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)
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    August 8, 2012 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • patt

      Thanks a bunch for all the new pain rx regulations. The only one who has benifited is my ins co. I pay $7 co pay for 1 month and $14 for 3 months so 1 md visit and 3 mo pain rx costs $ 19. Mow I pay because I can obtain less pills at one time 2 md visits =$10 and 2 drug co pays =$14 which is $24 for 1 month. So for 12 mo instead of $76 I now pay $288 or more. I am a 69 year old RN with severe spinal stenosis hoping for surgery but need the pain rx to function and yes I still work. So thanks a lot how about educating people on how to take their meds. Every time I obtain a new rx I have to speak with the pharmisist and the bottles are labeled not to - while on this rx. Don't people listen or read.? How about a new class for chronic pain pts so our costs will decrease. Perhaps a 3 md panel .

      December 3, 2012 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      I agree with patt so much. I'm 67 and have degenerated disks in my spine. The pain would be constant without the 5 MG of Oxycodone I take. As it is now, I can not stand in one place for any length of time, Oxycodone or not. The deterioration of my spine is due in no small part to my care of my wife of 50 years who has MS and who needs my help getting up out of her recliner onto the electric wheel chair onto the toilet or bath and back and forth again all day 24/7. My options are to have nerves in my spine cauterized one side at a time until they find out which side is causing the problem. Then I am told that the procedure would last six months at the most at which time it would be done again. I live in the State of Florida where pain killer use is discouraged so much that I have to go from pharmacy to pharmacy to find the medication unless I can find a sympathetic Pharmacist who will make a call to find out who has them in stock. There is no sympathy for those with chronic pain here. It is almost like I am a criminal for having pain as I grow older.

      December 14, 2012 at 09:48 | Report abuse |
    • William Ashley

      Dr Gupta, my late wife was given 6 different anti depres drugs along with sleeping pills, she consequently had multiple suicide attempts from overdoses, lastly she went to the indoor gun range bought a 38 revlr returned to her van in parking lot and shot herself in the chest, and survived with only a collapsed lung but died over a year later againt possibly from an overdoes of Effexor, I found her deceased in her bed while try to reach the phone at the foot of the bed. Her death was ruled a suicide. Please help us to hold these irresponsible doctors accountable. Now my 3 daughters will not have their mother for the rest of their lives due to the ignorance and stupidity of her doctors.

      December 8, 2013 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
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    August 16, 2012 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. fred

    The absolute best thing to do to stay healthy is to STAY AWAY FROM DOCTORS! The ultimate drug pushers

    August 24, 2012 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JD28

      Fred you are absolutely correct. Think about it the government took cigarette ads off the air. Why? Because they are influencing people to smoke. Why doesn't that theory apply to prescription drugs that are killing citizens and the drug are signed, sealed, and approved by no other than the government. The power of suggestion is unbelievable and weaker, vulnerable, and to some degree uneducated people believe the nonsense spewed by doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and worst of the US Government.

      January 17, 2014 at 09:03 | Report abuse |
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  6. Sue K

    My son & daughter in law are doctors on Long Island & are are running out of gas for their cars & will not be able to get to the hospital to help care for patients. The stations with electricity have no gas & the ones with gas have no electricity. If they wait on a line, people will die. Can you help?

    November 1, 2012 at 05:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Benny

    youre a plagiarizer why should we believe you? who wrote this puppy for u bub?

    November 15, 2012 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Hmmm

    Suboxone also causes addiction, sometimes worse than the drug you were trying to get off. I think he should have mentioned that...

    November 15, 2012 at 06:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hammilton

      It can, but generally if you're already addicted before you start on Suboxone, that's not an issue. Those who abuse Suboxone haven't been addicted to other opioids. Most research suggests that those addicted to other opioids will feel nothing from suboxone.

      November 15, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
  9. Amber Wright

    My father was a prescription addict from the time I was 12 until his death at 82. The doctors just kept prescribing for him, passing him on to other doctors. I believe the medical profession has been criminally involved in this epidemic for decades.

