Opioids: Chronic Pain Sufferers Seek a Voice

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Barby Ingle advocates for chronic pain patients in Nevada. Photo courtesy KLAS-TV.

The “opioid epidemic” has created a nightmare for many chronic pain patients. They are met with roadblocks at pharmacies— and that’s if they can even get a prescription.

Doctors in Nevada are fearful they will be targeted by law enforcement for running “pill mills.”

In “The Other Side of Opioids,” KLAS-TV takes a closer look at the numbers and discovers that many of the deaths attributed to opioids in Nevada involve illegal drugs like heroin.

That raises questions about many of the restrictions currently imposed as a result of the “opioid epidemic,” and law enforcement’s proper role in dealing with the crisis.

The one-hour special program interviewed a number of chronic pain patients who worried what a legal crackdown on opioids would mean to their lives.

“Opioid shouldn’t be taken off the table because of media hype and hysteria,” said Barbie Ingle, a pain patient advocate.

See also: “Criminalizing the Opioid Epidemic is No Way to Help Chronic Pain Sufferers.”

Vanessa Murphy is an investigative reporter for 8 News Now/KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Nev., and a former John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Justice reporting fellow. Her complete report is available here.

16 thoughts on “Opioids: Chronic Pain Sufferers Seek a Voice

  1. With four others (Dr Lynn Webster, Josh Bloom, Steven Ziegler and Barbie Ingle, I supported Vanessa’s 8 News Now/KLAS-TV colleague George Knapp in a four-hour segment on Coast to Coast AM Radio, November 24 2017. This reporting team is doing Peabody Award- level investigative work on “The Other Side of Opioids” . To hear the stories of patients being denied care and doctors hounded out of practice by the extra-judicial tactics of DEA “diversion investigators” simply google the hashtag #OurPain.

    • I have had HORRIFIC. Migraines since Age 14. I was at Prep School when they started. The Nuns did not allow me to leave Convent. A very Prominent Doctor gave me a prescription for Dilaudid. I took it for more than 20 years. NEVER Addicted, took as prescribed, never gave to anyone. I just spent 5 days in Hospital for extremely bad Migraine, botched knee surgery. I was in excruciating PAIN ! They would not give me Pain Meds. This is WRONG, how can you not give Pain Meds to people like me, who cannot function because of PAIN ? It is Despicable . Threatening my Doctors if they prescribe anything related to Pain Meds.

  2. Its a human injustice to deny pain meds to patients suffering. when a person has 14yrs of pain that is treated stable with pain meds,the person had no issues of misuse. Now,because drug dealers,organized crime,drug addicts and greedy pharma and greedy politicians thru lobbyists those patients cant get help. The patients aren’t in denial, they know they were quality of life-able,but now contemplate suicide numerous times a day. The hype that every pain patient is addicted is fake.The powers that be are unable to profit gobs of money treating pain,but have monetized it by industry investment in stupid devices and techniques and false positioning that every american is addicted to pain meds.

    [EDITOR’S NOTE: this comment has been edited and condensed for space.]

  3. As a chronic pain sufferer myself, the hysteria surrounding prescription opioids for people who need the pain killing effects is appalling. Many of the opioid drugs responsible for addiction are coming into the US illegally. As one article mentioned, overdose deaths attributed to opioids include heroin and illegally smuggled Vicodin family of drugs are being lumped together, causing the uninformed and ignorant to blame chronic pain sufferers. Under pain management programs supervised by medical personnel, such addiction is rare. Those who need the drugs to lead some semblance of a normal life and are being denied the medications by self righteous busybodies, end up suffering from severe depression, unbearable pain and unable to work and in time, suicide.

