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 (2,010 Responses)
  1. lance corporal

    I recently had a drug talk w/ my 15 year old son (small town home schooled no need till then) and it was alcohol and prescription drugs that received the most concern, I touched on the dangers of excessive pot use and that things like mushrooms are uncontrolled and risky, alcohol is obvious due to the DUI PSA's but I talked about how someone can be drunk and not LOOK drunk and to never ride with a drinker in a car BUT the biggest fear on our part as parents is the prescription drugs and the kids view of them as "legal" and "regulated" and somehow not the big bad scary drugs the PSA's warn against, THESE are the drugs that scare me!!! ya know a life without inebriants is not that hard and is a choice I've made but i simply do not understand us having a "war" on drugs that has destabalized a couple of countries and made a mess of many many many lives here in the USA BUT we allow these for profit co's that lobby our legislature to make this "legal" poison and make so much of it that they KNOW it is feeding a black market and that at least half of their bulk sales are not for valid medical reasons is just plain wrong, I'd much rather he smoke a joint with a few of his buddies like I did as a teen rather than try something one of his friends stole from a parents medicine cabinet or bought of a street dealer, yeah his grades might suffer a bit if started smoking alot of pot (and he's been raised better...) but it won't kill him...........

    February 23, 2012 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alfred

      First of all, mushrooms are completely natural and completely safe. Yeah, there are things called death caps, but they are completely unrelated to Psilocybin Cubensis and you can identify them easily.

      My brother started smoking pot in high school, at 16 almost 17, and his grades went from average b's to straight A's. I have heard this happen from so many people it's not even funny. That's not to say everyone will be this way, but it sure makes you wonder where the idea that pot makes you dumb comes from.

      This so called "poison" that you say is being released on humanity is naturally occuring, before being synthesized into semi-synthetic drugs like hydrocode(vicodin, norco's) and oxycodone(Roxycodone). This plant has been used medicinally and non-medicinally for 10,000 years. It's first recorded use was by the Sumerian texts in 4000 bc and has names like "Nectar of the god's" and "God's blessing."

      This plant is 100% safe when you use it safely. One shot of alcohol won't kill you. Neither will 10mg of hydrocodone and as you build up a tolerance it becomes safer and safer. Even if you are taking so much that it takes 500mg of hydrocodone to get slightly high, if you stopped cold turkey the withdrawls wouldn't even kill you.

      The problem isn't the drug, it's the people who make very poor decisions that get the spotlight and make everyone else, who are just trying to have a good time, look bad.

      You should look up the LD/50 for the things you are warning your child about. It's the lethal dose, they usually don't list it for humans, but for example prescription Xanax or Alprazolam, their the same thing, is about 350mg/kg in mice. So say your child ways 50kg, that means it would take 17,500mg of alprazolam to give a lethal dose. Or about 8750 individual pills of xanax, which on the street would cost 43,750 dollars to get, just to get the lethal dose. This is a very commonly abused drug by teenagers. So, the danger isn't taking it, it's the decisions you're making to get it and its the decisions you're making while you're on it.

      And you've really misinformed you're kid. With alcohol the danger isn't in getting a DUI or harming other people. It's the fact that every drink you take you're destroying brain cells. Not to mention that it effects the gabba-receptors in your brain, so when you take a large large amount of it regularly, and you stop cold turkey, the withdrawls can literally kill you. This also applies to benzodiazipines like xanax(alprazolam) and valium(extended-release alprazolam).

      This infact does not apply to opiate pain killers. You CAN NOT DIE FROM THE WITHDRAWLS. You can on the other hand want to die because you feel so utterly horrible.

      I think it's important to educate yourself and your children correctly.

      February 24, 2012 at 01:12 | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      There are legitimate needs for pain medication, no doubt. People in acute pain or terminally ill patients, for instance. Nobody could argue with that. But for chronic pain...well...these are probably the same people who go to the doctor for antibiotics when they have a cold. They just expect drugs to fix them. I suffer from chronic pain from a back injury. When I was in acute pain, my doc gave me a prescription and since I don't believe in long term drug use, I talked to my pharmacist about it. He told me what to do. So I used drugs for a week to get it under control and then went off the drugs. Every now and then I'd take one if I needed it. While I was taking them, I was loopy and tired and unsteady and would trip. To me, that seemed like a risk of injuring myself more. Now, although my back will never be the same and I need surgery to fix it, I have learned how to deal with the injury. I can't do all the things I used to do, but I deal with the pain myself and if you can learn how to deal with it without drugs, it's really not as bad as you think it's going to be. The acute pain at the beginning nearly made me pass out several times. Thankfully I have gotten past that and am now living a mostly normal life. It would be nice if more people would try to learn other ways of dealing with pain without running right to the doctor for drugs.

      February 24, 2012 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • April

      @ Alfred: Your post is one of the most ignorant things I've read lately. Please educate yourself fully before you post that nonsense about building up a tolerance to hydrocodone will make it safer.

      "The problem isn't the drug, it's the people who make very poor decisions that get the spotlight and make everyone else, who are just trying to have a good time, look bad."? WHAT THE HELL? "...just trying to have a good time"? We are not talking about pot. We are talking about an intensively addictive drug that is produced, prescribed, and consumed like M&Ms. However, an overdose of M&Ms won't kill you, but you CAN, in fact, die from trying to kick all the ...codones and benzodiazepines.

      I am a recovering addict, in my early stages, and it's so freaking painful and frustrating because I feel like I'm two different people – Me and The Addict. But when people like you post that crap, The Addict in all of us pokes his/her head up and starts sniffing around in the hopes that what you posted can be successfully research by personal experience.

      Grow the f*** up, get educated, and stop spreading B.S. in articles that people may look to for help and support.

      February 24, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Edogg

      'lance corporal':
      Wow I hope all this kid's home schooling lessons weren't that backwards and confusing

      February 24, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      I'll just leave this here:
      "Opioid withdrawal reactions are very uncomfortable but are not life threatening. Symptoms usually start within 12 hours of last heroin usage and within 30 hours of last methadone exposure."

      Hopefully you trust the government. Since you thing opioids are soooo bad and so do they.

      I had a nice little diatribe going, but cnn refreshed the dang page, so you'll have to just settle with being wrong about that, instead of everything you wrote.