    November 16, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Alyissa Chenoweth

    I think you need to STOP criminiliizing use of the ONLY medication most people can take to relieve chronic pain. Opiates should be taken AS PRESCRIBED ONLY and if addicts die, perhaps personal responsibility should be taken into account. I for one know many older people who would live horrible painful lives if they did not have access to high quality pain medications and they've never overdosed because they read the labels. It's that simple. DO NOT get in the way of the only medication we have for pain just because human error causes some American's to feel they need to step in and control everyone because someone in their life didn't control themselves. PERIOD.

    November 17, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chad Peterson

      IIn the early 90's, while rock climbing in Maine, I took a bad fall and seriously hurt my back. I had emergency surgery and while I was paralyzed for 7 days, on the 8th day feeling returned below my waist. While I will never be the athlete I once was, I can walk, and have full use of all my bodily functions. The downside is that I have permanent nerve damage and backpain that is never going to get better. Depending on a variety of conditions, my backpain can range from slight background pain I hardly notice to taking an hour to get out of bed in the morning if I can make it at all. While I have been offered various pain injections, because of where they need to inject me, there is always a slight risk and potential of incurring more spinal damage and of course recently, many pain injection users have been infected with a nasty virus from a contaminated batch of injections. I refuse to risk that.
      So yes...I use hydrocodone. Lortab, specifically. It has saved my life. Without them I would be unable to work and provide for my family. I would not have a house...a car...I would another hard luck case on disability sucking on the teat of society until I finally died and someone else took my place.
      The issue is how you use your pain meds. There are some people who just ingest what is given to them and never bother to learn about what they are taking. I advise anyone who is on prescription pain medicine to regulate how much they take and when. Do not take more that prescribed even if your pain level is higher. To prevent addiction go at least 48 consecutive hours without them if you can, at least one time a month. Maybe a weekend you don't have to work...try taking an OC pain med instead during that time. If you use them responsibility...give your body a chance to flush them from your system on a regular basis...you can use them safely. I have been using the same dose for almost 7 years. It can be done.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jeanne

      I am 72 years old. I have had depression since I was a child. I have factor 5 Leiden and so I had 11 miscarriages, several hospital admissions for PE, I also have asthma severe for 47 years. Many admissions for severe asthma. Many UTI infections that required hospitalized, Viral Pericarditis with 1 qt. of fluid on my heart removed When I was 70 a doctor gave me hydrocodone for bad back pain. I was on it for a few months and became addicted. Went to rehab and was fine. I have no desire for any pain meds now except when I am in the hospital and in pain. I do not have pain meds at home and do not want any. Right away at the ER they make the assumption that I am a drug attic. Despite having many pain meds over the years from hospitalized. I could go on but the main purpose I am writing is why can Dr. profile me. They also treat me like crap. One of my worries is when I am dying one day will they refuse me adequate pain relief.? Scares me.

      November 7, 2015 at 22:08 | Report abuse |
  11. sciencefirst

    A.C. For the most part I agree with you. A serious breakdown in the chain, are the recipients of the narcotics. They need to be taken correctly & SECURED in ones home. Young people who "party" with Rx meds, are most likely abusing other substances too. Require patients to be informed of the potential dangers & to safe-guard their meds. Some of these cases are older adults choosing to take their lifes.
    All this media attention on"accidental" deaths, pushes the Pharm boards to increasingly restrict the prescribing of pain reducing meds. Some MDs are becoming gun-shy. In a decade we will see a rise in accidental death by street drugs & guns.

    November 18, 2012 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. shea

    as a former prescription drug abuser, this hits home for me. I got addicted to painkillers when I was 19 after breaking my arm. I abused strictly percocet and vicodin for 4 years until after a car accident where I realized how close to death I have been on so many occasions. it became second nature 2 pills a day just for a buzz. drinks at night with friends... pills in my system even weed anything to enhance it. Then the day came when I realized all it did was slow me down. I watched friends die and their families fall apart. Ive been sober 6 months now, and I would never wish this on anyone. All I can say is, take care of yourselves. If you're depressed, anxious, whatever; Get help before its too late.

