint surgeries. Without any of my meds, I would not be able to even move. Now, I have good and bad days, but there are good days. I am not even close to being addicted and my doctor has willingly given what I need and is happy with my choices of not taking more than I do now.

    I am always trying to cut back and plan to go to CBD oil to try it and get of my Fentanyl patches and oxycodone. I have gone down substantially on my Fentanyl, but had to go back up when I tried to go further down. If the CBD oil does not work or I have an allergic reaction as my sister did, I must stay on these meds in order to function.

    I do not understand why they do not think of those of us who need these drugs and are not addicted after so many years of use.

  5. Helpless

    Why can’t someone sue them for practing medicine without a license ?Seriously they are interfering between a doctor and thier patients.They are making medical decisions deciding what medicine is needed. This is practicing medicine without a medical license. Time for a class action lawsuit.

  6. Bonnie
    Antioch, Illinois

    I’m 59 yes old and just had my 87th operation. I was born with Spina Bifida, am a left leg amputee and have numerous other physical illnesses due to my birth defect. My pain specialist knows that I’ve been on various pain meds for my chronic pain over the past 35 years yet due to all the DEA changes and threats being made to doctors, she has cut my pain meds in half. I’ve gone from being able to have some productive functioning daily to having to stay in bed 24/7. I have no quality of life anymore and I’m extremely depressed from the daily suffering. What’s it going to take to help us chronic pain sufferer’s who are being treated as criminals?

  7. Jan

    I cared for a nursing home resident who was terminally ill with metastatic cancer. Although he was aware of his prognosis, he was not psychologically ready to elect hospice care. He needed ever-increasing amounts of fentanyl and morphine. At one point, his doctor said he would not increase the doses unless he chose hospice. The doctor told me he felt his license would be at risk. It believed it was unethical to coerce the resident into accepting hospice in order to have pain relief. The resident did reluctantly agree to hospice.

    Afterwards, I reported the situation to our medical director, who agreed the doctor should not have treated the patient according to the “opioid initiative”. The medical director said he would intervene should we encounter another such situation.

  8. Oldgoat

    A big part of the problem now is people not understanding the difference between Rx fentanyl a person might get for pain and fentanyl analogs which are hundreds of times stronger. These analogs have their own names (carfentinal, sufentinal) and are even spelled differently to avoid someone accidentally using a drug for elephants.

    But calling the fentanyl is just another of the steps being taken to eliminate the line between patient and addict. Fentanyl is not killing all these people through counterfeit drugs and being used to cut heroin, it is the numerous analogs that are doing the harm. Prescribing of opioids is at an all time low while deaths involving opioids is at an all time high.

    Obviously, these are not patients under medical care. The problem was, is and always will be in the addict community. It must be made crystal clear that these are not patient deaths and if anything cutting back on the small trickle of prescription pain medication that is diverted for abuse has driven addicts to heroin, fentanyl analogs and deaths.

    Stop punishing people in pain and physicians who treat them, they have very little to do with this problem and changes to the way pain is treated has had nothing positive come from it. We should be asking why the DEA allowed importation of fentanyl analogs until early 2018 and why they continue to chase doctors and patients that are obviously not the problem. The DEA’s obsession with qualified doctors and legitimate patients is responsible for a lot of deaths, not the field of pain medicine.

  9. LI

    Well, I see the opioid “epidemic” is the crisis du jour. Years ago, following a major surgery, I was prescribed Darvocet (no longer available), which I took around the clock for 3 weeks. Yes, you read that correctly, 3 weeks, not 3 days. At the end of that period, I decided I no longer needed the Darvocet, and quit taking it, even though I still had some left. During the following month, I had two episodes of moderate pain, which I dealt with by taking Tylenol. I did not resume using the Darvocet, which I still had. Eventually, I got rid of what was left.

    Yet, according to today’s “wisdom,” using opioid pain-killers for acute pain for more than 3 days might result in addiction. What nonsense! My Darvocet use was 30 years ago. I did not become a drug addict then, and I am not a drug addict now.

    My suspicion is that those who become addicts following being prescribed an opioid either take the the drug more frequently and/or in higher amounts than prescribed, or that they use the drug to deal with emotional and/or psychological pain rather than just physical pain. It baffles me why the rest of us have to be penalized for the actions of those who do not take or use their medication appropriately.

    • LI

      Oops! Sorry! My Darvocet use was 20, not 30 years ago, although that makes no difference to the point I am making. I simply present the correction in the interest of accuracy.

  10. Deb

    I am also a chronic care patient from a severe car accident that left me with major back and neck injuries. In addition I have cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. I have been on the same opioid meds for 20 years. I never had a problem until all these dumb kids and adults abuse our meds.

    The decision to treat a patient should be up to our Dr not the stupid DEA agents who have NO CLUE!!!! It sickens me that they just want to look good in the eyes of the public to show everyone that they are taking a stance and being proactive. Well instead they are killing the chronic care patients. Cancer patients and destroying our quality of life by taking away our meds. I have tried to go off my pain meds for years. I have tried EVERYTHING from therapy to severing my nerves to surgery. Nothing worked. I could not function.

    I took so many Advils and developed stomach ulcers. I was told by a spine specialist that I would be on pain meds the rest of my life. End of story. I accepted that and was put back on my meds. I never abuse them. Even with my meds I am barely able to take care of my daughter and do some normal activities.

    I have ABSOLUTELY NO SYMPATHY FOR ANY OF THE DRUG ABUSERS AND KIDS THAT ARE OVERDOSING. NONE! They choose to take these pills illegally. They shoot up and snort the pills. For a “high”!! Where are their parents? They should be putting their drug addict kids in addiction centers. Do not punish the patients that need this medicine to function and to get out of pain for their stupidity. Wake up AMERICA.

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