If you are forced to stop opioids…

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 …without a proper assessment and comprehensive civil discussion with your prescriber, it could be very uncomfortable. I recognize that when you’re the one in pain and threatened to have your opioid life-line swiped from your hands or dose drastically reduced, it is a difficult task.  But, as the saying goes, “you get more bees with honey than vinegar”.

There are thousands of comments collectively on various paindr.com blogs here, many of which you can find by searching this blog site with key term “withdrawal”, from patients that have had their opioid doses drastically reduced quickly or just plain stopped. The heart wrenching stories are difficult to read and understandably filled with bewilderment and anger.

Without a doubt, there are many patients with chronic pain syndromes that require opioids in order to have a restful sleep or improve function, even if that functionality is minimal. When I am asked by a referring clinician to help with an opioid taper, my response starts with a number of questions.

  1. What is the reason for the taper (noncompliance, change in medical condition, previously existing medical risk that was missed, fear of regulatory agency, new insurance/institutional/pharmacy policy, etc.?
  2. How long has the patient been on opioids?
  3. Is the patient on extended release/long acting opioids or short-acting?
  4. What is the half-life of their current opioid (how long will it stay in the body after stopped)?
  5. Is there a better option for this patient other than opioids, or are opioids actually the best option when weighing benefits against risk?
  6. Is it even appropriate to consider an opioid taper, or is the risk of stopping them worse than the presumed risk of continuing them?

If stopping opioids is appropriate, how should this be done?

  1. If it’s clear that the patient has not been using their medication, abruptly discontinuing the prescription is generally appropriate.
  2. If the patient is on a large dose of opioids, they should not be abruptly stopped or significantly reduced without a careful strategic taper unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  3. If a patient is using opioids for recreational purposes, abruptly stopping the opioid may be an option, but other options include admission to a rehab facility or medication assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine.

Abruptly stopping opioids without support increases risk of suicidality in legitimate opioid patients and in persons using opioids recreationally.

Therefore, after all the above are carefully weighed, if opioids must be stopped abruptly, it is reasonable to offer the patient compassionate support that may require counseling or at the very least an open line of communication.  Moreover, non-opioid medication support to mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms are certainly in order.

In fact, almost three years ago to the day, our group published Opioid Withdrawal: A New Look at Medication Options. Practical Pain Management which outlines certain medications that have either been used to blunt withdrawal symptoms, or could help to explain why some patients have a more difficult time than others when abruptly stopping opioids. Since 2015, things have changed.  More patients are being forced off of opioids, sometimes for the right reasons, but more often than not these days, for the wrong reasons. Last July Pharmacy Today published Short-term nonopioid agent lessens severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms. They start out by saying “Lofexidine (Lucemyra—US WorldMeds) is the first nonopioid treatment to be FDA approved specifically to mitigate withdrawal symptoms that can occur after abrupt discontinuation of opioids. These withdrawal symptoms—aches and pains, muscle spasms and twitching, stomach cramps, muscular tension, pounding heart, insomnia, feelings of coldness, runny eyes, yawning, and feeling sick—can afflict patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) as well as those who have been using opioids appropriately as prescribed.”

Availability of lofexidine is especially important because for the first time ever, there is specific direction for medical providers on how to dose an FDA approved drug that is indicated for prevention of withdrawal symptoms.  

The bottom line here is that aside from the reasons a prescribed opioid is being cut-off by a medical provider, or in the case of a person addicted to opioids for recreational purposes, stopping them abruptly is miserable. And if there is an underlying cardiac and/or stroke risk, the elevated heart rate and blood pressure could be dangerous.

While I’m not advocating that the world come off of opioids (or remain on them), I am suggesting that if you’re one of the persons who is required to stop opioids (right or wrong), please have a civil conversation with your medical provider or your pharmacist to discuss available options that could serve to reduce the angst and misery you might otherwise suffer. And while you’re standing in the office puzzled and angry, take a deep breath and remember that it is YOU who will be leaving the office without opioids; your behavior and candid discussions may influence your comfort over the next several days or weeks. In short, there are options if you provide honey to your buzzing prescriber instead of vinegar.

Always, comments are welcome.

68 thoughts on “If you are forced to stop opioids…

  1. Well, I have differing opinions, and rightly so…I was hit by a car in 1977…sustained both leg fractures in several locations, lower vertebrae fracture, compound fracture of femur, fractured pelvis, fractured skull and pituitary nerves ending issues. I never took too much narcotic analgesics until after my botched meniscectomy in 1985…they gave me Percodan…two every time it hurt. Well, it never stopped hurting until I had both knees replaced in 2005/06, but i residual pain, or whatever they refer to it as, was bad. For thirty years I took opioids, particularly some form of oxycodone (I don’t like any of the other, or I get some serious side effects from many alternative narcotic pain pills Eg. morphine/codeine. fiorinal, talwin, dilaudid). Bottom line being, I’m almost 60, I need to do things…I function well on ONLY oxycodone, not methadone, not demerol, not fentanyl, not heroin, not anything…I’m sorry, I have pain, and the ONLY crap that works without any side effects, is oxycodone. I actually feel bad about myself for being this way. They, the doctors who still prescribe it, because I know them and if I’m lucky, I can buy a few. I get some now from a “pain doctor”., but it took him over a year to do it for me…making me feel like a leper in the process by going everyday, peeing in cups, waiting, waiting, waiting for some junkie juice that makes me feel ill in numerous ways…it’s a toss up to wether I feel back & leg pain, or drink 5 mg of methadone and get a steady headache from it. I seriously don’t believe they believe a thing I say, or they don’t care…one of the other, possibly both. You don’t understand how bad these physicians have hurt me…in several ways. You know, if a bunch of fools died from getting insulin, would they make all the diabetics go uptown to piss in a cup, bring in their insulin supply so they can count it…wanna make sure you’re not selling it. Selling it. OK, I get it, so they made mistakes…tragic mistakes, so let’s make these pain-in-the-gluteus maximus non-cancer pain patients suffer…the fact that opioids made their lives functional & better is neither here nor there, look at all the people who died!!! They could’ve just as easily got the poison from them…BUT THEY DIDN’T. WTF is wrong with this picture? Family Physicians.

