Pain Killer

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New at Reason: 25 years in jail for trying to get some pain relief for your multiple sclerosis. Jacob Sullum discusses another drug war outrage.

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  1. This guy is my hero of the day. He took the fall when many in similar situations would just cop a plea and accept “help.”

    I only hope this story gets enough attention and incites enough outrage to set him free.

  2. Cruel and unusual. I doubt it will stand on appeal.

  3. How can we get the major media to notice?

  4. He gets to sit in jail hooked up to a morphine machine. I can’t say that it’s a bad deal for him, in all reality.

    A waste of taxpayer money, and a waste of time, but I don’t think he’s getting the short end.

  5. Is anybody here registered to submit links to sites like Fark, Metafilter or Memepool? They’re not exactly “major” media but they get a lot of traffic.

  6. So….we are in Iraq to free people and help them usher in individual rights, while here at home we send seriously crippled people to prison for 25 yrs becasue they had to break the law in order to find pain relief that the govt thinks is bad for them. Serious fucking cognitive dissonance going on in my head.

    –Mona–

  7. What has happened to common sense? Here is a case where someone should have said wait a minute this gentleman (Mr Peay) suffers from chronic pain MS etc, he can’t find a doctor to prescribe his meds.so he does what he needs to do to relieve it
    Granted forging prescriptions is against the law but it reminds me of the old adage of stealing food to feed your family damned if you do damned if you don’t They really need to do a reality check in FLA. Considering the daughter of the Governor can smuggle crack into rehab and get away with it, this poor shmoe goes to jail?

  8. Dewey-
    Instead of “the guy stealing food to feed his family,” it’s worse: “the guy eating, even though it’s against the law to put food into your mouth and chew it.”

  9. Jennifer,

    I’m registered at fark.com. Good luck getting a link approved unless you’re a TFer though.

  10. Well, here goes nothing. I submitted Jacob’s article to Fark.com with the ASININE tag. (ASININE, as in the way Mr. Paey has been treated.)

    (Reason.com) Disabled MS sufferer sentenced to 25 years for trying to make the pain go away

  11. Jennifer,
    Good point,to paraphrase Jack Nicholson from Batman This country needs an enema.

  12. kmw,

    “He gets to sit in jail hooked up to a morphine machine. I can’t say that it’s a bad deal for him, in all reality.”

    I have to assume this is a joke. Tell me you were joking. Please.

  13. Man, my mom is caught up in this shit. She has chronic back pain with 2 surgeries not helping and she is constantly under prescribed and I think it has a lot to do with her doctor fearing Ashcroft. Everytime she tells her doctor she can’t sleep due to the pain, he gives her a few pills of something different and tells her to give them a try for a couple of weeks. She prefers vicodin because she can function slightly better on them, but since she has made this known, she can’t get any.

    I said it before and I will say it again, I would love to vote for a conservative president, but man we have to get Ashcroft out. If I have to choose between my mom or my gov’t, its a no brainer, mom wins hands down everytime. I only hope that Kerry isn’t the disaster I think he is.

  14. Les,

    Uh oh, challenge orthodoxy, and the hordes come running?

    I was somewhat joking, but seeing life though Mr. Paey?s eyes, things probably look different that you or I.

    If I were in constant excruciating pain, and in need of relief, my mobility would be limited. Lying in a jail cell watching TV, or laying at home in bed watching TV, it?s all the same. So in his eyes, his sentence amounts to a free morphine machine for the rest of his life ? which shouldn?t be very long, considering his condition.

    Like I said, it sucks for the taxpayers, but he?s probably not as worried about it.

    Plus he becomes a martyr. But maybe I?m just the optimist of the group.

  15. BTW Les, if your objection was to all the waste of tax money, then I’m on your side.

    If it was to the fact that he gets drugs… Well, Reason isn’t exactly the place for a drug warrior.

  16. kmw: You don’t think that the removal of his freedom – freedom that may be difficult for him to enjoy as you would, but freedom all the same – is the “short end?”

  17. Dave,

    Yes, I object to the removal of his freedom. Wholeheartedly! But Mr. Paey isn’t me.

    And so, while I personally would have chosen a different route for things, I can see that in his own eyes, things might not be as bad. But obviously that’s just a guess.

    He clearly would rather live through pain, so now that his pain is being relieved by morphine, he’s probably a happy camper.

  18. s.a.m.

    There was a period of about 2 years that I needed serious pain meds for a back injury. I’ve had very good results using online doctor/pharmacy services.

    These places are still in legal limbo, though likely not for long. I’d advise stocking up.

