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May-17-2016 22:09printcomments

The Word is Credibility -Not Stigma -in the Prescription Opioid/Heroin Epidemic!

"It's a public health epidemic, but it's completely man made." ~Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Anderson Cooper
Town hall hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Wednesday, May 11. Image: CNN

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - This past week CNN broadcast an Anderson Cooper interview on the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic at a Town Hall Meeting.

CNN has been accused by the U.S. Pain Foundation, a lobbying group for pharma in catering to the needs of chronic pain patients in their use of long term opioids, at stigmatizing the pain patients.

Paul Gileno, Founder and President of the foundation was "deeply troubled and disappointed by the one-sided, biased discussion surrounding pain medication that completely disregarded the voices of people living with debilitating pain" during the broadcast.

Mr. Gileno charged that a woman in the audience named Kay Sanford was the only person with pain -- and on prescription opioids for "25 years" given the opportunity to speak. He was appalled that Ms. Sanford was interrupted by both Anderson Cooper and Dr. Drew Pinsky during the broadcast and were dismissive of her pain journey.

Gileno further stated that those on the CNN panel "had the audacity to say her story was the minority." I recall that Ms. Sanford proudly stated that she walked a mile and a half three times a week and swims even while taking prescription opioids for her chronic pain condition -- for 25 years.

Strange though that people in attendance at the broadcast watched as Ms. Sanford was assisted to be seated and subsequently assisted from her seat after the broadcast.

Yet she is a walker of 1-1/2 miles and swims?

There were those in the audience who had lost their children to prescription opioids from sports injuries, wisdom teeth extractions and surgeries many leading to heroin usage as a result of the over-prescribing of opioids by their physicians.

These same physicians were led to believe by pharma and their financially supported pain foundations that prescriptions opioids were safe for long-term use with low addictive qualities.

Gileno encourages chronic pain patients to empower and educate those who should have done better research. He urges chronic pain patients on long-term prescription opioids to "Let them know this type of program causes more scrutiny as well as heartache and pain for people who are already judged, marginalized and stigmatized. I am asking everyone to speak loud and speak often. People with pain matter. I repeat: people with pain matter."

Do you know what matters Mr. Gileno?

It is that we are losing a generation of young people to the prescription opioid epidemic now leading to soaring heroin usage. Stigma of the chronic pain patients? Give me a break.

This country has an over abundance of opioids prescribed to pain patients -- many long term who are addicted -- hook, line and sinker. The stigma is that your foundation is funded by the pharmaceutical industry and pharma controls the FDA. Thereby, the approval of so many dangerous and addictive opioids being prescribed not only to your "pain patients", but to young people, Addiction is the culprit.

Notice I don't use the word "dependent" and I won't. As long as the U.S. Pain Foundation "advocates" for pain patients and their long-term use of opioids, the addiction and death toll will rage out of control.

You asked your "chronic pain patients" to contact the producers of Anderson Cooper's, CNN special and nicely supplied producers of the show's email addresses.

I am asking that families of those throughout the country who are dealing with addiction, death and repeated drug rehabilitation to use these same email addresses to ask that CNN remember this epidemic is a physician/pharma/pain foundation generated epidemic condoned by the FDA and was totally preventable.

CNN and other news media need to keep this epidemic in the forefront. Lives depend upon it.

Email addresses for the CNN producers are: &

On February 17, 2015 I wrote an article asking why an advocate/official of the U.S. Pain Foundation was allowed to perform antics during hearings on the Senate floor, lying on a yoga mat, while giving testimony about chronic pain.

Why the yoga mat though? Well it seems the senators conducting the hearings allowed her to lay on the Senate floor on her yoga mat and testify using a hand held microphone because in the 1990’s, she sustained an injury.

Bizarre? No it is shame on the senators during these legislative hearings in allowing this disrespect for the tens of thousands of families who suffer pain in the loss of loved ones — and they do not use theatrics in total disrespect for this health crisis.

Here is a link to that article describing the circus atmosphere being allowed in front of the U.S. Senate by the U.S. Pain Foundation:

The U.S. Pain Foundation may want to reconsider using the word "stigma" while referring to chronic pain patients. There is a plentiful supply of opioids available in every state and city in the country compliments of our FDA and pharma. The word the U.S. Pain Foundation should be looking into the meaning of is "credible".

When a pain patient can convincingly tell an audience of millions of CNN viewers that opioids ingested for 25 years allow her to walk a mile and a half as well as swim and then need assistance getting in and out of a chair -- it raises some questions.

The yoga mat testimony on the floor of the Senate by an official of the U.S. Pain Foundation is just grandstanding and an insult to those countless families who live every day in fear of planning a funeral for their loved ones addicted to opioids compliments of pharma, their financially funded pain foundations and the FDA.

Stigma? The stigma is the U.S. Pain Foundation digging their hands into the deep pockets of pharma in encouraging long term use of addictive and dangerous opioids for chronic pain as we lose a generation of our young people and further addict chronic pain patients.

There's your dose of credibility and it has nothing whatsoever to do with "stigma."


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Tammy Broselow January 13, 2017 6:32 pm (Pacific time)

After reading your report of what went on CNN with Anderson Cooper saddens me greatly. To think that people who have not experienced the kind of pain most of us can go through. How is it you did not have doctors from both sides to talk about the issue of Opioid use in this country. Instead it was so one sided, as you can tell as you, (IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO READ THESE REMARKS) or ask the lady there about her pain she goes through daily. You think that US Pain is working for Pharma!?! You are so WRONG!! They and I work together with others like myself living with pain daily. I don't know what you think you would do if you suffered from the illness I do called RSDS, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome. Just put RSD in your URL and read up on this most painful disease. I do feel for those parents who have lost a child from overdose of an opioid!! My heart truly goes out to you parents and others left here still! Do you ever think of what those taking opioids will take once they would be gone? I don't mean those of us that have been on them for 24 years and use them as prescribed? Those who have passed away from taking prescriptions drugs, because that's how they get them a prescription. There are many drugs in the street that many go after now and I thank God I know the difference as street drugs are so much worse. Trust me with no cure for RSDS I've tried so many treatments that could possibly help. From Spinal Cord Stimulators to Pool Therapy and many things in between. Testing and still going through testing and now and then going for a few Nerve Blocks as there is no cure and I and others with RSD or CRPS continue to worsen and spread throughout our bodies.

Johnna Stahl June 5, 2016 10:46 pm (Pacific time)

As a 30-year intractable pain survivor, I can't add anything to this comment section that hasn't already been said. Instead, I'll share some poems that I've written, words that I think about every single day. Please kill me Just kill me now I’ve suffered enough and how Suffering shuddering pain roaring thundering overpowering head hammering eyes watering thoughts scattering body lumbering no glimmering time shuttering heart hardening life guttering bad thoughts whispering pain is poisoning I can easily picture myself on my deathbed denied pain relief denied dignity Frightening

Edwina Caito May 27, 2016 6:10 pm (Pacific time)

