Drug War

Veterans Lives, and All of our Lives, Made More Difficult and Painful Thanks to Government's War on Painkillers


Washington Post reported yesterday on more grim news arising from an irrational fear of painkillers on the part of medical and bureaucratic professionals, focusing on the harm to veterans.

somegeekintn / Foter / CC BY

Thanks to busybodism on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration, any vet getting hydrocodone-based painkillers via the Veterans Administration now need to go back to their doctor monthly to get more medicine. (So do the rest of us civilians, but this Post story focuses on the perhaps more sympathetic case of veterans.)

This is bad, obviously, for those far away from their doctors and those fighting through already very busy doctor's schedules.

An excerpt on some of the human costs of these policies designed to save us from ourselves, or from the demon of prescription opiods:

some veterans say they have come to depend on these painkillers to function and now, unable to get a timely renewal of the prescription, are suffering withdrawal symptoms that feel like a panic attack and the flu at the same time.

Craig Schroeder was injured in a makeshift-bomb explosion while serving as a Marine corporal in the "Triangle of Death," a region south of Baghdad. He suffers from traumatic brain injury, which has affected his hearing, memory and movement, and from pain related to a broken foot and ankle and a herniated disc in his back. He has been on a steady regimen of opioids.

But after the DEA regulations were put in place, he was unable to get an appointment to see his doctor for nearly five months, he said. He stayed in bed at his home in North Carolina much of that time.

"It was a nightmare. I was just in unbearable, terrible pain," he said. "I couldn't even go to the ER because those doctors won't write those scripts."…..

A retired staff Army sergeant who served in Iraq, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for medical privacy reasons, said he can't drive because of shrapnel in his femur and pelvis. He takes the bus nearly two hours for "a one-minute consult" to get his medications. He has been taking them for more than nine years and has never had an addiction problem, he said.

Mike Davis, a retired Army corporal, said he shattered his left arm from the elbow to the fingertips when he fell off of a Pershing missile during maneuvers in Germany in 1979. Over the years, he has had six surgeries.

After the last one, in 2003, he was prescribed opioids and said he has been on them since. Davis, who now works as a social worker in Illinois, said he feels lucky to have found a combination of painkillers that works for him.

"It's just insulting to the veteran to assume they are abusing these drugs," said his wife, Linda Davis, who works as his personal patient advocate. "I'm fully aware that people doctor-shop, some docs overprescribe. But I think they need to realize that there's a real difference between addiction and dependence."

In our culture racked with opiophobia, wanting, or even needing for a satisfactory life, a particular kind of drug is demonized as dangerous addiction. Unlike, say, "dependence" on heart or cholesterol medicine, "dependence" on these types of painkillers is something bureacrats use as an excuse to consume our tax dollars to make our lives more difficult and painful.

Jacob Sullum's classic 1997 feature on the (sadly, ongoing more than ever) war on painkillers, "No Relief in Sight."

NEXT: Pot Activist Helps Illustrate the Limits of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Political Courage

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  1. Even Barbie Bondi blames the DEA.


    Local news finally does something worthy …

    1. From the comments:

      xnerd TOPDOG1 ? 2 days ago
      the financial aspect is not an issue. If you want to get after a sector go after the republicans for giving away about 900 dollars per year for every working adult to the already profitable OIL cartels.

      the DEA needs to be reformed not removed.

      The DEA isn’t the problem, it’s the OIL cartels the Repubs have sold us out to.. it all makes sense now..

      Fucking genius.

      1. “The DEA isn’t the problem, it’s the OIL cartels the Repubs have sold us out to.. it all makes sense now..”

        And if you ask for cites on the “oil subsidies” the idjits will link you to sheets detailing IRS deductions which are identical to those taken by every company in the US.
        So the misdirection is a bogus argument *and* it’s based on lies.

        1. I think you’re giving our friend the random commenter much too much credit. I’d give it one in a hundred that he bothers to reply, much less cite his sources.

        2. And even if it weren’t it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. It’s like these people can’t look at an issue, any issue, without having to yell about the Republicans or Democrats, as if one side or the other is the epitome of love and virtue while its opponent is the domain of demons. It’s insane.

