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February 22nd, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The truth about prescription medication addiction

Whenever I hand a prescription for pain pills to a patient, I tell them, “Remember not to drink any alcohol when taking these medications.”

For years, we in the medical community thought that simple message was getting through. It turns out we were wrong.

Every 19 minutes someone dies because of misuse of prescription medications. Sometimes it is because they take too much. Many times it is because they forget or ignore the warning their doctor gave about combining the medications with alcohol. And tens of thousands of people die every year as a result.

As much attention as we pay to illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin, the truth is prescription medications kill more people in this country than those illicit drugs combined. Perhaps it is a perception issue: “It came from a pharmacy, therefore, it must be safe.”

They certainly can be safe, but they can also be incredibly addictive, with more than 1.9 million Americans hooked on prescription pain medications alone.

These painkillers are particularly dangerous because they depress the central nervous system, slowing down breathing and the brain stem’s responsiveness to CO2 to the point where someone abusing these medications can simply stop breathing. Combine these painkillers with alcohol, another depressant, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Researchers are racing to find something that can help, and there are a few promising things in development. A recent study, the first large-scale trial aimed at painkiller dependence, offered some hope.

Almost half of those addicted to painkillers - 49% - were able to reduce their drug abuse when taking Suboxone for at least 12 weeks. The drug works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and relieving cravings.

Unfortunately, the success rate dropped to less than 10% [8.6%] once patients stopped taking the drug. In the study, patients receiving intensive addiction counseling did no better than those who didn’t.

Naltrexone – sold under the brand names Revia and Vivitrol, an injectable, long-acting formulation – has also been used for prescription painkiller abuse. But naltrexone only has the potential to work in patients who are already off the painkillers long enough that the drugs are out of their system.

Truth is most of the researchers I have interviewed over the last decade all seem to agree on one thing: addiction is a brain disease. The latest science shows how the dependence on drugs or alcohol can change the brain chemistry, altering pain and reward centers. As a result of this latest science, the idea of therapy alone to treat addiction is waning.

I should point out that millions of patients use prescription pain medications every year safely, without becoming addicted, and certainly without dying. For nearly 30,000 people a year though, they pay the price with their lives.

As a doctor, I will look my patients in the eye every time I hand them a prescription to tell them the concerns about the pills they will take. It won’t just be a casual reminder about not taking the medications with alcohol, but a forceful warning backed up with scary but forceful statistics. I will remind them that they could become addicted, and they could die. That is our jobs as doctors, and it is one way to save thousands of lives.


soundoff (367 Responses)
  1. wavejump1100

    painkillers are a miracle for many people in chronic pain. not everyone is an addict. its unfortunate many doctors dont want to prescribe extremely beneficial medication because some people abuse it. i say we treat the population as intelligent adults and let natural selection weed out the morons.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ComeOnMan9

      Oh you aint ever worked with a junkie in a healthcare setting. No, we need some restraints.

      February 22, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse |
    • .

      The problem is about 90 percent of the people who get these pills don't need them. And doctors give them out like candy.

      February 22, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse |
    • Amen

      Totally agree. I know people who take pain meds for chronic pain (back fusion and they take it as directed) and every time they fill their prescription they tell me their pharmacist would look at them as if they were some lower that low person.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
    • XxMacleodxX

      let me tell you my story....I have had two shoulder surgeries over the years (I am 28) weak shoulder has destroyed my posture and thus my upper back and it pretty much makes it fell like I am being broken in half constantly.....I used to self medicate with marijuana but I have two sons now and need my job to support my family. Going to the doctor I get narcotics that pretty much do nothing to ease the pain (raises the ef-it level so I get by) and then make me totally loopy and unable to function....I ran into one non-narcotic med once that actually took away every bit of pain and made me feel the best I have ever felt in 12 years...docs don't think it is safe though and can not find one to prescribe it to me. So now I am in a spot...stick with the legal route which will destroy me as a father/husband/human being or go an illegal route and start medicating with marijuana again...which will cause me to loose my job......what to do?

      February 22, 2012 at 20:25 | Report abuse |
    • XxMacleodxX

      and yes Amen they do look at you like a junky....and I call them legal drug dealers before leaving

      February 22, 2012 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
    • jeem

      good point. I worked as a primary care physician for 34 years. Most patients have pain complaints – many chronic. What do you do? tell the patient to take ibuprofen and tylenol? Opiates work for pain. If you send the patient to a pain specialist, they can prescribe opiates until the cows come home and its OK, but if a primary care MD does it, its malpractice because you caused the patient to become addicted. I was sued for giving a patient 2 Tylenlol #3 a day – alledgedly causing addiction although she was getting Rx's from many sources and lying about it. Is that MY responsibility? Tobacco causes at least 450.000 deaths a year – where is the outcry, Dr Gupta? James E Clark MD

      February 22, 2012 at 21:11 | Report abuse |
    • josh

      when you take those who have cancer, aids, MS, parkinsons and so on, not to mention sever physical injuries you end up with millions of people who legitametly need opioids. and it is a shame that those who do not need them and abuse them are making those who do need them ashamed. i.e. if you where having a conversation with somebody and you needed to take your pain killer, would you feel comfortable saying "excuse me for a moment i need to take my oxycodone or hydrocodone etc.." (no you would not say it) even though you legitametly need it. but if you were diabetic you would have no problem sayign "i need to take my insulin now". its an unfortunate reality..

      February 22, 2012 at 21:57 | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      I have chronic degenerative disc syndrome. I had surgery a few months ago on L4-L5. I have 4 discs bulging in my Thoracic area. I have another bulging/herniated in my lumbar. I have been taking opiate pain medicine for 8 years. I am addicted to it but I take it as directed. I take 40mg oxycontin every 8 hours. I also have to take a muscle relaxer for muscle spasms and an anti-depressant for pain and depression. I am 35 and look generally healthy. I can't sit for over 20-30 minutes and I cant stand or walk for more than about 30 minutes. My pharmacy knows me now and i dont have any problems.

      A few years ago I was filling my prescription at walgreens. They had a new pharmacist and he looked at the scrip and then at me and told me he was not going to fill it. I asked why and he said because I didn't need the prescription and was either a junkie or a drug dealer. I told him to give me the prescription and I would fill it somewhere else and he said he was throwing it away. He ripped it up and threw it in the trash. I called the police and when they showed up I explained what had happened. We all went into the office. The pharmacist, the police and myself. The police called my doctor and explained what had happened. He told them that I was his patient and the prescription was 100% valid. The regional manager was called and I got my prescription filled for free, I got a $50 gift card and the pharmacist was told to leave and not come back. He was also told not to expect a good reference when he applied somewhere else. I'm sure I could have sued and got a decent settlement but I was happy with the outcome.

      Every time I go to the doctor to fill my prescription I have to take a urine drug screen just like all his other patients. I have to pay for the doctors appointment, the urine analysis and my prescription. I also have to sign a contract with the doctor that I wont get any painkillers from another doctor and I can only fill my prescriptions at one pharmacy of my choice that they call and verify that I have only filled the one prescription. This is all because people abuse the system and go to several doctors for multiple scrips. The drug test is to make sure the patients are using the medication and not selling it.

      I have to spend a lot of money every month just to get this one prescription. I dont drink or smoke. I dont do any other drugs. If they showed up in a drug test the doctor would stop seeing the patient and it would be in their medical records. My back is never going to get better its just going to get worse the older I get. I get steroid injections a couple times a year to help with the pain also.

      If you just looked at me going in to fill my prescription you would think that I dont need the medicine aside from a slight limp. But just like a book you cant judge people and their medical problems by their cover. Keep that in mind.

      Marijuana has been used for thousands of years and has less side effects and is far less dangerous than the medicine I'm taking now. However since the drug companies cant make any money off of them it will probably never become legal. Especially since anyone can grow what they need in their back yard.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse |
    • c s

      Unfortunately many people suffer from pain because they are not given sufficient drugs to suppress it because of the fear of the DEA. Suffering chronic pain without enough drugs is hell on earth. Doctors treating severe pain are constantly looking over their shoulder fearing that they will labeled as "drug pushers". Unless you have suffered from severe pain, you cannot imagine how unbearable life can be. Many pain suffers will commit suicide rather than suffer from it. One of the most famous person to have severe pain for most of his life was the billionaire Howard Hughes. For many years after an airplane accident, he had severe pain that he treated by self medication. The DEA investigated him but left him alone because he was so rich and powerful. Dr Forrest Tennant was contacted by the DEA about Howard Hughes using extremely large dose of codeine for pain treatment. He wrote a paper in 2008 detailing his findings of Howard Hughes and his self treatment with codeine. You can read the article by doing a search for "Howard Hughes" "pain treatment" "Tennant". What this article shows is that effective pain treatment is absolutely necessary for living a long life. Unfortunately too many people have to suffer because of they are not rich and powerful like Howard Hughes.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • mara

      I live with absolutely chronic awful tmj/bite pain from a failed jaw surgery. No dentist, orthodontist, endodontic or oral surgeon has been able to correct. No one wants to prescribe pain meds. Vicodin is the ONLY thing that takes the edge off. I don't abuse painkillers in any way. I don't even drink at all. I tried to never take more than one a day and never before the dose ran out. And yet, I'm looked at like I'm looking for drugs. I don't even get a "buzz" from pain meds. I get naseaus and feel yucky. But it takes the edge off the physical discomfort. It makes me so angry that people abuse these to the point that doctors don't want to prescribe to people who are living with true, chronic, debilitating pain. The crazy thing is that I actually have a high tolerance for "pain" in general – but this feels like torment that would be banned as inhumane or I would start confessing secrets to just please make it stop. I don't want any kind of high. If my pain could be relieved, I would never touch another pain killer again. It just is so unfortunate that the abuse and way people mix or doctor shop makes doctors hesitant or downright nasty or dismissive about prescribing to those just looking for some pain relief to find some basic quality of life. And it's even harder when it's a "pain" that people can't just look at and see or understand.