    1. Jeffrey, I am praying you get this message…I completely and totally understand and agree with you. I’ve been on “Pain Management” ( if you can call it that these last 5 years), and never once failed a test, ran out early, had to reschedule an appointment, or violated my agreements in any shape or form. The day after my father passed unexpectedly on September 9th, I had a scheduled appointment, and was told I was being abruptly cut off because my previous month’s urinalysis said I had neither of the two prescribed medications in my system, but tested positive for 6 or 7 medications that I had either never heard of, or absolutely cannot take because of severe allergic reactions. And what makes it so frustrating is the fact that they get those results automatically the minute you pee in a cup, so why I’m the world did they not mention it the previous month, on the day I supposedly had all these drugs in my system?!!! I’ve since learned that this doctor’s office has had numerous similar situations with mixing up urinalysis tests (I’ve seen at least 7 cups lined up on their counter, waiting for some incompetent tech to input the results into a half broken laptop, not to mention they run through employees like water, none of them being trained properly). Now here I sit with no medication, no recourse, and am about to start withdrawals in the next few days, with excruciating pain on top of it…suicide is NOT something I would EVER consider, but it’s sad to think that people get to that place in their heads, because the fear of the pain is intolerable. Quick backstory, I had an emergency c-section 12 years ago, and a doctor whom I’d never even met performed that surgery, and completely botched me. I went into that hospital a very healthy 30 year old, and the day I got home 2 days after, was writhing in the bed screaming in pain, all in my spine, over my hips, and in my pelvic area, which has grown like some horrible monster exponentially since. I’ve seen so many specialists who either pass me off to someone else, or give me a partial diagnosis & throw their hands up, saying “just live with it & use pain medication”. Side note…until my actual pain doctor passed from cancer 5 years ago, I was compassionately taken care of. Then I was forced to see a primary care physician who took a weekend course to be able to write for pain medication. He’s the one who stopped my medications, and it was his PA who did the dirty work. In those 5 years I’ve seen that actual doctor maybe a total of 4 times. What am I supposed to do?!!!

  2. Hello,

    I am a white, divorced and 51 yo man that’s a 100% disabled veteran for PTSD from MST. I’m fairly healthy in most other ways, fortunately.

    Current diagnosis:

    *PTSD from MST
    *Generalized anxiety disorder
    *Depressive Disorder
    *Mood Disorder
    *Generalized Anxiety Disorder
    *Monopolar (vs bipolar) depression
    *Insomnia
    *Sleep Walking
    *History of Kidney Stones
    *A complete and overwhelming fear of, and intense hated of, long lists…lol

    Last year when I’d gone to the VA emergency room in Chicago for kidney stone pain, the sequence of events was the same as each seperate episode I’ve had each year for the 4 years prior.

    By the time I got in to be checked, the bleeding into my urine had stopped and not a single stone showed up in the scans.

    I was experiencing pain like someone had punched me in the back, on the right side, right about where that kidney sits. Was having nausea, sweating, shortness of breath and occasionally experiencing a slowing or interruption in the flow of my urine each time I would go to the bathroom. I’d even noticed a big change to the color of my urine (turned out to be blood mixed in) and so on.

    However, each time I’d gone in to an ER, their tests came back with mostly normal-looking results and blood was rarely found in my urine, at those times.

    Fortunately, during last year’s episode the VA doctors had me urinate into a strainer they’d given me to use at home. When I noticed what looked like, tiny little grains of sand caught in the strainer, I brought it in to the VA to be tested.

    Seems I had the oxcalate variety!

    It was painfully obvious that the VA had already labeled me a, “pill seeker” over all of this. Seems that almost every patient that ever muttered the words, “pain meds” were all being labled the same way.

    With a good reason or not.

    When I’d scheduled an appointment with one of their urologists, that doctor only offered doing the test where a camera is ran into and up a mans penis to look at the urinary tract, bladder and so on to find a cause.

    While this may indeed be the natural test to run, he was offering it to me in such a way that I could tell he was trying to scare me.

    He had gone into a very, very detailed description of the process. Explaining it in such a way that it became clear he did not want to run any tests at all, but if I insisted, he’d make me take the ones that hurt the worse and could not knock me out for.

    Basically, he was trying to scare me away.

    I asked him if he had read about my prior kidney stone episodes. He replied that he skimmed over those. So I asked if he’d, “skimmed” the lab test results from the strainer I’d brought back in during the previous years episode.

    He said he wasn’t aware of such a test and result. So he got into the computer to look it up.

    When he saw that the VA had found and identified an ACTUAL set of kidney stones, I kid you not, his jaw hit the floor! He moved so close to the monitor I was afraid he might hurt his nose.

    And I am not exaggerating when I say that he stared at the monitor that way, for almost 3 to 4 minutes straight (I’d looked at my watch this whole time).

    Obviously, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Let alone believing that I’d been telling the truth all along.

    Then he snapped back to the present but continued as if this evidence never existed. Even with proof that I do indeed get kidney stones, he’d pushed it out of his mind and continued as if I were making things up to get pain meds.

    Even though at 51 years old, I’d never been in trouble with the law in any way shape or form. In fact, I was a preacher in the Church of God for over 20 years. Also, having worked in the steel industry most of my life, I had NEVER been busted in a random drug screening, or any drug screening, ever.

    Back when I was all gung-ho about religion, god and all of that, everything was wrong and evil. Drugs were simply something a preacher would never consider doing.

    I ended up walking away from the VA Urologist. I made no appointment or bothered trying to convince this doctor of anything beyond what I’d already tried.

    I mean, moving ahead while refusing to believe that I had had kidney stones would mean his tests were NOT going to address the real issue at all.

    And honestly, I had no desire to be called a liar when evidence was there right in front of him!

    The VA doctors refused to give me pain meds of any kind while I was enjoying the personalized attention I was gaining from, “fun with kidney stones!”

    Interestingly enough, I’ve been reading about how the VA refuses to share their numbers showing how many suicides result from patients being forcefully reduced or stopped altogether.

    It’s even known that should a person commit suicide in response to these things, are sometimes being reported simply as an opioid related death.

    Causing shame on the family members which stops many from digging into it any deeper. Allowing the VA, as well as other doctors and their networks, to continue causing great harm and death without owning up to it or being held responsible.

    If these numbers were faithfully reported and available to the general public, we might see a trend. We might even see that doing this to people (especially those that are at a certain risk of suicide) might be causing more deaths than the ones caused by Fentanyl and Morphine, combined!

    Now, in all fairness, I should explain that this just my theory. I can neither confirm or deny it since, well, these numbers aren’t being recorded or shared with the general public at all.

    Anyways, jump ahead to last month. I am having yet another bout with my old friends, the kidney stones. As I am also dealing with a herniated disc in my neck, this outside doctor (not part of the VA) already had me on Norco (10/325) at one tablet, 4 times a day.

    So, during this time, I wanted to ask her if she would give me permission to take five a day, for the next two or three days, while this kidney stone event ran its course.

    I was not wanting or asking her to prescribe more, I only wanted permission for an increase of 1 tablet a day for the next 2-3 days, even though I realized that it would mean I’d run out early. I was mostly concerned with getting through the remainder of the kidney stone pain and was willing to live with the neck pain a couple of days without relief.

    Unfortunately, having not slept the three night prior, as well as an increase in my PTSD symptoms, I was struggling just to even finish a sentence.

    A problem my doctor was already aware of.

    That day, all I could get out was, “I want to ask for a temporary increase in the pain meds”. Her reaction was to stand up from her chair, cross her arms across her chest, lifting her chin up while telling me there would be no increase and that tapering me down was an important fortune goal. Repeating herself by saying, no, there would be no increase.

