The Opioid Menace

[♪ music ♪] If I heard on the news that they found a body somewhere, I was always on edge, you know: Is that my daughter they’re going to find? I was married. I had two kids, owned a home, two cars. I had a pretty good life, and it just went from bad to worse. We had a son, Michael. He was our only child. He was 26. It was three days before his 27th birthday. He died from a drug overdose. The issue with the explosion of this problem in our community means that there’s very few families that haven’t been touched in some way by this. The opioid crisis is multifaceted. It evolved into the problem it is today. I’m Dr. Clements. I’m over here every other week. We’re seeing absent fathers, addicted mothers, and in many cases grandparents becoming once again the primary caregiver for their grandchildren. I have totally raised my granddaughter. Her mother has been in and out of her life, mostly out. Sometimes she would be gone a month at a time. I wouldn’t know where she was at. I finally talked her into coming back home, and I got her into a clinic. And she had no insurance. So my life savings, which is probably a drop in the bucket for some people, but it was everything to me — I had $3,000 — I spent every dime of it. And she took off again. I don’t look sick, but I’m very sick. And I tried to explain that to my daughter: “You’ve got to get straight. You know, you’ve got a baby. I may not be here.” I think I’ve finally gotten to her. She’s got to do this. She doesn’t have a choice. She just has to. And I just have to keep it in my heart and pray for it every day. My addiction started about 30 years ago when I got injured at work. So I had to have three back surgeries and a couple of knee surgeries. I started hitting pain clinics and doctor shopping, and then buying them off the street. And it just kept snowballing until I actually overdosed and nearly died over that. You do see a lot of folks my age addicted, even older than me because back then I was buying pills from older people. It was easier for them to get pain pills than the younger people. So they would supplement their income by selling their pills that they was getting at the doctors. They even got me in to some of my doctors is how this got started. When we open the door, the first two or three, sometimes five or six patients will be recovering addicts. The sad thing, and one of the undiscussed victims of this whole process, are the people with legitimate pain. They can’t get the medicines that they need— cancer patients, people terminally ill are hassled to get their medicines in a way that is very frustrating to them. It’s also affecting those parents or grandparents who have medical need. I had a patient call me one time, and he was accusing me of shorting them their pills. I knew I might offend him if I implied it might be a family member, although that’s one of the most common ways that young people get involved with drugs is stealing from a parent or a grandparent. So a week later he called me back with an apology. He said, “It’s my grandson. I would have never guessed that he would take my wife’s medicine.” And that scenario for the over-50 generation is very, very common. They’re dealing with it personally with their own difficulties using opioids. They’re dealing with their children and their grandchildren. It is an economic drain on them, and it has an adverse effect on society as a whole. With addiction it’s an entire family thing. I mean, obviously she and I are the ones who are affected the most. But grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everybody is affected by it. For family members or loved ones who are dealing with someone that has substance use problems, you do anything and everything to try to save this person. It was the hardest time in our marriage. But there came a point when we sat down with each other and said, “We don’t know whether we’re going to be able to save Michael with this, but we have to save ourselves and we have to save each other.” And we kind of had to make that decision. And I’m so grateful that we did because we did end up losing Michael. And we were able to be there for each other. I don’t think anybody knows what to do with the people that are struggling with addiction. And they’re really hard to help, but that’s something we’ve got to look at as a country because it’s devastating. I mean, we’re losing a whole generation of people to this problem. [♪ piano music ♪] I’ve missed out on four grandchildren. I have only met one. Three I’ve never saw yet. My daughter who, we haven’t had a conversation — a good conversation — in probably 20 years. Lost my parents when I was in addiction. Never got to amend — fix those relationships. My daughter has been sober 17 months now. She gave me the most beautiful Mother’s Day card yesterday. She had gotten her first paycheck that she had ever earned for 10 years. It just really breaks my heart. But I’m so happy I have my daughter back. There is no stereotypic family — OK, they were poor, they were drug abusers, they were rotten people, therefore they died. That’s not the issue here. It is the very best of our community, the very best of parents, the very best of upbringing and education. Opioids do not discriminate.