      February 22, 2012 at 23:57 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      @jeem Is it legal to tell your patient you're going to give them an Opiate painkiller in an injection and then give them a NSAID injection instead?

      @J. Miller and @ Dr. Mama: As it is said, the best laid plans of mice and men are often laid to waste. I've identified the pattern of drug use that tends to kill, and I believe it's probably more likely to happen with frequent recreational drug users. The problem is lack of education, which is no one's fault but your own. What I see happening is someone taking a benzodiazepine recreationally, and an opiate recreationally which is safe at low doses. The problem with Benzo's is that they cause memory loss, and I have seen this happen so many times including to myself (Though I didn't mix said Benzo with anything, it's just a side effect of a gabba-agonist) So, you're at a party and you decide to take two bars(4mg of Alprazolam aka "Xanax") and two Roxies (30mg of Oxycodone, 15mg a piece) and you are having a good time, but you want to step it up, so you take two more bars (4mg of Alprazolam/ 8mg total at this point) and at that level with a low/medium tolerance (You can ramp up the number of pills for each the oxycodone and alprazolam based on tolerance level, it doesn't really matter, both are harder to die from when you have a tolerance). You assume they didn't kick in so you take two more bars and then you decide to take another Roxie(15 mg Oxycodone) So now you've consumed 12mg of Alprazolam and 45mg of Oxycodone. You're probably pretty hazy, so as the peak effects of the Oxycodone wears off you take two more bars and two more oxycodones putting you 16mg of alprazolam and 75mg of oxycodone. Someone grabs you a drink, it's an alcoholic beverage, this seems alright since the colorful haze you call reality will only be enhanced by it. Here is where I think some people get confused, Alcohol effects the Gabba receptors in your brain and so does Alprazolam and most if not all benzodiazpines. So you're effectively doubling the load on the gabba receptors. This is where you get your blackouts and memory loss. At this point you're sloshed, but you're going to another party with your friends so in your usual manner of making sure you stay on the level you take more alprazolam and oxycodone. Your memory is gone basically, at this point there would be no way to tell your friend or anyone who asked how much you have taken because you are f-ed up. Well, habit kicks in and every little while you take more and more xanax and oxycodone. And after you have had enough or you run out. You get another alcoholic beverage. This is your turning point. There isn't a measurement for alcohol to understand how much you are taking. So you drink and drink because you are at a party or by yourself it can play the exact same way if you like these drugs and drinking alone. This is where the blackout occurs, and this is where respiratory arrest occurs. That or you vomit while laying on your back.

      I've seen people take 20+ bars and drink an entire bottle of Hot Damn 100 and live to tell about it. So to say it's multiplied dosages required by dependant(horrible use of words I think) users mixed with alcohol is what kills is illogical and incorrect. I have experience with people doing said thing and living to tell about it. It's easy to die on just alcohol alone.

      And with Methadone, 20mg isn't necesarrily a small dose. For those of us with low-tolerance to opiates while still doing them recreationally. I find 2 10mg methadones to be a rather strong dose. So someone with little tolerance would easily be overcome by half if not one of them would definitely be brought down by two. Said person could have been taking a product, and there are many, that intensifies the effects of methadone. I have personally tested it, it works very well, and the things you use such as White grapefruit juice and certain antacids, very common items, block the enzyme in your liver from breaking the methadone down. So that could turn I would estimate 20mg into maybe 30mg 40mg tops. Which, for someone with low tolerance would be life threatening.

      But this boils down to having the knowledge and self-control. Without those, most things tend to go awry.

      I think it's incredibly illogical to call someone dependent on something. Dependence means you can't live without it. In that sense, you can only be dependent on a handful of drugs and most of them are non-narcotic such as heart medication and high blood pressure medication but they would potentially harm you indirectly.
      On the other hand, and quite ironically, alcohol and benzodiazpines effect gabba in a way that if you have a very high tolerance to alcohol or a very high tolerance to benzodiazipines if you were to stop cold turkey IT CAN KILL YOU. Ironic because alcohol is legal and Benzos are widely prescribed for a number of problems.
      ----------------–
      My story: I'm 23, and the powers that be saw fit to hit me with chronic lower back pain. I've had this problem since I was 18, due to a work place injury that didn't present fully until a year later. For years I've struggled with pain, sometimes blinding pain, and I've been forced to work through it for a long time.

      I do consume marijuana, the only difference between me and Joe Blow in California is that it's legal there. Due to my dabbling in illicit drugs, I have self medicated, but I don't just randomly eat pills that I think will make me feel good. I have researched and understand what I'm taking, how much I should take for break-through pain and how much I should use/need to tolerate pain for two forty hour jobs.

      As a matter of fact even with my recreational drug use I do my best to research what I'm taking. There used to be places that tested your MDMA for impurities and dangerous chemicals. That was shut down by the government. Most heroin users will die from heroin when their supplier goes from a low grade product (20 percent being Diacetylmorphine aka heroin) to a high grade product (70 percent being Diacetylmorphine aka heroin). When you're used to taking 1/g of 20% Diacetylmorphine AKA HEROIN dissolved into 50/ml of water and your regular thing is shooting 5/ml and suddenly the quality jumps to 70% you are effectively taking a huge amount more. The implications here have nothing to do with dependency or addiction. This is just a fact of the situation that more often then not is used to put a strong negative spin on Diacetylmorphine AKA HEROIN. Heroin at 100% purity is only 1.9 to 4.5 times as strong as morphine. Not many know that. It's not some crazy special chemical that is deadly to all, which can be potentially more lethal if it's laced with something like Fentanyl which is about, literally, 100 times stronger than morphine. otherwise known as white china.

      I find it ridiculous that a primary care physician can't regularly prescribe painkilling drugs because they're "addictive." I find it sick that any organization can describe medicine used to help people as "addictive." When food, tv, sex and plenty of other arguably worse things are plenty addictive and ignored because they fit the "status quo" for society. The definition of addiction to me looks like: A habit that is repeated. That is all. Because you are addicted to driving your own car. Because you are addicted to eating breakfast. Because you are addicted to telling your wife or loved ones that you love them. Because you are addicted going to work and having money to feed your family. Because you're addicted to making love to your wife or girlfreind. Because you're addicted to checking the news. Because you're addicted to brushing your teeth, showering and using the bathroom. Addiction doesn't seem so bad when you look at it like that.

      I do in fact use non-prescribed painkillers as a pick-me-up sometimes. I fail to see any problem with this, as I said, two jobs forty hours each. I've never had any emotional or relationship problems. I've never had any monetary problems that involved drug use. So I don't understand why this is so frowned upon.

      It all lies in self control. The first example everyone tends to give me is that they know someone who has OD'd on an opiate painkiller and since they were close to them, blame the drug. I think that is a mistake. That person controls what goes into his or her body. Yes, it's tragic. No, it's not the drugs fault. Most people with serious drug problems have an underlying problem, whether it be coping with a loss or coping with stress. It isn't a problem until you rely so much upon the drug to keep your head above the waterline that you let slide your existing reality and relationships. Though still, it is YOUR CHOICE.

      No one argues with the guy who has a family and drinks every night with his friends, when he goes home and cares for them and helps his kids with homework and loves his family and friends. And doesn't have a instability within the core elements of his life. What is the difference between that and recreationally using drugs? I see none.

      This part is my speculation sort of... I think addiction is a made up idea that helps legislators ban drugs to allow billions of dollars in profits by drug companies represantives and politicians and hell, entire countries as there are only 1 or two countries in the world that are allowed to produce Papaver somniferum (The natural opiate plant). And our government controls this through policy and foreign policy ie:We'll give you aid if you make it illegal to grow poppies in your country. We stop other countries from producing this, effectively cornering the market by ensuring that any opiate like hydrocodone must be bought through a specific drug company that pays taxes so our government can effectively take a cut from the drug market.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:04 | Report abuse |
    • Jenny

      Not all addicts are" morons" and it should be remembered that the World Health Organization discribes addiction as a disease. Just as people do not choose to be in pain addicts do not choose to remain addicts. As part of recent study and reported in this paper there are physical brain changes in the brains of addicts. At what point do the people that become addicted to prescribed medication become " morons" or is it a lack of vocabulary that causes people to use these unhelpful and derogatory terms for people that are suffering differently from there own experience. What is the difference in the end result of these people that are addicts? Do you know what causes someone to become addicted to any drug be it legal or not. There are people taking prescribed massive doses of a narcotic and never become addicted! Mud slinging and discrimination maybe empowering to some but they certainly do not help any situation.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:21 | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      I got FAST relief using all natural and fast acting Hem-eez. Hem-eez gave me GREAT results. If you suffer from hemorrhoids, get Hem-eez.