    She was clearly trying to intimate me.

    Now to be fair, she was reacting to the moment. Unfortunately for her, as well as myself, she was forgetting everything else that might have made this situation make some sense. She was my pain doctor at this time and she would be there right person to ask about this.

    Well today I just went to fill my monthly pain med prescription to discover that she had cut the amount from 90 tablets a month down to 80. Down from 4 a day to 3 a day.

    Thing was, we’d never ACTUALLY discussed or agreed to a plan of action, of any kind. When she’d told me all those things about tapering, she’d said this was to be a future goal.

    She certainly did not discuss it as something she was going to do today.

    At my last appointment, almost a week later, I tried to discuss all of this with her. I tried to fill in the gaps about that day and the troubles I was having with talking. I tried to explain what I was actually asking for.

    She brushed it aside changing the subject.

    Without a single word of warning, she had decreased the amount without actually discussing it with me or even explaining her reasons.

    Today (almost another week later) I sent an email message asking if this lower amount might have been a typo?

    The response I got was that she was starting the tapering process and looking for a pain management doctor to refer me to. Steps we had not discussed prior nor told they were starting the very next refill.

    So again, here I was being labled a pill seeker!

    She included, in the response from her nurse, that’s she’d continue my pain meds until an appointment with a pain management doctor.

    Another detail we’d never discussed.

    Considering that her threat that day was a one sided, “discussion” with no plan of action being offered or agreed to, it’s plainly obvious that she is forcibly tapering me down. That she is doing this without any evidence of physical improvement or any other reason offered for that matter.

    When I tried to explain what was going on that day and what I was actually trying to ask for, I was cut off mid-sentence. She obviously had no desire to talk anything through.

    So now I am looking for a new doctor to go to but I am also struggling with other things.

    In the past couple of months, I have been noticing a subtle change in one of my PTSD symptoms. In the condition called, “Sense of Foreshortened Future”. While everyone is unique and experiences things differently, my sensing of this one symptom was changing.

    This sense, in which a person constantly has an overwhelming idea that their life, if not all life on Earth, is going to end next week or perhaps next month. This has become different within me.

    “Live today with all your might because tomorrow you die!” It is a common enough saying but it really can ruin a person’s life. Not only in their interpersonal relationships but in pretty much every other area of one’s life.

    Looking back through the years, I can see where this attitude has caused great distress and many other problems.

    Today however, that sense has changed into one that believes that all life on Earth is going to end…tomorrow! I didn’t even know that this sense COULD change in a person.

    But here I am!

    While I have never laid out a full plan or made an actual effort to commit suicide, this change has caused me to think about suicide far more than I ever have in the past.

    Now, of course, there are other outside stressors I am facing, as everyone does. Only now, I can easily see how it’s making life worse for me. Gotta love life sometimes, ya know?

    Even if, “life” chooses to be a 4 lettered word, sometimes. Lol

    So, in this new stressor, fear that I’ll not have the needed medicine to control my neck pain. And that the only solution is to have the disk replaced entirely. Be in recovery for the next 4 months. Unable to work during time and all.

    Who can afford to skip 4 months of work and more importantly, skip on 4 months of pay?!?

    I live alone and have no family to help out.

    This is why I’ve been treating with pain meds. Unless another means becomes available, I simply can’t take a 4 month break.

    Since it appears I cannot reach the current doctor with calm, adult conversation, I’m going to look for a new doctor altogether.

    I recognize that a doctor’s world is pretty much in chaos right now with everything going on in the government and the so-called crisis. That laws are changing and a doctor’s job is in danger from day to day over all of this. I can understand why someone might go to an extreme.

    But reading that the, “Opioid Crisis” is, in fact, about 2 meds. Those being Fentanyl and Morphine. That these two meds were recently moved into the same category listing as Norco and the other more common pain medicines.

    Now…all of a sudden, this entire list was being treated as if they ALL were experiencing a massive increase in deaths.

    Even though, on this list, it’s only these 2 medications that are producing these numbers. Also, that these deaths were, 80% or higher of which involved being purchased on the street, illegally.

    The the CDC recognizes that the vast majority of deaths caused this way are by victims illegally purchasing these drugs off the street and being killed by the terrible quality or simply overdosing on them. By people without insurance and almost 100% of the victims are those that are in constant terrible with the law.

    Basically, those that have a long arrest record and such.

    Of these reported deaths are almost ENTIRELY free of law abiding people that, legally, get their prescriptions from a doctor.

    I am not taking either of those medicines and do not fit the general description of the persons that fall victim.

    It’s a, “crisis” sweeping our country that isn’t what it’s reported to be. Grouping these 2 in with other medicines and then claiming they are all bad…I simply can’t believe how everyone seems to jumping into the latest bandwagon without thinking anything through.

    It’s a sad time in this country for those of us with genuine need. I honestly don’t know what to do or IF there’s anything anyone can do to fight it.

    1. Good write REA: I’m in Canada, the “Opioid Crisis” bis ongoing up here too…just that the USA has ten times the people. I was badly injured in a car accident in October 1977…I was struck by a speeding car and broke ALL my bones…well, a bunch, my legs, knees, spine, pelvis & skull. Eight years after the crash in 1985 I needed knee surgery as a result from the crassh injuries…then it continued, the surgeries, the Percodan, then Percocet, then the new & abused OxyContin, the Fentanyl, then back to oxycodone of some sort. Steady…until a few years ago, my doctor of 15 years prior just hands me a Tweed marijuana application to buy weed in lieu of my fentanyl patches of which she cut the dose in half after cutting me off cold turkey for a month the first time…before dumping me as a patient with a lie. You cannot make this stuff up. You ask me what happened, ask Dr. X, ask me in 50 years, ask Dr. X in 15 seconds…doctors get away with murder, and I’m not happy about it. In fact, I despise physicians now…which isn’t fair to the truly good ones…if there are any of those. Are there? Take a look at them now,these doctors of medicine…taking that Hippocratic Oath and all…what a joke, be analogous to the entire crew of officers surrendering to the enemy while letting the soldiers die in the field slowly. Have a laugh at that Bones…laugh while it’s still funny.

  3. I am a 67 year old diastrophic dwarf, who developed severe degenerative arthritis, starting in my 30s. I’ve had both hips and a knee replaced, with my spine being 80% fused (naturally). I have severe neck and shoulder pain, in addition to severe headaches, associated with my neck issues.

    In 1999, I was prescribed Tramadol….starting at 50 mg, 3 times a day. Over the next few moths, it was adjusted to 100 mg, twice a day and 50 mg once per day…at midday. After 20 years, I have had no side effects and I have had a very good quality of life. About 3 years ago, my doctor of 6 years asked me to see a pain specialist, to see if there were any alternatives. She sent me to her husband, in a separate practice, who is a known and respected pain management doctor in our area. After reviewing everything, he said that he suggested I remain on the current regimen, since I was doing well and it was working.