4 thoughts on “The Opioid Menace

  1. I think it is stupid the guberment getting in the way of a dr. and his patient. People get old,sick etc and they have to suffer the rest of their lives. It really is non of your business.

  2. As a disabled Veteran who's quality of life has been greatly improved as a result of "Opioid Medication" prescriptions for over 17 years. This being said, I also had a daughter who for a time was stealing my medications to feed her addiction. I have also been raising my 17 year old granddaughter for the last 15 years because of her mother's drug and alcohol addictions, this video really hit close to home. State and Federal Governments try to solve addictions with OVER-REGULATION of Opioid Medications , this frequently results in Doctors who become afraid to prescribe opioids for patients who would clearly benefit from their use. A second resulting issue of Governemt regualtions is that Doctors and their staff will frequently treat anyone with an opioid prescription as either an "Addict" or as an "Opioid Drug Dealer".
    Doctors often become afraid to write a legitmate prescription to cover the full time period between the patients scheduled appointments. I have seen Doctors (Not VA Doctors) who are so afraid to write an opioid prescription to cover an extra day or two to ensure their patient has enough medications to cover their prescribed use until the next scheduled Dr. Appointment. (This could be the result of a patient going on a vacation or the prescription ending date actually falling on a weekend when the Dr. Office is closed which results in the next scheduled Dr. Appointment falling one or two days after the prescriptions end date). Instead of providing their patient with sufficient medications to make it to their next scheduled appointment, there are Doctors who are so afraid of making any changes to their opioid prescription writing schedule that instead of working with their patient, the Doctor or his staff will accuse the patient of trying to misuse their opioid prescription and will encourage the patient to withold a few doses during the month to extend their pill count enough to make it to the new appointment date. The more frequently the patient needs an adjusted prescription or schedule change, the more likely it will be for the Dr. and their staff will start treating this patient as an Opioid Addict/Dealer instead of as a patient with legitimate scheduling or prescription change needs.
    I have heard of Doctors who are so afraid of Opioids that they have tried to BAN the use of ALL Opioids for Chronic Pain Management within the Veterans Administration Hospitals. They claim that opioids cannot be effectively used to treat Chronic Pain without regular increases of medication levels, this is because supposedly, the body gets used to the opioid levels which is then supposed to reduce the opioids effectiveness over time. I have personally been on the same prescription level for almost 16 years, with no opioid medication level increases during this time. I did modify my daily activity levels to avoid potential pain increases and to maintain my prescription levels, but by reducing my activity levels, I have been able to live my life with a manageable levels of pain and no need to increase my opioid medication levels over my 17 years on opioids.
    I see opioid addiction as a personal accountability issue, yes, there are Doctors who write prescriptions for patients without fully understanding these patient's actual conditions or medical history, and there are definitely patients who intentionally lie to Doctors to get the medications they want.
    I believe that any solution to opioid addictions must begin by holding both parties personally accountable for their actions. This includes the patients who misuse opioids and also the Doctors who prescribe Opioids to patients without first developing a legitimate Dr./Patient relationship which could ensure that the patient is actually in need of an Opioid medication, and that there are no alternative treatments that would provide more effective pain management results for their patients.
    I also think it is also important to educate ALL Opioid patients and their families on the risks involved in taking an Opioid for any period longer than is "physically required" to treat their immediate "Physical Pain". Before any patient receives an opioid prescription the Dr. amd Pharmicist should make sure the patient fully understands their Opioid prescription and how it must be used as prescribed and "ONLY for Physical Pain Relief and never for emotional relief". This knowledge could at least ensure that they are made aware of the potential risks involved and hopefully this education might reduce some of the accidental addictions that occur because the patients didn't fully understand the risks involved in taking an Opioid based medication.

  3. once again blaming everyone and everything except the drug addicts. I take my medication the way it is written. never once did I want to go buy me some Heroin

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