I have read this "opinion piece" several times and I refuse to call it an "article" as it is lacking in FACTS and is completely one sided. I think what bothers me most about this article, is that the author speaks of "an entire generation of young people" dying because of pain medications given for sports injuries, wisdom tooth extractions etc. Where are the parents of the young people? Do they just fill the prescriptions and go about their merry way without researching what their child is on? Do they continue to refill prescriptions knowing full well they are giving their child a potentially addicting medication? Big pharma started this, yes, but it has been MANY MANY years since these drugs were on the market. When having a prescription filled today, as it has been for many years, print outs are attached to the medications explaining in depth the dangers, complications and side effects of the medication. I personally watch what my children are prescribed and monitor the dosages very carefully. I know my children, I communicate with them about EVERYTHING and you had better believe I would notice if my child was showing any signs of addictive behavior! That being said, I am a chronic pain patient. I take opioids for pain so I can simply live my life and do ordinary, every day tasks that you take for granted. Do I walk for miles and swim every day? Absolutely not. Do I get out and exercise? Absolutely! However, every single day of my life is different. Some days my pain level is beyond manageable and I am bedridden. Still other days my pain is milder and I am able to function with little to no medication. So though the lady you spoke so harshly of in this article could very well been having a bad pain day. Because of people like you, the CDC and their flawed statistics (which they have admitted to), addicts and now politicians blowing this entire thing out of proportion, people like myself, are having their medications drastically reduced or taken away completely. My doctor is terrified to write a prescription because his job and medical license are being threatened by an opioid law passed here in Indiana in 2013. Doctors are leaving their practices, retiring or changing their fields because they can no longer treat their patients the way they feel they should. Indiana is PROOF that putting strict limits on pain medications and threatening physicians is NOT the way to deal with addiction as is has had the opposite effect. Here in this state heroin overdose rates have gone up over 300%, we have an out of control HIV outbreak due to the sharing of needles and our suicide rate is skyrocketing. While I believe this country can do much better to help those suffering from addiction, controlling pain medications and allowing anyone other than physicians deciding how patients are treated is wrong and will be is already killing people. People in the pain community are just as important as people suffering from addiction. 

Emily Ullrich May 27, 2016 3:16 pm (Pacific time)

Dear Ms. Marianne Skolek-Perez, it is clear that you have been touched deeply by the pain and loss that addiction can inflict. I too have seen as people I know and loved went too far down that road with drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, and even the addiction to being thin. However, I would never say that people shouldn't be allowed to eat because they might make the wrong choices and become obese, develop heart failure, etc. And for those of us who have illnesses and injuries, to which there is no cure, that would be tantamount to your all out war on pain medicines. None of us WANTS to take them. We have all tried and still do try any and everything else we can. Unfortunately, for too many of us, those things are not enough. Should we be damned to suffer as martyrs for your cause, living a life which has no quality? Should we be forced to seek illegal drugs or just commit suicide, so that you, the government, the doctors, and everyone else that we "make uncomfortable" can move on with your lives and not be hassled by our presence?

Judith Bruno May 27, 2016 12:59 pm (Pacific time)

Please start asking some real questions like are any drug addicts no longer abusing drugs with these policies because we know that Prohibition does not work? The country is so concerned over the raise in heroin addiction and you will find, if you really look, that the raise is directly connected to these policies because if a drug addict can't get the pills they want, they will and are turning to heroin and now our government is supporting the Drug Cartels who will get a drug addict anything they want just as the "Mob's" did for alcohol. Did we learn nothing from history? Why is the life of a drug addict more important than the lives of those who are in pain? Why are politicians acting as doctors in the decisions of what is the best way to treat us?
Mothers can no longer care for their children and bread winners no longer able to support their families. Who is going to pay for that care and where will that money come from? Who is going to care for those like myself who strive to stay independent and live within the boundaries of our disabilities but can no longer do so without the pain relief we need?

Anonymous May 27, 2016 10:06 am (Pacific time)

The reason many are turning to heroin is because of the fact that they can no longer get there pain meds filled. I LIVE with a Chronic illness and live with chronic pain and what is being done to the legitimate patients is Beyond Horrific and CRUEL.

Doug Blasco May 25, 2016 7:43 am (Pacific time)

My wife developed a blood infection that settled into her foot and rendered her disabled. After seeing many doctors we were sent to a Thoracic Surgeon. He reviewed her case and recommended a Sympathectomy in which the nerve chain is cut, and like a light switch, the pain is gone. The surgery went terribly wrong and since 2009, she now deals daily with 7,8,9 level pain from her left hip down to and including her left foot and the only permanent cure is to hope the nerve "Burns Itself Out". Her original problem was never touched by the surgery. She is now and will forever be an Opioid Patient. She hates taking the stuff but after trying out many other options, given her condition, the opioids are the only thing that works. She takes the minimum dosage that works for her and she also takes them only as she needs them. Frequently she pushes herself further than she should. I repeat, unfortunately, she will always be and Opioid Patient. Now an interesting thing has taken place in the Pain Management field. I live in the Livermore Valley. We have three towns and about 250,000 people. Because the pendulum has swung so far to the right, within our valley, there are no doctors who will prescribe these necessary medications. The doctors are exiting the field and others have chosen to just retire outright. I have to drive my wife 35 miles to her new doctor. What's wrong with this picture? I understand that the US population is 5% of the worlds population and yet we consume 75% of the Opioids. This is a problem. I get it. But the way things are going, many patients, just like my wife, are now being abused not just by their bodies, but now, also the politicians and pollsters. Stop Hurting My Wife

Jessica Begley May 25, 2016 5:05 am (Pacific time)

This was a sad display. It was completely one sided. The one actual pain patient in the audience was not even allowed to speak.

Deborah May 25, 2016 3:41 am (Pacific time)

This writer is obbivously lucky enough not to have dealt with chronic pain from a lifelong incurable illness. If she had, she would know that people living in chronic pain are encouraged to do physical therapy, eat healthy foods, maintain a healthy weight and take care of their bodies. By taking an opioid medication, many patients are able to walk for exercise, without the medication many of them cannot walk enough to exercise. Doctors writing prescriptions for responsible patients who are not addicts in not causing other people to become addicts. People who are addicts would have still become addicts whether they had taken opioids or not - if they didn't take prescription medication they would've abused something else. People become addicts because of a genetic predisposition or they are self medicating due to trauma, abuse or mental illness - not because they had an injury or surgery and took their pain medication properly for a week. When patients are pre-screened for drug abuse, less than 1% become addicted. The problem is when people who are already addicts get medication the shouldn't be getting.

patti mccomb May 24, 2016 10:12 pm (Pacific time)

You are fortunate to never had to live with severe day after day24/7 pain. Many patients ARE suffering. You seem to be one sided and your story was too. I hope you never have to suffer like us pain patients do. There are rare days I could do more and there are days that I can't move very much. Your report was so obviously for addicts it was pitiful . there's a huge difference in addiction and dependence. I don't take handfuls of painkillers to chase a buzz and sure don't shoot anything up. I follow my drs orders to function. I think you need to be educated about chronic pain.

Bruce May 23, 2016 1:34 pm (Pacific time)

The U.S. Pain Foundation has been actively informing the public and advocating for Pain Patients for some time, and they are interested in the health and well being of chronic pain patients and all those suffering with painful medical conditions. Their only interest is to see that this maligning of patients and their medications cease, and that pain patients not receive further harm, and help them to maintain access to their life saving medications with dignity, respect, and compassion. The stigma against pain patients is very real. And the lack of compassion, sympathy, and empathy from much of the public, and especially authors on the subject of opioid medications is clearly evident. Pain patients have medical conditions, and treat their conditions with multiple therapies, but mostly with opioid pain medications, as those are the most effective, and cost effective therapies available. They know they are prescription only. They know there are side effects, like ALL medicines. But they are somehow caught in the middle of some made up 'epidemic' and a devastating 'War on Drugs'. Patients have a RIGHT to proper, and humane medical treatment. And under the American Disabilities Act, are considered "Disabled". They obtain their treatments legally and under the care and supervision of a Doctor. They've often tried ALL the available therapies including surgeries. Yet most do not get sufficient, or long term relief. To further slander, demonize, and malign patients with legitimate medical conditions and their treatment is inhumane, cold, and downright malicious.