      February 23, 2012 at 03:36 | Report abuse |
    • sukka

      If you are in chronic pain and you are taking narcotics every day to alleviate the pain, then yes, you are indeed an addict. That doesn't mean you're a bad person who started out by seeking drugs for fun, only to then begin rifling through your mother's purse or your sons wallet to get your next fix, but it does mean you are dependent on a drug. Society wants to make people feel bad for this when they can't help it, which is absolute garbage.

      February 23, 2012 at 03:47 | Report abuse |
    • scott

      It's great to hear more people with the same feeleings I have regarding this subject. After two failed back fusions it just can't be handled by OTC drugs. I hate what these things may be doing to me inside but what else can I do? The label of being addicted to these is sickening to me. I wish there was a way to let people know I'm not using these to get high, I'm using them to try and live a normal life.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      @ sukka Why is someone who seeks to use drugs for fun bad? If you have a job and a continuing college education that you pay for yourself and you use whatever drugs for whatever reason, fun included, how is that bad?

      I agree, you have a problem if you're stealing money to get what you need. But that doesn't apply to drugs only, if you really want a tv and you steal the money to get it that's bad too. Stealing is what is wrong, not drug use.

      You should feel bad if you "can't help it." Self control is key in recreational drug use. If you can smoke cocaine and lead a healthy normal life, with healthy normal relationships, how could one argue that that is bad? Just because you disagree with it, completely even, doesn't make it wrong.

      February 23, 2012 at 23:50 | Report abuse |
  2. pjjm

    ok, good article and the point is clear.

    But what is the source of all these statistical assertions? Every 19 minutes someone dies from prescription medication? That is 3 people per hour, 72 people every day, and a whopping 26,280 people per year. Another book asserts that 100,000 Americans die from wrongly used prescription meds a year, without any supporting authority. This reminds me of the statement that there is more domestic abuse on the day of super bowl sunday than any other day of the year. There was no authority to support such an assertion. It is quite possible the numbers are as high as asserted - but a bit of evidence or citing to actual authority is appropriate here.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      Number of drug induced deaths in 2009 is 37,485.

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_04.pdf

      See table 2 on page 20.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
    • chris miller

      LOL..."Another book.."

      Thank you for the scientific research. Always awesome to compare statistics from an article online to the infamous 'another book.' We will take your highly researched rebuttal into consideration with all of its citations and facts.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Data is not a book.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
  3. Ginger Blymyer

    When one has pain, too much they cannot function. I started with Celebrex, they took it away. I changed to Darvocet, they took that away. The doctor finally found Percocet would work, now they are torturing her so she doesn't want to prescribe it any more and left me high and dry. First of all I am 78 years old. I don't over dose but I was doing just very well on 2 percocet and a muscle relaxer. I was not high, I was just getting along okay. iI think the doctors must consider our age. If we are older we are not going to hurt ourselves, do too much damage. But to have to sit here in pain while the government takes away what one of us needs and scares the doctors, is not right. I finally went to a homeopathic doctor who told me that my lymph system is so slow. Of course I don't move because I hurt. But if I get the lymph moving it will clean out the poisons. So slowly but surely I am doing it. I wish I could run round the block or do lots of exercise, but the truth is I just cannot. I would be happy to have continued with what was working well and with what I was not overdoing. I hate how they jerk us around without any consideration for the individual.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      You used to have pain.

      Now your problem is that you're a drug addict.

      Get help.

      February 22, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
    • Took Away Celebrex?

      Celebrex is still on the market and used quite frequently. It is NOT a controlled substance like the other medications you described and it is NOT known to be addictive. No one "took it away," so rather than complaining consult with your doctor about his/her prescribing methods.

      February 22, 2012 at 19:58 | Report abuse |
    • Palustris

      There is definitely something wrong with a system that can't find or let a 78 year old individual live out his days without pain. Keep looking for a compassionate doctor who specializes in geriatrics. I'm no spring chicken and had debilitating pain (mainly back, joints & muscles) until, with the help of my good doctor, we came up with a mix of oxycodone, tramadol & tylenol. Taken at proper dosages at proper intervals, I'm quite pain free and can fuction well. It is wrong when a doctor can't help a patient because of the abusers out there.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Darvocet is arguable the WORST pain-reliever of all-time. No more effective than two extra-strength Tylenol, but very addictive and has a horrible side-effect profile - unbelievably cardiotoxic.

      This garbage was pulled from the market about twenty years too late. They did you a favor by "taking it away" from you; trust me on that one.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:41 | Report abuse |
  4. Rainy in AZ

    Here's a way to stop the epidemic: 1. Deal with it! Depression – be depressed for a few months, be sad, and lonely, suicidal! Then pick yourself up and continue to live life drug free! It gets better! Always does! That's what being human is about! Pain is a part of life! And now these doctors are prescribing like candy. Pharmaceutical company's should be put out of business! Sorry no more money! Their greed is stupendous! For legitimate pain suffers by all means do what you have to do! For the scammers, oh my back hurts, please, that's the problem! Doctors will prescribe because that's what they get paid to do! Make money. Has a doctor ever said "you know, you might want to try some natural cure, that's non addicting and costs pennies". Of course not! Or "you know, I will prescribe exercising and a good diet". No money to be made there! Instead I will get you addicted for the rest of your life so you can pay me or my pharmaceutical company the rest of your life!

    February 22, 2012 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      You don't get it. These people don't want these drugs because they need them. They want them because they want to get high.

      And if a doctor writes the scrip, insurance will pay for it.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Utah Friday

      Rainy in AZ...Let me ask a question. I have psoriatic arthritis and avascular necrosis in both shoulders, both hips and both knees. Because of this condition I have prosthetic joints in both shoulders, my left hip and right knee. My left knee is bone on bone and my right hip is not much better. You say to just "deal with it" and it will get better. While I completely agree that drug abuse is wrong and should not be tolerated, not everyone who asks for pain medication is doing so for kicks. So Rainy in AZ, what would you do if you were me and you wanted to be a contributing member of society?

      February 22, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
    • Dew

      Rainy,

      I am now 54 years old, and I have suffered from constant, recalcitrant depression since I was a child. How do you explain that? Are you the shrink of the world, or are you just one of those people who "just know?"

      February 22, 2012 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
    • Rainy in AZ

      I did say for people who do suffer from legitimate chronic pain, by all means do what you have to do to deal with it with meds. Unfortunately I do have experience with depression. If I went to a doctor I'm positive I would have been diagnosed with clinical depression and would have got prescribed Xanax or something of that nature. I was in deep! Eventually, each time my brain righted itself. But I had to put an effort into getting out of it. Effort which seems alot of people do not want to do these days! It's easier to believe in a doctor giving you a pill for the cure. Instead of doing the hard work on your own. I know there are legitimate uses for these drugs, but they should not be a lifetime cure.

      February 23, 2012 at 00:46 | Report abuse |
    • angel

      its not that easy-i have very very intense chronic back pain–ruptured disc, arthritis, muscle spams, -all you can think about is how much pain you have-it wears you out soooo much–interferes with life-i do take a painkiller–and i will readily take for the rest of my life if necessary-i hope i can have this problem "fixed" somehow-but yes everyone has pain but when it is sooooo bad you cant even think straight-have to have help–otc stuff does not help at all!!!! i am very active, personal trainer, fitness instructor- when i exercise it helps sooo much BUT the body comes back to normal after a couple of hours-its especially difficult at night trying to sleep with all of this just throbbing sooo bad-so dont tell other people how to cope – let them decide how they and their doctor want to treat their problems!!! this is most difficult also because of being so active most of my life–i feel like one day i might just crack in half-dont judge and dont tell people what to do! thank you

      February 23, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    And marijuana is illegal because it makes you forgetful.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mike

      and zoloft totally ruins short term memory but doctors will hand it out like candy

      February 23, 2012 at 01:31 | Report abuse |
  6. .

    Doctors have to stop writing scrips for opioids like they were candy!

    Because you don't know who's driving the car in the oncoming lane - straight at YOUR FAMILY.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Loita

      My body has been so used to pain meds, I can easily say I can drive very well with pain pills in my system. It's when some idiot mixes it with alcohol that it becomes a problem

      February 22, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
    • Medical student

      hahahahahhah like CANDY you say?

      Actually if you were educated on the subject you'd be aware that most physicians are actually reluctant to prescribe chronic pain meds at all, and that physicians can be sued for both prescribing and not prescribing.

