By R Carter
As a blogger I’m on the internet every day, combing through articles related to the subjects I’m interested in. CERGM covers two topics, chronic non-cancer pain treated with opiates and addiction. If I had it my way, I would only cover one topic, chronic non-cancer pain treated with opiates, but because government and media equate both as one and the same, I can’t speak to one without speaking to the other. And that’s part of the problem facing our nation in the debate on how to respond to the growing number of overdose deaths. Our failure to separate the two has led to other tragic lives lost.
When government got involved through regulations, the response was predictable because government is incapable of acting based on individual need. The results were broad strokes that applied to large groups of individuals numbering in the millions and that’s a problem for healthcare because people are not widgets that can be stamped and pressed out like mass produced commodities. Let’s be honest about this aspect, for we were all taught this in our eighth grade civics class.
In less than a year following the 2016 CDC Guidelines on Chronic Pain Management, a whole new class of marginalized people were created, numbering in the millions. Government is supposed to empower people not marginalize them, this too is taught in civics class. As of 2019 its been estimated by some reports that as many as ten million chronic pain patients have been forced tapered or terminated from the use of pain medication to satisfy the interpretation of these guidelines. But for another group the price has been higher, resulting in complications leading to death or suicides.
You can’t do what I do without coming across dozens of news articles or blog posts talking about a grieving family member who’s lost a loved one to a drug overdose. There have been local and state regulations named after some and more non-profit foundations created in their names than you can imagine. I’m not writing this to find fault with any of those efforts or diminish the good work they are trying to do in stopping the insanity of drug abuse and its consequences.
What does concern me is the growing number of loved ones lost, who had legitimate medical conditions but were forcibly tapered down or terminated off of pain medications and subsequently died because of it.
Are these lives of any less value than those who have died from a drug overdose?
It’s a fair question and one I haven’t seen covered in mainstream media to any great extent. To date I can count on one hand the number of major news outlets who have covered this aspect of the opiate crisis and that too is just as tragic.
It’s a reflection of the attitudes of society, attitudes which have been shaped by a knee jerk response and a rush to judgment on what has been the causes for the drug overdose crisis. That message gets front page exposure on every medical website that anything to do with public policy on treating addiction and pain and in turn the news media picks up those messages and reports them to the public. The media in turn brings it home by reporting the losses of loved one due to drug overdose, but that is only half the story.
If the free press is truly free and is as cognizant as they claim to be, then the lives lost to forced tapers and termination are of no less value than those who have been lost to drug overdose and should be reported with equal clarity and fervor. I challenge them to report the whole story of this tragedy, recognizing that as a society we have gone too far and now there are innocent lives being lost to irresponsible actions taken by government agencies in trying to do the right thing and this too has to change.
I want to give a shout out to Pharmacist Steve for his recent post that listed these names we in the chronic pain community know of, but there are still others we don’t know about.
Hosking, Rory G. – 50, US Army – Feb. 9, 2019
Watts, John – 58 – Air Force – June 26, 2018
Cole, Lee – 38 – US Army – April 23, 2018
Baroda, Jesse Schmaltz , 31 -USMC, Oct 23, 2017
Ingram III, Charles Richard 51 – US Navy – Mar 2016
Kaisen, Peter – 76 – US Navy – July 25, 2014
Keller, Kevin – 52 – US Navy – July 30, 2014
Lawrence, Jay – US Navy – March 2017
Murphy, Thomas – Veteran – May 2015
Patterson, Travis “Patt” 26 – US Army Jan 27, 2017
Somers, Daniel – 30 – US Army – June 10, 2013
Spece, Brian – 54 – US Marine – May 3, 2017
Tombs, John – US Army – November 2016
Trunzo, Ryan US Army – 2012
Williams, Zack US Army – 2012
Anderson, Dawn, 52 – Indiana – Civilian – March 2019
Anderson, Larry – Civilian – June 2017
Howard, Carla – Tennessee – March 2019
Bales, Debra 52 – Civilian – Jan 10, 2018
Beyer, Donald Alan – 47 – Civilian – May, 8, 2016
Bloem, Michelle – Civilian – January 29, 2017
Christman, John – Civilian – August 2016
Cochran, Jennifer Marie, 34, – Civilian – December 22, 2016
Coggins, Warren Earl, 63, – Civilian – 2018
Goddard, Katherine 52 – Civilian – June 30, 2017
Graham, Bruce – 62 – Civilian – Jan 20, 2015
Hale, Doug – 53 – Civilian- Oct 11, 2016
Hamilton, Harold – 96 – Nov 2010
Hartsgrove, Daniel P – 62 – Civilian – May 19, 2017
Jonsson, Sonja Mae – Civilian – Aug 25, 2016
Kershaw, Sarah – 49 – Civilian- Feb 23, 2016
Kimberly, Allison – 31 – Civilian- June 2017
Kuykendall, Phillip – 63 – Civilian – Dec. 29, 2016
Lichtenberg, Steven – 32 – Civilian, May, 2005
Little, Sherri – 53 – Civilian – July 7, 2015
Markel, Robert – 56 – June 2016
McGuire, Mercedes – 25 – Civilian – August 4, 2017
Paddock, Karon 43 – Civilian – Au 7, 2013
Peck, Denny – 58 – Civilian – Sept 17, 2016
Peterson, Michael Jay Civilian – Nov 22, 2005
Reid, Marsha 59 – Civilian – Nov 2, 2016
Simpson, Jessica – 28 – Civilian – July 17, 2017
Trickle, Richard “Dick”- Civilian- May 16, 2013
Unruh, Amanda – Civilian – January 14, 2018