    My doctor started having me have urine tests 3 times a year, in addition to my regular blood wor, twice a year. She also had me sign agreements, stating that I agreed to follow all her directions regarding my pain meds, and if I didn’t, I would be dropped as a patient. As such, I have always abided by her requirements, even going as far as cutting back 50 mg per day over the last 6 months, even though I suffered with sleep problems. She also asked me to reduce the number of pills I was taking, from 2-50mg tablets, 3times per day, to 100mg ER, morning and evening, and 25mg at midday. After a two week stint, I settled in to the new regimen, feeling pretty good. Again, I have never abused my medication and have been totally disabled since age 49, when I was forced to leave my law and estate planning practice, because of pain and headaches.

    I received a call from her office today, telling me that she was not writing any opioid prescriptions after 1/1/2020. I asked if she was referring us to another doctor and she said no, that would be our responsibility. Although I have 3 months, I am afraid that I will not find a new doctor who will continue me on a regimen that has worked well for 20 years! I fear that my current quality of life will be affected adversely.

    My initial anger has been modified by my focus on finding a new pain doctor. I feel like my doctor is violating her oath to “do no harm” and treat my chronic pain, somethings think is unethical. I can understand dropping patients she might believe are abusing medications, however, to drop everyone, across the board, without evaluating their individual case, seems unconscionable.

    Thanks for providing a place when those of us with chronic pain, can come to discuss our case.

    Regards,
    Ron Pagano

    1. Ron, This is a very interesting story. Most primary care doctors will prescribe tramadol, as the opioid activity is very low. If your primary care doctor won’t prescribe it, I would find a new primary care doctor. Ths story seems very odd to me, because as I said, most are not fearful about prescribing your current regimen.

  4. My wife has been on Percocet for nearly 2 years due to a cyst on her nerve root in her lower back. She has been prescribed 3 pills/day and 4 muscle relaxers to help her with her pain. Today she called her pain management Dr. to renew her prescription and the Dr. office is shut down unexpectedly with out contact information. The soonest she can see another pain doctor is 2-3 weeks. Is there a way to expedite her seeing a pain Dr. . or any recommendation on how to handle the sudden stop of the medicines. She will be completely out of them in 2 days. Thanks in advance.

    1. Luke, I would first speak to her primary care provider and explain what has happened. Hopefully he/she will see the need for at least temporarily taking over the prescription, especially since it isn’t a huge dose. If the doctor is unwilling, it would then be reasonable for him/her to provide clonidine or lofexidine to prevent withdrawal symptoms as long as there are no medical contraindications.

  5. I am looking for some advice, and I came across your page. It is great, and I appreciate all the advice. I have been on norco 10’s for 2 years. I recently started a new, amazing job, and I feel like the meds are not only not working as well anymore, unless of course I take more, which then causes a problem of course, but I just feel like a “shell” of myself. Like my life revolves around this medication. Also, if I don’t take meds RIGHT before I go to bed (Pain or no pain) or sometimes even if I DO, by 3-5 am, I am already waking up in sweats and feeling like crap. Now I am worried about work. My “supervisor” who also handles a lot of HR related things is a friend of mine and I can trust her. I am just curious if anyone has ever come out and said “Hey, I have chronic pain and sometimes I feel horrible because of my medication, I am going to be switching medications and am going to be feeling crappy, in hopes for a little sympathy, let me work at home a bit more until I feel back to 100%. I just was curious if you have ever had someone actually discuss this “candidly” with a supervisor with success or if it is a huge mistake. I can’t keep calling in because kids are sick, my tire is flat, etc. because I can’t get out of the bathroom, because I have started cutting back myself, or attempting to, but then I feel like shit and if I take clonidine, I will be too sleepy to even drive. Its just a vicious circle and I am ready to move forward with my life and not feel like just I am going through the motions. I have been having anxiety, sometimes some thoughts I am not proud of (but have reached out for help when I have “bad thoughts”). Anyway sorry for the lengthy message, any stories, advice, anything will be VERY much appreciated.
    Best, ,

    1. A., I have seen good and bad outcomes both ways. After reading your post, I seriously believe you would benefit from an addiction specialist. I realize that you have pain, but a transition over to buprenorphine could likely treat your pain and many of the issues you outline. And, I would seek out a practice that has access to a buprenorphine clinic PLUS counseling by a PSYCHOLOGIST to help you sort out many of the issues you describe. This doesn’t mean you are crazy; it just means you need a professional that can help you understand what you are going through, the necessary coping tools, and someone to share your frustrations and successes with. Good luck!

      1. Thank you! Yes I am seeing a pain MGMT doctor and his psychologist as well to hopefully transition starting next week. I think I am pretty confident that my supervisor will be receptive to me being honest, vs. just being “sick” all the time. Thank you for your advice I really appreciate it!!!

        1. I am currently going through the same situation I’ve been taking hydrocodone 10 325 for over two years now and I take for a day and when I went to my doctor’s appointment he just cut me off because they got a new doctor and tell me I need to find another pain management doctor now I don’t know what to do and I’m very scared I know that there are medications to help with withdrawal but he didn’t even offer that so I don’t know what to do should I talk to him because I’m at my Wit’s End I don’t know what else to do any advice would be so helpful

          1. Star, I’d just call the doctor and ask for something to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as clonidine or Lucymera. It would be very unusual for him/her to say no. It’s a very reasonable request that actually diminishes the doctor’s liability.

  6. I’ve been on opioids for approximately 6 years for chronic pain. I’ve never once abused them. For the past three years I’ve gotten my opioids from the same doctor. A few months after the CDC came out with their guidelines, my doctor said that he was going to have to eventually stop prescribing my opioids, so I went to a pain clinic. Unfortunately, all the alternative medications they tried made me very ill. All of the medication they tried made me ill within a day or two. Then to my surprise, the pain clinic doctor said he didn’t know what else to try. So I went back to my GP who continued prescribing the same amount of opioids. (90 per month) Then, and without warning, last month at my scheduled refill appointment my GP said that he could only prescribed 60 pills this month. I then asked would he then prescribe 30 pills the following month, but he said no. I then asked, so this is the last prescription you will write for me? He said yes. I then asked him what I am was supposed to do about the withdrawals? He didn’t give an answer. But after a bit of heated discussion he finally told me that one of his patients had died and the DA had sent him a letter. He did not go into details, but I’m assuming the letter told him to stop prescribing opioids. I then told him that cutting me off so quickly would cause me severe withdrawals and pain. Again he had no answer. Finally, during our discussion, he said that he did not want to go to jail. I can only assume that whatever happened was serious. However, I’m the one that will be suffering and left out in the cold. Before I left his office I asked him, so we’re done? You’re done being my doctor? He replied, I guess so, and then walked out the room. As I was driving home, he called me and apologized for his attitude. But that still does not help me with the suffering that I’ll be going through. Fortunately, I went back to the pain clinic doctor I had seen previously and told him my situation. He agreed to prescribed the additional 30 pills after I finish the 60 my GP wrote. However, I don’t know if he plans on continuing prescribing my opioids, or wants to try to taper me off them. My appointment with him is today so I guess I’ll find out soon. All I know is that taking opioids allows me to have somewhat of a normal life. Without them controlling my chronic pain, I don’t know how much I can stand. Not only do I have to deal with the the pain and suffering from opioid withdrawals, but I still have the underlying chronic pain that the opioids were prescribed for initially. I can completely understand why a person would consider taking their own life after being cut off of the only medication that gives them relief. They see a lifetime full of pain and suffering with very little hope for relief in the future.