  4. I have been in pain management for ten years during which time I had a failed 3-level and a 7-level cervical fusion. Life is much changed since January 2017 after a Walgreens pharmacist refused to fill my prescription from my anesthesiologist/pain doc. Blue cross has denied my prior authorization demanding that I get tapered off what has been working. We are still waiting to be reimbursed $4,000. They lost the receipts we sent them. Every month it is some entity making it an ongoing struggle to get my medication. I have been called a liar and doctor shopper by my former primary care doc because he misread my pharmacy record—that’s happened with two docs. I don’t have a pcp anymore. I’ve had to pee with the door open. That’s just a sampling. Without a strong family, my consulting work and a fierce desire to have some quality of life, I wouldn’t have chosen to hang in there recently. I’m a 58-year old grandmother who has seriously wondered how hard it would be to get herion. Please help me and others. Some days are unbearable. I broke my jaw, not the law. Why am I treated like a criminal?

  5. My wife of twenty years has suffered with chronic back(spinal)pain and periferal nephropathy for the past twenty seven years. She has tried multiple treatments, surgeries, alternative treatments and nothing has provided relief. Oxicodone is the only medication that has provided even a minimal level of relief.
    I know first hand the debilitating effect that this perpetual pain is having on her. The pain causes depression which exacerbates the pain which increases the depression and it’s a vicious cycle. Her doctor recently informed her that he could no longer treat her and that she would have to look elsewhere to get her prescription for oxycodone. Over the past several weeks she has been scrambling to find another doctor who could help, to no avail. This is an absolute nightmare for her. The stress / fear of not having access to the one thing that can provide her a MINIMUM of relief is driving her pain and depression through the roof. She / we are desperate to find anyone, group or agency that can get her the help and relief she needs to survive. SHE IS NOT AN ADDICT!!!!

  6. I believe that in time the federal government will include exceptions, allowing physicians treating long term pain sufferers with legitimate, chronic pain to continue receiving appropriate medications without fear of reprisal. There are many individuals receiving opioid medications without confirmation of chronic conditions and I believe that this will be the main focal point as the public demands fair treatment for legitimate cases.

  7. Narcotics are not medications rather a way for pharmaceutical companies legal many making tools. It doesn’t give relief to chronic except being creating pain in itself. we Americans are are the same as human as any other but we are consuming the world’s garbage. We are destroying our family and community.

    • Live in my shoes for a day, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I took Advil for my pain for 15 years until I didnt have a digestive system any more. So for the last 5 years Narco I have OK pain relief and Im still alive. Now they are being reduced and back to Advil and all the side effects are coming back. Stomach pain, IBS, barrets esophagus, numbness, enlarged veins causing more pain,. very frequent urination. You have no clue.

    • ddola, there are many ailments in which the medications for these ailments do not “cure” but instead treat some of the symptoms. Would you tell a loved one who suffers from a severe case of diabetes to stop taking their insulin medication that has proven to be effective for them, leaving them at risk of developing a severe, acute case of kidney failure, jeopardizing their life? How about encouraging your suicidal adult child with a severe case of major depression, most likely due to chemical imbalances within the brain, and years of stability thanks to an antidepressant to quit taking that antidepressant, leaving them at risk of committing suicide?

      I sincerely hope you would do neither. And if you did answer “no, I would not,” then tell me why in earth you would encourage government bureaucrats with no medical training and licenses to excessively restrict the only class of medication known to reduce severe intractable pain? I would also like to remind you that we are all just a heartbeat away from becoming the victim of a life-altering vehicle accident which renders us physically disabled and in severe constant pain that can be reduced ONLY with opioid medications. Karma has a way of coming back to bite……… us in the a** when we least expect it, especially when we speak out of our a**es about something we can not personally know about or understand because we have NEVER gone through it ourselves. [this comment has been condensed for space and clarity]

      • Thank you for your candidate reply to someone who has no clue about what he is addressing. We are dealing with the same problems here in Oregon. Doctors are cutting meds down to nothing. I hope this forum helps!