      The problem is weeding out the drug seekers from those truly in need of chronic pain medication. If you're wrong either way you can be sued or have your license in jeopardy. Prescribe to a drug seeker and you're in trouble, don't prescribe to someone actually need and you're in trouble.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:24 | Report abuse |
  7. Spencer

    "prescription medications kill more people in this country than those illicit drugs combined."
    Good Job federal government!! Your are killing more people than saving. Make pot legal, and no one will need these dangerous prescriptions. Not saying people won't still abuse them, but I wouldn't touch them if I was allowed to have a toke.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      It's not the federal government. It's the chronic pain management clinics that write scrips for any drooling moron who claims he hurt his back while lifting a case of beer at the convenience store.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:07 | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    Could somebody tell me how many people die from marijuana overdose every year? Oh yeah....0. I love how the doctor is recommending shoving another pill down your throat to get you unaddicted to the first pill they shoved down your throat. There will probably be a pill you have to take to mitigate the side effects of the pills that are getting you off the other pills. Ugh.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      How about the number of people who are killed or kill someone else while operating a motor vehicle while they're impaired because the marijuana metabolites that have built up in their body keep them in a perpetual state of impairment.

      And that's a fact, Jack.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
    • Daiv

      "How about the number of people who are killed or kill someone else while operating a motor vehicle while they're impaired because the marijuana metabolites that have built up in their body keep them in a perpetual state of impairment.

      And that's a fact, Jack."

      That is the most ridiculous scare mongering nonsense about marijuana I've ever heard. It is simply not a fact........ Jack.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:34 | Report abuse |
    • Daiv

      Doesn't marijuana stay in your fat cells and keep you high for months?

      No. The part of marijuana that gets you high is called `Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.' Most people just call this THC, but this is confusing: your body will change Delta-9-THC into more inert molecules known as `metabolites,' which don't get you high. Unfortunately, these chemicals also have the word `tetrahydrocannabinol' in them and they are also called THC - so many people think that the metabolites get you high. Anti-drug pamphlets say that THC gets stored in your fat cells and then leaks out later like one of those `time release capsules' advertised on television. They say it can keep you high all day or even longer. This is not true, marijuana only keeps you high for a few hours, and it is not right to think that a person who fails a drug test is always high on drugs, either. Two of these metabolites are called `11-hydroxy-tetrahydro- cannabinol' and `11-nor-9- carboxy- delta-9- tetrahydro- cannabinol' but we will call them 11-OH-THC and 11-nor instead. These are the chemicals which stay in your fatty cells. There is almost no Delta-9-THC left over a few hours after smoking marijuana, and scientific studies which measure the effects of cannabis agree with this fact.

      February 22, 2012 at 21:07 | Report abuse |
  9. Perspective please

    I take pain medication and I am not an addict. My body is dependant on it but if necessary I could quit. But, if I did quit I would not be able to work. I need a knee replacement and I have a bad disk plus arthritis in my neck. I am 55 and I want to work but without pain meds it would now be impossible. I hate that so many doctors are painting everyone with the "addict" brush. Dr Drew said that people should just "learn to live with their pain", I do live with it because the pain meds don't work that well, there are many hours during the day and night that I am not getting relief. If the meds get removed then I will be forced to get on disability, that is NOT something I want to do, I want to work and be productive. My doctor is very careful and "tests" his patients to make sure that they are: taking the meds he prescribes and is not selling them and that they are not taking drugs he is NOT prescribing. This country always does a 180 on everything, can't we please have some balance?

    February 22, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sterotyping

      Dr. Drew can suck it. He hasn't had to live with chronic pain. It's a horrible thing that I'd never wish on anyone. I take methadone everyday and I don't consider myself an addict. I don't ask for refills early, I don't go to the ER complaining of pain 3 times a week. I take my medicine EXACTLY as prescribed. My pharmacist has never looked or treated my like an addict, because I don't call every 5 minutes wondering when I can have my meds...

      February 22, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
  10. Face it

    Fibromyalgia is a BS disease for 98% of those diagnosed with it. Lots of cry babies who dont know how to handle their problems and they want the world to bend over backwards to cater to them.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spencer

      theres a pill for that

      February 22, 2012 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
    • elm

      Really? Where do you get those statistics all knowing one? I haven't seen that study yet. I don't have it, but I know several other who do and they are most certainly not full of BS. Perhaps one day you will experience such a chronic "BS" disease and let us know what you think then!

      February 22, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Number of drug induced deaths in 2009 is 37,485.

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_04.pdf

      Look at table 2 on page 20.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
    • Mayhem

      I have had Fibromyalgia for years. It is a very real painful disease. I have never taken pain medication. I wake up each day hurting. The headaches, neck pain, swollen joints and having my muscles tighten up. There are days I can barely walk. Top all this off with athritis. I can not work because of this but do not collect disability. People that find relief with pain medicine I say good for you. Your quality of life is a lot more important. To those people that put those on pain medications down I guarantee they don't have to live with chronic pain.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:44 | Report abuse |
    • jfab @mayhem try DLPA

      @Mayhem.

      Sorry to hear about your troubles.I am no doctor,but used to be heavily addicted to opioid pain meds and have read a ton of literature on alternatives to narcotic pain meds. You should research and consider trying the amino acid DLPA. I personally use it for a shoulder and neck injury that has left me with chronic pain.As well as tapering off a 320mg oxy habit (yes i abused them heavily,for two years) It has worked pretty damn well, I can at least function throughout the day. And for being non toxic,non addictive, and only 10 bucks from most vitamin shops i couldnt be happier with the results.

      But regarding Fibromyalgia, I have read A TON of success stories from people suffering from arthritis as well as Fibromyalgia and using DLPA as an alternative treatment,or along with there prescription meds. DLPA has great anti inflammatory properties, and it actually has been shown to boost your natural endorphins. I wont get into the chemistry of all this, but it is very effective for many people. My mother in law suffers from debilitating arthritis for years and has tried everything with no or poor results. After my recommendation and talking with her doc, she gave it a shot. After one week she could feel results, after a month she was moving around like I never seen her do before. She swears by it.I do not want to get anyones hopes up, but it has worked great for me. Ps, if you do try it, make sure you have ample B6 and vit C in your diet, or supplement it, otherwise it is not effective. And TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR before starting it. It can interfere with some meds.

      Lastly I should mention, For anyone on any opiate, oxy, hydros, methadone, sub, etc, I have read many testimonials of people being able to cut their normal dose by a third when introducing DLPA into their treatment. Reason being, DLPA is thought to work by destroying the enzyme that "kills" your brains natural pain killers, endorphins. In turn, releasing more of your own endorphins and being able to reduce the outside source. I personally used it while one Suboxone, which I was on for a year, and was able to drop from 8mg a day to 4mg, there was obviously some discomfort, but not nearly as much my as past attempts. And I eventually tapered to nothing. Some placebo effect, probably. But I can say without a doubt in my mind that it helped and continues to help me.

      February 23, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse |
    • Julie Peterson

      @David
      Seriously David, did you even read the statement that Elm was replying to? It had nothing to do with the drug-induced death statistics. You have posted the same statement you posted here all over the comments. Is someone paying you to do this?

      I also want to point out to you that the those drug-induced statistics you keep quoting include ALL prescription medication (NOT just prescription painkillers) AND illegal drugs combined. Accoring to the CDC, the number of prescription narcotic related deaths in 2008 was "nearly 15,000"

      February 23, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
  11. Sam

    As a person who has worked in the treatment of prescription addictions, I believe that a lionshare of the responsibility falls on doctors. I encountered hundreds during my career who were unnecessarily prescribed substances that are chemical equivalents to heroin.

    Prescription of addictive drugs for whatever reason - be it anxiety, pain, depression - has gotten out of hand. There needs to be more education for the doctors so that they know the potential damage they could be doing just writing a scrip. There is no reason to prescribe Percocet or Oxycontin for a simple oral surgery, and there is no reason to prescribe xanax for daily nervousness, just like there is no reason to cut off a man's arm if he breaks his wrist. There needs to be more comprehensive education about directly proportional treatments for the most common day-to-day ailments.

    February 22, 2012 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spencer

      i think theres a pill for that

      February 22, 2012 at 20:00 | Report abuse |
    • .

      YES, YES, & YES. If doctors did not overprescribe, people that actually need pain medications to function would not be "painted" as addicts quite so often and the responsibility of catching those who are truly addicts/chemically dependent on the substances would not fall on pharmacists!

      February 22, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • mongol1

      I think that education should start with YOU suffering from an extremely painful disease, post surgery, or permanent injury. Tell us then how unnecessary pain medicine is.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
  12. Sanjay P00PTa

    As long as my patients dont take too many laxatives then theres no proble. Anderson P00PER is the worst though.

    Hahahahahahaha

    February 22, 2012 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spencer

      hey, theres a pill for that

      February 22, 2012 at 20:00 | Report abuse |
    • Spencer

      hey, there is certainly a pill for that

      February 22, 2012 at 20:01 | Report abuse |
  13. rob

    the doctors do not want to help anymore . they run production lines .

    February 22, 2012 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. gstlab3

    YEAH NEVER MIND THAT IT IS THE SYNTHETIC DRUG THAT KILL MOST OFTEN.
    OLD FASSIONED DRUGS LIKE OPIUM AND MARIJUANA ARE CHEAP INEXPENSIVE AND CAN GROW ALLMOST ANYWHERE.