      I suppose I can quickly summarize tolerance and the safety of opioids with said tolerance.

      If you take an 18 year old male, 175lbs, with no tolerance, and give him 175mg of hydrocodone. There IS a CHANCE he will die. Yeah, it's a pretty good chance, but a chance none the less. Everyone's base tolerance is different. Take the same gentleman, except that he has been recreationally taking hydrocodone at the 50mg-100mg level occasionally, built up over time. And you give him 175mg, strong chance is he may get sick and throw up, but he won't die. Been there, done that. No author's talk about this because it gives light to opiate use.

      They are made from a plant that has been used recreationally and medicinally for a very long time, about 8,000 years. With the first recorded use being from Sumeria in Mesopotamia in around 4000 bc. It has had names like "Plant of Joy" "Sacred Anchor Of Life", "Milk Of Paradise," the "Hand Of God," and "Destroyer Of Grief."

      While you may gladly take tylenol/acetominophen/paracetomal/APAP for your headaches and pain. It's only been around a little while. I think I trust something has been around 80 times longer and doesn't have liver hepa-toxicity.

      February 24, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
    • Greywoodfoxhall

      This is a hot button issue for me; as I have to live with our federal government's decisions and Big-Pharma's product changes. I just turned 26. Was diagnosed with Ulcers and Hep-C a few weeks after my 26th birthday. An MRI a few months ago finally proved that my lower back pain was real, a bulging disc. I developed horribly painful TMJ Disorder 1.5 years ago. I broke my maxillary ridge at 14... have PTSD pain from that... even after a root canal; it's 'phantom tooth syndrome!' Broke my arm, not fractured, but broke (a spiral break, only worse break is a greenstick) my arm at 17. Still have pain in elbow below break... tendon healed in wrong spot. Since I was 8 I have been dealing with suicidal idealization. When I broke my arm and was on Demerol and Percocet. My depression was lifted. It was the best two-three months of my life... Even though I had previously taken painkillers and done other things, nothing compared to having a steady supply of pills each day. I felt like life was worth living. This was in 2004. In 1999, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a study showing Oxycodone and Oxymorphone as highly effective (and without creating drug-seeking behavior, even in former addicts who participated) in treating refractory depression. But, to this day, a psychiatrist would dismiss you in likelihood for asking for those two Sch II drugs. This laughing in the face of a scientific study. This study was nothing new, and one of the arguements against treating anything but psyical (nocioceptive or neurological pain) and not psychic pain (still PAIN) is the fact that like most substances, tolerance develops. DAMGO is a novel pharmaceutical potential that stops tolerance from growing in rats administered DAMGO with Morphine IV daily. Dissociatives (Ketamine, Dextromethorphanm, PCP) and certain forms of Magnesium have this same result. With not only my nocioceptive pain, I have Restless Leg Syndrome, Fibro, abdominal pain, nerve damage in my legs and left arm, and anxiety over my pain. Having Oxymorphone prescribed, being done (mostly) self-medicating for almost a year now... Life is worth living again. Life is already painful, why not make it a little easier to handle the pain? Then, a few months ago, I had been on the ER version of Oxymorphone, Opana ER. Opana voluntarily made their already abuse-proof pills even more abuse-proof (both were/are still useable to prepare mixtures for defeating the time release, snorting, shooting, putting up your butt even...). While the company didn't make a pill that was worthless to addicts, it did make it so I could not take Opana ER. The rock hard pills made my stomach issues even more severe. My doctor kindly switched to the IR generic formula. This has worked great for me. Until you have had pain disrupt your mood... been so miserable you wished for death... then you have no right to call for stricter controls on Big Pharma companies' product line. If I had to choose between "No Oxymorphone" or "Death," give me death. One pill takes care of so many problems for me. Call me weak. I am a hedonist. In England, there are pilot programs underway already for Heroin Maintenance Clinics. Around the clinic, crime drops, patients are compliant with remaining otherwise sober, Hep-C and HIV infections in the area drop, and people who have been marginalized by society are slowly becoming a part of life outside the dope house again. Chemicals were created because they fill a need. The Subutex/Suboxone Maintenance Plan is a ridiculous one. Subutex & Suboxone can be injected, initially, give the user a strong high, and then are necessary just to be "well." A "tolerance ceiling" belonging to Buperenorphine (the active chemical) means once a certain tolerance is reached... good feelings are gone. With acute withdrawals similar in duration to Methadone (weeks to Heroin's days), I don't know how I ever got off those evil pills. To each their own though...

      Which really... If it weren't for being on probation... Cannabis works as well as opiates when it comes to pain.

      June 22, 2012 at 07:22 | Report abuse |
    • Shezzy

      Purdue Pharma recently announced it is conducting clinical trials on OxyContin in children. Immediately some have criticized, suggesting that the exposure to opioids at an early age will inevitably lead to addiction later in life. The larger issue that was missed is that there are times opioids are necessary for children. Children in intensive care units, emergency rooms, post operatively or in rehab often require strong analgesics. These are children with cancer, with severe burns, with sickle cell anemia or other conditions. It would be cruel and inhumane to leave children untreated who experience extraordinary amounts of pain. Of course opioids should not be the first line of therapy if an alternative is available, but they may be the only way to provide relief. So the question is not whether opioids should be used in children but rather how to use them safely when they are necessary. The only way we can know how to safely use medications in children is if they are studied in children. Science should inform patient safety.

      To follow Dr. Webster visit us at http://yourlifesource.org/blog/2012/07/pediatrics-and-oxycontin/

      July 31, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
  2. lance corporal

    I recently broke my wrist, shattered is actually the word they used, a really nasty bad break that I may never fully recover from due to nerve damage, well obviously there is a massive amount of pain, in the break, the surgeries and the therapy to recover hand usage, they gave me the normal drugs....and I hated them!!! maybe because I had spent my entire adult life drug free I had no resistance but anytime I even remotely approached the recommended dosage it gave me a "high" that was most unpleasant, after 3 weeks I refused the drugs and never took them again even after surgery, I'd rather have the pain, those of you who are using pain meds to get high or even on a regular basis for normalcy need to get clear of them, these things are clouding your mind, learn to deal with the pain(meditation, biofeedback etc) these drugs ruin your mental faculties, I like being smart and you can't do that with a fog in your brain

    February 23, 2012 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • scott

      I honestly pray that I could be as tough mindied as you seem to be. I don't mix booze with my pills (2 back fusions) but have tried to go without and just can't take the pain.