  8. A youth court judge is calling my pain management doctor a drug dealer. The judge took my kids said i neglected them by taking the medicine prescribed. Wants me to stop taking my pain medicine an go to drug treatment or he going to take me parental rights away. My pain management doctor kicked me out of the pain management program. He said because of my behavior. I kept asking for the doctor to wright a letter explaining my medical conditions an why I was prescribed the medicine. What do i do ? Its Crazy. If anyone can tell me what to do. Please call 6013347590

    • Thomas, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. That breaks my heart, as my own dad was physically disabled, chronically ill and suffered chronic severe pain by the time I was 10 or so. Fortunately, once he found a decent surgeon to clean up the other butcher’s mess (which caused permanent damage and a deep infection within one his that he carried until the day he passed away (for more than 20 years), he was given some medication for his pain. He was not “intoxicated” by this medication. In fact, one would not even know he was on it other than “appearing” physically disabled. (He had to use a walker or a cane and could not walk long distances).

      I would be willing to bet the judge involved in your case had a close loved one (possibly a child or grandchild) who suffered from addiction in which case he should recuse himself from your case due to having biased (along with false and misleading) beliefs about prescription opioids and any humans who need them for chronic pain (particularly those who require large doses due to the severity of their pain, tolerance, malabsorption issues, and/or genetic issues of lacking the main liver enzyme needed to properly metabolize the medication).In fact, this almost sounds like a case of disability discrimination (along with biased beliefs about humans who need to take opioid medication). If you don’t have an attorney, please find a good one – one that will stand up for you and your rights (along with your child’s (children’s) rights to their father. If you have an attorney and he has not addressed this, please bring it up to him.

      If you can’t afford one, you might check with your state’s ACLU chapter regarding disability and medication discrimination from the judge and/or your state’s legal aid (if they have any). Call around to see if any attorneys could take your case pro bono (most likely, this is a “no,” but it doesn’t hurt to check). Also, google the judge’s full name to see if you can find any evidence of addiction within his family or any other dealings regarding addiction. [this post has been condensed for space]

  9. I wonder if the final agenda will end up offering disabled chronic pain patients death which would truly be sad and a stain on this country that God will judge harshly, the reason I thought of this was that one particularly bad day I had I called a suicide hotline and instead of encouragement the lady at prevention hotline asked me if I wanted help to die, I hung up but after that experience it’s not hard for me to believe that death panels aren’t far off. I have been in debilitating pain so badly that I wished for death to end it but now I get a small dose of extended release of morphine 2 times a day and it gets me up and functioning and I can’t imagine going back to the horrific pain,

    I don’t know what the answer is except write or call your state senators as I did because I felt like I was being treated badly at pharmacy. ahey claim we have an opiod overdose crisis but imo I think sadly that there will be no comparison to the so called overdose crisis if chronic pain sufferers have their medication taken away, there will be a suicide crisis then and sadly it won’t be people who just want to get high and overdose on street drugs but it will be responsible people who follow doctor’s orders and take their medication correctly.
    [this comments has been condensed for space]

  10. look at stats from the VA has cut most off often without tapering down. and has a too high suicide rate. and sadly it might not be the heads but the bureaucracy more dead vets no longer cost the system or trouble. hope its not true but its suspect. DEA and other outside lobbying has caused the FDA to recall. darvon products often the first rx pain drug used, while a small percent had heart problems recalled and FDA directed DR to the opioids, then recently DEA got tramadol sleeping pills and several other drugs reclassified. i lost my DR over this due to draconian Fl rules.
    and now although i had the same bone defect see dr regularly and same dose since 2010 i now can only get 30 day and written script and cannot renew until 2 days before the 30 days. Tramadol no euphoric and small addictive effect. DEA wanted more power to espand its failures

  11. I had 2 surgeries to remove an arachnoid spinal cord cyst. The second surgery was to stop the bleeding which caused spinal cord injury. The pain from this was excruciating with pains meds I was under already. But I had to go in through ER to get relief from break-through pain. I spent nine months in bed because I had trouble walking ( I didn’t know if I would be permanently paralyzed as it had started before my surgeries). Now, I can stand, sit, walk maybe 15-30 min. before I stop from the pain, Yep, they took me off the pain meds. At least they euthanize animals. They will now see deaths escalate.

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