Sunceri May 21, 2016 7:49 pm (Pacific time)

While I agree that it is tragic that some choose to abuse prescription medication, I feel the need to point something out. Addiction begins when the addict makes a conscious decision to repeatedly abuse a substance, to obtain a feeling of being high, maybe to escape reality and personal issues. Granted, at some point, it will no longer be a choice. However, if a person knows the difference between right and wrong, it will occur to them that they have a problem. The pills do not jump out of the bottle and into a person's mouth. I did not get a choice. I was hit and run over by a drunken doctor's wife when I was crossing the highway at the age of 15. I almost died. Even though the paramedics were able to stabilize me for a life flight, I did not realize the life that I had been sentenced to. Several surgeries and diagnoses later, I live with chronic pain, so intense that sometimes I actually wish for death. Why? Because I am being UNDER MEDICATED. And why is that? Because people like you and the questionably well intentioned folks at PROP have made certain that my doctors are scared to death that they are going to lose their licenses, go to prison or both. Your editor continues to point out that no one said anything about taking them away, but that is what is happening. You can't tell me that every single doctor that doesn't want to give potentially LIFE-SAVING medications to a pain patient that has a file 6 inches thick with painful diagnosis after painful diagnosis is afraid because they were doing something wrong. It has nothing to do with being cautious. Quite the contrary, all too often. They are TERRIFIED. 

War On Pain Patients May 21, 2016 4:04 pm (Pacific time)

I see no "investigative reporting" in this article. I hear a very angry, abusive, biased and ignorant opinion by a parent in emotional pain. She's out to find the culprit in her child's addiction and overdose. Ma'am, the culprit is youth and the disease of addiction., not Physicians or prescriptions This article belongs in the "comments" section.
We've all been touched by addiction in some form or another. That is the nature of addiction. Addicts roar through the lives of others, leaving misery and destruction in their wake. Heroin addiction and drug abuse has been around much longer than OxyContin and it will continue (actually increase) as long as we continue this failed War On Drugs.

John May 21, 2016 6:30 am (Pacific time)

I am a 19 year chronic pain patient which was caused by 17 major life saving surgeries resulting in severe nerve damage and constant 24/7 severe pain. I have never overdosed or abused my medication. I know if I do abuse it in any way, shape or form it will be taken away. If that happens I will not last 3 days dealing with the amount of pain I deal with. It is just the facts and having so much pain is just not tolerable. REAL pain patients that want to continue to live a life of some meaning and purpose will rarely if at all ever abuse the medication because if we do you will lose the medication as well as the relief that makes life tolerable and will not continue to even have a life at all. I firmly believe taking away a legitimate pain patients medication would result in so many suicides, millions. These are the facts, this war on pain patients must stop. Much of your information is based on false information adding to the stigma. Get the facts straight because right now your way off base blaming people who really suffer severe chronic pain. I feel very sorry for those who have lost loved ones for any reason but blaming a patient group suffering great pain is the wrong way to go about any of this...

Anonymous02 May 21, 2016 12:25 am (Pacific time)

Bias is what makes the argument stay. I have lost a few people to addiction and to cancer and to suicide. There is no way by you being angry about this will not being your child back. Neither will the fact that in less then 3 months i have read about 5 people who committed suicide because the pain was too much to bear. is this sounding familiar to anyone. Addicts do more drugs to get rid of their pain, and we get cut off from meds and many of us are thinking about ending our lives to get rid of our pain. No one wins and NO ONE will ever win. Responsibility lies upon a parent when it comes to addictive medications. I am guilty of giving my son psych meds for a few years, when he finally got loud enough for me to hear him. I stopped the meds. It took many months for my guilt to wear off even a small bit. I disagree with what the lady says on here, but i do understand the suffering that comes with losing a friend to suicide because the pain is too much to deal with. I also know that a struggle is a struggle. Addiction is a struggle and and pain is a struggle. What needs to be accomplished is to show people who are hurting from addiction's horrible consequences, that we are not trying to hurt anyone or ignore addiction, it is just the guidelines are going toooooooooo far. It is about us having the right to choose pain meds that help and those that do help we can be able to get at least a decent amount of access to the meds and pt, ot, walking, work, and everything else included. I hope that you see a change of heart to compromise these things together not bashing each other.

Caleb May 20, 2016 4:34 pm (Pacific time)

I find your article to be completely cold and non caring for human life that is affected by pain. I thought you were an investigative reporter? Obviously you did not do your research on this topic or you would have not written this article. You have turned your daughter's death (sorry for your lose) into a personal vendetta against any and all opioid pain medication. Opioids have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years without losing whole populations. The problem this nation faces is the responsibility of parents, modern society, and the media. Not pain patients, doctors, or big pharma!

Amy V May 20, 2016 1:43 pm (Pacific time)

I am first sorry for everyone's loss including my own. I was once a very successful three figure income Vice President of Fraud operations who stepped off of a side walk and forever my life changed instead of getting better I got worse #CRPS there are few approved treatments that work and that insurance cover so the only cheap thing that gets someone who went from over 100k to 25k and still trying to keep my house is opioids to give me quality of life to try to go back to work! I just want to get better! Let insurance cover stem cells so we can all get better but no it's all about $$$$ but what did I do to be tortured? what would you do if your wife or child had CRPS?? And you had limited income???? I don't just have CRPS now it progressed to my internal organs so I have POTS, DYSAUTONOMIA, GASTROPARESIS, MCAS, EDS, MIGRAINES, CLUSTER HEADACHES and this list goes on.... A page and half of diagnosis and a new one every dr visit. THERE IS NO CURE!!! NO TREATMENTS. Please continue to help those who became addicts but please let me live my life in the least amount of pain for as long as I have. It's TWO separate issues!!! Stop combining them! When I'm having a good day I Don't Take my OPIOD!!!!!

KIra May 20, 2016 1:37 pm (Pacific time)

You say you refuse to use the word "dependent" as it pertains to opiates. As a nurse you should know that there is a big difference between being medically dependent on something and being addicted. I have been a chronic pain patient for over 16 years. I take several prescription medications to combat my pain, and yes, even opiate containing medication and yet I am not addicted. And there are many more like me, who take their medication as prescribed and do not abuse them. Addiction is a combination of mental, Psychological and emotional issues. It is not an automatic consequence of taking narcotic pain relievers. More needs to be done to help addicts in terms of treatment, education, and even harm reduction like having Naloxone readily available in case of overdoses. Even now, Chronic pain patients, and even people in acute pain are being made to suffer due to the crackdown on opiates. There is even an ER in NJ that no longer treats patients with opiates out of fear that they may become addicted. The pendulum has swung too far the other way and people in pain are suffering as a result. And programs like the one one CNN are just adding to the stigmatization of those in pain.

Virginia Pruitt May 20, 2016 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

The answer most people give is "nobody is saying they will take away chronic pain patients medication". I know they are not trying to do that but in taking advantage of the politics in the not so new opiate problem the byproduct is their loss of access to receive adequate care. Doctors and pharmacies are fearful of the backlash. It is costly and time consuming and many doctors are not making themselves available to these patients as their doctors retire. Many chain pharmacies won't fill for long term patients so it's left to the individual pharmacies to do this and they then are harassed for having a high output of opiate medications. We have lost 3 of our local pharmists to "retirement" in my husbands years as an RSD patient. As usual we fight against each other while media and politicians use us for their gain. We both want responsible use of opiate medication. We should be working with not against each other. My anger and heartbreak is no less worthy than is yours as I am watching my husband struggle not to give up in his 20 years of RSD pain. His alternative to opiates right now is to give up. There are stretches of time when I fear he won't be able to fight back. The stress and uncertainty that surrounds his treatment has been one of those stretches. That breaks my heart everyday. We can accomplish more together than individually.

JL May 20, 2016 1:07 pm (Pacific time)

I wrote a comment yesterday and unfortunately this article has remained with me over night and into work this morning due to this simple incorrect facts. As a researcher I must insist that the facts be correct to make an argument. I would like to address the comment by the editor that 4/5 heroin users got pain medication from their doctors before turning to using cheaper heroin. While it is true that 4/5 heroin users started on prescription pain medications, it is well documented by SAMHSA beginning in it's 2009 study that 80% of people who misuse opioid medication got that medication from others, from multiple doctors, bought it on street or what-have-you. 