    1. When the CDC guidelines were first talked about, I saw the writing on the wall and started asking my former pain management doctor to lower my dosage. It should be noted I extracted excellent therapeutic benefit from opioid therapy, as evidenced by completing two degrees with a 3.97 GPA and a return to part-time work. Despite knocking my daily dose down to 90 MME, from over 800 MME, my former clinic created a rule that no patient could simultaneously use any prescribed controlled substance with opioid pain medication. I was already tapering off klonopin and was down to .5 milligrams two times daily. On my next visit, the nurse excitedly told me I needed to complete my taper within three weeks. This seemed unrealistic as I had taken this drug for over 18 years. Additionally, I was already in withdrawal from aggressive reductions in both opioids and benzodiazepines. So, I basically was being forced to decide which medication I needed most. I simply left the practice and went cold turkey off both medications. To say the withdrawal was agonizing was an understatement. My primary care doctor tried to help but I didn’t like the side effects of sedatives or the clonidine patch. This is when I got the “bright” idea of going to a suboxone doctor. The doctor I saw had a theory of addiction that legacy pain patients, even ones who never misused their medication, were basically addicts. I didn’t argue with him because I already was well-versed with his ideology. However, I did accept the prescription. In full withdrawal, I took the 8/2 strip and experienced a range of unpleasant and dangerous side effects. We tried increasing the dose and that just made the problem worse. Side effects included fast and uneven pulse (155), high blood pressure, akathisia, sleeplessness, twitching, fever, hallucinations, urinary retention, headache, and respiratory depression. I’m hypersensitive to many medications and was referred to a methadone clinic. The clinic reviewed PDMP data, diagnoses, urinalysis, provider information, and other relevant data. They had me see two doctors. The doctor told me methadone clinics cannot treat pain. I received a month’s supply of low dose short-acting morphine and got a referral back to pain management. At my new clinic, the doctor ordered a bunch of new diagnostic tests to determine physiologic origins of my diagnoses. They started me back on low dose methadone (with no breakthrough medication because they believe this practice is counterproductive) and told me I could use klonopin, but I needed to only use it when I absolutely need it. This seemed very reasonable. My belief is my former clinic needlessly destabilized me by demanding an unrealistic taper protocol. You don’t prevent harm to a patient by actively harming them. I do have a question about opioid rotation. Personally, I have found rotating the medication promotes continued efficacy. Do you believe this is a legitimate strategy? Also, is my experience with buperenoprhine somewhat novel? I do not believe it was precipitated withdrawal because I was abstinent before taking it.

      1. Jay,

        Opioid rotation does in fact preserve continued efficacy, and at an overall reduced dose, and we employ this technique often. What you experienced with buprenorphine is not unique.

  7. I have been on opioids for 20 years the dose was just right working well. Never did I abuse or dr/pharmacy shop. I was cold turkey stopped this past month. The doctor is telling me I have to do the painpump which requires surgery. It is completely wrong that one can intervene in the care of a patient. They have not walked in our shoes donethe work we do to pay bills. We as the patient know our bodies as long as we are following the rules such as lock ins drug testing an going to the pain doctor. Nobody should try to tell us our dose needs lowered or be able to force one to do something they don’t want. It’s a way of controling they need to legalize marijuana if they want everyone off opioids..

  8. I have been on pain medication for 20 years. The last 10 with this particular doctor prescribed me Methadone for chronic pain. I have had 21 surgeries one back surgery that did not go too well. I can no longer have surgeries because I went septic with MRSA. My doctor stopped all pain meds to his patients. I went through three months of withdrawals by myself while my wife was pleading with the doctor on the phone everyday to help he would not help to make a long story short I got a hole in my stomach and bled out causing me to have heart attacks and a 14-day stint in the hospital. I feel this was a gross negligence on behalf of the doctor anything I can do any lawyers out there willing to take a case

  9. Dr. Fudin,

    Although I do understand where you are coming from, being “nice” is all but impossible when you are in excruciating pain because you are the victim of medical negligence caused by #1 physicians NOT standing up for their pain patients fundamental right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as guaranteed to all Americans in our Constitution, and #2 when we (pain patients) as a people are being targeted and treated as second class citizens, which again is a violation of our rights, not to mention that it has already been proven unlawful for the Federal government to “exercise any supervision or control over the practice of medicine or the manner in which medical services are provided” U,S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 7, Subparagraph XVII, 1395 – Prohibition against Federal Interference.
    So please do not ask us to “Be Nice” instead advocate for stopping this ridiculous ban on opioids. Yes; it is nice of you to offer your knowledge of safely tapering off opioids, but I’d rather you tell doctors to fight for the rights of their patients, and their own right to practice as they see fit then explain to my doctor how to take my life away from me.
    Regards,
    Laura Johnson

    1. Laura, I don’t think there is any doubt that I’ve been advocating for patients on my own time. This post was intended to help guide patients that are placed in a difficult situation.

      1. I was dealing with pain from open heart surgery, not long after that a ruptured pancreas, and then internal bleeding that almost killed me. I was taking Percocet for the pain and it worked. My doctor, here in California, called me and said he was going to have to cut off my pain pills because the government had started monitoring and he was worried about getting in trouble. He actually said to me, “You can blame the democrats in Sacraments for it.” HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT! The democrats in Sacramento are determining my pain meds.