    November 19, 2012 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shelby

      I wish I could say I am a former prescription painkiller addict, but the truth is.....I still am one. I can't get off them alone. At age 23 I was told my lower back pain was being caused by degenerating and herniated discs in my spine. We tried epidural injections, physical therapy, basically tried everything you are supposed to before resorting to major surgery. In June 2009 I had my spinal fusion at L5/S1.....the surgeon told me that the disc they removed was completely calcified! Since my spinal fusion, pain has only gotten worse and actually spread over my whole body pretty much (neck, shoulders, rib cage, mid and low back, sometimes buttocks, and of course hips, knees, ankles and feet all hurt too). After my spinal fusion, my pain management doctor suggested trying out a neurostimulator (basically an implanted TENS unit), which seemed helpful at first, but for me it doesn't interrupt pain signals as much as it just kinda vibrates me around so the pain is not completely constant. Right now it's out of service because I had stopped using it for so long. I've tried what seems like all the commonly prescribed painkillers like Percocet, Darvocet, Vicodin, and others I can't remember from 7 or more years ago. I am currently on 50mcg Fentanyl patches changed every 48 hours (After a short period of time, 72 hour changes were too long and I was in so much pain before I would be able to change the patch, that is why I change every 2 days instead of 3 now, and even that is getting hard to do. I can make it about 36 hours now before I can't function mentally because of the pain). I am also prescribed 4 x 350mg Soma every day and 4 x 5-325 Vicodin every day. It's the Soma and Vicodin that I am mentally addicted to. I like the high, but I have been able to go several days without it (when I run out before I can refill my Rx) and know I can survive without it, but it's like my sick brain won't let go of how good it feels when they kick in. As for the Fentanyl patches, there's no high there. I'm just physically addicted to them and will begin experiencing withdrawals if I don't change them regularly. The withdrawals from Fentanyl have been so bad, I've had to go to the ER to get my vomiting under control. And as if that's not enough, I also have digestion issues–frequent acid reflux, frequent nausea, frequent constipation and when you combine all three, it's enough to send me to the ER again! Right now, my stomach feels like it has rocks or something in there. It hurts and the slight anxiety is not helping. Anxiety and fear of others' judgments of me keep me from getting the help I so desperately want and need! I really just need someone to take me to rehab or something because I know no matter how much I want this, my fears are keeping me away. I need help, but it won't happen for me unless someone forces me into it because I don't have health insurance or a job to pay for my rehab. I want it so badly, but feel so ashamed and my inability to pay for this help embarrasses me even more. Only someone with severe anxiety issues will probably understand me. My general anxiety is so bad, I'm almost agoraphobic!

      April 28, 2014 at 08:26 | Report abuse |
  13. drrondaultonjr1

    This is such a difficult thing, especially when talking about pain medications. So many people need help, but the risk of addiction and even worse is so great. It seems that natural alternatives should be considered just to avoid the side effects. Even something as simple as Ibuprofen can have serious side effects if you investigate it. http://www.healyourbulgingdisc.com/ibuprofen.html

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  18. leejcaroll

    Most pain patients do not become addicted to their opiod medications. They may develop a physical dependence which is a very different animal, addiction being defined by craving and a compulsion to have the drug as well as well as willingness to do whatever one needs to, including going outside the law, to get the drug (or substance)
    Most pain patients do not enjoy the sensation of cloudiness, dry mouth, feeling groggy, etc. They take these medications because they have either not responded to anything else (or a need to add them to the treatment(s) being already employed or there is nothing else that can be given.
    I have yet to see an article that breaks down how many of these incidences of death/overdosage is the result of taking one;s own prescription or people using them illicitly having stolen them or bought them on the street.

    Carol Jay Levy
    author A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey
    Women In Pain Awareness Group, Facebook
    Blog: The Pained Life, 30 years, and counting.
    accredited to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities member U.N. NGO group, Persons With Disabilities

    November 25, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
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  23. david becker

    Dr Gupta is correct addiction is a brain disease- and the most addicted members of society are doctors who are too morally and mentally lazy to obtain education in pain care. In NYS in 2011 more prescriptions were given out for opioids then there are NewYorkers- Doctors wish to blame patients for such- the simple truth is that patients dont force any doctors to do anything.