      February 23, 2012 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • bobby j

      Miles Davis, Marcus Aurelius, Lou Reed, Thomas De Quincey, Kurt Cobain, Charles Dickens, Billie Holiday, Jean Cocteau, Lewis Carroll, William S. Burroughs, Keith Richards, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron and on and on and on. All opiate addicts of some sort who remained lucid and hyper creative and brilliant. Everyone responds differently to drugs.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      I, too, have suffered with debilitating pain for 30 years. I have taken a wide variety of medications, and some of the most dangerous (to me) medications out there are the new drugs that are supposed to replace narcotics. Many of these make me sick and disoriented even at the lowest doeses. I have walked into walls and fallen up stairs on the lowest dose of gabapentin (which they keep hoping will work for me!)
      When my pain is relieved, it is usually with the lowest doses of narcotic medications. I have doctors who watch my intake very careflyy, and I never take more than I am prescribed. I have worked at skilled and demanding jobs for the past 30 years, and by controlling and respecting the medications I must use, as respectfully as a diabetic would insulin, I have never been an addict. I am not saying everyone can do this, but with compassionate doctors, who know how to prescribe and how to monitor a pain patient, it is possible to responsibly take narcotics.

      Besides, when Celebrex was put on the market, it was supposed to be the be-all and end-all for treating pain. Now, I see there are class-action suits on behalf of victims of this new drug who have suffered heart and liver damage. Same with ibuprofen. Anything taken incorrectly can, over time, kill you.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • victor crocco

      You do not need pain meds for wrist pain. Opiates help Central Nervous System pain and dental pain. Go out there and herniate a cervical disk and then you will know what real pain is. When you find out what real pain is then you will have credibility in your opinion for opiates. Another thing you should understand that in chronic pain patients (CNS injury) it is not the pain that we are burdoned by but the draining of energy the injury creates over time. Opiates will provide the energy for us to function. M.D's will tell you that if you take enough opiates to cause euphoria then you have taken too much.( looks like you keep making this mistake) A patient does not need to become euphoric for opiates to be effective. Yes you build up a tolerence to the euphoria that opiates produce but the analgesic effects are not compromized. I use opiates to get energy that my chronic cervical injury depletes and I never go for the euphoria. If you feel euphoria then you have screwed up. By the way you have not lived your life drug free you probabily ingest pesticides and breath dirty air every day. These pollutants are drugs

      February 23, 2012 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Pain is different for everyone. I cannot judge whether your pain is worse for you than mine is for me. Tolerance for pain is also very individual...as well as tolerance for pain meds. Please don't judge each other based on how much pain you have endured compared to someone else.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • E

      I will not deny that pain is being experienced. I will not deny that pain is perceived differently by different people. I will also not deny that some people need such therapies, under appropriate management by specialists.

      However, this does not change some fundamental questions about prescription drug use (e.g., painkillers).

      Is it used to treat actual pain or some medical problem, or something else entirely?

      Is its use causing more a person's impairment on many levels than benefit? Objectively (e.g., financial, relationships, accidents, hospitalizations, life-threatening situations, etc.).

      If something else entirely for the 1st question and yes to the 2nd question, addiction must be considered and properly handled. And this is the point of the above article, along with open dialogue and education on its dangers.

      Not that prescription drugs should be universally banned (a conclusion some commenters have eagerly jumped).

      February 23, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      @Lance Corporal, while I applaud learning to control your own body and pain levels because the mind is stronger than the body. I wouldn't recommend that for everyone. Someone who needs it for pain, you can't aruge with, becaues you've never had stage IV cancer. Neither have I, but I would never suggest taking their medicine away. It's sort of insensitive.

      From long term experience of dabbling in drugs, I have seen the dividing line on opiate use. For what I call type 1, like myself, opiates are euphoric and pleasant and generally not nauseating. For type 2, like my mother(who after double knee replacment surgery denied painkillers) finds them to make her nauseated easily and makes her angry and cranky which would obviously cloud your judgment, atleast it seems so to me.

      I find that they don't cloud my judgement (atleast hasn't clouded my judgement in the past) at all. And I know plently of people who take them, I can tell when someone I have known for 10 year's judgement is being clouded and 90% of my (type 1) friends that use opiates don't experience that. Drugs effect people differently, that's not to say there isn't a type 3 and 4 and 5 if you will, but this is the trend I have noticed being only type 1 and 2. It also helps simplify explaining it, there are obviously going to be exceptions somewhere.

      In fact, some of the best notes I've ever taken in class was while I was high on (10mg of) methadone because I had the flu, and it made living bearable and school even more bearable.

      February 24, 2012 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
  3. KindaSorta

    We need to ask ourselves, "Why do we feel the need to get high in the first place?" We need to stop acting like this is the only way people can have fun. Smoking is no longer cool, why is getting high? Lose a family member to this and I promise you will stop laughing at the stories.

    February 23, 2012 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • scott

      I don't feel the need to get high. I feel the need to get relief from dibilitating pain. I've tried OTC drugs and just can't operate.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
    • tacc2

      The need to get "high", as you call it is a fundamental human need. We've been altering our consciousness since the beginning (if not earlier) of our species. It's generally not a problem. It becomes a problem when people become addicted to the substances they use. All substances are not created equal though, and some are exponentially more addictive than others. I'd suggest never using pharmaceutical drugs for "fun". Those were created for one thing, and one thing only...profit. Stick to the plants themselves and you'll be fine.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • bruce

      if you had my problems you'd drink too

      I actually quit after 30 years cold turkey with help from a 12 step program. todat there are 12 step programs for evervrthing. But have t want the results "cunning and powerul" is what you are fighting.

      i always used to love it when a guy went to his minnister and complained about his drinking and his minister told him
      "just don't drink"

      the end

      February 23, 2012 at 19:38 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      People should be able to get high on whatever they want. This country is supposed to be free.