  19. kmw,

    My confusion was at your suggestion that he’ll probably be happy, locked away from his family, without any freedom whatsoever, so long as he gets drugs and TV.

    I’m sure the pain relief will be appreciated, but I think it’s safe to say that no amount of sitting around and watching television can make an imprisoned person a “happy camper.”

    Like you, I’m appalled at the usual waste of taxpayer money, but I don’t think he’s likely to be satisfied with the situation at all.

    Of course, we’re all guessing.

  20. Let’s give KMW the benefit of the doubt, here–even if the poor man IS thinking, “Ah! Finally! Relief from my constant pain,” it’s a damn sad commentary on our society that a harmless man should have to go to prison to get relief from suffering.

  21. Pavel:

    If you have any trouble finding one of these uhhh.. “pharmacies”, just ask me an I will redirect the output of my spam filter to you. 😉

  22. Les,

    A few years ago my aunt died after battling cancer. For the last six months of her life, she was on narcotics constantly. Because of the opiates, she didn?t know who her relatives were; she had trouble recognizing her own husband.

    From personal experience, I can say that pain is enough of a prison in and of itself. It can drive you to do things you wouldn?t ordinarily do. People driven to that level gladly exchange pain relief for just about anything.

    He had the chance to plea bargain his way out of prison, but he didn?t. Maybe he?d rather be right than free. Maybe he just couldn?t think clearly because of the pain. Who knows? But he clearly chose his own destiny.

  23. kwm writes: “He had the chance to plea bargain his way out of prison, but he didn?t. Maybe he?d rather be right than free. Maybe he just couldn?t think clearly because of the pain. Who knows? But he clearly chose his own destiny.”

    But the state had NO RIGHT to put him to that choice.

    –Mona–

  24. There’s a truth-in-labelling issue here. When you possess more than a specified quantity of drugs, the government deems you to be guilty of drug trafficking. Yet, possession and trafficking are obviously not the same, so when Congress called a possessor a trafficker, it was guilty of a misrepresentation.

    Now, according to 18 USC sect. 1001:

    “Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States knowingly and willfully … makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

    So if Congress could just be called to account under its own laws, they would have to be considered criminals.

    And, this misrepresentation really does fool some people. You might read somewhere that a certain guy is in jail for drug trafficking. Unless you dig farther into the story, you may never know that the real offense was stockpiling pain relievers to deal with a chronic pain problem. The government really slimes this person when they call him a trafficker, and some people will be deceived.

  25. > Attridge still isn’t sure why Paey wavered over the plea agreement. “He couldn’t articulate to me why he didn’t take the deal,” Attridge said.

  26. dj, yes, it is poor pain management.

    Thing is, it’s the ignorant toadies in our government that have created the atmosphere where it is difficult, if not impossible, for a doctor to provide their patients with proper pain management, all due to the fear of legal harassment for trying to actually *help* someone.

    If a person can’t get a doctor to oversee and administer proper pain management methods, it’s not real surprising that the person in pain will do whatever he needs to do to alleviate it.

    Personally, when I hear these kinds of stories, my most fervent wish is that the lawmakers and elected officials that allow these travesties to occur should have to experience every bit of what this man has.

  27. DJ: {What Peay was doing to himself was not good medicine. What he gets in jail is hopefully going to be}

    In other words his doctor was incompetent and the folks in jail know better.

    {once he is straightened out, hopefully, he will be released with supervised probation}

    Not with the mandatory sentence.

    {and continue with proper pain management and be prevented from using the lousy regiment he was addicted to.}

    Because, of course, the folks who run the prison and supervise probation don’t have the inconvenience of having to listen to what he wants or how he feels.

    {He should be able to get out of that wheel chair soon and the whole of his day will no longer be centered on the procurement of his illegally gotten pills.}

    From the story: {Paey, a 45-year-old father of three, is disabled as a result of a 1985 car accident, failed back surgery, and multiple sclerosis.} But with a morphine drip he will be miraculously cured. (You did conduct a medical examination on which you base this prognostication, right?)

    {I personally believe when people lose control of their lives to addiction to pain killers which began in good faith that they will have to be taken into custody early, quickly and weaned off and a proper methodology substituted.}

    But the one and only reason Mr. Paey “lost control” is because he couldn’t find a physician who would continue his former successful treatment. He couldn’t find another physician because the government of the “land of the free and the home of the brave” has declared civil war on people who use drugs it disagrees with. Yeah. Anyone who disagrees with the government’s treatment plan needs to be taken into custody. That’s the way the USSR solved a lot of social problems.