    June 20, 2013 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. AMIT

    I got really bad habit of sleeping infact i cant hear the alarm and i am in such a profession when sound sleep is not tolerated and i got many warning of coming late to work what is the reason and cure for this

    July 2, 2013 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Theresa

    DOCTORS.............THEY ARE THE REASON FOR THE SEASON HERE......i was given Lortabs like candy from physicians for pain that probably only required Darvon or Tylenol...I was NEVER told the ramifications of this medicine and didn't even know what it was when i began to take it, TOTALLY UNAWARE of "ADDICTION, BOTH MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY, MUCH LESS , A CHANCE OF DEATH TAKING THIS MEDICATION" ...BECAUSE I WAS NOT TOLD BY THE NUMEROUS DOCTORS I SAW AT A HOSPITAL IN ALABAMA....so after i became "addicted...while raising my 2 children, and realized on my own , Ive got a problem here.....i went so far as to Call the same doctors and even administration at this particular hospital and said to them..."I NEED SOME HELP" ! Their Reply ? Sorry, we don't have a "detox" here and beings you have no insurance to begin with, I doubt you will have any success in obtaining any type of help getting off the thousands of pills WE have prescribed you through out 5 yrs!!!!" AND THEY CONTINUED TO WRITE SCRIPS WITH REFILLS....So Not in so many words did they say this verbatim but might as well have because that's what it came down to...so then my addiction landed me in prison for 2 yrs and drug court for 4 yrs due to me "breaking the law" just so i would NOT be so sick, when running out, that i could not support my children and instead , laying in the bed filling like i am gonna DIE! So now, many Years later........i am a productive , law abiding citizen, addict!! Still on pain meds for real medical reasons this time, or am I? I depended on these educated doctors 20 yrs ago , for a proper accurate diagnosis, appropriate care to take care of the medical issues i had at the time, and instead I BECAME AN ADDICT! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THAT!!! HOW DARE YOU HYPOCRITES ! YOU GIVE IT TO US, YOUR PATIENTS, ALL IN THE NAME OF MONEY......then you have the AUDACITY to BLAME US? THE PATIENTS, YOUR PATIENTS....we yell Ouch....and you throw us a bone.....a deadly, addictive, white watson Demon and then BLAME US! PFFFT WHATEVER.......I KNEW 20 YRS AGO, THIS WAS AND STILL IS, A PROBLEM, THANKS TO ALL THOSE BONES YOU THREW US FOR BASICALLY NOTHING AND NOW YOU WANNA DO SOMETHING? REALLY? SHOULD'VE, COULD'VE, WOULDN'T DIDN'T! TOO MUCH MONEY FOR THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY'S AND IN RETURN.....AMERICA PROSPERED AND BIG POCKETS GOT BIGGER!! DOCTORS RUINED MY LIFE AND AFFECTED MY CHILDREN TO A DEGREE THAT I HAVE GUILT EVERYDAY FOR THE THINGS THEY HAVE SAW AND HAD TO ENDURE THEMSELVES.....SHAME SHAME SHAME! AND ITS A LITTLE TOO LATE! REALLY?????

    October 25, 2013 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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  27. Concerned mum

    My daughter is 4 and has regular contact with her dad, however today he admitted to me he has been taking and is addicted to subutex. (not as a heroin replacement) It started as a way to kurb his depression and is now hooked. I understand that this is his 1st step to recovery but admitting his problem and seeking help. I dont want to cause him any more stress but I'm uncertain what to do about our daughter? He ensures me he has never used while he has had her in his care, but surely he"ll be put on a programme to wean him off. Am i right to want to limit my daughter being around this? We still have a close relationship and i want to help him but feel until he is stable in his recovery contact between them should be limited? Is this going to affect his ability to look after our daughter?