Barbara May 20, 2016 11:28 am (Pacific time)

The ignorance of this author amazes me. This is obviously an opinion based article. I am sorry for the loss of her daughter, but that does not justify assuming every individual who takes pain medication is an addict or will become one. The fact that she will not use the word dependent proves her ignorance; or should I say lack of medical knowledge. This "epidemic" is obviously too close to home for her to think clearly enough to have something valuable to say. I am a chronic pain patient, and my son is also a heroin addict. Did he start by using prescription pills? Yes, but they weren't his prescription pills. He started using them with a bunch of other young people who didn't have prescriptions either. So as far as the editors statement of 4/5 heroin users started out by being prescribed opiates from a doctor, That is incorrect.  

Brooke Taylor May 20, 2016 10:08 am (Pacific time)

Why are chronic pain patients being put into the same group as addicts? As a doctor, I would assume that you've done you're research, and are aware that a very low percentage of chronic pain patients become addicted to pain medications. Due to addicts, chronic pain patients are being forced to suffer. Doctors took an oath to "Do No Harm". Isn't making a person suffer harming them? Research also shows that a lot of chronic pain patients are under treated. (I am one of them). My medication takes the edge off the pain, so I'm able to get out of bed, walk, and to small tasks. Basically, I'm on house arrest because my doctors (and almost every other doctor) is afraid to prescribe an appropriate dosage of pain medication to increase my quality of life. Before the DEA rules and regulations became so strict..and now the CDC guidelines, I had a better quality of life. 

Anne May 20, 2016 10:04 am (Pacific time)

Research shows that a low percentage of chronic pain patients become addicted to prescription drugs. Yet, somehow we're being lumped into the same group as addicts.

Pennie May 20, 2016 8:51 am (Pacific time)

First of all, some of you don't know pain until you experience C.r.p.s/R.s.d. If you take a look at the McGill pain scale you can see the severity of our pain. With this, I would exchange the pain of CRPS to have the pain of giving birth every day instead! I would have something to show for it instead of being and feeling miserable 24/7. Try the ice bucket challenge or soak in a tip of ice cold water for about 3 minutes and get out and see how you feel. Now imagine that feeling all day and all night. You might think nothing of it, but we do. I've heard many comments about our disease. One being that its a suicide disease. Well, that being said.. Its people like you that either don't believe in our pain or don't believe in treating it with the proper meds to keep us comfortable until the next dose. We have voices, we are human, we need YOU to LISTEN!

Terry Craig May 20, 2016 6:13 am (Pacific time)

From this opinionated and highly bias article. It is extremely obvious that the author has never experienced anything so devastating as chronic intractable pain. The critiquing of US pain foundation as some sort of extension of the pharmaceutical industry, and the labeling of pain patients as drug addicts, is literally nothing but a slanderous attempt by the author to marginalize an entire demographic, much as one of today's leading presidential candidates has done to the Hispanic, Muslim, LGBT, and other ethnic and religious groups. For if not, Why was there no mention in this article about the huge amounts of drugs, fentanyl Laced oxycodone pills and other dangerous opiates now flooding over the Mexican border as the CDC helps to create a whole new drug market for the drug cartels to exploit? And worse yet, why are they throwing people with pain issues into the arms of the drug cartels?

Richard A. Lawhern May 20, 2016 5:31 am (Pacific time)

There is a lot of felt emotional pain in Maryanne Skolek-Perez's column and in the responses of many readers. I know a little of this territory myself, having watched it in a family member of my own. It is never easy to see the descent of a family member into the living hell which is drug addiction. The temptation to strike out in anger, to demand easy solutions, to seek scapegoats is strong. But as strong as it is, the temptation is destructive and wrong.
As explained by neuro-science journalist Maia Szalavitz in a May 2016 invited blog article for Scientific American, "Opioid Addiction is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions Are Not the Cause." As she notes, the major risk factors for opioid addiction are childhood trauma, mental illness, and unemployment. Most ...misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them — obtained from a friend, family member or dealer.

The CNN feature was both biased and factually wrong in many particulars. It is time to stop the war against chronic pain patients.

Jennifer Kain Kilgore May 20, 2016 4:53 am (Pacific time)

Look, I was a journalist. There are multiple sides to every story, and this is incredibly one-sided. I am assuming you have a personal connection to this because it shines through in your writing. You want to know what else? This is biased and uninformative. You act like chronic pain patients don't exist, which is the same incredible thinking as Anderson Cooper and Dr. Drew. I have been through two car accidents, broken four parts of my spine, had two parts of it fused, and now the rest is deformed because it healed incorrectly. This causes intractable daily pain that drove me out of the work force because I was unable to sit in a normal chair or commute. So yes, a yoga mat while testifying makes sense, as does being helped to a chair while still being able to walk three times a week. I walk every day and still need help with basic tasks. Want to know something else? I'm 29. I look absolutely fine. My damage is all internal, and I am unable to take any opioids even when my condition warranted it after the FIRST car accident. (Neither of which, by the way, were my fault.) So please do your research and actually present both sides of the issue. This isn't journalism. This is biased, one-sided, and harmful.

Doug May 19, 2016 11:16 pm (Pacific time)

I find your article as offensive and irritating as a bad case of poison ivy. You have absolutely no idea what it's like to wake up every morning in so much pain that you almost want to die, that is if your lucky enough to sleep at all. You sit at your desk and write your articles about about families loosing loved due to overdose and claiming that the chronic pain community and the US Pain Foundation only cares about receiving their opioid medications. Well Marianas I can assure you that you are wrong. You state that Doctors, Pharmasist and Pain Foundation are responsible for the overdose deaths. Again you are dead wrong!

Howard May 19, 2016 9:46 pm (Pacific time)

Why were pain patients not allowed to speak?? It is too bad that you can not experience the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, occipital neuralgia, polyneuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, lupus, etc. for even an hour. You can never imagine passing out due to the pain and the loss of jobs, family, and friends. You want to prevent deaths? Stop the war on chronic pain patients. One other thing I want to point out to you. Many of these prescription overdoses are showing they od'd on fentanyl. There is something called "street fentanyl". This is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and is a lot cheaper. Many drug dealers are substituting that for the heroin and people are dying from this. When the toxicology reports come back they say death from prescription drugs when in fact it wasn't. Please get the facts straight before shaming people who need opioids to be able to function instead of being in pain.

Barbara K in Connecticut May 19, 2016 8:57 pm (Pacific time)

I agree the abuse of pain medication is rampant and am extremely concerned about the heroin epidemic in the US. Some action must be taken on these issues, but chronic pain is also a curse and I'm so very grateful for the efforts of Paul Gileno and the US Pain Foundation. I've suffered over 10 years with fibromyalgia, a syndrome many doctors would say is all in my head. Every day is a battle, a careful and frustrating effort to care for myself and my kids. Some days I feel almost okay, and I do too much, and pay the price of increased pain and fatigue. At one point in my life I juggled a successful career and 2 small children and caring for elderly family members. In 2004 everything fell apart, my body and mind failed me. I had to leave my job and spent 2 years barely able to get out of bed. Eventually I took charge, started yoga classes and exercising in the pool at the local Y with people twice my age who had more stamina than me. My point is that, the woman you criticize in your article who needs help getting to her chair, even though she exercises regularly, may have been having a bad pain day. I never know how I'm going to feel when I wake up in the morning. I never know if I'm going to be able to sleep at night, or be plagued with pain so terrible, the only way I can describe is I feel like my bones are twisting. You would never know from looking at me what I feel inside my body. I look fine. I'm almost 50 and I look younger than my age and I try to be presentable. But if you have not taken a walk in my shoes, how dare you judge me? I've been to so many doctors over the years, been on so many medication protocols for pain I can't even remember how many. Do you have any idea what it's like to try medication after medication to relieve pain, and they don't work effectively or have some awful side-effect, and before you can try the next possible magic pill, you have to wait days or weeks to allow the medication to clear out of your body before beginning a new med. Don't you dare label me an addict because I take pain medication daily. I don't like having to take it and I try not to if I can bear it. My doctors monitor my treatment very carefully and responsibly. I'm extremely careful with my diet because I've identified foods that exacerbate my pain. You have no idea what those of us with chronic pain go through 24/7. I've lost respect for CNN and Dr. Gupta and Anderson Cooper. Those of us who suffer with chronic pain feel invisible, and thanks to your lop-sided reporting we are further stigmatized.