      2. So true ..they make us fill like we need to out n get the bad stuff..n that’s the last thing you want to do ..pushing a person to do worse..I just dont understand what these doctors are doing to us …

    2. I was just cut MONDAY after 16 years. One of the girls got offended at something I said to her in the office about my account, To know me, is to know I am a very non-confrontational person and even after they told me they sent me a letter, after to which I have not received, I did not go ballistic when I requested my refill,. I was told at my last appt two days before when I called to change the date because I was sick with the flu and had a abcess tooth that I HAD TO COME IN or he would not give me my refill, Mind you it is a two and a half hour drive. CLEARLY not feeling well, abscess, and on percs can all make you a little edgy. Well I asked about my acct. I should have been in the positive. Well I wasn’t. The two month before this appt we were expecting a snow and ice storm in Atlanta and I cancelled DAY of. NOT the norm for me, if they had common sense to look at my acct. . They charged me for missing that day. She said they did not credit me. It was warranted. I have worked in a doctors office and NEVER would I have EVEN CONSIDERED such! Proof was on the news! Anyway I did make a comment. I did not yell, I said it smugly yes because I dont make lots of money and after the way I was feeling FORCED to come in, I said, ” Well I guess if that is the way she ( the doctors wife, office manager) has to make her money, so be it. Obviously no care. I came in for my appt. The doctor asked how I was, clearly the way I looked I was sick. I told him I was not feeling well. He gave me my refill sent me on my way. A month later called in and got that message. WOW! I am in bed for this week. They called in clonidine for relieve withdrawals but no pain meds at all! No empathy after 16 years!! We do have rights and I am looking into them! This is atrocious and barbaric! WE AMERICANS and PATIENTS need to ban together and fight these doctors who vowed to NOT COMMIT harm to us!! I couldnt even speak to my son yesterday because of the pain. I am only able to do this because of the tramadol the ER gave me last night.
      facebook Charlotte Myers

  10. Dr. Fudin,
    Hello. I have directly affected by this so called opiate crisis. I have multiple myeloma. A very painful disease as you well may know. I have had my pain med reduced unfairly. I have been very good about not abusing it. Take them as prescribed. Plus my pharmacy visits are a nightmare. Sometimes I get the talk from the pharmacist that these can be addictive. And I am treated as a drug seekers. And times I am told they are out. Well one of my friends is a tech there and she told me they had plenty! I am being treated as an addict. Plus I bam terminal. I thought cancer was exempt? How can I fight this? I live in Oregon which has some of the most strict laws and recommendations. I am scared as my disease progresses. The chemo and radiation makes me hurt all over like I’ve been hit by a car. I also had a friend on it suicide because his medicine was reduced to 20 oxycodone. He had brain cancer and was terminal. He had six months or more to live. They told him he was a druggie. He tried for a couple of months with the reduced meds but the pain became unbearable. Finally he shot himself in the head. He leaves behind three small children and a wife. Please tell me when this madness will end! Thank you for all you do. God bless.
    Becky Moore
    Tillamook Oregon

  11. Dr. Fudin,
    Are you able to suggest a proper tapering schedule for me. I have read so many different schedules and am totally confused at this point. Currently taking 8 mg of methadone daily ( 4 Mg. In the morning and 4 mg. in the evening). Been doing this for the past week. And at what point should I quit to lessen the withdrawal symptoms? When I went total cold turkey from 40 mg. Of methadone and 60 mg. of OxyContin it was pure AGONY for 2 weeks. Thought that I would die. I do not want to ever go through that again, but I do want OFF these drugs, the sooner the better. I would appreciate your suggestions. Thanks again!
    Kathy

  12. Dr. Fudin,
    Is there some other drug other than the sertraline that can be used for insomnia that will not increase the withdrawal symptoms? I have tried melatonin, Benedryl, Alene pm and nothing worked? Thanks
    Kathy

  13. Dr. Fudin,
    I spoke to the office at 11:30am today and gave your email address for you both to set up a time to talk. Hopefully he will follow through. My legal name is XXXXX (he will probably go by this name). I am currently in a lot of pain, agitated, high anxiety even on the med he gave me for this, rapid breathing, leg cramps, shaky, etc. I just need a good plan to get off of the methadone once and for all. This is pure AGONY to have to go through. The past 3 weeks have been living hell. All Doctors that prescribe opiates should be trained in the withdrawal aspects, medications that can help, and proper doses. Without this knowledge us patients suffer terribly. It just is NOT right. What happened to compassion these days? I sure am hoping that between you and Dr Hemmer that you both can come up with a plan because I truly do not think that I can handle much more of this on my own. Thanks Dr. Fudin

    1. My doctor did call in clonidine and honestly it helps me sleep and not as bad withdrawals however the pain in my neck and back are too much. The headaches are terrible. I have 3 herniated discs (in my neck alone), fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, my low back pain that I still am not sure of because no MRI yet, but my arms (both) go to sleep constant, left leg goes numb here and there and my buttocks lately (ha). Probably sciatica. I hope this helps. I know withdrawals are a total NIGHTMARE and cant wait to see the doctors wake up to this CRAZY epidemic that has been created by the government. I read a article just the other day about a man that was discontinued after 17 years, the reason the doctor stopped, are you holding your seat, is because he was leaving that practice to go open a TREATMENT CENTER! MORE MONEY!! Disgusted me! Absolutely disgusting! That is inhumane but these are the end of times. More self centered people in the world. End of comment. Hope it helps!

  14. Dr. Fudin, I had emailed you a few days ago about mty circumstances from methadone and OxyContin withdrawal. Since then my primary physician has put me on Ibuprofen 800 mg ( 3 times daily). Sertraline 50 mg. ( 1 daily), and
    Clonazepan 1mg ( 1 daily). I was able to get 3 hours of sleep, but am still extremely anxious and restless. I am up to 8 mg. Of the Methadone daily for the pain, Do you have any recommendations as to a better regime to get me off the methadone for good? Would it possibly have been better to go back on the OxyContin rather than the methadone and then taper down sine OxyContin is short acting compared to methadone being long acting? I am so confused and exhausted at this point in time. My blood pressure and heart rate have been extremely high even being on the clonidine 3 times daily. I have been told by many that methadone is extremely hard to rid and I surely believe it now. Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks Dr. Fudin. By the way, where are you located? What State? Thanks again. Kathy

    1. Kathy; Addition of sertraline can make the withdrawal symptoms worse, because it has noradrenergic activity, which is the same type of activity that causes withdrawal symptoms in the first place (agitation, anxiety, racing heart, increased blood pressure). As I stated in my previous response, I believe your doctor needs some guidance on how to properly taper in your situation. With all the hoopla surrounding maximum daily morphine equivalents and ultra rapid tapers, this country is seeing a different type of opioid crisis, that is, many clinicians just don’t have the experience to do what they are being asked to do. Again, I will be happy to speak with your physician and guide him/her through the best way to manage your taper, but I cannot advise you directly. What I can tell you is that although increased pain may be an issue as the opioid doses diminish, withdrawal symptoms can virtually be avoided, or at least be at a very tolerable level if this is done in a reasonable fashion.

      1. Dr. Fuden,
        How can my primary physician get in touch with you? His name is Dr. Anthony Hemmer. He is trying his best to help me, but he is not a pain management Doctor. Thankyou. Kathy Harris

        PS I think he gave me the sertraline because I was not sleeping at all for over 2 weeks. Now I am sleeping at least a few hours per day. I do not think that the clonidine .1 mg is helping at all as my bp is still high and it has not done anything for the withdrawal symptoms.