    December 9, 2013 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Name*va

    I do not understand why the people that need pain meds the most are going to suffer the concise because of pill heads. please people of the ones that od, they knew what could happen when they took the pills, alcohol, and what ever else. STOP BLAMING THE DOCTORS!

    December 10, 2013 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Bell

    If there is free legal help please help me? This Person can pay it! I was helped after I lost every thing! Is just nobody would ever say this about a person like this...

    December 31, 2013 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 7, 2014 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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  34. annie

    "I will remind them that they could become addicted, and they could die." <-– this phrase may save lives, but you're gonna get a whole lotta people in the ER after their first dose because they just had a panic attack thinking they're about to die. I suffer from anxiety, and when my tonsils became inflamed my doctor put me on antibiotics. After reading the warning labels I took one and called 911. LOL!! It's silly... but it really wasn't funny at the time.

    June 20, 2014 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Jay Murray

    This article really touches the problems I have in my life and wish my doctor would of warned me befor I started taking my first prescription of pain killers my life has never been the same 5 years later I am a pain pill addict and have overdosed 3 times last time being yesterday and was almost fatal I hope the best for all who suffer threw my disease and pray that other being prescribed pain killers will be warned befor it is to late god be with you all

    July 23, 2014 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. donna

    oxycod/apap 3-325mg twice daily,diazapam 15 mg twice daily,lyrica 50 mg three times a day fluoxetine 40 mg once a day.dr. given how do I take that much with other meds and how far apart

    October 12, 2014 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. lori

    We just moved to Redding, CA. My husband has been trying for three months to get into a pain management doctor. He finally got an appointment but only got to see the NP. She would not refill his rx. He has been in high doses of opana and xanax. He will be out in 6 days. He has an appointment with a GP in 20 days and an app with his cardioligest in 30 days. He is freeking out. What do we do? He has been on these meds for almost 10 years

    December 7, 2014 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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    January 8, 2015 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jenni Raines

    Sadly my son has become an addict and tried the suboxone with counseling. He is still covered under our insurance but chose a fast taper as they only had daytime counseling and would not help him without going. I have called every single facility that is covered even partially by our insurance and its either inpatient or only have daytime counseling. My problem is how is anyone to get clean and sober if they have to maintain employment and cannot go to counseling during only daytime hours or go inpatient and lose their jobs, homes, etc. The only way he can get his suboxone which def is a crutch is to cash pay and there are boatloads of those facilities because it all boils down to the almighty dollar. Its sad when an addict does finally want help but nowhere to get it. Insurance or not these facilities need to understand they need ongoing counseling but also in the evenings. Its hard enough to get clean but doing that but maybe becoming homeless due to lack of employment sends them right back to their crutch. My son ended up of course in legal trouble due to his addiction before trying these facilities and now has fallen back due to lack of support from facilities to help him stay clean. Parole violation is now pending and I am praying for a recommendation from his parole officer to send him to a drug program instead of prison to see if he can become a protective citizen. To top it off he is an epileptic so clearly has mental issues along with addiction and I am petrified for his death to come if he cannot get the help he needs. The system is flawed. I know he chose the bad path but when he finally said I need help there was no way to get it long term in our area.

    February 14, 2015 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Rick Dee

    Pain Pills.......I watch daily as my wife consumes norco to oxy to morphine to methadone. I have been married for 8 years, she is 53 and is not the same woman I married. I am so sick and sad over this as they are first in her life. If I get on her too much then she just tells me to leave. So the pill has won over my love for her. She has been on them for 14 years and now is too the point that Norco doesnt work so she is buying her pills from people who get them and don't take them. I am to the point that it makes me cry almost daily – I dont want to leave her but I really see no other options because she wont even talk with me about getting help.