AP May 19, 2016 8:44 pm (Pacific time)

Until you've had to walk a mile in a chronic pain patient's shoes, please keep your "grandstanding" comments to yourself. You clearly have absolutely NO idea what it is like to live in chronic pain. Is there an issue with opiate overdoses? Yes. Is it the majority? No. So PLEASE, while we're trying to figure out both sides of this coin, do not try to minimize the suffering the chronic pain community endures. Your opinions are clearly biased; I suggest that you take another look at your does say Investigative Reporter. As in, investigate the chronic pain community before you bash us all because you don't approve of the US Pain Foundation.

Julie May 19, 2016 8:38 pm (Pacific time)

Unfortunately, you had a terrible loss when you lost your daughter to OxyContin. I am sorry for your loss. However, that does not give you a right to judge everyone who is in chronic pain and uses opioid medication as an addict. That's like saying every person who drinks is an alcoholic. Instead of being an actual journalist who wants the true story, you've blindsided yourself to anything that doesn't mesh with your own opinions. That's right. This whole article is purely your opinion.
Sadly most overdoses of opioid medications come from people, often youths, who actually aren't the ones being prescribed the medication. They steal from their parents, grandparents or steal them from friends. 

Carolyn Robinson May 19, 2016 8:28 pm (Pacific time)

I have lived with Chronic Pain for 43 years due to Scoliosis. Harrington Rods were fused onto my upper spine to help pull my 65 degree curvature away from my lung. The surgeon was able to stabilize by curvature to approximately 26-degrees. I needed that surgery because my spine was within 1/4" of puncturing my lung. However, because of the rods, they have placed extra stress on my lower spine and I have been fused in various places in my lower back. I also have arthritis in my lower back. My back has increased over the last 4 years to the point that I opted for the spinal cord stimulator to implanted - hoping to retain some of my normal life back. But it did not give me the results it has given other patients. I am unable to sit, stand, or walk for longer than 20 minutes without taking a break for at least another 30 minutes. THe pain is excruciating. It brings depression, tears, and a longing for the life I had 20 years ago when I was able to move better. If I were not able to take the opioids that are prescribed to me by my pain management physician, my life would be unbearable to live. And quite frankly, I would probably end up committing suicide because the pain is that bad. I would never ever wish this pain on any other person. But for people such as yourself, who have never lived with Chronic pain, I would like for you to live one day in my life. Just one day. Then I believe you would understand what the U.S. Pain Foundation is fighting for. Thank God we pain sufferers have the U.S. Pain Foundation and other Pain Organizations who are working hard for us.

EDITOR: TO ALL:  This article makes no mention of removing pain medication from patients, or even removing all opioids.  Relieving pain and suffering is of utmost importance. The U.S. Pain Foundation, however, encourages long term use of addictive and dangerous opioids. It is true that 4/5 Heroin addicts in America today were given opioids by their doctors, became dependent, and when they could no longer fill their prescriptions they turned to Heroin. This matters to most of our country. 

Thank you for your comment. Good luck with your recovery, and let us all hope for the best for all patients, everywhere. 

Josh May 19, 2016 8:18 pm (Pacific time)

I have both a wife who is a chronic pain patient treated with opiates and a brother fighting every day to stay away from heroin that started as a opiate medication addiction. While we must be careful whom these medications are prescribed to they do serve a purpose for chronic I pain patients. 

Anderson, K May 19, 2016 7:48 pm (Pacific time)

Please address the continuing need for opioids for seriously-ill pain patients. This addiction problem is only one of the two separate responsibilities we have, as the pain patient has been criminalized, stigmatized and frightened over so much press about getting opioids out of our country to avoid addiction. Prohibition doesn't work, and only exacerbates. THose of us in the medical community are urging media to mention that good pain management doctors and law-abiding patients need their rights protected to prescribe/fill medications that others use for recreation. While the addicts need helpand the proper medical care, opioids are being taken away from patients who also need proper medical care. The suicide rate among patients who have lost the ability to receive and fill Rx's that allow them to do anything, from just being able to get out of bed, or in bed, to continue working and supporting their families. I am a writer, advocate and researcher on this subject, and it is appalling how much the patient is now suffering more than ever because of the high addiction problem.

Jessica May 19, 2016 6:33 pm (Pacific time)

I truly hope you have to live for one day with the chronic pain I have been experiencing for over five years, 24/7, 365 days a year. I cannot sleep more than 3-5 hours a night and pain medication is the only thing making my life bearable. I has to quit my job and can barely go grocery shopping. In fact I cannot go grocery shopping on my own. My husband has to help me. By trying to take away the only thing that helps my constant back pain and spasms, you are effectively condemning me to a life where I cannot leave the bed, let alone the house. I am sorry people cannot take their medications responsibly. I am not one of those people, and I shouldn't have to suffer for someone else's mistakes.

Brenda May 19, 2016 5:39 pm (Pacific time)

I am deeply distrurbed over this and would like to say that its heart wrenching to hear and see what the world says towards chronic pain. I have been recently diagnosed with CRPS-Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome....I was an active wife/mother before all this and now its a struggle on a day to day basis to even deal with the pain. Yes, i can agree that there are people that will misuse Opiods and other drugs and who are not suffering, but we should NOT put those suffering in the se category. We cant stop the help out there for those like me and many others who do indeed need medication just to survive the day, these medication should be monitored by a Dr and professionals, who will make sure the dosage is administered correctly. Please keep in mind how we need to have our voices heard so we can try and find better cures for people with chronic pain, its a real thing and that is something that must be said. Thank You

Sandy May 19, 2016 5:39 pm (Pacific time)

I have no options except for pain medication I can't have anymore surgeries I have had over 15 no amount of physical therapy is going to help I have more than just 2 or 3 diseases I have been told that some will only progress. I take pain medication to have some quality of life. It is so tragic to lose a child for any reason our young people are the ones who need to be monitored closely when given pain medication why isn't that a solution to this problem. I don't understand why we the chronic pain patients are ignored and our lives are not important we just want some quality of life. I don't know about the woman who spoke on the report on CNN saying she ran a mile and a half due to pain medication are you sure this woman was clearly thinking because I don't care how much medication I was on I can't walk a half a block it has always been a problem when I was a child to run certainly can't now

Heather May 19, 2016 4:28 pm (Pacific time)

My pain meds help me to work. I do not abuse them. I take them as prescribed. If you take away my medications, I would no longer be able to work to provide for myself financially. My quality of life would plummet. My work gives my life meaning.

Virginia Pruitt May 19, 2016 4:25 pm (Pacific time)

I believe the only objective, as is mine, isn't to minimize the overprescribing, the abuse and addiction but to remember the patients whose severe pain is only minimized at this time by the palliative opiate medication they receive. Each of them deserves compassion and care as well. It would benefit all to include them in the conversation. My husband is one. His medication is tracked and he is well documented including treatments that failed to help his RSD over 20 years. At that time RSD was little recognized and his took 11 months to diagnose and many more for insurance to be satisfied it couldn't be something else. RSD (or CRPS today) treated within 3-6 months offers hope of reversal. Later than that the outcome is poor and his has been very poor. The tools are in place, conformity is needed for sure so let's work together to ensure compassion and care for all.