  15. Dr. Fuden
    I was on 40 mg. of methadone daily and 60 mg. of OxyContin daily ( the OxyContin was for breakthrough pain) following a back injury 21 years ago that required 3 surgeries (A.L.I.F and 2 others). On 11/26/18 I was told that my pain management Doctor that I used for the entire 21 years with no problems was retiring and that I would need to find another Doctor. On 12/1/18 I decided that I have had enough of all the politics concerning the opioid crisis so I decided to get off of both the drugs and I went “cold turkey “.I did speak to my primary physician about what I had planned. He put me on .1 mg of clonidine at that point since I do have high blood pressure and said that might also help with the w/d symptoms. Wow! This has been a living nightmare for me. The pain,muscle spasms,electrifying twitches,sweats,freezing feeling,head pressure, diarrhea,profuse vomiting.All of these symptoms were never ending, just constant with no relief at all. Also I could not sleep whatsoever. After 13 days of this, I could no longer stand the pain so for 2 days now I gave been taking 4 mg. of the methadone daily(2mg.am and 2 mg pm) just to take the edge off. I am still withdrawing,but at a more tolerable rate. Can you suggest what to do from here? I am so scared to death now due to my HORRIFIC experience, but I want these drugs out of my body so that I can “live” again. At this point in time I am just trying to level out the shock that I have endured on my body going cold turkey like this. I also have lost 14 lbs. over those 13 days. I would greatly appreciate your reply. I have the courage and the willingness to achieve this goal( the sooner the better), but that pain was way too much for me to handle any longer. If I give myself a week on the current 4 mg. per day dose then start to titration daily for a week or so, will that hello with the horrible w/d symptoms? I am so weak and tired at this point in the game, but I want to achieve my goal. Please help! Thankyou
    Kathy

    1. Kathy,

      I cannot give specific medical advice on this forum. Please speak to your doctor about a more gradual methadone taper using the methadone and an adjustment to the clonidine dose. If your doctor is not comfortable with this, he/she can refer you out or contact me directly via email to help with a more exact plan.

    2. That’s extremely unsafe to be on two long acting medications together…. Dr’s prescribing this combination should NOT be prescribing in my opinion.

  16. It has gotten so bad just in the past 5yrs, i have been on a regular dose that works for me 4x10mg percocet for 15yrs due to major injuries i had when i was in my early teens. never had a bad urine test followed all the rules, but once i lost my job and insurance it became a nightmare. Now im going through same problems with my 80yr old Dad who has no hip joint can’t be fixed. confined to a wheelchair and also has two torn rotator cuffs and just had his neck fused last year. we have been to 8 diffrent specialist and they wont give him anything stronger then tramadol or they want to do more surgery. He is 80 and has had 16 major operations in his life he is done with that. so if he wont do what the doctor wants then they cant give him anything for pain. This has gotten out of control we need to stand up for the people we love and ourselves why should we live in pain when there is medication that will atleast let us get out of bed and be productive but i guess that is to much to ask for.

  17. I have been on opioids for early 36 years, all except 10 months when I wore a TENS unit. I had to wear it on a high level, like 7 or 8, I can’t really remember, but after the 10 months my body rejected the TENS and I had to go back on opioids. During those 10 month I never had any type of withdrawal symptoms or if I did I wasn’t aware of what it was. Now my meds have been cut in half and I’m talking one half a pill along with a Goodie Power trying to make it through the days. Today it is cold and rainy and my added Goodie Power isn’t helping any. I pray you and others like you can do something to help those of us that actually needs opioid meds.

    1. I was just a 2 weeks ago cut off from my dr I have been going there for 7 years and was getting oxycodone 15mg 6 per day and 2 morphine 15 ER PER DAY now I have only about a week left of my previous month and I know that I’m in for a long hard road I just don’t know that I will be able to withstand the pain and being super sick at the same time I have tried to get in with other pain clinics but most is owemed by the same dr and they will not see me. The others either do not do opiate meds at all or others places is not taking ppl till November. I had a uncle that was paralyzed and when they took his pain meds he did kill him self he couldn’t deal with the pain. I worked as a Emt back then and had to work that call I never thought about taking medication I wouldn’t even take tylonal at one point until I was in a wreck and messed my back up. I do not think it’s right that the drs can just say no more go from that high dose to nothing at all. It truly should be a law that they can not do that as many people that commit suicide due to this. Drs are supposed to help ppl but in this case they are truly causing major harm to people

  18. I have been dealing with Sarcoidosis, joint pain and deterioration , Fibromyalgia, RA, Osteoarthritis for 28 years. I was a NICU nurse for 20 years. 10 of those years I battled severe pain and inability to do my job. I finally was put on permanent disability by my PCP and orthopedic. I had to have both knees replaced at age 47. I started seeing a rheumatologist at age 42. She started me on low doses of oxycontin and percocet. After about 8 years…she stopped prescribing opioids. My PCP at that time continued prescribing them. I take them responsibly. I use 1 pharmacy all the time. I never finish my months worth before the prescription is due. I usually have an extra weeks worth at the end of the month. My PCP fell, became injured and retired. His covering dr. , who I have to see now….has been telling me for 2 years……we have to get you off these opioids. I asked him what he could give me in place of them…..he has no answer. He just keeps saying you have to come off. I don’t abuse them. However, I could not shower and dress without pain relief. I cannot function without pain relief. What do I do in my case?? I don’t like this dr, but i know if i go anywhere else, i won’t get my meds. But I’m frightened that he will refuse to give me my prescriptions.

  19. Dr. Murphy’s article is NOT fantastic. It’s helpful as far as a better understanding of a drug that helps with withdrawal symptoms. But WHAT ABOUT THE CHRONIC INTRACTABLE EXCRUCIATING PAIN??

    And in what way is returning a stable chronic pain patient to a state of life and employment threatening agony NOT malpractice. And I mean that as an honest question Mr. Fudin? How is involuntary tapering without alternatives not malpractice?

    1. DK; You are preaching to the choir in terms of patient advocacy. I did not post this blog to support patients coming off of opioids. It was offered up as one step to ease the suffering of withdrawal whether a patient’s opioids are stopped quickly or drastically reduced for the right reasons, for the wrong reasons, or for no reason. There are many patients that are perfectly stable and at a lesser risk of medical and perhaps mental health issues

          ON

        opioids rather than

          OFF

        opioids. You are attacking an advocate here not an adversary. ~Dr. Fudin

  20. Most people I know are so afraid of being cut off they’re very polite to doctors. Once completely cut off, abandoned, that’s a different storyHad hope Lofexadine would help with withdrawals. I felt so weird, withdrawal was preferable. It’s very expensive. I’m glad I was given a sample. Wonder how methadone for pain has gone from 2 times mme to 10 times.