    YEAH SOME PEOPLE GOT HOOKED ON RAW IMPURE OPIATES AND CAN LIVE A RELATIVELY PAIN FREE LIFE AND SOME WILL ABUSE IT AND DIE BUT NOTHING LIKE TODAY WHEN IT IS EXTEMELY PURE AND ADDICTIVE IN PILL FORMS FROM FACTORIES.

    NOBODY HAS EVER DIED FROM USING MARIJUANA DIRECTLEY OR OTHERWISE.

    ASPERIN AND TYLENAL CAN KILL PEOPLE IF THE TAKE TO MUCH OF IT.

    MARIJUANA CANT DO THAT AND DOES A BETTER JOB AT PAIN RELIEF AND INFLAMATION WITH NO LIVER DAMAGE OR BLEEDING OUT THROUGH AN ULCER IN THE STOMACHE.

    February 22, 2012 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      Marijuana metabolites stay in the body for up to 20 days at levels that cause impairment.

      Are you going to drive a car and kill someone?

      That's intoxication manslaughter.

      February 22, 2012 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
    • rxlawdude

      To "."
      You don't have a clue about cannabinoid pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

      February 22, 2012 at 21:49 | Report abuse |
    • WhoAreUKidding

      Perhaps if you could spell, used punctuation, and didn't type all in caps you could be more convincing. It's pretty hard to make an argument that you are citing solid scientific evidence when you can't express your point coherently. Instead, this comment conjures up images of a ranting, strung-out drug addict...

      February 23, 2012 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
  15. Johnny

    Those who keep referring to themselves as "legitimate pain patients" who *need* pain medications in order to deal with their pain are clearly addicts because they're all aware of something that they are not sharing.

    When one takes pain medications (for example, 10MG Percocets) – let's say for two weeks – by the end of the 2nd week, the medication does NOT have the same effect that it did the first time they took it because their tolerance naturally built up over this time. If they have taken pain medications for longer than that (which undoubtedly most of them have), they are clearly aware of the fact that their tolerance builds up eventually to the point where the pain medications no longer have an effect on them to the extent where it alleviates their pain. A pain patient who has initially takes 10mg of Oxycodone, which their doctor then bumps up to 30mg of oxycodone once the 10mg no longer have an effect, will eventually also build up a tolerance to the 30mg of oxycodone to the point where it no longer alleviates their pain. I know this from experience, as I have dealt with chronic kidney stones for years – an illness which virtually all doctors I've ever spoken to agree is the most painful thing that any man can or will ever experience (anyone who has had kidney stones agree with me wholeheartedly, and those who haven't had them are clueless to the level of pain they cause but if educated about them are aware of the pain they cause). After taking 30mg of oxycodone consistently for a month, it barely has an effect on the pain. The doctor can then increase it to a higher dose, and the same thing will eventually happen.

    Therefore, those claiming they are legitimate pain patients are deliberately ignoring this plain and simple fact. They know very well that their pain medications will no longer have an effect after they take them for a given amount of time, usually a month or two, at longest. As a result, they are addicts who have to keep taking the pain medications in order to ensure that they do not go through withdrawal symptoms, which I cannot blame them for, because it is one of the most horrific physical and psychological experiences that any human being can or will ever go through, and my sorrow goes out to anyone who has experienced them. However, no "legitimate pain patients" can argue that their pain is alleviated by painkillers after taking them for months or even years; they clearly know they are lying – the human body will always build up a tolerance to them to the point where they no longer have any effect. They claim they are "legitimate pain patients" so that they are not viewed by others (or in some cases, themselves) as an addict.

    February 22, 2012 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ryan Trucker

      Johnny, you're a hypocrit. According to you the only legitimate pain is kidney stones. I mean really?
      So the 78 year old woman is a junky and your not? If you say so. Go talk to the Kidney Stone Committee.

      February 22, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I always enjoy someone telling me how to feel or to admit to something when I don't need to. I have had Kidney Stones and I can't argue with the pain that it causes, I have only experienced it twice. But I was also Injured 15 years ago, caused damage to my shoulder that was Surgically repaired and Nerve damage to my back ( Sciatic Nerve ) that cannot be repaired. I was told by Doctors to " Live with the Pain " of the Sciatic Nerve. I did for several years, until I injured my back again. I was put on Vicodin and as what normally happens, became dependent. I took myself off of Vicodin and tried Acupuncture, Bio Feedback and Herbal to no avail. Pain increased but I tried to tolerate it. and as a few years went by re injured my back again. By now I had deterioration of the disks plus the increase in nerve pain. If I wanted to work I had to go on Pain Meds and Relaxers, I had a good Dr. by then and found something that worked for me. I stayed on the same Dosage of Oxycontin for over 4 years until I changed to a different Pain Medication 2 years ago. I had moved and changed Dr's while prescribed the Oxy. and never changed dosage ( except for no meds for 2 months due to Insurance change )
      I have a Pain Man. Dr. who doesn't believe in being completely pain free.
      The point being that you have to take responsibility along with your Doctor, I have been asked if I need my dosage raised, but I have put this off as much as possible, because you are right, Where does it end? I am not pain free, but my pain is tolerable and that is no different than before I was first injured. I was always pulling muscles working or working out or lifting something heavy. I have had to change my lifestyle due to my injuries. But I don't need to keep getting larger doses of pain medication either. When I get to the point that this medication doesn't work I will change the Medication, not the Dosage. It's about awareness, not ignorance.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
    • mara

      I don't agree with this at all. Yes, a person can build up a tolerance to regular pain medication, but I in no way want painkillers to avoid going into withdrawl. In fact, I literally try to ration the paid meds and only take them on the worst days. They don't always work or do anything. I am extremely careful when doctors do prescribe them b/c I DON'T want to build up a tolerance. I'm afraid I will need an actual surgery again and or break a bone skiing or have something happen when I need the heavy pain killer and it would be so awful if I got no relief b/c of building up a tolerance for taking something regularly for chronic pain. And I've also read things about how opiates can change your brain chemistry to the point of stop making natural (endorphins??) or tricking your body to *thinking* it is in pain so that you will take more of the opiate based drug to get your fix. I don't want any of that! I want to be a functional, viable, productive person with quality of life. The kind of constant chronic pain I am living with is so awful and it's not like some days are better than others or like an occasional migraine but then you get okay times....I'm living biting on pens or chewing on paper towels to try to find relief...what kind of life is that...at least a pain med sort of blocks the pain so I can go about my life. In the mean time, I am doing everything in my power to address the causes of the pain...that is what I want to fix, not prolonged pain medication. I just hate that it is the only thing that helps at times and I'm treated like some addict to get it.

      February 23, 2012 at 01:45 | Report abuse |
  16. NoTags

    Dr. Gupta states in his article; "Every 19 minutes someone dies because of misuse of prescription medications."

    I would like to know if this figure includes incorrect prescriptions written by doctors, i.e. the wrong medication for a specific problem.

    I personally know of many more people who have been affected by incorrect medications prescribed by doctors than over dosing on the correct medication.

    I only have one functioning kidney. A few years ago a doctor precribed a medication for me where if I had filled the prescription and taken it, it would have had about a 90% chance of "killing" my functioning kidney.

    February 22, 2012 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WhoAreUKidding

      LOL, are you employed by one of those ambulance-chasing law firms? Nice attempt to hijack the article and comments for your own agenda. This article talks about how overuse of prescription meds is a dangerous trend on the rise, and somehow you manage to question whether this includes doctors making mistakes in their prescribing. Not saying that it doesn't happen, but it's completely ridiculous to believe that this is in any way accounting for a significant proportion of the pain med overdoses that are happening out there.

      I love how you cite that you don't know that many people that have overdosed... Hmmm... Maybe cuz they've overdosed... In other words, not alive to tell you about it. Pack up the agenda and take it with you...

      February 23, 2012 at 00:45 | Report abuse |
  17. Massive Marbles

    To prolong life is to prolong the inevitable. Either all pharmaceutical and "legal" drugs should be reclassified as Illegal or all drugs should be legal. There's no debate. Pharmaceutical drugs have caused more death then alcohol and cigarettes and yet they are sold at the highest prices and are legal, then comes Alcohol which kills, cigarettes which kill – why are they legal? These two drugs alone have killed far more people statistically than marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined! Either make it all legal, or make everything illegal. Don't prolong the inevitable any longer!

    February 22, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. jt

    i don't need or take pain pills i broke a bone it don't hurt at all no joke but i need my meds if not i can not eat any food but was told no to my meds if they are not generic meds but i can not take generic meds they make me sick as a dog but no is the replay i get so what now i can not pay for my meds do not have the money to pay for them so what NOW

    February 22, 2012 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. jma58

    I am not sure where the good Dr gets his facts but I think that 1.9 mil is a drop in the bucket. There are that many pill heads in my state.

    February 22, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. SKaye

    I truly do not understand this whole addiction thing particularly with alcohol and some drugs. It is definitely hard to wean oneself off of different drugs, even antidepressants but it is doable.

    I know a lot of people who have stopped cold turkey after decades of heavy drinking and smoking, and there are those who can stop slowly.

    Although I don't dispute there are people who become chemically dependant but why does rehab work for many? Where does the "will power" /mind over matter (if there is such a thing) come in?