Tracy Jones May 19, 2016 3:01 pm (Pacific time)

I am appalled by this story. I have 7 chronic pain diseases and 2 are called the suicide disease because the pain is so bad people would rather committ suicide. I have never wished someone to live in my pain, but when I read this stuff I think the best way for people to understand would be to have my pain for 1 year. Your comments about walking and swimming is our best therapy to keep moving, it doesn't mean it is every day. I have days more than over 3/4 of my life I don't get out of my house because my pain is so bad. Now you calling us addicts is wrong. I have gone off my pain medication several times in my 15 years of pain, to try a different type of helping me with no luck. I am so mad after reading this please come live in pain that is worse than the amputation of a digit. That is only 1 of my diseases. Do you know that if someone is going to want drugs who are addicted will find a way. I take my medication as prescribed and monitored by my doctor monthly. Please do not take a side without letting me give my side.

AF May 19, 2016 2:54 pm (Pacific time)

We, as pain patients, know how addictive and harmful these medications are and given any other suitable option would gladly take it. Unfortunately, there aren't many other options out there & if there are, people can't afford them because it's a new medication. Pain patients take their medication as prescribed, that is not addiction. Patients may be dependent on their medication, but not addicted (two entirely different things).

Crystal Balentine May 19, 2016 2:27 pm (Pacific time)

The bottom line is that unless you or someone you love has chronic pain that is so severe that just moving makes you vomit, makes your blood pressure shoot up so high that you get the shakes, you have NO clue what chronic pain patients go through!!!!! It is because of people like you that we are all clumped into one category.....drug addicts!!!!
I does not matter because a drug addict WILL get the high they crave even IF it means making a drug themselves!! You could take all the opiod pain killers off the market and they would still be dying from overdose of a mixtur of chemicals they cooked up themselves.

Jenna powell May 19, 2016 2:27 pm (Pacific time)

Pain medication has made me able to work and support my family. I went from being disabled to working and going back to school!!!! So for the real chronic pain patients, let us just live pain free! !!

Crystal G. May 19, 2016 2:20 pm (Pacific time)

First I will say, I am sorry for the authors loss. Next I would like to say, yes I completely agree with Paul's message and statements. I have a rare autoimmune disease called Adult Onset Still's Disease as well as Fibromyalgia. As a nurse the author should know then, that many people take Opioids everyday and without any problems of addiction. I've been on the same dosage and amount for 2 year's. Several doctors agree that I need that medication, along with the other 24 medications. I'm 38, I have very few good days, but when I do, is it fair that on those good days to say by looks "There is nothing wrong with her" or "She doesn't look that bad"? Addiction is an issue and always has been, but withthat same breath so is Chronic Pain and Disease. Now let's try and rationalize the comment about the person testifying before the Senate on a Yoga mat. Why is this an issue? If anything that takes some courage to be scrutinized by anyone, and let alone here we are, a Nurse none the less actually saying this. Then people wonder why we (pain patient's) are uncomfortable to goto doctors and Heaven forbid an Emergency Room or Clinic in fear of being sterotyped, by medical professionals! So I also notice the author is an activist for victims of OxyCotin and Pharmaceutical companies. Okay, I can respect that, but I am an Ambassador for people in Chronic Pain and my own advocate for my treatment plan. What do I want? A Quality of Life, not being bedridden, screaming in pain to move, cures for my Diseases, be a mother to my son, a wife to my husband, etc. As of right now, I'm home and I'm somewhat at ease, not being in the hospital or Nursing Facility. I'll definitely take note of asking many questions while I'm at NIH next month. (Oh yeah, by the way, they support my Pain Management regimen with NO BIAS)

Phoebe Postiglione May 19, 2016 2:09 pm (Pacific time)

20+ plus years of working as a Nurse with undiagnosed Multiple Sclerosis left me in a wheelchair. Opiods gave me the ability to swim,do yoga,and regain my ability to walk. However, I CRY with pain after I swim, or do yoga! I go home, take my opiod, pack myself in ice, and I CRY! Walk one day in my shoes! You would never make it through a day! Clearly, you are ignorant! I would not wish Multiple Sclerosis on ANYONE! IN return, don't make false assumption about the opiods, or about the length of time that ANY OF US, may have to use the medication in order to function!

Anonymous May 19, 2016 2:04 pm (Pacific time)

wow - I find this piece so insensitive to the pain community. How dare you think to judge a US Pain member testifying and having to lie on the floor. I have been around this amazing woman for a number of years now and am instead in awe of her commitment to the pain world to help others while she attempts to maintain her pain with her back. She is not faking and has found that to be the solution to trying to be productive - so why would you judge that - try being in her shoes. And the woman that was assisted in that gets in the pool - well I get hoyed into the pool and kick despite not being able to use my arms and neck. I find the pool to help a lot with pain - yet if you saw me you would also be judging me for I have to use a wheelchair for stores for I can't walk in larger rooms. Would you like to insult me too for trying to be proactive and productive despite my limitations. Your comments are exactly the type of attitude that brought us all together with the pain advocacy. How dare you judge others by how we look to you. May you never have to know a life with endless pain and no cure.

SR May 19, 2016 12:57 pm (Pacific time)

Why are so many afflicted by pain? Maybe it's because of all the failed back surgeries that ads claim are successful or the spinal injections that do more harm than good. It's sickening to see a media so biased, that facts are distorted to fit there narrative. Drug and Alcohol addictions has beena issue long before pain medications came on the scene. We do not hear about all the deaths caused by all the other medications, which outnumber all other medications being advertised and prescribed. No one disputes drug addiction is a real problem, but we also have a segment of the population that suffered from chronic pain. You can take it too the bank if this reporter was suffering from chronic incurable pain she would be writing a totally different story. The fact is most young people who get addicted are not prescribed these meds they steal them from family and friends. Fact is the majority of legitimate pain patients do not abuse there medication. Maybe the bigger issue is the breakdown of the family, media and parents too sell absorbed to notice what there children are doing. But the solution too everything is ban it regardless of the majority being law abiding citizens. I find it ironic when the media goes to places like Ukraine were people lack the access to pain medication they say it's cruel and something needs to be done.

Karen May 19, 2016 12:49 pm (Pacific time)

There are nearly twice as many alcohol-related deaths per year than there are opiate-related deaths. Yet we know from experience that prohibition does not work. People who seek to abuse a mind-altering substances are going to find one to use. The "war on drugs" has only been successful in limiting access to helpful pain-relieving medications to those who medically need them, while forcing those who seek to use them illegally to move on to more serious drugs like heroin (which has had the added effect of skyrocketing HIV/AIDS cases). Standing on the graves of dead children is a cheap emotional ploy, usually resorted to when the facts don't support the argument. Many complications/deaths related to narcotic overdose are actually attributed to other active ingredients in the medicine, such as acetaminophen. According to a study by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 people die each year from medical errors. That means that medical errors causes more deaths per year than alcohol and opiates combined. You aren't proposing we do away with the medical profession. Shame on you for judging millions of Americans living with chronic pain! What a hopeless feeling it is knowing that your pain will NEVER go away. The thought of losing the medication that helps relieve the pain is terrifying. Your article is bias, misguided, politically correct, and the results you seek are dangerous to a large group of poorly represented Americans.