    PS. Last time I checked morphine was an addictive heavily controlled narcotic too. From personal experience with several friends and relatives, were he not under government care he would face the same difficulty getting a prescription to it as he did to the others.

    It’s not a war on drugs. It’s a war on people.

  28. DJ-
    Would you also support the imprisonment of a man ruining his life via alcoholism?

    You mentioned, also, the fact that he couldn’t walk. Assuming this was due to the drug and not the MS, well, I used to teach with a “woman” so morbidly obese that her knees and elbows were mere dimples, and she couldn’t walk without the aid of crutches, either. Shall we imprison her until she loses 200 pounds?

  29. {and continue with proper pain management and be prevented from using the lousy regiment he was addicted to.}dj

    > Because, of course, the folks who run the prison and supervise probation don?t have the inconvenience of having to listen to what he wants or how he feels.

  30. DJ-
    Is it possible that the pain of imprisonment is even worse than the pain of addiction? Might it also be possible that the government should just stay out of the pain management business altogether?

  31. > Shall we imprison her until she loses 200 pounds?——Posted by Jennifer

    If she came to where you had power over her,
    what would you do to help her, Jennifer?

  32. What would I do if I had “power” over that fat woman, DJ? Nothing, unless she asked me for help. What am I supposed to do? She’s smart enough to know that putting three inches (no exaggeration) of cream cheese and two slices of bacon on every bagel she eats is not the way to lose weight. What’s wrong with letting her take responsibility for herself, and deal with the NATURAL consequences of her actions? Getting fat is a natural consequence of eating too much; going to prison is not.

    Seriously, I wish you would answer my question. If you support imprisoning drug addicts for their own good, do you propose we do the same thing to alcoholics and 400-pound food junkies? If you say yes, well, I don’t agree with you but at least you are consistent. If you say no, however, I’d like to know what distinctions you use to determine which self-destructive behaviors warrant jail time, and which do not.

  33. Mona at April 23, 04:12 PM

    Your conundrum is resolved by the fact that, the US government is most assuredly not in Iraq for the purpose: “to free people and help them usher in individual rights.”

    The real purpose is indeed more consistant with,“sending seriously crippled people to prison for 25 yrs becasue they had to break the law in order to find pain relief that the govt thinks is bad for them.”

  34. I sent Jacob’s editorial to Artrios, I hope he can give it some attention… aparently quite a few journalists read his site.

    🙂

  35. Tylenol can actually increase your sense of pain,
    can destroy vital organs, and end up doing more harm than good. Three bottles/lifetme is about all your body can safely handle.

    Valium is another drug which generally has better alternatives.

    Lortab has hydrocodone in it, and we all know about that.

    This paragraph like is a giant red flag that says “I don’t know anything about pain treatment.”

    Tylenol is extremely safe. At very high doses (4grams+ per day) it can produce a toxic metabolite. This doesn’t mean it’s “a little toxic” at lower doses. It means it isn’t, period. Plenty of people are on it for years. Many people who take large doses of tylenol should be on pure narcotics (Oxy/MS Contin), but aren’t because of huge criminal liability associated with prescribing them.

    Valium also is one of the best drugs available for controlling muscle spasms and pain.

    I’d also be curious to know how to diagnosed this man as “addicted.” I mean, you’ve already expression special insight into everything from the man’s bowel movements to his breathing. The man must be a total mess because he had to gall to self-administer medication. And he actually spent a lot of his time trying to procure pills! Must be his addiction not the fact that he needs them and they’re hard to get.

    It’s strange to see pills so often treated like a Holy Eucharist, empowered to do good only by the special powers of the priest/doctor. Without his careful oversight, voodoo demons take over the user’s brain.

    Whether his relationship with his own pain treatment is “unhealthy” should be for him to decide. And it should be decided by weighing real consequences, not ones that exist primarily because of drug law.

  36. What Peay was doing to himself was not good medicine.
    What he gets in jail is hopefully going to be,
    and once he is straightened out, hopefully,
    he will be released with supervised probation,
    and continue with proper pain management
    and be prevented from using the lousy regiment he was addicted to.

    He should be able to get out of that wheel chair soon
    and the whole of his day will no longer be centered
    on the procurement of his illegally gotten pills.
    It is a wonder his breathing hadn’t already failed him.

    While proper breathing is still going to be critical
    with the morphine injector directly to the spine
    he is going to be find something more worthwhile to do with his precious time and bright mind
    than going about trying to get more and more pills.

