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No I will not become a herion addict because I need pain meds for my RA

No one would argue that there is a heroin epidemic. No one argues that something has to be done. Politicians and pundits seem to have two ways to address it. The first is long overdue. Treat the addict as a patient versus a criminal.

The second is demonize all pain medications and regulate doctors to prescribe less. The press is hell bent to tell stories of how most heroin users started out with a prescription of Vicodin or Percocet. They don’t tell the story of the thousands of us with chronic degenerative conditions that reply on them for pain management and are not addicts.

In my opinion a prescription of pain pills does not start a person on life long addiction of heroin. It is the way the person’s DNA is wired and even without the first prescription, they could have found other ways to become addicted to illegal drugs. On the other hand, when my elderly mother broke her hip and was prescribed Percocet for over 2 months, she did not end up a heroin addict and in fact had no problem ending her prescription when the pain went away.

I too can be prescribed a prescription of Vicodin or Percocet and in my worst flare-ups 30 pills can last me 4 – 6 months. I am fortunate to have a doctor that does not question my motive when asking for a prescription. I have friends who are not so fortunate. Their doctors will not prescribe them pain meds. I know none of these women are likely to become addicts and I believe their doctors know it too.

Heroin addiction is a complicated problem that is ruining communities. Like all complicated problems, we look for easy answers, fixes, and someone to blame. Regulating doctors on how much pain medication they prescribe might be a tiny Band-Aid fix, but it will not fix the epidemic and is unfair to the thousands of us that need them.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Diane S
    3 years ago

    I have a very good Pain Specialist. He knows how long I’ve been taking meds and he even corrects me when I use the word addict. People in our condition can be referred to as dependent.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    3 years ago

    Trudi, you are certainly correct that issues of addiction and pain management are complex. It is also true that the rush for quick solutions can often lead to unintended consequences. As a reporter for Psychiatric News I used to cover addiction issues, as well as the legislative and government beat. The overwhelming number of people prescribed opioids for pain and other medical issues never develop addiction issues, however, it is also true that certain number will and there is no definitive way to determine who those individuals will be. The brain chemistry involved is incredibly complex.

    The heroin problem certainly has a sensational element and can drive a news cycle. The issue of opioid abuse goes beyond and much deeper than just the heroin epidemic. The prescribing and monitoring of opioids should be between a doctor and the patient, but there are good reasons for the tracking of opioid distribution. Some individuals may “doctor shop” in search of prescriptions. Another issue is simply, doctors are human and not all monitor their patients as we would hope. Tracking the medication, without stigmatizing the patient needs to be paramount.

    Like you, I hope that patients in need will continue to be able to receive the lifesaving and bettering medications under the guidance of proper medical care. Please know that there are plenty of medical professionals advocating for patient rights, as well as looking out for ways to best deal with the very real problems of addiction and abuse.

    Thank you for raising this important issue. Hopefully carrying this conversation to communities directly affected by the policy decisions will lead to more advocacy and better outcomes.

    Best, Richard ( Team)

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