Tanya Saunders May 19, 2016 12:27 pm (Pacific time)

I would like to agree with you on the over-prescribing of opiates for minor injuries, recovery from surgery that at most, might take a day or two of heavy pain relief. It is a tragedy that so many are prescribed such high doses of addictive medications for temporary relief, at times leading to long term addiction issues. Conversely, as a person who copes with chronic pain, I can say that while interacting with other patients and doctors, we (others I know who deal with chronic pain due to severe injuries or genetics) are all willing to take and use all non-narcotic options long before we end up with an opiate as our last option. There is a lot of research out there about people with chronic pain and actual addiction rates, which are relatively low in the big picture. As a previous counselor and social worker however, it was made abundantly clear that people who suffer with addiction will find a way, if they are not willing to seek treatment. Keeping medication from those who truly need it (and that does need to be scrutinized and documented well) will not stop addiction or abuse. People who go through all the steps of physical therapy, non-medication treatment options for pain, non-narcotic medications (some with equally deadly side effects) and the urine tests and counting of meds to ensure compliance and ensure that meds are not being diverted is a small price to pay to get relief and keep those medications off the street. I will repeat myself however, if an addict wants drugs, they will find them, they always have. If medications that provide relief to chronic pain sufferers are denied due to broad scope policies, some of them will be more likely to seek those same illegal sources for pain relief and some will just choose to opt out of life. The ideas are to keep people alive on both fronts. Keep illegal medications and drugs out of the black market, but also avoid true patients from self medicating or ending their suffering. Addiction, self-medicating and choosing not to live in pain all lead to more death. I am not going to say I have the solutions, but I can see both sides of the issue quite well, lives need to be saved, any medications need to be monitored closely by physicians and physicians can look into non-narcotic options first for short term and long term pain relief. I'm not so sure that actual long term pain medication patients are supplying the black market with opiates, but all avenues need to be explored as to where they are entering our society. As stated before, docs are getting better at scrutinizing the prescriptions and patients better, so the question remains, where else are these medications coming from and how do we stop them at those avenues.

Flora May 19, 2016 11:53 am (Pacific time)

I'm devastated for families who have lost someone to opioid overdose. I'm devastated for the cancer patient who has been denied pain medicine because their doctor is afraid to prescribe opioids due to the epidemic. I'm devastated for those who's family members left behind because the chronic pain patient commits suicide because the pain makes them feel debilitated, a burden on their families and friends, because their short tempered and say things out of pain. I'm devastated that this article is so sadly missing the point we made reaching out to CNN.

We were invited and were mislead to believe the pain patient would have a voice to address this issue as well. Because again, we were invited. If CNN had an issue with who finds out group, why even ask is there? Why did they cut off Karen and declare her a minority, when there are millions of people with chronic pain living every day? Many without money for the treatments doctors have to prescribe because opioids are now taboo.

Our intentions were never allowed to given a voice so it's very LARGE jump to assume we were going to promote pharmaceuticals. Have you seen our Take Control of Your Pain events? Our most recent event the speakers we discussed alternative therapy options, headaches, meditation, MMJ, and medicines the differences and the application, and both good and bad side of using them. It's all online. That contradicts the picture this writer seems to be trying to paint.

We are being painted as the bad guys, as horrible people because we are trying to point out pain patients need help because many patients can't afford to get these alternative therapies that might help but insurance won't cover. Goodness knows the old proverb, "walk a mile in his shoes" seems to be vastly forgotten these days.

JL May 19, 2016 11:51 am (Pacific time)

There are millions of people who suffer from real honest pain that struggle to make it through the day. Yes, some days are better and they can walk while other days are so bad they may not be able to get out of bed. I am doctor, a writer, and I have chronic pain. It impacts my life every single day.

Jet May 19, 2016 8:47 am (Pacific time)

I am so very sorry for the loss of your daughter to Oxycontin. I cannot begin to imagine how horrible your pain must be nor would I presume to say that I understand. I've never lost a child. I can only empathize with you based on the experiences of friends and others I've read about. 
It is because of the physicians who irresponsibly prescribed and the illegal narcotics trafficking that we're in this mess - as always, the sins of the few outweigh the needs of the many.
We didn't ask for a lifelong sentence of pain; it's time to stop punishing us further, stop blaming us for the opiod epidemic and start helping us!

Tracey May 19, 2016 8:30 am (Pacific time)

I'm a pain patient who has been stable, functional and have some quality of life for the past 10 years due to long-term opioid therapy. In those 10 years, my dose has not changed once. The medication I take allows me to work, exercise and stretch daily, take care of my house, my pets, and my family, and most importantly - it has given me some quality to my life. Prior to finding my current doctor about 10 years ago, I spent many years and thousands of dollars (around $9,000 to $10,000 - and that was with excellent health insurance) on every other type of treatment available, including non-opioid medications. There is no doubt that this country's mental health system is a failure and needs to be completely restructured - as it should be easily-accessed and affordable for anyone who suffers from mental health issues, including addiction. Further restricting pain patients' access to the medications that they've been stable on for many years (even decades) is doing nothing to save addicts' lives and is only punishing these legitimate pain patients, many who are already severely vulnerable due to their chronic illness. There are ways to help those afflicted with addiction without harming pain patients by forcing them to go without their medications.

Anonymous May 19, 2016 12:00 am (Pacific time)

I am so tired of reading these articles! How in the world is it going to help heroine users when pain patients are not given proper meds anymore? The synthetic meds are coming across the borders as well. What is our over reaching government doing about that? Chronic pain patients are being made to jump through hoops and still suffer because of this garbage. You are hurting a lot of people by these articles.

Lindsey May 18, 2016 9:15 pm (Pacific time)

Investigative journalist? Really? She is confusing the US Pain Foundation with the American Pain Foundation, which no longer exists. She clearly has not read anything the APA has to say about addiction or dependence. She clearly does not understand that an addict is seeking to fill an emotional void while a chronic pain patient takes opiates because they desperately want to live. She clearly knows nothing about autoimmune and other conditions that flare. Just to clarify, I do not take opiates but my condition is degenerative, disabling, and incurable, someday I won't have any other options. My grandmother has been on opiates for the same condition for over fifty years. She is alive and has some quality of life thanks to opiates, and she's still not an addict. The author is clearly very angry and in a great deal of emotional pain. While I would never wish my disease on another human being, it would be nice if the author could try to imagine what I and millions of other people live with. If we, as a nation, cared about people as much as we care about passing judgement on them, we would invest in pain management clinics AND addiction treatment centers. The collective hysteria over opiates is harming the very people it pofesses to care about.

JP May 18, 2016 8:44 pm (Pacific time)

As I always say, There are 27 sides to every story... Being a person who suffers from chronic pain I can say that if I didn't have meds to assist in my life I would never be able to get out of bed. I agree that Addiction is a serious problem all over the world and needs to addressed but so is chronic pain and those people need certain medications to survive and should not be discriminated against. It happens all too frequently!!!! Not everyone who takes pain medicine is an addict and shouldn't be treated like they are. (which I can tell you from personal experience happens!! ) It's disturbing how people are quick to believe that everyone who takes pain meds has addiction issues. From peeing in cups every time you go to a doctor or whispers from people at pharmacies. I have done lots of research on this topic as my family and friends have personally dealt with addiction ( and my friends and family know I am not one to research something half ass!). Let's stop allowing the judgement and start a real dialogue to try and find better solutions for everyone!

Suzanne May 18, 2016 5:23 pm (Pacific time)

Do you want to see my MRI reports? My spine has severe abnormalities after an auto accident and I cannot survive without medications. I take hypertension prescriptions and you don't care about that why?!? Get a grip CNN your bias is BS and your message is flawed...

Sara Mayo May 18, 2016 4:18 pm (Pacific time)

I find this article to be remarkably biased and even offensive. The lack of education on how over 10,000,000 Americans live in chronic pain amazes me. Patients with pain need choices - and need to be offered a menu of options to control pain - with opioids being a choice. Those I know that depend on opioids to function while in pain are just that - functioning. The decision of how to treat pain should be between a doctor and the patient and without government interference. While I am saddened for any mother that loses their child, there was a choice on how to treat an illness or injury. Everyone should be given a choice.