    Perhaps he will champion pain control issues,
    which won’t be to shovel out Valium and Perocet
    to addict and cripple people already sick enough.

    I personally believe when people lose control of their lives
    to addiction to pain killers which began in good faith
    that they will have to be taken into custody early, quickly
    and weaned off and a proper methodology substituted.

    Pain centers that specialize in state of hte art treatment,
    supporting hometown physicians are needed. They are there,
    but not to the point of universal availability.

    Do not associate this case with legalization of drugs.
    This case makes an argument for the other side
    when taken as a whole.

  37. Doctors should demand that the government set up a procedure whereby the government must be the one to officially deny pain management drugs, over the signature of someone willing to accept responsibility for condemning someone else to a life of pain. Do not let government get off the hook.

  38. “He tried to help himself, but with the addictive drugs,
    the pain he is in, he can’t consider the big picture
    but probably just treats the pain here and now,
    like there is no tomorrow.”

    That’s because he was left on his own, trying to manage a complicated medical condition without the know how to do it properly. As the story says, the doctors were afraid to give him the care that was appropriate for his conditions. This is a serious indictment of the government’s drug policies.

    But it’s worth remembering that self medication of this sort, and cutting out the evil, white coated, government cartelized middlemen known as physicians, is what Jacob Sullum recommends as the alternative to the status quo.

  39. > Paey may have been hoarding these pills;
    it is not clear from the stories how many he was taking
    *if* he was addicted,

  40. > Jesus, DJ, would you stop with the line breaks? I can’t speak for the other posters, but I find your blank verse nearly impossible to read.

  41. Addiction is a form of slavery or worse.
    There has never been a period of my life
    in which addiction wasn’t a part of it,
    one way or the other, in someone close.

    DJ, I understand where you’re coming from because I’ve been there. Having seen the “treatment” process from the inside, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. Status quo attitudes such as yours are not only hurting millions of forcibly institutionalized Americans who don’t need any kind of “help.” They’re also tossing the fewer people in need of real help into an abusive exploitative system that benefits “treatment” providers and pharmacrats more than anyone else while giving recipients a responsibility escape clause through the doorway of “mental illness.”

    I couldn’t give a fair argument for this without writing half a book (much of which is already in the excellent Saying Yes).

    Let’s skip the arguments about Mr. Paey. I’ll ignore the fact that there is almost no evidence in the article to support your pithy DSM diagnosis. Even if the man is “self destructing,” it is not the government’s job to force people to get “help” when they’re hurting no one but themselves. If you can’t distinguish between breaking the law in an attempt to obtain drugs and breaking the law via a DUI, then certainly this case will make little sense as a quintessential libertarian case in point.

  42. I know the principals in this case personally.

    Paey will die in prison barring a successful appeal. He has no chance at parole until about year 21 of his sentence.

    Current policy dictated that he will be placed into a cage, with violent criminals as his only neigbors, for at least 21 years due solely to his wanting more medicine than drug policy officials permit. Note that most such officials, including Florida Drug Czar James McDonough are not medical doctors.

    To anyone who wishes to defend a policy which cages a human being simply for his choice of ingestion, spare me your defense of sentences like Paey’s.

    If he can be caged now due simply to his appetite for a certain pharmacuetical, than you and yours could be next if something you enjoy gets added to the list.

  43. SteveinClearwater writes: “Paey will die in prison barring a successful appeal. He has no chance at parole until about year 21 of his sentence.”

    Steve, how about a campaign for Jeb to pardon him? I mean, for Christ’s sake, what kind of hypocrite would he be not to do so, in light of his daughter’s issues?

    –Mona–

  44. “what kind of hypocrite would he be not to do so, in light of his daughter’s issues?”

    A political hypocrite, of course.

  45. dj wrote: Gotta learn to wrap!

    Um, there’s nothing to learn. Just type. The software will do the wrapping and line-breaking for you.

    Then, when you want to move on to a new paragraph, do what I just did — hit the ENTER key twice. What’s so hard to understand about that? Good Lord.

    Your shit is annoying as hell to read. This could have been a very interesting thread, and a lot of us are quite interested in this topic, but you’ve made it illegible and thus nearly worthless. We’re here to communicate. Do your part and help make the communication more efficient: Either construct your posts in a way that people’s brains are accustomed to processing sentences, or stay out of the way and keep the channel clear for the rest of us.

    Geez.

  46. Your shit is annoying as hell to read…Either construct your posts in a way that people’s brains are accustomed to processing sentences, or stay out of the way and keep the channel clear for the rest of us.