      As for people dying on things like heroin alone, that is usally from a change in potency in the heroin they are getting. Painkillers are easy to dose yourself because they come at guarenteed levels. You'll never get a 10/mg hydrocone and it end up being 300mg of hydrocodone instead. Not the same way for street drugs.

      February 24, 2012 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
  4. Kmarx

    I agree with "lance corporal". In 55 years of living the ups & downs of a typical life I've never had an urge to try drugs, prescription or non. Even after surgery I just bite the bullit and deal with it. Likewise, dealing with the slow death of my father and funeral.
    Life can be incredibly painfull both physically and emotionally but to cloud the mind is a temporary fix.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Robert

    A pill to keep tron using! Whatever it takes right. I don't see addiction as a disease. To me it was about changing my perception of myself. I had to go back and back track why I felt the need to escape who and what my had become. Then I had to change behaviors I had acquired over the years. It was a long and hard road. But it has been well worth the journey. Once I faced my truths, my life really began to change. The secrets I faced up to no longer made me want to hide from the world. A disease no. More like a journey of change and understanding.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. scott

    In my opinion threre is a difference in using meds just to get high and using them for actual relief. I know these things are destroying me from the inside out but after two surguries the pain is unimaginable. The second hopefully has corrected the situatuation but recovery takes times time. Earlier on this board there was a lance corporal who advised meditation and other holistic approaches. I would like to learn more about those and see if anyone else has had success with them. I am afraid of what these things are doing to my life. I know there isn't a normal life, there's just life, and I want to enjoy it with my kids. I don't want to be like this forever.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tammy Garrison

    Dr. Gupta, I think a lot of you. I hope you are reading these comments to your article. I didn't read beyond the first page, but almost every one of them are people in serious pain who only find relief through narcotic drugs. I have a niece who bought hydrocodone at school and now she has a drug problem and is a court ordered rehab facility. But she didn't take them from a legitimate prescription. I have fibromyalgia. A combination of opiods, muscle relaxers, and neurological pain medications currently hold my pain levels to a 40% affective rate. 60% of my pain is uncontrolled. But any more of the medication and I sleep through life and I don't want that. My husband has degenerative disc disease and has been disabled for over 10 year. I currently am working 2 jobs and I know I'm not getting enough rest, but we have to survive. We have 2 sons currently in college. It is incredibly difficult to find doctors in our area willing to treat our conditions. On my husband, they want to do surgery, and when they find out his disc disease has progressed beyond the possibility of surgery, they are done with him. I have a hard time finding a doctor who even believe my condition exists. While I understand the need to stop drug seekers and addicts from getting drugs, those of us burdened so terribly with the pain we bear have an additional fight to locate medical help that doesn't treat us like addicts too, or stop treating us and other patients like us all together. The last 3 doctors I had, each for less than a year, retired rather than struggle with the regulations in the field of pain management. REAL PEOPLE HAVE REAL PAIN. NOT ALL OF US ARE ADDICTS. We need help too. And we need doctors willing to be proactive in seeking out new and better ways to treat our diseases/conditions because they are interested in treat people and making them better, rather than feeling threatened to meet regulations or afraid to prescribe certain things because they can get into trouble. Please, please read this, Dr. Gupta. Maybe there is something you can do for the pain sufferers of the world.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • momof2girls

      I agree that not everyone who uses opioid pain relievers is an addict. There are many real people with real pain. However, pain is a symptom and NOT an underlying disease. A better solution is to address the underlying cause of the pain.

      You have fibromyalgia. I'd bet $100 that NO ONE has offered you ways to reduce or eliminate the pain, whether it be physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, fitness training, water therapy, etc. If your insurance is anything like mine, physical therapy and chiropractic are subject to a $1500 deductible and then paid at 80%, assuming they meet the insurance requirement of "medically necessary" (whatever that means). The other modalities aren't covered at all. By way of comparison, a doctor's office visit for a script is a $30 copay and I can get a 90 day supply of a generic medication for $10. So what are most people going to do? As long as non-Rx pain relief is financially out of reach for most people, prescription addiction will continue to be a problem.

      Remember, even if someone is prescribed narcotics for legitimate medical reasons, they can still become addicted. Michael Jackson was given narcotics following his skin graft surgery when he was badly burned. We all know how that turned out.

      February 23, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
  8. jeff

    How about treating the route cause of addiction through therapy and counseling, even entheogens to go into why these people are trying to escape vs. putting a band aid on the problem. People need to search themselves understand whats going on with their lives and then have the will power to change things.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Megan

    Dr. Gupta, can you provide more information or a citation for the Suboxone study that you reference above. Thank you.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Juan

    What really needs to be discussed is the massively high doses of acetamenophin in pain killers. The only reason its in there is to deter abuse. However nobody is aware of this and people are killing their livers with this poison. I had to take pain meds for a short time and i was taking up to 3000 mg of acetemenophen just to get 30mg of hydrocodone (through the course of the day). They are poisoning people. And what about the kids that abuse this stuff and take 15 a day without even knowing about all that apap. Its dire right now and they need to address this.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doctor


      If you were prescribed a medication containing tylenol (acetominophen) your physician should only prescribe a dose that would not exceed the total allowable amount of tylenol per day (ie- 2 grams). Vicodin for example has 5 mg of hydrocodone and 500 mg of tylenol, thus any more then 4 pills daily will increase your risk for liver damage. So you were either prescribed the medication incorrectly or you took it not a prescribed. Your notion that the tylenol is included in the medication as a deterrent is completely false. Most pain will be best treated by non steroidal anit-inflammatory medications, such as tylenol or ibuprofen. This is why they are included in the medication. Any doctor worth their sald should start with these medications prior to jumping to opioid medication like vicodin. In summary, either take the medication as prescribed or get yourself a new doctor. I would also be careful about spreading unfounded comments like tylenol is included in these medications as a deterrent.