Tanya May 18, 2016 3:47 pm (Pacific time)

I am sorry this woman had to lose a child to addiction. 

MICHELLE May 18, 2016 1:44 pm (Pacific time)

Dr Drew and mr Anderson you can be not watched by us pain patients I think i will never tune in to any of your shows ever again and i will be deleting you from my social media Until you have pain every single day of your life and in near bout every inch of your body then you two may speak Until then SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN PFFFFFFT JERK OFFS NEVER WILL I WATCH ANY SHOW YOU TWO IGNORANT ARSEWIPES ARE EVER ON!!!!!

Wayne J Wendricks May 18, 2016 11:48 am (Pacific time)

Wow. All I can say is "Wow." Ms Skolek-Perez, YOU are seriously blinded by your own ambition. To callously suggest the complete and total disregard of the well-being of hundreds of thousands of chronic pain sufferers who, despite YOUR obvious disbelief, derive the ability to live somewhat normal lives, or at least something approaching normal, BECAUSE of the benefit opioid medications provide is nothing short of unbelievable. You question the veracity of the US Pain Foundation. They are essentially the ONLY unifying voice representing the interests of those that people of your ill-informed ilk would callously toss to the curb in your narrow-minded, thoughtless pursuit of YOUR idea of a solution to a problem. Unbelievable, that any thinking person would consider you as a spokesperson for anything.

Anonymous May 18, 2016 11:47 am (Pacific time)

Dear Ms. Skolek, I am a pain patient, one of about 10,000,000 in this country. I live here on the North Shore. I did not see the CNN program but have heard many people talk about it. I take opioids for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The 5th most painful condition there is. I would not be able to function without the medication. I wouldnt be able to walk any distance swim or take my granddaughter on outings. If you take opioids for pain, you dont get high. You are also watched carefully by your physician having frequent visits, urine tests and pill counts.We are not the reason people die from heroin. We are just teying to get by. Yes we are stigmatized, not believed, judged, told our disease is all in our head. And we live in fear one day our medication will be cut off...and we will be back being much less functional..perhaps homebound or worse. I was a nurse manager in hospice for many years before my diagnosis. We are not people faking it to get high. This statement you have written nausiates me, angers me and is so off base I am amazed it was even published. Addiction is a terrible disease but pain patients are not the cause or the answer. We are just trying to maximize our quality of life. Its not the only treatment we use, we go to physical therapy, take aquatic classes, do yoga, gentle exercises, get injections and use many other types of medictions to lessen our intolerable pain. Thanks, Nancy R, Topsfield.

Judith Bruno May 18, 2016 11:28 am (Pacific time)

Please, start looking into this war on drugs from the side of millions of American's who are suffering in pain and now having their pain medications taken away under the CDC's and FDA's policies on narcotics. Please start asking some real questions like are any drug addicts no longer abusing drugs with these policies because we know that Prohibition does not work? The country is so concerned over the raise in heroin addiction and you will find, if you really look, that the raise is directly connected to these policies because if a drug addict can't get the pills they want, they will and are turning to heroin and now our government is supporting the Drug Cartels who will get a drug addict anything they want just as the "Mob's" did for alcohol. Did we learn nothing from history? Why is the life of a drug addict more important than the lives of those who are in pain? Why are politicians acting as doctors in the decisions of what is the best way to treat us? Mothers can no longer care for their children and bread winners no longer able to support their families. Who is going to pay for that care and where will that money come from? Who is going to care for those like myself who strive to stay independent and live within the boundaries of our disabilities but can no longer do so without the pain relief we need? Health Care in this country is going to fail under these policies and it must when doctors refuse to take on patients who are in pain, clinic are closing and good doctors can no longer treat their patients in the way they know is best without fear of prosecution? Who are they going to blame for this? Obama Care? Someone must be blamed for the failure of our health care system to deal with those who are in pain. Chronic Pain is a disability and we are being discriminated against because of those who will and do abuse drugs just like any religion or race who is discriminated against because of the actions of a few. We need someone to stand for us, talk about us, do something for us in this losing war on drugs. We are told that 13% of Veteran's abuse drugs but what about the 87% who need relief from pain and now can't get that relief? Chronic Pain can and does kill and those who can no longer deal with a life in pain 24/7 will take their own lives and Veterans are the most vulnerable after the horrors of war. America makes these Veterans and makes the pain they now live with and yet we are turning our backs on them and telling them there is nothing we can do for the pain they are in. Why aren't pain patients given the same rights as others to decide what is the best care for their problems? Politics needs to stay out of our relationship between our doctors and the care we need. Please do your jobs, do it right, look into the problems these policies are making that no one will talk about because of the fear of supporting drug addicts but we are NOT drug addicts, we are patients who need help. Please look into the politics of all of this as we know the reasons behind this attack on pain medications after losing the war on Marijuana, which will become legal in this country, in order to validate their existence and the billions of dollars wasted in this losing war on drugs are now attacking those who are in pain. Look into the big pharmacies and the fight against them and yes, they need to be held responsible for never finding cures but only drugs that mask the symptoms to make more money but taking all of this out on those who's only sin is that they are in pain, is not the right way to fight any of these injustices. Please, think of the quality of life of those who are suffering in pain and think of your families, your parents, your children and how you would feel if they were suffering in pain and told there is nothing that can be done. Help us, help the millions of American's both Veterans and civilians alike who are actually being tortured because of these policies. Please look at all sides of this war on drugs and the dangers of drug abuse but remember, there are millions of us who need relief from our pain. They can't fix the problems, can't give us what we need to live with any kind of quality of life without the pain medications that are available so why are they torturing us? Thank you Judie Bruno Palm Desert, CA

Michelle Buck May 18, 2016 11:00 am (Pacific time)

Addiction and chronic pain are two separate issues? Why can you not see that? Why are you insisting that it is necessary to remove our treatment instead of focusing on curing addiction? Heroin and prescription pain medication are not the same! Those who do abuse prescription meds very seldom get it from a doctor. They steal it or buy it from an illegal source. Also why are you mocking those who try exercise to help their pain? Most of our doctors do not just hand out our medication! They require that we try alternative methods of pain control, yes that includes low impact exercise such as walking and yoga. Our pain medication lowers our pain enough to do those activities or we WOULD be in bed! It's a balance of treatments. Your article is a perfect example of the stigma that you are making fun of. Unlike you, we do have compassion for those who have lost family and friends due to addiction. It is a terrible disease. BUT we aren't demanding that someone else suffer to save them. Treat both conditions individually. Stop this crazy attack on pain patients! You try living most of your life in a bed. There are many days I would like to be dead. It would be a blessing.

Terri B. May 18, 2016 10:41 am (Pacific time)

The writer has no knowledge of chronic pain on which to base her article. If she did, she would understand that the woman who has used her medication responsibly for 25 years, is able to walk and swim only because her medication provides her the ability to do that. As far as being assisted out of her seat, knowledgeable chronic pain patients, advocates, and doctors are 100% aware that although on some days we can be active, other days are totally the opposite. This entire "opioid epidemic" is a political invention and is really getting out of hand. The heroin epidemic is real and must be addressed, but legitimate chronic pain patients cannot be grouped together with addicts. Statistics show 99% of those who overdose have obtained their medication or drugs ILLEGALLY. Only 1% of those with legitimate prescriptions have overdosed. In order to save the 1% the 99% are being harmed. Per usual with our government. I have written to CNN and 60 Minutes twice in the last 3 months requesting they do a story on the chronic pain population and have received no replies.

Lynn Crisci Julian May 18, 2016 9:25 am (Pacific time)

Articles like this confused and mislead the public into thinking all chronic pain patients on pain medication are really drug addicts. Nothing could be further from the truth!

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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