    Brrr…it is colder than New Yorkuss in here!
    By the way, this post was mentioned on the
    corner too. Turn Right at the Corner.

  47. > Seriously, I wish you would answer my question.
    If you support imprisoning drug addicts for their own good,
    do you propose we do the same thing to alcoholics and 400-pound food junkies?

  48. > I’d also be curious to know how to diagnosed this man as “addicted.” I mean, you’ve already expression special insight into everything from the man’s bowel movements to his breathing

  49. > Tylenol is extremely safe. At very high doses (4grams+ per day) it can produce a toxic metabolite. This doesn’t mean it’s “a little toxic” at lower doses. It means it isn’t, period. Plenty of people are on it for years.

  50. > As the story says, the doctors were afraid to give him the care that was appropriate for his conditions. This is a serious indictment of the government’s drug policies. But it’s worth remembering that self medication of this sort, and cutting out the evil, white coated, government cartelized middlemen known as physicians, is what Jacob Sullum recommends as the alternative to the status quo.

  51. (I’m sure this must have already been proven futile, but: )

    Jesus, DJ, would you stop with the line breaks? I can’t speak for the other posters, but I find your blank verse nearly impossible to read. It ain’t a typewriter; there’s no need to hit Return. Just let the words wrap.

  52. dj, your arguments are thoroughly meritless. First, Paey may have been hoarding these pills; it is not clear from the stories how many he was taking when he went on the purchasing spree, altho obviously he was taking a lot, Second, *if* he was addicted, he became so as a consequence of severe and intractable pain; addiction may be unavoidable in a small pool of people in acute and chronic pain with a long life expectancy. Third, doctors are notoriously unwilling to take on patients requiring significant amounts of controlled substances, for fear of coming to the attention of The Authorities; that part of Paey’s claim rings horrifyingly true (i.e., that he could not find a FL physician willing to adequately treat him). Fourth, *even if* it is true that Paey was stubborn in insisting on a particular pill regimen that was not his only alternative for pain relief, it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS, NOT YOURS, AND NOT THE GOVERNMENT’S to put him in a cage for having that preference.

    Absent the fascist-level drug laws in this nation (and I seldom employ language like that, but it is fitting for the “War on people who use Drugs and the doctors who prescribe them”)victims of unremitting pain could easily shop around for the many physicians who would offer a variety of efficacious pain control regimens. Some might become addicted to necessary levels of opioids, and if they do, and if there are other ways of effectively managing their pain, they can seek to be winnowed from the drugs they are addicted to — OR NOT. That would be up to them based on, if they choose, unencumbered and free conversations with their doctor in which all options are avialble without the state threatening prison for some.

    Addiction can be horrible, but need not be, or may be preferable to the mental prison of constant and intolerable pain. It is not up to YOU or the STATE to dictate what people in that horrifying position should do.

    In sum, and contrary to your claims, this is a *quintessential* libertarian cause and issue. It goes to both the right to own one’s own body, and for doctors and patients to freely enter contracts for advice and care without the terms being dictated by govt. Your touching concern for Mr. Paey’s bowel habits, and your hope that they improve in the prison cell you apparently think is just, are not only non-libertarian, but preposterous.

    –Mona–

  53. perhaps the signal is to stop treating the medical profession as though they were some sort of insightful omnipotent god. Most doctors seem to have lost track of basic biochemistry and perscribe based on their pharmaceutical sales reps advice.
    The real fix is to limit the lawyers to the judiciary and invalidate all laws passed by a legislature that contained a lawyer. Constitutionally, as members of the bar, they are limited to the judicial branch – they are an unmitigated disaster in the executive branch (Bill and Hill). And congress is the opposite of progress.
    So let’s enforce the constitution and start from the beginning with just the bill of rights. Let’s create a body of law that the people can understand. And lets allow the people to use common sense as the main pathway to a reason able life. (Had to get that last plug in, right?)

  54. personally, i like DJ’s writing style. very lyrical.

    i think he’s full of it on this one, though.

  55. Mona,

    Addictions are only horrible burdens when the substance one is addicted to becomes unavailable.

    Ask any food addict.

    ============================================

    I believe that all so called addicts are just people in pain. Pain unrecognized by the government. It is not the demons in the drugs that make a person an addict. It is pain. See Dr. Lonnie Shavelson.

  56. You know I am aware of people who are slaves to food.

    There are people slaves to insulin.

    There are people slaves to digitalis.

    An addiction cheaply supplied is never much of a problem.

  57. MONA, there is something brewing in that regard…I can email you tomorrow with details.

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