    April 3, 2015 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • raurorg

      Have you talked to your wife about suboxone? It has changed my life and the lives of many other's suffering from an opiate use disorder. The active ingredient Buprenorphine is a partial agonist rather than a full agonist like methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc. If she can find a doctor in your area who has an opening, suboxone doctors have to have a special certification, so sometimes they're scarce. The beauty of Suboxone is when she takes it after the other opiates are mostly out of her system and she's starting to feel the sickness of withdrawal she won't feel high, she'll feel normal. Also Buprenorphine has a stronger affinity for the mu receptor (the receptors opiates stimulate to create euphoria) so it has a very effective narcotic blockade meaning once she's stabilized no other opiates will be able to attach to the mu receptor so she won't be able to get high on any other opiates even if she stops taking the Suboxone other opiates won't effect her for a window of about 6-7 days

      September 20, 2015 at 04:28 | Report abuse |
  41. angie

    My husband is additive to pain meds
    he has a friend who is the root to the issue.
    I tried everything to get my husband from this man.

    April 7, 2015 at 05:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Elizabeth

    Opiates need to be banned. Anyone using them is less then a person. One can not tell the truth, can not clean themselves, do chores, carry a job, nor be a member of their family on opiates. I have known too many people who were persrcibed them that became worthless, not to just themselves but to everyone who loves them-their family. Opiates hurt more then help. This type of medication needs to be banned. Even cancer patients will admit that they are less then human once they are addicted to them. Our system wants patients for life and that is what opiates will do for anyone who is persrcibed them. My mother has become a drug addict. Why? Because the government refused to give her surgeries to help her. Rather, they gave her the highest dose of opiates possible. All she does now is urinate on herself, lie, steal and treat people badly. She was a good, caring mother before she became an addict. No drug treatment facilities will even help her detox. They state the damage from the opiates is too far gone. She will now have to go to a nursing home at the age of 56 because her weight has gotten too out of control from the binging on candy (from the painkillers) and from her brain deteriorating from the damage caused by the opiates. They destroy memory, pleasure and basic functioning. If she misses a dose, she lays there crying over the pain she feels all over her body. No one deserves this.

    April 18, 2015 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • raurorg

      I'm sorry about what your mother is going through Elizabeth but I feel I need to correct you about your misconceptions about opiates. Opiates aren't bad but they can cause trouble if misused. They work very well for pain. The problem isn't the medication, it's how they're used and often how they're prescribed. There was a systematic effort by some doctors and pharmaceutical companies to destigmatize opiate medications in the 1980's. Before that they were used for only severe pain, commonly for end stage cancer patients. Then the sole called pain revolution happened and doctors started prescribing them for sprained ankles and such. Before the doctors knew that the bad outweighed the good in most cases. During this pain revolution a Dr. Portney published a paper in which he claimed that less than 1% of patients using opiates would become addicted. Purdue Pharmaceuticals among others started a massive marketing campaign to promote this lie about the 1% and the opiate epidemic started. and them came the slew of addicts. The accidental addict was born, the person prescribed a month of OxyContin then when stopped taking them felt the pangs of withdrawal and had to turn to black market pills or even heroin. But some people need them, especially those on their deathbed. Also not everyone who uses opiates lies, cheats, and steals. Those are hallmarks of addiction. A person who takes their medication as prescribed will develop a physical dependence but otherwise will be just like anyone else. They definitely don't deteriorate your mind or brain or any other functioning. There have been numerous studies, some dating back to the 40's and 50's, before big pharm was so influential that prove this. I myself was a heroin addict for 21 years and my mind is as sharp as ever and I would say I'm a kinder person than most. Of course that wasn't the case when I was addicted to heroin. But the thing is, now I'm prescribed Suboxone, which is also an opiate to treat my heroin addiction. While I've been on Suboxone I've gotten back into school to be an alcohol and drug counselor, I'm president of a recovery advocacy group for other people on medication assisted treatment, and I'm on the board of Change Addiction Now which is a group which helps the families of persons with a substance use disorder understand what their loved one is going through. I'm happier and more productive than I can ever remember and I take an opiate medication every day as prescribed. Without this medication there's a good chance I would be dead, I was the kind of person you described above. So I hope you can see it's not the opiates that are bad, some can be beneficial. They only become a problem when people misuse them or when doctors prescribe them incorrectly.