    February 22, 2012 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Taylor

    Dear Dr. Gupta,

    I have a friend who is suffering from Cystic Fibrosis and has become extremely addicted to pain medication. He has disconnected from his family and stopped fighting his disease. In order for any sort of treatment to work, I know that the patient has to want it to work. What resources are there out there for people with terminal illness who are prescription drug addicts? How can my friend get help when he is not willing to help himself?

    Please let me know if you have any information or resources available.

    February 22, 2012 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Nick

    Doctors get commissions for writing prescriptions. That is how drug companies pushed their drug products.

    February 22, 2012 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 343 Guilty Spark

      This is false.

      February 22, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse |
    • mongol1

      @343 Guilty Spark:

      Sorry, but you're very mistaken, or work for a pharmaceutical company.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
    • mongol1

      @343 Guilty Spark:

      I forgot to add that it's really the pharmacies that make the higher commissions, by "pushing" generics or an expensive "brand name drug".

      February 22, 2012 at 22:50 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Doctors are not paid for the prescriptions they write.

      February 23, 2012 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
    • Coloradan

      No, but they are paid for the repeated visits over the years by their patients to adjust their dosage, upwards of course as dependency and tolerance develop. What a gig. Hook em on drugs and then you have a patient for life, or until they overdose.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:10 | Report abuse |
  23. Bree

    Does anyone else find it ironic that our plan to solve addiction due to the over-medication of Americans not with therapy, but with MORE medication? This is exactly why I will not take ANY meds unless I feel my life depends on it. Not worth the side effects.

    February 22, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • J. Miller

      No, I don't find it ironic at all and had you read the article above you would have known why – therapy does not work because addiction is a brain disease! Addiction is not a drug problem, it's a brain problem and most need medication to treat that brain problem. It's really no different than any other brain disease. Nobody would argue that we should treat bi-polar disease (another brain disease) with talking. It requires medication to treat the symptoms and allow the patient to live a normal life. Using Suboxone or methadone for addiction is no different. It doesn't cure addiction but just like with the bi-polar patients it treats the symptoms – compulsions, cravings and obsessions – which allows the patient to live a normal life. It actually works very well.

      February 22, 2012 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      @J.Miller I think that's a load of crap. If you believe in the medical model of brain disorders, then you're basically saying medicine can fix everything and you're throwing in the the: I'm sad. It's okay there is a pill for that. Group.

      My father was a psychologist. And like him, I believe that behavioral problems, like taking an assload of pills that make you feel good, is most definitely correlated to a problem in your life and not a chemical problem in your head.

      The medical model makes drug companies billions of dollars a year and has a volley of sickening side effects.

      I would think "talking it out" or therapy would be a much more natural approach to solving the problem. And yes, it works for many people and has for a very long time. It's only in the last 50 years, that we've stepped away from traditional therapy and leaned towards a quick fix aka the Mcdonaldization of America. <- It's real, take a sociology course at your local community college.

      @Bree think of how alcoholism in America relates to Alcoholism in France. In America, the rates are high among younger age groups 14-25 vs lower in France.

      It literally boils down to wanting what you can't have. I believe if the opiate piplines and cocaine piplines and amphetamine pipelines were opened full swing you would see an inital increase of drug use, followed by a dramatic decrease in drug use prevalence across the country.

      If taking a large amount of hydrocodone makes you work harder and better, what is wrong with it?

      We are human beings, we are all subjectively experiencing a similar reality. We shouldn't get to tell a group of people what they can or can not do. Especially when that group is 1.2 millions plus people strong just in America.

      If you've never used drugs recreationally, you shouldn't get an opinion on legislation related to it. It makes no sense, all the do-gooders and christians that think they know what's best for everyone else.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:35 | Report abuse |
  24. Beatle

    I'm always amazed at how ALCOHOL and cigarettes are always left out of these stories Its a well know fact that ALCOHOL and cigs are NOT a prescribed drugs sold for pain relief YET they are the most abused drugs out there and readily available to anyone with the means and money to purchase them LEGALLY or illegally ! What NORTH AMERICAN GOVERNMENTS don't say is the amount of TAX dollars they would lose if either were to be banned ! There's NO difference between and addict to either of those things OF PRESCRIBED or illegal drugs other than the TAX DOLLARS missing from certain coffers for the ILLEGAL ONES prescribed or NOT !

    February 22, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Bubba™

    People who take these drugs in therapeutic doses don't have problems. The problem like with alcohol or any Rx drug is abuse. Be responsible for your actions and don't blame doctors with good intentions.

    February 22, 2012 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. josh

    when you take those who have cancer, aids, MS, parkinsons and so on, not to mention sever physical injuries you end up with millions of people who legitametly need opioids. and it is a shame that those who do not need them and abuse them are making those who do need them ashamed. i.e. if you where having a conversation with somebody and you needed to take your pain killer, would you feel comfortable saying "excuse me for a moment i need to take my oxycodone or hydrocodone etc.." (no you would not say it) even though you legitametly need it. but if you were diabetic you would have no problem sayign "i need to take my insulin now". its an unfortunate reality.

    February 22, 2012 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jfab

      Josh, regardless of the stigma around pain meds, why be self conscious about something that you believe improves your quality of life? who gives a damn. you shouldnt

      February 23, 2012 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Insulin is a necessary medication for a certain group of people, but can be very dangerous if used incorrectly/inappropriately.

      Opiates are necessary medications for a certain group of people, but can be very dangerous if used incorrectly/inappropriately.

      See what I just did there?

      February 23, 2012 at 01:26 | Report abuse |
  27. darryl

    I'm a recovering addict and I can say Suboxone is a miracle! It's such a godsend, it forces me to deal with my self control issues by finding a way to deal with cravings that isn't using drugs. It blocks my opiate receptors while binding strongly to them, meaning that I don't withdrawal but if I want to get high on other opiates, I can't. It doesn't give you a rush when you take it so you don't even feel high (though I know it has an effect).

    This, combined with therapy and drug testing has been wonderful. My dr. is letting me ween off at my own pace, too. Sometimes I wish he'd force me to cut down but overall, it's best if I decide when, I know I'll have to sooner or later but cutting down on my own (while having my normal dosage in front of me) helps my self control.

    This article hit on something important that I tend to forget though. I am on a high powered opiate, though it doesn't feel like it. I just had my birthday and had to remember not to get drunk. My doctor doesn't want me to drink at all but I figured he was worried about cross addiction. My family had to remind me that I shouldn't drink because of the double depressant thing...

    If you have a problem with opiates, please, ask your doctor for a referral to a sub doc. It's an easy process but you have to be willing to get clean. I've been completely clean for 10 months and I'm so happy to be getting over my addiction.

    February 22, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 13Directors

      Wow, I mean, really. I quit drinking and drugging cold turkey. I went to meetings and therapy for years. The old timers didn't have all these crutches, They had to get honest with themselves. That's it.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:23 | Report abuse |
    • J. Miller

      Darryl, I'm so happy that Suboxone has worked so well for you. I know it has worked wonders for a lot of people. I tried it and it didn't work well for me because of the extremely uncomfortable side effects it gave me but fortunately methadone worked very well instead and I've been clean for 8 years.
      I've been quite active in the MAT community since I've been clean and I've learned a few things. So based on that I would strongly discourage you to start tapering your Suboxone this early in treatment. 10 months is actually a very short time and it's recommended that you stay on Suboxone for at least 2 years before you start getting off. Keep in mind that the hard part is not quitting drugs, it's not starting again and as this article pointed out less than 9% of patients stayed clean after getting off Suboxone after one year of treatment. There are a number of studies that back this up. The longer you are in treatment the better and there is no rush to get off. A lot of people are on Suboxone for many years.

      Good luck

      February 23, 2012 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
    • james

      I wonder what you will think of suboxone when you decide to jump off of it. I was on suboxone for 2 years and I decided to get off of it. Went to a detox and finished the rest at home. I didn't sleep for 11 days, have never felt the same since really getting off of opioids, suboxone included. Suboxone has the most miserable withdrawals out of any prescription drug on this planet, and I hate people like you that advertise it as a miracle drug! Its not a miracle drug, it makes things worse and I wish I would have just went to rehab and suffered from Percocet addiction before going to suboxone. It wouldn't have been as hard on me. I bet your the type that tells people your sober now! hahah, what a ie. Your still on dope that has an even worse withdrawal.

      December 18, 2014 at 03:22 | Report abuse |
  28. mongol1

    It is so easy for the young and/or healthy to pompously criticize those who are not about painkillers: "oh, you're a drug addict, get help, go to rehab." I can understand doctors wanting to do the best by their patients; however they, not experiencing the pain, can do more harm than good. For those that are not doctors however, how someone deals with pain is none of their damn business. Label those who are in extreme pain as "drug addicts", comparing them to the same level as suicide bombers.

