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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pain Killer Addiction Rising in the US

Years ago, I was on a jury for a murder trial.  It was, essentially, a drug deal gone bad.  The main witness, who introduced the dealer and the victim, was a homeless prostitute.  At one time, witnesses testified, she had been a loving mother with a job and home.  Then, she was hit by a car and introduced to Oxycodone (  After being abruptly cut off from the generous supply provided by public health, she went after it on her own to the point of losing her child, her home, and her dignity.  She switched from 'oxy' to crack somewhere along the way.

How do these tragedies begin?  They are not as uncommon as you might think.  Prescription drug abuse has been a major problem for sometime now, and indications are that it is not going to go away.  In fact, we have much more to look forward to:

There are several contributing factors here. Doctors want to help patients, and so they prescribe.  What they prescribe is far more powerful and addictive than what was once available.  But, what is happening now is that the demands of patients for a pain-free life have become increasingly unrealistic.

Here is one doctor's opinion:

Americans are becoming increasingly expectant of an entirely pain-free life.  We don't want anything to hurt, not only because of the experience of pain, but also because pain limits what we can get.  For example, if you get sick, you can't go to work.  If you can't go to work, you have less money.  If you have less money, then you have to do without the things you think you need to be happy.  Therefore, sickness has 'catastrophic' consequences: you cannot be happy at all, suffering in the moment and into the future.

So, we seek to kill the pain.  This not only goes for physical pain, but emotional pain as well:

The more we expect things to make us feel 'good' and hide our spiritual suffering, the more we need to 'medicate' our problems.  After all, dealing with many forms of pain takes time and 'therapy.'  I've had back aches for years, and have to engage in almost daily exercises to deal with my pain.  Finally, after ten years of needing a back brace to get through services, I am standing on my own due to months of exercises and lessening my dependence on mechanical means.  I still hurt a bit, but it is subsiding due to the new strength of my muscles.  No more Advil and bulky devices.  I had to have patience and endure a lot of pain to get the results.

People don't want to take time and effort to cure their emotional and psychological suffering: they want a pill called an 'antidepressant' when only a minority of cases really require such medications.  yes, there are genuine cases of chemical imbalance, but most people have highly-treatable, temporary forms of depression that can be cured by living a healthy lifestyle and dumping the unreasonable expectations they place on themselves.  The key is a desire to change, but many people don't want to change.  They want their 'stuff' to work, and deny all the pain that comes with it.

Then again, sometimes, you have to hurt.  We all experience situations, like the death of a loved one, where pain is to be expected.  Mankind has always endured this kind of pain.  Do we really need a pill to get through the normal pains of life? Are we that weak?

Now, compare the story above to the statistics in this article:

For all the extra mediation floating around in our blood streams, if you factor in the increases in population, medication has had little effect on the most profound symptom of depression- suicide.  We are prescribing more and more medications, with less and less results.  In fact, some results are counter-productive: 

Untreated depression, caused by social expectations rather than physiological problems, is a needless cause of death and suffering.  Here is a tragic story from Japan (I've posted the printable form because the Daily Mail has lots of garbage in the sidebars in true English tabloid tradition):

The Japanese are also suffering from the inability to bear the pains of a materialistic society.  They are not having children, and the children they have are at increased risk of suicide (as are the adults).  When I lived there, I recall the huge suicide prevention signs in the train stations: they were fine charts showing travelers how much their families would pay if they jumped in front of a train.  The cheapest time was Sunday mornings.

All of us must make the decision to bear reasonable pain.  We must also take responsibility for the pain we cause ourselves.  If your idea of happiness is having lots of material things that force you to work 80 hours a week, then you will be stressed and you will suffer.  The cure is not a pill, but the decision to do without all that stuff.  After all, the pill does not change the reality, and the reality is that you are burning yourself up.

If your body hurts, you must examine the causes: is it because of a temporary, accidental injury, or because I routinely abuse it?  We must understand that if you abuse your body but then turn around and take pills so you can abuse it some more, this is a form drug abuse.  

Pain medication is not intended to enable us to hurt ourselves more, yet this is precisely what we do when we use medications to avoid real healing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article. Having known someone who had an addition to painkillers, it really is devastating for all around them. I think this issue will not be solved until it gains the national attention needed to cause change. having an addiction to painkillers takes over your life. Treatment is the number one factor to recovery, while learning to live all over again without the drugs.