Sunday, July 31, 2016
Drugs of Choice: You Know the Keyword Here
We live in an innovative, demanding, and increasingly stressful society. America is home to some of the greatest entrepreneurs on the planet. They constantly create products and employ the latest technologies of Madison Avenue to hawk their wares. From clothing to cars to cosmetics to housing to services, we are bombarded with propaganda telling us how deficient we are by not having these things. We can't watch TV, surf the internet, flip through a magazine, listen to the radio, or even take a drive without this encroachment on our senses.
Some of us are more susceptible than others. Some are unaware of the forces tugging at their attention, while others have completely immersed themselves in the culture of possessions and the supposed status they bequeath. A cult of materialism is more prevalent in the U.S. than other places on our planet.
Joe Cragganoski bought a $300,000 house in the suburbs. It's worth slightly less now. He backs his BMW out of the garage to get pampers from the grocer for his kid. He owes student loans and his credit cards are well on their way to being maxed out. Some guy runs a red light and t-bones Joe's car.
The doctor tells Joe to go easy on that broken leg and let him know if he gets dizziness from the concussion. "Oh, and here's some pills for the pain. You're gonna need that. Take one every four hours, two for breakthrough pain."
image courtesy of Wikimedia
Four weeks later Joe is still getting pain meds because he claims his leg still hurts. It doesn't. He's pretty much healed up, but the reprieve from stress the pills provide is something he can't do without. He didn't realize, probably still doesn't, how stressful his life was and how much more stressful it is going to be.
Years later, after therapy and rehab, Joe is clean and sober. Unfortunately, he is divorced and lost the house to bankruptcy. Now, an undiagnosed cracked vertebra from his car accident develops a growth that impinges on his spinal cord. The pain is severe. The doctor recommends surgery. Joe requests the surgery be done without anesthetic because he is afraid of getting hooked again. The doctor refuses. It would be impossible to do without Joe being completely immobile. Joe gets the surgery. Upon release several days later, "Oh, and here's some pills for the pain. You're gonna need that. Take one every four hours, two for breakthrough pain."
image courtesy of Wikimedia
The invisible forces surrounding Joe are powerful and persuasive. Very smart people get trapped just like Joe did. The circumstances may be different, but the effect is the same.
The moral of the story is this. Joe wanting to take little vacations from his stressful life was not wrong, but he did make the wrong choice of how to do that. If you find yourself in a situation like this, stop and take a minute, or a month, to think about it. You are about to abuse a drug that can act as a tool against acute chronic pain, making your life more tolerable. You don't know when or if you will be involved in a terrible accident or acquire a painful illness. Taking one of the most effective means of managing this pain off the table is very irresponsible. Always keep in mind it is one of the most addictive substances in the world. It is only slightly modified heroin. Wars have been fought over it. It has brought down whole civilizations. Treat it with the respect it deserves; the same as you would a diamondback rattlesnake. On the flip side, don't be so afraid of it, you can't use it against acute, long-lasting pain.
image courtesy of Wikimedia
Keeping up with the Joneses is not the only stressful thing in our environment. Relationships can sour or be overly demanding of our energy and attention. Performance requirements at work or a toxic boss can create severe stress on a daily basis.
Recognize stress and deal with it another way. Drink alcohol (responsibly) or smoke marijuana (legally). Go for a run. Work out at the gym. Read a book. Make fun of advertisements trying to sell you expensive crap you don't need. Get relationship therapy. Change jobs. Be more aware of the forces and influences demanding you keep up with peers or perceived peers and consciously choose to ignore them. Live a simpler life. Do just about anything but choose opiates to relieve that stress. You may be destroying a valuable tool to deal with acute, chronic pain later in life. Here's hoping you never need it.
Joe is a fictitious character, and I'm not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you I've been hooked on pain pills. I've never been high on them even though I've taken them. The reason I never experienced euphoria is I took the pills for pain and I never took more than I needed to kill the pain. The above story, however, has authenticity. Much of it is derived from the drug-use forums I used to read because I was scared and wary of becoming addicted. You should be too. Stephen King or H. P. Lovecraft can't hold a candle to the horrors you can find in those forums and chat rooms.
Now the pendulum has swung back to the situation of doctors not giving out pain meds because they are afraid of their patients becoming addicted. So, not only are people screwing up their own lives and those around them by abusing these pain meds, but also the lives of people they've never met. People that actually need the drug can't get it. People sitting watching TV but not able to enjoy it because pain consumes most of their consciousness. People not interacting with their children because it's too painful. People that could have done wonderful, beautiful things if they weren't so exhausted from dealing with the pain. But that's not the worst part. Even worse are the desperate thoughts that it will never get better than this. They try to get treatment and are denied. They are condemned to live a hell on earth because doctors are afraid the DEA will take their license for prescribing pain meds. Hope is quashed, and depression and misery are all that's left. If you have any feelings for the suffering of others, keep that in mind if you're tempted to use opiate pain medication to get high.
Here is a simple, short video to explain why so many people are getting in trouble with drugs today. You will be amazed!