  21. As a Chronic Pain cancer patient, believe me We have learned the honey approach. We MUST drug test more than felons, listen to every lecture and that look doctors give when discussing pain, and then to top it off, if we are lucky enough to find a pharmacy, we have to be lectured by the counter person and the pharmacist in front of everyone. Please understand my frustration. I am in pain….I will continue in pain and I will most likely die in pain. Maybe doctors need training on compassion.

  22. Please, can you tell me if there is any analgesic properties if prescibed buprenorphine, off label, specifically for chronic pain issues? Thank you.

    1. Yes. In fact original studies using comparable doses of IV buprenorphine in the late 70’s showed that it was similarly or more effective compared to IV morphine and the analgesic effect lasted longer.

      1. How about studies w/ PO bupe, as that is what will likely to be Rxd over IV? I’ve read that the long half life outweighs the weak analgesic effects PO – is that along the lines of your understanding? If it was on par, I would think it would have been a more popular option back in the 70-90s.

        1. Stacey, Great questions. Most “PO” versions that are intended for sublingual absorption are about 30% absorbed. Intravenous is obviously 100% absorbed. Considering this, the IV studies used 0.3 to 0.6mg buprenorphine per dose versus 10mg intravenous morphine (equivalent to 30mg oral morphine) per dose. Buprenorphine anlagesia in most cases for pain lasted 6-8 hours (mostly 8). Using Suboxone as an example, the lowest available strength contains 2mg or buprenorphine; 30% of that is 0.6mg which is consistent with the IV doses above. So why was it not a more popular option back in the day? Two reasons; first it was only available in the UK originally, not the USA, and secondly, it was studied as an injectable for acute pain for hospitalized patients where morphine and other more traditional opioids were readily available and just pennies compared to the newly branded Buprenex (buprenorophine IV) product. It later became available in the US, but again, with medical supervision and a less expensive option, it seldom was prescribed to inpatients. The study I am talking about is from Kay B. A double-blind comparison of morphine and buprenorphine in the prevention of pain after operation. BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia. 1978 Jun 1;50(6):605-9.

          1. My understanding of the problems with bupe is its long half life and its antagonist properties. So if you’re a patient with a chronic illness, if you have procedures often, of you need surgery, etc it has a ceiling effect. Also, it blocks/displaces other opioids/opiates better than naloxone and its long half life actually puts patients at risk when they take ultra high doses of other opioids for acute pain to compensate. As such, it’s got quite a few liabilities but despite this it is used quite often for IV (acute) pain relief in Europe (I’m talking about straight buprenorphine, not suboxone, which seems oddly redundant in its addition of naloxone to me)

  23. How dare this person write such cold hearted words towards a community that is being judged so harshly just because they are Ill and losing what little quality of life they have

    No one wants to have an autoimmune disease, no one asks to have cancer,,,, no one wants to be in a wreck or return from war and have life changing injuries…. It’s a living hell

    You act like going to the doctor is a privilege and we should not feel emotions when you disturb the little bit of quality of life few get.

    Doctors like this one are the problem. There is a reason the #doctorsaredickheads is trending…. Because that’s how the majority feels.

    If you were my doctor I would have you reported to the state medical board for even mentioning the way your patients behave in a public venue and how you expect us to act. How dare you.. I pray you never have a family member who hurts( you will one day) you have terrible repor with people… I would be scared of those you would care for. So harsh so cold-hearted…

    It is a civil rights crime to isolate and single putedicLly at risk patients.

    You just wrote a whole article doing just that.

    Isnt there some sort of law that stops doctors from speaking about their patients or with media and they must be careful not to speak their own opinions or they could lose their license. Just saying…..

  24. I have crps and have for 30 years with a pain level of 1-50 there is no other alternative for me…if you pull me off i will die

  25. Doctor’s moto “I won’t give up on you” unless a little bit of adversity is applied by the government I will fold like a bad hand of cards in a poker game.
    Thanks for showing me what I need to take care of my miserable pain and when I ask for it call me a drug seeking addict, thanks for not standing with us in our time of need , thanks for turning against us as soon as it was either you or us. It was never about helping people was it, it was about keeping us coming back , and getting that good pain scale report my the patients in order to get paid , it was just a coincidence that the medication actually helped with the pain right?
    I now see doctors as extremely untrustworthy, very very few have actually stood up for cancer patients, veterans in horrible pain from war time injuries, and the regular ol chronic pain patients such as myself,… doctors go to a large gathering to hear a speech that was sponsored by insurance companies, DEA, Medicare, and basically the United States government, all the people or agencies that have a stake in this “Heroin epidemic ” , they tell a huge auditorium of doctors that opioids are bad, you have caused this epedimic we will start arresting doctors who leave here today and continue treating pain with opioids, …and you doctors actually believe this and start abandoning your patients, with no care of the suffering they will endure, and after withdrawal they will still have chronic pain, most will get worse because their conditions are degenerative.
    But you ask us to be nice and understanding? Tell that to my children when dear old dad cant make it to there games anymore, or dear mom when she has to quit working and cant provide for her children due to her pain not being controlled, tell that to the veteran that has a gun in his mouth because the VA won’t give him his medication that he has been taking for 15+ years because his legs and testicles were blown off in Iraq, and is in excruciating pain, …sorry but this is as nice as I’m getting until some of the few people who can help end this draconian targeting of chronic pain patients and the doctors who treat them (yes I’ve included you as a target to) , actually start standing up for what they know is right, instead of running like cowards ,and that’s you the doctor. We can’t do this alone.

    1. Thanks for your well written post. I worked as a nurse in Oncology and Hospice for 25 years and a large part of my job was pain management. Five years ago I hade to leave nursing because of back injuries received on the job and after back surgery. I am on disability and in severe pain that has left me in bed most of the day every day until my doctor titrated my pain medicine to the point that I could shower, help my husband fix dinner sometimes and even visit my granddaughter. Now I am back to being in bed all the time because the doctor is now reducing the pain medicine on a monthly basis. When I was in nursing this was considered malpractice. The doctor would be sued for lack of care. I agree the doctors are failing us because they are the ones who know who need the medicine and they are not fighting for us.

      1. I’m in the same situation as you. And I am angry. I’m in bed most of the time and now my husband has to work out of state. How much meaning does life have without proper pain management?

  26. It’s so sad that patients should be put in this position, but you give excellent advice. As much as a patient may want to lash out AND in some instances the patient’s ire towards the clinician IS truly deserved, it only hurts the patient when they do this. They’re already going through so much and they need to remember that THEIR welfare MUST be the priority. Getting your anger out feels SO good at the time, but how you handle a situation like this can impact your life for years to come. I’ve known patients who did their best to keep their composure who benefited greatly from doing so. Here’s a couple of examples. One was eventually returned to his original dose after the doctor (who was not someone he even had a positive relationship with up to that point) realized how devastating the dose reductions were. It was a turning point in their relationship and seemed to impact how other patients were treated. In the second instance a resident who knew the patient well took her on as a patient when she joined a private practice. Again, returning her to a similar dose of a different opioid that actually worked better,

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