      February 23, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      Juan is absolutley correct. You actually need to get YOUR facts straight. The tylenol, though not openly stated as such, is a deterrent for drug abuse by destroying the liver of those who choose to take more pills than prescribed(A choice that should be ultimately up to the patient). It is a very sick and twisted deterrent that has made Johnson and Johnson billions upon billions upon billions upon billions of dollars. APAP or Acetaminophen is a very volatile substance. Paracetamol/Acetaminophen hepatotoxicity is, by far, the most common cause of acute liver failure in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

      But just to let people no you can "cold wash" your opiate pills because tylenol isn't soluble in very cold water. Then you evaporate the water after scooping out the dirty horrible substance known as tylenol. And all you're left with are the soluble filler material and pure hydrocodone hcl. Obvsouly this isn't the exact process, you can find it on the bluelight forums through google.

      In Europe you can get hydrocone and oxycodone without APAP/Tylenol in it. In America, you can not. Why? Because the profit loss to the companies that make it would be substantial. so through lobbying and their practically endless amount of money to do so, things never change for the better.

      I barely trust doctors anymore. 2 years ago, my doctor wanted to give me darvocet for severe back pain, I said I didn't want it because it was banned in europe becaues of all the free radicals it left in your body that caused problems. He said I didn't know what I was talking about and gave me the Synthetic tramadol instead, which barely worked for the non-breakthrough pain. About a year later the FDA pulled darvocet off the market after it was repeatedly linked to severe heart problems. My mom took this for years and now has those heart problems thanks to the profit seeking drug companies that conrol our legislation that don't care about you or me.

      It sickens me how drug representatives buy Doctors and put them in their pockets with gifts and money. I watched a drug rep buy a PrimaCare facility pizza while there representing the company. It's illegal to do and no one who can change it gives a damn.

      It's why Seroquil is one of the most overprescribed drugs on the planet as of late. Everyone gets it for everything, does it matter that long term use can cause cataracts and numerous other horrible life altering side effects? No it doesn't, because the profiteering drug companies are doing what they do best, profiting off the misery and sickness of people.

      February 24, 2012 at 01:37 | Report abuse |
  11. Sara

    It's too darn bad that the medical industry is so opposed to alternative treatments like chiropractic, acupuncture, cranial therapy, natropathy, etc. Often times small problems can be corrected by alternative therapies so that they don't turn into a situation so bad that a person needs back surgery or narcotics. If you have back or neck pain, the medical doctor CAN NOT help you. They don't have the tools. Seek alternative treatments instead of drugs and surgery so that you can correct the problem and not just cover your symptoms. You have to take control of your health because the industry puts money over people. FYI for those suffering from Fibromyalgia, most people with this disorder have major emotional issues that they have been burying for a long time. Emotional pain CAN manifest as physical pain. If you have fibromyalgia please seek emotional therapy in addition to your other therapies.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • victor crocco

      Sara it is not the pain that is the problem. It is the draining of energy over time that chronic CNS injuries cause. It is the energy loss not the pain that keeps me from becoming fully productive in society. Opiates release endorphans which give me energy and allow me to concentrate and allow me to work for 8 hours. What do you suggest that I wake a chropractor or acupuncturist at 7am every morning to give me some endorphans so I can be productive at work for 8 hours. walk a mile in a chronic CNS injury patients shoes before you people make such emotional shoot from the hip statements about addiction.

      February 23, 2012 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
  12. Greg Jackson

    Smoke a JOINT! But keep some pop corn handy.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Morri Namaste

    So now we have to take drugs to get off of drugs?

    February 23, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. bob

    Thank god this guy turned down the Surgeon General Job- My conclusion- He's not a doctor, he just plays one on TV

    February 23, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Compass

    When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I was given a prescription of oxycodone. After a few days of using it as-needed, I got an urge to take it when I didn't have any serious pain at all. I chose not to and eventually the craving went away. Quite scary, really, how easy it is to go over the edge.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Grant Carter

    What a great clip. As a tobacco addict, I hope every little bit of knowledge I can pick up about my addiction brings me a step closer to finally closing the chapter on this habit. Addictions are remarkable. I absolutely despise smoking yet I have failed in my attempts to quit. I'm constantly asking myself what will it take to be rid of this addiction once and for all. Hopefully, one day...

    February 23, 2012 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alfred

      I think, and not to sound condescending, that a brush up of self confidence and self control is 1000 times more potent than anything else. You can choose to quit at any time you'd like. But once again not to sound bad, you're weak. Your will is weak. Your self-control is weak. But you have the power to change it. So do it.

      And I really don't mean that in a negative way, I was weak once too. I chose to be strong, and to commit to the power of my mind being stronger than that of my body. And now I do things that I want to do, not that my body wants.

      It is easier done then said when you make the choice to do so and stick to it.

      Plus maybe a little help from an electronic cigarette, my brother quit after two weeks, and he didn't want to. He just wanted to be healthier and use and electronic cigeratte that has no combustion so no horrible hydrocarbons. He said his cravings got weaker and weaker, despite using the highest nicotine cartridges, for multiple pack a day smokers.

      That has led me to believe that it's not the nicotine that is addicting, but the poisons that your body gets used to from smoking tobacco.

      I really don't view your situation in a negative light, and I hope either on your own or with the aid of an electronic cigarette or patch or whatever you need, that you quit. Because that is what YOU want to do. And you should get to do what YOU want, in terms of this anyway. hah

      Good luck Grant.

      February 24, 2012 at 01:52 | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Alfred, you're so full of it. Telling someone else that they're weak? That tone sounds so familiar. Only the weak say that to others. Have you looked in the mirror lately?

      February 24, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
    • Alfred

      I'm not trying to bash the man. I was weak once, before I decided I wanted to not be weak. It's a good change in your life to choose to have control over yourself. Some people never even think about it. Some people try and fail, it's when you fail and you give up trying that you have failed in its truest sense.

      I still have my own shortcomings in other parts of my life, but cigarettes and recreational drug use aren't one of them. I smoked a cigg a day for six months before I realized it was completely and utterly pointless. There are other reasons I didn't quit, getting to stand around and become more intimant with your manager because she smokes helps A LOT.

      Anyway, I still have a lot of other short comings in my life, but I try to work on them as aggressively as I can. Thereby controlling myself and forcing myself to not be weak.

      Maybe you should ask yourself why you are so butthurt about what I said to Grant. I've obviously engaged a self-defense mechanism in you. Seeing as I wasn't trying to be outrageous or hurtful.

      I'm not saying on the end-all-be-all of self-help but maybe he just needs to see that other people have been able to do it. He's not the only one with weak self control and he won't be the last.