    Having been blasted by a grenade and shot with a deformed bullet (ricochet) to the point where I nearly lost my arm. I've been in pain every day since Vietnam. I've taken painkillers (Fiorinol w codeine) since an operation in '81, 12 years after the event. So consider me a drug addict – screw you. I laid my life on the line for this country – have you? One could perceive me to be a drug addict – so what, at least it's a palliative care which beats the suffering of pain. I've studied the effects and dangers of the treatment, so I understand Dr.Gupta's concerns and the careful administration of the treatment. I have an addiction – once again, so what, it's my business, not yours. I'm not a pedophile or thief or some other lowlife, so once again mind your own damn business and I'll mind mine. Yes, some people die; they should follow proper procedure. If they are shut off of medicine that could make their lives more bearable, is it going to make them live longer? Everybody dies, that's life. People should get down off their soapbox, cease their arrogance, and if someone wants to alleviate their pain, or just plain get high, that's their business, not the government's or holier-than-thou deniers of freedom.

    BTW, if harmless marijuana was legal and taxed moderately, we wouldn't have an economic crisis, we'd be solvent. But I guess it makes more sense (?) for alcohol and gambling to be legal. How sad to live in a nation so full of idiots.

    February 22, 2012 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • c s

      Thank you for your service. I wish you well. You are not an addict, you are just like the billionaire Howard Hughes who had severe pain for years and self-treated it with high dose of codeine. The DEA investigated him but left him alone because he was rich and famous. All of these people who have never had severe pain cannot understand what it is like.

      February 22, 2012 at 22:52 | Report abuse |
    • J. Miller

      Mongol1, you do NOT sound like an addict to me. You sound like a pain patient who are dependent on your medication. Being dependent is not the same as having an addiction. Some people unfortunately think that physically needing a drug or you'll go into withdrawal means that you're an addict. It doesn't mean that at all. It means that you are physically dependent which all pain patients who take opiates are. So please don't think that you have an addiction. You don't.

      February 23, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      @Mongol: I think you've got sense man. I'm young, I agree. Generation Y is on your side friend.

      If you really want to be sick, dig through statistics of your Brothers in Arms who were denied care by the VA and their doctors and were forced to self-medicate and are now in jail because of being caught with a schedule 3 drug. The idea sickens me the the very core.

      This country used to take care of their own as well as others. Now it takes care of itself and only itself. It can't identify with the 3% of the country that regulary takes painkillers for pain, plus those who take it recreationally. It can't identify with the 50% prevalence of marijuana use amoung adults. That's how f-ed up our country is, when half of us want something we can't even get it because the few have more power than the many.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:58 | Report abuse |
  29. ibrad

    The truth is the pharma drug business likes things just the way they are now. Selling lots of drugs even if people don`t need them !

    February 22, 2012 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Dr. Mama

    Sorry, but the truth is that prescription drugs taken in the RECOMMENDED DOSAGE are not as dangerous as you describe, even with alcohol on board. It's the multiplied dosages required by dependent users that become life threatening when combined with alcohol. Let's call it as it is.

    February 22, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • J. Miller

      That's not entirely true. There have been a number of people who have died from taking prescribed doses of methadone, as little as 20mg. A lot of people have died from mixing therapeutic doses of opiates and benzodiazepines with each other and with alcohol. Most people who die are actually not dependent people but people who are just starting treatment or those who are infrequent recreational drug users.

      Opiates, including methadone, are very useful drugs for those who need them and my life has been saved by an opiate that I still take every day. But we shouldn't kid ourselves that these helpful drugs can also be dangerous at times.

      February 23, 2012 at 00:33 | Report abuse |
  31. r

    Hey, you can't control if your patient listens to you or not.

    February 22, 2012 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. hi yall

    swm tall hung (11.5 inches and superbly thick)
    seeking sf looking to deep throat my monster c0 c k!

    February 23, 2012 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. PhilG.

    So the cure for being addicted to drugs is more drugs.

    Wonder who paid for this CNN article?

    February 23, 2012 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Coloradan

    Here is an alternative, take the pain. Have seen too many patients who have become dependent on their pain meds, some of whom have been on them for decades, none of those pts have any quality of life that people would aspire to. Just living for the next dosage, the need for which increases with time as tolerance develops. A never ending downard spiral. Take the pain. And Docs, grow a pair and say no, I will not give you more than a few days supply, and this only after a surgery or an accident. Apart from that you will have to take the pain or manage it with non narcotics. Oh wait, that is insensitive, because if you don't have the pain you can't possibly understand. Right, because what's sensitive is helping pts to become addicted to their pain meds, ruining their lives eventually and having tens of thousands die from them. Take the pain.

    February 23, 2012 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Husband

      My wife used to work 40-50 hours a week and on weekends play active sports. After a car accident she has been confined to bed except to go to the doctor once a month where she get the lowest possible dose of Oxycodone. This allows her the lay in bed all day rocking back in forth in pain and she cannot sleep because of the pain until her body gives out and she passes out more than falls asleep. This has been for the last 3 and a half years. She is at the point where she wants to check out. As her husband I don't care if she was addicted. i want the pain lessened if not gone. She cannot even go on the back porch to sit outside. I guess it makes me a bad person but i wish you would get some kidney stones (I had) and just "Take the pain" or maybe your spouse or children. Then tell them to suck it up.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:54 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      That is such an ignorant point of view. I have to ask, what is wrong with you? And who the F are you to make any judgment what-so-ever on other people?

      It is you who is deciding that someone who takes more and more of an opiate painkiller is enduring a downward spiral of thier life. That is outrageously misinformed. It's called tolerance. A lot of drugs have it, including caffiene.

      You are crossing a line through drug habit and saying that if you take any drug for pain or any reason you have a problem.

      Why should we not take a plant that grows naturally on this planet and use it? Opium poppies have a recorded use of TEN THOUASAND years. And guess what, they didn't used to use it only for pain. It also works as a general pick me up.

      You're seriously a moron if you think that every person who touches a painkiller is going to have their life ruined. It's people like you that make this country suck.

      February 23, 2012 at 02:56 | Report abuse |
    • David J.

      I took the damn pain for years because of doctors like you. I almost ended up eating a bullet from my gun before I found a doctor who actually gave a damn. I have quality of life now BECAUSE of narcotic medication, where as before I woke up every morning crying because I didn't die in my sleep and end the agony I was suffering through.

      February 23, 2012 at 04:39 | Report abuse |
  35. David J.

    Simple solution for those in the medical field. GIVE IT TO THEM. You can't judge whether or not some one in excruciating pain or just agonizing pain. I am a chronic pain sufferer and thank zeus that I found a caring doctor who listened to me and wrote me Fentanyl & Methadone for pain. For the first time in years I am pain free because of that one doctor. I can't tell you how many other doctors out right refused to write anything or suggested I take motrin. Doctors are all for prescribing expensive NSAIDs and Steroids that do absolutely nothing, and have side effects a mile long, Vioxx anyone? Effective narcotic drugs that are cheap and do the job? Oh no! we can't prescribe them and alleviate your pain you MIGHT get addicted. Its much better for you to take medications that won't do a damned thing.

    This situation is especially aggravating at the hospital. You wait 4 hours in agony and the Doctor hands you a prescription for Ibuprofen. Something you could have gotten at the store for like $4 instead of waiting hours and hours and getting a $1,000 hospital bill to boot.

    Who gives a damn if a person is drug seeking just give them the damn injection or pill. I know this might sound strange but people get sick and in pain, and for some reason drug addicts tend to get sicker and in pain MORE often, surprising isn't it?

    February 23, 2012 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Frank Rizzo

    Pain Management is a must for certain people, dont allow the Doctors and Law Makers to deny them their right to treatment.

    February 23, 2012 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. David J.

    Well unfortunately most pain clinics treat you like a drug addict. Random drug tests on camera, random pill counts, etc, etc I suffered for years before I found a doctor with the courage to write narcotic medication.

    Doctors need to step up and alleviate the suffering of those patients of theirs with pain

    February 23, 2012 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. muzzylu

    Medical marijuana is the best pain reliever and the safest! How about just $2.99 for great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA – Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. 
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    February 23, 2012 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. escher7

    It doesn't matter whether the subject is politics, the weather or addictive prescription drugs, the pattern of responses is the same. Some are knowledgeable from personal experience, some are know-it-all and criticize, and some are sympathetic. Then there are the trolls. Never changes.

    February 23, 2012 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. lbzhan

    I am from Portsmouth, Ohio, although I currently live in Columbus, so by means of being surrounded by prescription drug addiction, I am fervently interested in alternate means of detoxing people from opiates. I am currently looking into Kratom, with a general amount of great success. It is hard to say as of now if the success rates will be any higher than that of Suboxone, but in early runs 7 out of ten have successfully quit using for three weeks now. Of course I cannot test for honesty, as I am not a doctor, but I am definitely hopeful for this venture. And the means through which I accomplish all this will soon be illegal, so I am hoping that word of this plant spreads.

    February 23, 2012 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Rich

    As an addictions therapist, I see the dark underbelly of the entire subculture of addiction and how it has destroyed so many lives. Prescription drugs are the number one drug of choice from most of the people I work with...sadly, a close second is bath salts and other synthetics.
    As for pain clinics treating people like addicts, a lot of people who are out doctor shopping will go to these same pain clinics (or several different ones) again and again and again.
    One person posted to let 'natural selection weed out the morons'. Problem is...with the increase in drug abuse (pills, salts, alcohol, krokodil, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, khat, and a host of others), there is an increase in crime. It is just as likely that the average Joe on the street will be part of the 'natural selection' when they are robbed, killed, or die in an accident that was the result of somebody under the influence of drugs. Often, the innocent bystanders are the ones who are weeded out.
    Between the pharmaceutical companies, passive doctors who prescribe anything asked for, the drug cartel, and head shops selling synthetic drugs (bath salts, k-2, lazy cakes, OTC pseudoprescription drugs that mimic prescription drugs), I do not have a very high outlook for the future of this country.
    Lawmakers, doctors, recovered addicts, police, and concerned citizens, need to be on the same page to help stop this epidemic instead of having their own agendas.

