Today I am refilling my opiate pain medication. I had to contact 3 pharmacies to find it, and this is normal. You never know if they are being honest or refusing service. I was blessed with youthful looking genes, but the inside got the elderly genes! I don’t look like a sick person who has more missing or fake body parts than most Hollywood residents. I look like I am in my late 20’s trying to score pain meds to sell. It isn’t until you look closely that you see scars from 3 reconstructive hand surgeries, and one from a knee injury. All the bones in my hands and feet are hollow. Some have even been totally eroded away. You know those 2 rows of wrist bones you have? I have one row of wrist bones in my right hand, the other wrist’s bottom row had one bone left in it when it was xrayed in 2012. This is just the tip. My feet and ankles are in the same condition, and my organs have been compromised by this Autoimmune Soup. The damage is there, just hard to see. Most pharmacists look at me suspiciously (even when it is the day the script is due and my script records clearly indicate my opiates are DECREASING.)
As I was waiting on my prescription thinking about this situation, I can’t help but wonder why Americans are being forced into opiate addiction. There are several theories ranging from funding the country to capitalistic multinational corporation conspiracy. But look around. I mean REALLY look around. You know those heroin addicts down the road? We are on the same substance. Those “junkies” who are chasing the high, are basically in the same situation we are. The physical dependence on opiates is difficult to kick – if you can kick it. Opiates mimic chemicals our bodies make to regulate breathing, digestion, and pain among other things. When we take a hydrocodone, we are replacing those chemicals in the brain. Well, the brain is a smart thing. It thinks, “Great! You have this, so I will go work over here! Enjoy!” (Coincidentally, this is the same process that many steroids use with our adrenal glands. Be careful with steroids else those may be on your radar for life!) The brain stops production of the natural opiates and after a certain time, prunes the channels that tell the brain to produce it. Remember what I said it regulated? Breathing, digestion, pain receptors need these chemicals to help our functioning. When we stop taking them, our body does not adjust well. The longer you have taken them, the worse these symptoms can be too. Now, we have a nation of addicts – and one of the highest addiction rates in the world.
What causes so many pain pill addicts? Who are they? A quick glance around the room at any pain management center will tell you. These people usually started with some type of injury, and were not people who went out seeking a high. They eventually became physically addicted to a medicine that keeps needing increasing doses to be effective. As their scripts became higher and higher, and their brains started hyperfocusing on getting more drugs – their pain levels increased significantly. Thus began the cycle. Some never make it to the point where they are increasing doses periodically, but many have to tweak their levels. A lot of addicts, bona fide addicts, just needed to be able to work and feed their kids, but it spiraled out of control. These scenarios are more common than we think. People with legitimate issues, getting hooked and years later their bodies are broken even more. Don’t get me wrong, these medicines are necessary. People also do have a choice, but I do wonder if there is a point within chronic illness where we no longer have a choice and fall.
Now for the big question. Why? Why does America suffer with opiate addiction from hydrocodone to heroin, especially when there is an alternative, nontoxic treatment available? The answer is very convoluted and involves everything from big business to politics and hippies to patients, however the short answer is MONEY. Of course. What did you expect?
Let’s look at 2 areas profiting immensely by medical marijuana prohibition: pharma and prisons. Both give money to anti-marijuana candidates and groups openly. Both have products or services that would significantly lose if marijuana were available for medical treatment. Pharma makes all those opiates you use and makes billions off them every year! They KNOW marijuana has medical benefit, which is why they need it to be illegal. With the legalization of medical marijuana, they know thousands of jobs and private islands will be lost. Prisons make their bread and butter on marijuana and drug charges. Private prisons even go into depressed areas, pitch prosperity and jobs in exchange for full prisons! Too crazy to believe? Google. You will find it easily. Some states are even starting to ban them because it encourages people to be incarcerated for draconian periods of time. This allows the area to use inmates for labor, while the town gets jobs to manage it. Billions are tied up in both of these industries, and we know what that type of money creates.
Okay, so there are a few corporations that highly benefit by keeping opiate alternatives out of our hands. Surely the government cares and will protect its citizens! Well, a major part of the government is the judicial system. Not only are many Congresspeople lawyers who benefit from marijuana prohibition, but law enforcement and courts are also doing well when we are not. Also keep in mind that these laws were admittedly made to target minorities and immigrants, which they still do. Our FDA is stacked with executives from multiple private industry, pharmaceutical executives especially. Our legislators salaries are paid by corporations and lobbyists, and that doesn’t include what stipend they get from taxpayers.
Where does that leave us? According to an article on Leafly, the #1 reason doctors recommend cannabis is to help patients wean off toxic opiates. In states without medical cannabis availability, the ONLY option for pain relief is opiates. Many can’t take NSAIDS or have used them for so long that their bodies revolted. This leaves one path for those with chronic illnesses – addiction and all that comes with it. Most of us have worked and paid taxes. Even so, those who have not didn’t ASK for this genetic illness. We deserve better. Our nation deserves better. Multiple studies show that where medical marijuana is legal, opiate use declines. People get their lives back, and can even get their medicine for what it costs to grow it. No one over doses, no one steals to support their pot habit, and our kids have safer communities. At some point, we need to stop this madness and end America’s explosive opiate addiction.