      Us human beings have to stick together. If calling him weak makes him angry, and he says F- this guy, I'm gonna change. Then damn, I don't feel the least bit bad about calling him weak and you shouldn't be angry with me for calling him weak. On the other hand, if he curls into a ball of weakness and gives up(which I don't think he will do) it would be his choice to stay weak.

      February 25, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
  17. tnjen

    I speak from a couple of perspectives; one being a recovering person of almost 14 years, the other from a medical professional, I am a nurse. Even recovering via the route I used, a 12 step program the percentile of sustained recovery is still pretty low, somewhere around 15% I think. I agree wholeheartedly that addiction is a brain disease, but I don't believe the picture ends there. I sincerely believe there is a strong genetic component, this view sill is met with some reluctance by many. I'd say that if there is a family history of addictive behavior, in whatever form it may manifest itself, I'd be very cautious with prescriptions or any other thing that could be mind altering. I consider myself as being somewhat OCD which I firmly am convinced fuels my own addictive tendencies.I close this posting with, if you have an addiction problem, or someone you know, consider a 12 step program , there has been enough cases of success that it at least warrants investigating. I'm glad I did.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Marci

    I agree that the rx mixed with alcohol problem needs to be addressed and quickly. There is another aspect of the addiction to rx meds that you never hear about...

    I have taken meds for many abdominal surgeries over the years. To me, the worst part of taking the medication is stopping. Even when I have tapered off, I go thru horrible withdrawls. I don't share this with anyone, because I feel embarrassed. I just gut it out every time. In summary, I would like to see doctors who are prescribing these medications talk frankly with their patients about this, and tell the patient to contact them if you are suffering from medication withdrawls. Thereby, the patient could obtain the necessary medication to help with the symptoms of withdrawls. I think this door needs to be opened. Anyone else feel this way?

    February 23, 2012 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Coriolana

    Maybe it would help if doctors stopped thinking they're gods and deign to see patients from on high. Not to mention that those 'gods' are firmly in the pockets of the pharm corps. and are encouraged to prescribe and prescribe and prescribe......didn't you read Brave New World, dude? Soma.....keeps the population calm and easily led.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. v in Colorado

    Dr Michael It seems like 30 mg of oxy every 6 hours may be good for acute pain but to manage chronic pain this seems way too much. I hope you mean this for acute pain management. Chronic pain management (from my experience) a patient should listen to MD and take recommended dose. In my opinion- That dose is dangerous if it is more than 20 mg hydrocodone per day. I know how similar oxy and hydro are chemically similar but the effects on humans is huge. Humans can not handle any syn opiate oxidative state higher than hydrocodone and the prescribing of oxy and higher for chronic pain management should be looked at.

    February 23, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alfred

      That's ridiculous. Opiates are not dangerous. Tylenol is what is dangerous in United States hydrocodone. With a tolerance to opiates it is very not dangerous. Very not dangerous at all.

      Your opinion obviously isn't backed by any medical knowledge or even personal experience. I luckily, actually not luckily I choose to educate myself, have both knowledge and experience. I know oxycodone isn't dangerous because I've taken 75mg and have been high as a kite, but was never in any danger.

      February 24, 2012 at 01:55 | Report abuse |
  21. Brice

    Been working with addicts for 30 years. Main idea missed by most is: If alcohol or drugs caused addiction, everyone that used would be an addict. They aren't. The addict brain IS different. It is hereditary. It's the individual that is different. My only objection is giving medicine/pills to an addict whose pill use is fundamental as a behavior. It is important to avoid relapse by avoiding the mere attraction of the pill-taking behavior. Recovery is abstinance with peer help! No drugs to relieve anything. Distraction and healthy habits. Addiction is one of the most powerful destructive forces. Yet, still no talk about alcohol that kills more than all diseases combined

    February 23, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. NeuroscienceAddict

    Addiction is a brain disease. The more people understand that, the more they'll support treatrment. Please check out http://www.AddictScience.com for a website that explains what makes it a disease in accessible English by an alcoholic with long-term sobriety, including: what parts of the brain are altered by drug abuse; how those changes skew addict motivations and behavior; why some get addicted while others don't; why addiction is chronic and progressive; how treatment works, etc.

    February 23, 2012 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Guest

    With all the news focused on the dangers of addiction lately, America needs to heed these warnings as one big wake up call and sober up!!! Millions of live can be saved if we all make this effort. Drugs–prescription, or not,–can be deadly. That should be our motto. Stay away from them if we possibly can. Only take prescriptions if ABSOLUTELY necessary, and then stop as soon as possible. The more aware we are, the wiser we are.

    February 23, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. bobby

    How nice , opiate addiction has been increasing steadly since the early 2000's and now our doctor friends get a conscience.. Doctors, big pharma have been pushing opiate painkillers for a decade, now they show caution.. Nice job !

    February 23, 2012 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. b

    People enjoy addiction, and there's a habit forming routine to it is all. Withdrawal is bad but not impossible with medications. I don't understand illegal drug nor alcohol addiction.

    However, I thought it was like running, when it came to medications, you start and then slowly stop them.

    Prescription drugs are just horrible though, a bit worse off than most things.

    I just feel sorry for all the PTSD veterans that are placed on all this crap, when they just need to get their adrenals back in line, and that's easily done with cortisol and omega-3.

    I mean, all this useless hype on take this drug or that drug, really all useless. Doctors are to blame, for pushing these pills, and it turns out, that in most cases the pills are totally useless, not needed, and/or have the opposite effect.

    Besides most of these things are a placebo, and/or can make you seriously high. Who wants to be in rave mode at 9 am, and sadly enough this is what countless kids are placed on daily. The high cases of pancreatic cancer use in kids stems from such use. So far, I've had at least four friends die of rare cancers from childhood anxiety, ADHD, and SSRI type medications.

    I mean unless you're like missing half of your brain or like can't eat right, there's really no need for it, that and well maybe something just doesn't work, I mean, why take anything, otherwise.

    It's like drinking coffee, we all like it, and we can stop, if we really want to. It can be painful, but you will get over it.