      September 20, 2015 at 03:52 | Report abuse |
  43. Sandy McPhail

    My son passed away and he had taken a combination of drugs which I feel caused respiratory depression. The medical examiner states the manner of his death was natural. How do I prove it when they will not listen when I tell them my sons history. I am very desperate for help so I may prosecute those who gave him the drugs.

    May 26, 2015 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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  46. R Johnson

    Educating patients on the addictive nature of prescription pain medications is an important step for all in the medical community to proactively raise awareness and reduce the number of people who will eventually need treatment for substance abuse and dependence.

    July 22, 2015 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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  48. Ray H. Puckett, MS

    I was introduced to methadone in 1971; no charge, Federal program.
    on December 13 of 2013 I used my new Medicare to enter a clinic....outpatient. Without notice on my March 30 the, 2015 birthday, Medicaid stopped and I could not afford treatment for much longer. For me, the.Methadone has allowed me to obtain BA, M degrees, and many other positive accomplishes, I would have missed otherwise.
    That the Federal Govt has introduced me to the benefits of methadone, then passed it to private enterprise, who charge about one hundred dollars peer week...seems more. than just unfortunate to me. Ray H Puckett

    August 16, 2015 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sara Peterson

    Percocet is one of the most strongest and best effective relievers. I utilize it for back pain...it works OK for the most part.It does extremely well for pain. if you need more Information visit here. http://www.mypillsshop.info/buy_online/Acetaminophen_Oxycodone/Percocet/10

    October 13, 2015 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heather r

      Yeah and it nearly killed me

      October 20, 2015 at 19:44 | Report abuse |
  50. Name*leucadiageorge

    This has been very interesting reading for the most part I believe everybody has a very valid point the problem that I have is I have 3 surgery is needed currently when my primary physician quit her job my life is now a living hell I can barely move because of the past issues with prescription medication abuse ignorance all that's been mentioned I suffer now because I can't get what my last doctor who is a very good doctor work with me to get to a point that I was able to function and while waiting to have the surgeries necessary to repair the problems that were the cause of the need for pain medication Ie opiates suboxone is an absolute wonder drug or any of the opiates that are available whether by Dr or by the guy on the street corner so now I see this doctor who is a pain management specialist who is living up to the name because possible because of his ethics lack of checking my even medical records whatever it may be I have a torn ACL in my right knee with no cartlidge her meniscus I have a rotator. cuff tear in my shoulder I have a Hernia I have been in his office with my left knee which used to be my good knee swollen up to the size of a grapefruit in obvious pain that even a 12 year old would be able to see and insists that suboxin will relieve the pain even though I'm sitting across the desk from him telling him it does not work my new primary doctor could not write me a prescription after my surgery I don't have a surgeon anymore because he wasn't because that used to be my doctor's responsibility which she did more than adequate job there was a day when it was highly recommended to only have one doctor writing prescriptions we signed contracts with pain management specialist to not have prescriptions written by any other doctor now it's the responsibility of the pharmacist to let you know if you're mixing drugs prescriptions that'll kill you personally I'm not a believer in suicide but I can honestly say that I hope Russia's sends a nuke this way soon so that my misery will come to an end and unfortunately now there's more than one pain management specialist that I would love to see suffer like I am and just take suboxone which I believe the company pays them very well to push their drug that by the way I have to keep taking because it is very addictive in the sense that you cannot stop taking it without getting justice sick if not more then if you just stop taking opiates.... I really really pray that these doctors like the one I'm seeing now you all know his name would remember they're supposed to help us what a hypocrite the ultimate hypocrite talking about other doctors when the problem isn't any different then the problem with computers it's the operator guns don't kill people people kill people.
    . The biggest problem with our country is a lack of education and I'm also discovering that there's absolutely no compassion No conscience for what I see is a desired even help people that are suffering chronic pain issues which is why I have to go see this fool if he lives in the pain I'm living in right now he would be definitely on the strongest pain medication he could get his hands on... and ID pray that he would have to take suboxone the last doctor told me nobody ever died from pain he's lucky I didn't beat the crap out of him right there in his office..

    November 2, 2015 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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