    February 23, 2012 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. KC

    A pain management specialist I spoke to points out that we don't call diabetics "insulin addicts" or depressives "Prozac addicts". For those patients who use pain pills in order to be functional, the fact that they take the pills every day should not be equated to "addiction". 1% of people are at risk for addiction and they can generally be identified in advance because of their addictive behaviors (e.g., playing computer games all night and then not getting up to go to work in the morning, problem gambling, etc.)

    February 23, 2012 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      For the most part, you're right about the 'insulin addict' and 'depressive addict' quote. However, the painkillers and benzodiazopines tend to affect a different part of the brain than other meds tend to.

      However, there is such a black market for the painkillers that it changes the entire game. There is not a black market for insulin or prozac as there is for prescription opiates and benzodiazopines.

      On average, the painkillers and benzos go for $1 per milligram on the street. If somebody had limited income and gets a prescription at the beginning of the month, it's like a gold mine. One 30 day prescription can go for as much as $3000. THATS where the problem comes into play.

      February 23, 2012 at 07:48 | Report abuse |
  43. Leigh

    Here in NC, physicians and pharmacists are interlinked through a statewide data base, and this allows them to screen patients, and to weed out those who may be 'doctor shopping', and to more effectively prescribe for and treat those who have legitimate needs for opiates. This doesn't prevent some ill intentioned folks from getting their hands on narcotics; the old adage 'where there's a will' still applies, but it does lend some sort of accountability to those in the process of treating pain, and to those being treated.

    February 23, 2012 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Time Bandit

    My mother in law was a pain med addict: percocet, demerol, vicodine, you name it...she got it. It wasn't pain she was dealing with, she was trying to escape from reality: debt collectors was the main culprit but that was her own doing. Then she was placed on Pain Management, she knew how to work that system...go to the Emergency room. Well I nipped that in the bud, the doctor gave her a prescription of Valium. I called the doctor that ordered her to PM and asked if they gave her Valium, they called her and asked her to come to the office. Let's just say she was not happy when they took her Valiums away, there are people who do need it but there are those who seriusly abuse it.

    February 23, 2012 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. ns

    thanks a lot gupta!
    now every one of my palliative patients who reads CNN is going to tell me they want to stop using their pain medications.
    how about putting in a caveat about cancer patients.
    the statistics quite clearly show that cancer patients who take their pain meds appropriately do not become addicts.
    in fact pain medication is a big part of maintaining a good quality of life for these patients.

    February 23, 2012 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. the ridiculist

    As you can see Dr Gupta can hand over prescriptions for pain and I bet not one pharmacist will turn down a script with a famous Doctors signature. The pharmacist who ask for MRI or dont feel comfortable filling a prescription for a person who on the outside may look healthy but on the inside the pain is tearing them up. A cancer patient with no hair will get their script but a patient who covers up their severe scoliosis with large clothes and try to look healthy so they can get a job will be refused. I have witnessed this on several occasions. Although I do not take any type of pain meds but I have seen and heard what a pharmacist will say. Especially the ones that are from India or Pakistan or where ever they are from, Have been horrible to some people . I have watched both CVS and Walgreens do this, And some of the women pharmacist are way out of line. The pharmacist will tell a patient to go to another Doctor, or another I have heard is I will not help you with your addiction how about your doctor is not in the system ,when they know that all pain management doctors are in the system who are legal, they are just to lazy to look . These pharmacist , DEA, Police department, Governor have no clue what pain really is. Or they would not be so negative . As much as I do not wish it on any one. I do wish it on those who are so negative to the people who really need it. Patients in wheelchairs with atrophied limbs are turned away. The new PDMP was set into motion to subtract the pill mill gangs, to watch for doctor shoppers and to contact those offices , as well as all pain management offices have access to the PDMP to check every time a patient comes in. Back ground checks are made to be sure that the patient is not a Felon for selling drugs. Alcohol testing is done, urine checks constantly done with companies that you can take there reports that will hold up in a court of law. I personally watched my mother for four years suffer in horrendous pain only to die in horrendous pain from cancer at the age of 54. If every one does what they are suppose to do then there should be no problems. Lets get these people out of pain. A legal pain management office will go to great lengths to ensure the people they have in there office are legal pain patients. It is not the decision of a pharmacist to say who gets pain meds and who does not. They are not the doctor, neither is the police, DEA, or the government.

    February 23, 2012 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      You aren't making any sense. No pharmacist has ever asked anyone to get an MRI, or done a background check before filling a prescription, much less a urine test.

      "Especially the ones that are from India or Pakistan or where ever they are from"... What do you have against them; they haven't mastered the English language like you have?

      February 23, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
  47. Bob

    One thing we don't need is vindictiveness from those self righteous idiots, mostly who have never done any drugs – you know, the ones who say, "you chose to do it, now deal with it"' or that "addicts are mentally weak" or "we should just lock them up – they're just trash anyway." We have all heard these people spew their venom. They are the one's saying 'nothing is my responsibility – I take care of myself and that's it." They are the ones who believe in attraction theory – they have convinced millions that people get what they deserve and that addicts are simply low life getting what they deserve. Poor people, too – "those poor people, they chose not to work, now they're poor and complaining – just cry me a river." People that say that are the true low life.

    February 23, 2012 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Tara

    God help you if you become addicted to opiates. Trying to stop is the worst hell on earth you could imagine. Suboxone helps w/the addiction to the opiate, however, then you must get off the suboxone – this is not better really. To those who are still free of addiction, please don't start.

    February 23, 2012 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. tacc2

    "Almost half of those addicted to painkillers – 49% – were able to reduce their drug abuse when taking Suboxone for at least 12 weeks. The drug works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and relieving cravings."

    So, the pharmaceutical industry creates drugs that cause addiction, way more addiction than the illegal plants (poppies) and resins (opium) they are derived from. Then, they create the "cure" (Suboxone) for the problem THEY CAUSED. Isn't it funny how both the problem (addiction to prescription painkillers) and the "cure" (prescription anti-addiction drugs) both fill their coffers?

    Hmmm...where have we seen this before? Oh that's right. Anyone remember what they used morphine for in the past? That's right, to "cure" opium addiction. How about heroin? Yup, it was the "cure" for morphine addiction.

    Why can't we just have the plants? Screw you pill pushers.

    February 23, 2012 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Michael

    I am a doctor who regularly prescribes pain drugs like Oxycodone. I observe my patients for addictive behaviors, and always require an MRI to show pathology. For patients who have herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, nerve entrapment, etc these drugs are the life-saver that the patients themselves say that they are – particularly when the patient in question works in contruction or some other manual labor job that they would have to quit if it weren't for pain meds.

    What Dr. Gupta doesn't say in his article, but what he SHOULD have mentioned, is that almost ALL the deaths associated with narcotic pain meds are the result of not taking the drugs as prescribed, i.e. taking 4 pills at a time, not one. The number of deaths associated with a typical prescription (30mg Oxycodone taken every 6 hours as needed) is MINISCULE.

    Taking pain meds as directed is NOT the problem. Dr. Gupta knows this and should have said it clearly.

    February 23, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alfred

      @Michael: I believe that taking pain meds NOT as directed is NOT the problem. Making an educated decision about how much to take, when choosing to take more than directed would save more lives. Education being the key word and idea.

      You can choose to take whatever you want, atleast you should be free to do so at your own risk. It's not the government's job to stop people from killing themselves. Though I believe they could be less intrusive by providing a proper education on recreationally using illegal and presribed drugs. It should go something like, "Yeah, we don't really want you to do it, but it's your choice, so hear is how to do it without dying or being a danger to yourself or others."

      As i explained in another comment, heroin users die more often from changes in potency than anything else. If the government offered free test kits for purity, or free government testing for purity I guarentee you would see the death rate among heroin users drop. This same testing was provided for years for MDMA, and it saved lives.

      There needs to be a mass public statement, easily accessible, on how to safely recreationally take opiate painkillers and other drugs. Some sites like erowid touch base on it sorta, but to have a science based explanation would save lives and that SHOULD be the most important thing.

      I mean, when you deny someone a subscription, like myself, they have to resort to other means of obtaining there painkillers. I have used heroin. I've never injected heroin in any way(except up my nose (no needles) dissolved in water) and I've always tested it in small doses to establish potency, but when you get your pills from a pharmacy the chance of endangering your life drops dramatically when you're trying to make an educated guess on how much to take.

      With a little education and a lot of self control I think America would have a bunch of safe drug users. There is a time and a place to have fun, making good decisions and not letting your fun effect your social and personal life negatively can allow you to have fun.

      February 24, 2012 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.