    February 23, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Pam

    It all comes down to take the meds like you should; if one says every 6 hours, wait six hours, not two. I take many prescription meds, for my laundry list of health problems; I've done my homework on all of them. I NEVER drink alchol while taking these. In ref to pain meds, I have to take Ultram 50mg with Tylenol 500mg for arthritis, fibromyalgia, and to ward off headaches caused by a chiari malformation; I take the combo every day, three times a day. If I do not take these, my arthritis and fibro flare at the same time, and I feel like #@!!*. LIke I said before, the other drugs are to maintain other health problems.
    If the strength of pain meds is not working, go back to the doctor and tell him/her; that's what I did when Ultracet was not working anymore. Also, do not keep your multiple doctors in the dark about what you take; make sure they are all on the same page. I am happy to say that mine are.

    February 23, 2012 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 24, 2012 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. VT-DL

    Prescription pain medicine addiction is more rampant than people undertand or recognize. As a person who lived in rural VT, until 5 years ago, I watched family and neighbors sprial into addictions. Pills were traded like candy. Entire families became hooked and no one seemed to care. Doctors did not notice; travelling to various hospitals for a quick high and many un-insured. I failed to understand how they could repeatedly get their prescriptions refilled.

    I worked and had health insurance and after suffering a debilitating migraine (at the time they thought a stroke) and was transported by 911 I was refused demarol (excuse spelling) initially until I could prove I had a legitimate medical need.

    My marriage ended over my spouse's addiction to pain medication. Started with a back injury and over time became the only thing he cared about. He lost his job, his wife and became estranged from his entire family. The physical toll is frightening and this is NOT meth. This is doctor prescribed pain medication; that is crushed and snorted to get a high.

    Not able to get him to seek help I walked out and saved myself. 5 years later he's on his road to recovery; I'm thankful to say. However, the damage he's done to his body will never be repaired.

    Anyone that has friends or family caught up in this are in a tough spot; because you can't make the doctor stop prescribing.

    February 24, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alfred

      I ask you, and this is purely hypothetical, if your husband could have maintained a healthy relationship with you and your family, while still taking pills, even recreationally and I mean not letting it get out of control at all (ie. taking pills maybe a few(2 or 3) days a week, in the same manner as the average person may go to a bar with his friends and not come home totally sloshed and useless) I mean a truely in control. Would you have left him becaues of his recreational pill use?

      If you remotely see why you would stay with him. Then you can see how the problem doesn't lay in the pill or doctor. It lies within the person. He mad extremely poor decisions, I think you would agree.

      A second question, with the proper state of mind, do you think he would have been able to ever maintain a healthy recreational use of the medication without succombing to it and taking, even recreationally, too much?

      February 25, 2012 at 00:39 | Report abuse |
    • Greywoodfoxhall

      Pain meds aren't the problem if you know recovery based literature at all... Pills do not make people take them. You can buy alcohol, a DRUG, on almost any street corner. Maybe we should be able to make our own personal decisions. I would rather be a functional drug addict than a worthless, but sober, chronic pain sufferer (actually, I would be that only briefly, then onto suicide). Take responsibility for your actions. Don't be afraid to know your drugs. The pain management field is not the old Catholic Church... we are all allowed to read and learn the information.

      June 22, 2012 at 07:54 | Report abuse |
  29. Ronda Allen

    I am in my late sixties and have been battling severe back pain for over 5 years. I have had injections, PT, more injections, more PT and finally decompression surgery for accute lumbar stenosis, a herniated disc, scoliosis and rabid osteoarthitis in lower spine and hips. I cannot take NSADS. The injections were a crap shoot frankly...rarely worked and modestly at best. All I have are opiate pain relievers that I have been religious about keeping to a minimum( 4-5/325 percocet a day. I'm responsible about my intake. The medication lets me walk with a shopping cart,, be with my grandchildren and perform moderate household tasks. Talk about people like me once in a while. Opiate users are not all 'Whitney Houstons'!!!!!!

    February 24, 2012 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Ellen

    I have the solution..thinking with logic..reason!..and knowing you have 1 life only..live to the best you can be..END!

    February 24, 2012 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. WWWI_2

    What if you were placed on benzodiazepines for insomina by a physician, took the dose prescribed and after a time reached tolerance. The dosage was increased, again monitored and under doctor supervision. After a time you decide that this drug is causing more problems then it's solving and decide to withdraw from the drug and find not only that withdrawaing from the drug is nearly impossible, and in fact deadly if done improperly, but the withdrawal can last for month and possibly years? Does this make me an addict just like the person who used this drug for recreational purposes, who is also facing a devastating withdrawal? I was prescribed this drug, never took more than was prescribed, never got "high" from it and am now facing a withdrawal that is harder both in distress and duration than virtually any other drug on the planet. Do I have a brain disease simply because I am dependant on a highly addictive drug? Where do I (and the many, many others just like me)fit in this equation?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Glam

    x1,That is of course your oiipnon. What Ia0think of as “gross abuse” probadably differs from your peradcepadtion of it. What matters is whether or not high dosages of jwh-​​018 would be suicide for aa0human being. The answer to that quesadtion is, “we don’t know”, but Jawah is here to tell you that 400mg is safe, and so he is aa0living testadaadment to someadthing you would be too cauadtious to try out youradself. When you learn for youradself that this subadstance is more help than harm in higher doses, you will thanka0him.This subadstance has been in existadence long enough for us to have the right to know its effects. Once the knowadledge of how to make this chemadical was conadceieved, it became fair game and Jawah is not going to wait on the goveez to illegadalize this when it obviadously is beneadfiadcial and was created solely for our benefit. You live in aa0world where you let people restrict your ability to consume someadthing that God made for you to consume in whatever amount you desire, as well as being given the ability to create (which has been exemadpliadfied by Proadfessor Huffman!), while being fed poisons like alcohol and nicotine and money so that these men you give power to can mainadtain their evil hold and destroy this world as swiftly as possible.Does death exist? Yes. Should we let it rule our lives? No.If you really cared about the health effects of jwh outside of the experadiadence it gives you, you wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. We barely underadstand the way our bodies work, and based on what we do know, the metaadbolism of these chemadicals have aa0potenadtial for being canadceroadgenic and may stupify you to the point where you can’t tell the rate at which you breathe. Does this mean we should stop enjoying our experadiadences and never touch it again? Hell no. If aa0man can create aa0chemadical that doesn’t exist in nature and make it commune with nature in aa0posaditive way, Ia0see aa0large hope for another man or woman to be instruadmental in creadating aa0cure for scare tools like cancer and disease. Why do drugs (espeadcially one that was created by aa0human being and has no human tests availadable?) at all if you value your health so much? You’re not fooling anyone.If you don’t find 400mg enjoyadable, then don’t do it. If Jawah finds 400mg enjoyadable, then he will do it. Simple asa0that.I’ll post my email as soon as Ia0change computers.

    March 4, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. David R

    Not to make light of all of your problems, But if you had my problems most (if not all) would put a bullet in their brain. I have been on more pain killers in the last 25 years than most of western civilization. And I mean every movement is like having an arm or leg torn off. The only thing that works for me is oxycodone and medical marijuana, and it only takes the edge off. I wish people could understand that for some, there is no complete solution for our pain and if I am addicted but it helps, tuff that is what I need. For me being 80% home bound is better than lying in bed screaming or a bullet. I can not control what others do but leave me and the way I control my pain alone. It works for now, latter is another story.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Max Brooks

    Here you go. Have some drugs with your drugs so you don't get addicted. No thanks. Marijuana is my medicine and every single day, humanity gets closer to realizing what a mistake it was to make marijuana illegal.

    April 3, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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  36. Charlotte L Schulgen

    I have a brain tumor Menaginoma and its wrapped around my CAROITED ARTERY at the stem base of the brain. Diagnosed in 1999 and I have yearly MRI at Cedar Siani Hospital. I had 6 weeks of Radiation to stop the growth. Quality of life very good. I'm 74 years old so surgery is out of the question simply because of the location of the tumor.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Miss L in CA

      God Bless Charlotte. While I am sorry to hear your predicament, you seem to look on the bright side. I had my surgeries at Cedars Sinai as well. I was devastated to learn I had a rare incurable intractable progressive pain disease that will eventually paralyze my lower body. At 39 I felt my life was over. I soon realized with the right medications I could still have a pretty decent quality of life.....and that's all I want.

      June 2, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
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  41. Miss L in CA

    After 2 back surgeries, the last being implanted on 2 levels with Charite ADR (that failed cannot be removed ) and 7 years of endless treatments: every type of epidural, facet blocks, tens unit, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractor....and many more...I was unable to get a diagnosis much less enough medication to resolve my severe pain. Just last year, I sent my films to a top spine surgeon in LA who diagnosed me with: Adhesive Archnoiditis, DDD, spinal stenosis, severe facet joint damage, bone spurs, extensive nerve damage & the pain/pressure caused by the unstable discs. I went to a pain doctor soon after and he confirmed the diagnosis. Still, it took months of me literally breaking down crying for him to finally prescribe strong enough medications that I actually felt my life was worth living for the 1st time since surgery. A few months ago I moved & am back to square one. I am under medicated again, in pain & angry that despite my conditions & proven success with the meds I had been taking, each doctor wants to "cure" me or try their suggested medication combinations even though I have tried them ALL in 7 years. It's the rampage of addicts that end up making my life a living hell. I am the best judge of my pain & I am not willing to try the spinal cord stimulator or morphine pump because I won't try anything invasive until enough proof is done and as long as meds work, I should have the right to the meds that help me best. If I didnt have 4 children & a husband that loves me, I don't think I would bother staying alive forced to fight for pills I need and with doctors who treat you like an addict. It's beyond frustrating & the abuse by the medical profession is just as bad as my pain.

    June 2, 2012 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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  44. Kevin

    I started using painkillers as prescribed for a minor surgery that I had a few years back. I didn't think much of it but I soon started to abuse these drugs which led to an ongoing battle with drug addiction. I realized that I needed help and that I needed to get off of the painkillers to lead a happy and successful life. I got help through the New Life House. I have been able to stay clean and sober since entering and then graduating from the house and I am eternally grateful for what they have done for me. Check out their website if you think that you might need help. http://www.newlifehouse.com

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  45. Greywoodfoxhall

    Not everyone becomes mentally incompetent because of even high-dose opiate regimens. Not everyone is made more alert by stimulants. An ADHD person could hypothetically, take Methamphetamine (Desoxyn) and feel tired, even take a nap.

    June 22, 2012 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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  47. Joshua Powels

    I don't expect much of an answer but is it right for a doctor to prescribe a stronger medication for treating something without taking them off the weaker medication treating the same problem? Furthermore, would not be better to reduce the amount taken with each refill or something of the sort in order to help the patient frame from an addiction? I'm not trying to bombard you with all this just asking for your opinion.

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    August 1, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mpathia

    I don't exactly know what to say, but I have had Fibromyalgia for 27 yrs. I know pain. But in January, I had a colonoscopy that "ruined" my life. I can't find a doctor who will prescribe all my meds. I never have and never will abuse them. I wish I didn't "need" them. I cry all the time from the pain after the colonoscopy. I can't find help. The GI pulled a Bible out last visit. Dear Lord, I have a church, I need medical help. Also, I am in a program at Butler in RI with residents. They want me to be a day patient. I don't need that. I can't drive and I just don't need it. The pain from colonoscopy is awful. My entire pelvic girdle hurts and I sometimes collapse. I'm lost. I never had pain this bad before. An MRI showed nothing except one disc gone and 4 vertabrae in bad shape. I cry all the time from the pain. I have a new resident at Butler I do not like. I know they are going to wean me off my meds from them. I take valium, Ambien, Remeron from them. My PCP prescibes Fentalyl patch 75 mg. and oxycodone : 1-2 tabns every 4-6 hrs. I never abuse them, but I also can't find doctor to diagnose abdominal pain (Pelvic Girdle). I have no quality of life and doctors are making me worse from not finding the "cause" of the pain from the procedure. I need the valium not only for anxiey, but muscle spasms.. I am so tired of crying... I'm scared and can't find "help"... I just want my life back. The fibro is one thing, but the colonoscopy caused me diverticulitis and I am still suffering from bowel problems... I so want to get better... I pray and pray...please someone help me... please

    August 2, 2012 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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