  2. Ugh. I just despise this subject, cause it’s utterly rage inducing.

    Not reading…

    1. The drug war is quite possibly the most nut punching aspect of government. There is so much ignorance and statism wrapped up in it.

      1. Yep. And as someone who’s had to deal with pain in more than one awful, horrid form, the increasing difficulty of getting pain meds is…troubling.

        I’ve been fortunate the past year to only need them last summer (kidney stones – I wouldn’t wish those on Mary Stack).

        And then going after the doctors, like the case they talked about on HyR about the psycho bitch prosecutor in Kansas?

        Ugh….my nuts can’t take the abuse.

        1. Is there any other kind of prosecutor?

  3. I need to learn chemistry

    1. My wife is a Bio major, Chem minor. One of our “prepping” concerns is….meds. I’m seriously thinking of stocking up on doggie antibiotics and shit.

      Just in case.

      That’s when having five dogs almost seems to make sense…”OK, you’re making the pickup, Blue….GOOD DOG!”

      1. If you stock up on antibiotics, under normal conditions they could last 3 to 5 years at full potency. Normal conditions being, in a cool, dark, dry place.

        If you really want to get creative, considering that what degrades most pharms is oxidation, you could find an airtight glass or metal container and flush out the o2 with a noble gas. It’s just a thought, but I bet you could extend the shelf life greatly. Run that idea by the wife and see what she thinks.

        Nevertheless, I’ve spent more of my energy learning some basic herbalism and growing a medicinal garden for long term care.

        1. Yeah, mostly I’m hoping I die before I get too much older – then I won’t have to worry about it 🙂

            1. Yeah, that song is so ironic now, as ancient Pete and fossil Roger still tour…

              Moon got it right…:)

              1. I’d say Entwistle did better than Moon. Guy spent every dime he earned. The only reason they were playing when he passed was that he needed the money.

  4. I have been on Schedule II opioids for almost 12 years now. During that time multiple doctors have taken over the responsibility for writing my prescriptions for those medications, and NOT A SINGLE ONE required me to have an appointment or “consult” every single month. Were they all breaking the law? Not likely. Individuals taking opioid pain medications are not required to consult with a doctor every single time they pick up a prescription. I am required to see my doctor every three months. Is it in inconvenience? Yes? Is it the same as being required to have a consult every single time I pick up a prescription? Yes. As, I said, perhaps all my doctors were breaking the law, and my current doctor still is. However, I think the more likely explanation is that individuals are not required by law to see a doctor every single fucking time they pick up a prescription.

    1. In response to my question “Is it the same as being required to have a consult every time I pick up a prescription””, the answer should obviously be “No”, instead of the “Yes” I erroneously typed in my above post.

    2. RTFA:

      DEA officials offer some flexibility, allowing doctors to write prescriptions for up to 90 days by post-dating them. But many VA doctors will not do that because of concerns over fraud or fatal overdoses; doctors are telling patients they need to come back every month, medical staff say.

    3. Bully for you, then.

      Not to tip my hand as to my profession, but these regulations and witch-hunts serve only to scare physicians out of treating people who need opioids for pain control. When a patient calls telling me they have postoperative pain, do I give them something? Or do I worry that they might sell it and get me entangled in a giant mess with the state medical board?

      It’s the chilling effect that is the problem.

      1. Does it also lead to your nursery to not believing me when I tell them the 5 mg of IV morphine had no effect on the pain in my face when I just got done breaking it on a concrete landing after falling down a flight of stairs?

        Frankly when I got the “really?, you’re lying to me” face as I’m lying in horrific pain in Postop recovery pissed me the hell off.

        It’s almost like medical staff think they know better how much pain a patient is in.

        1. Stupid AutoCorrect. Should’ve been nurses not nursery.

        2. From my personal experience the chilling effect is very real, and very painful.

          Here in Florida there has been a history of “pill mill” doctors offering prescriptions for the asking. This results in (horrors) people using them for recreational purposes!

          So when I went in for surgery a couple of years back I spent about 24 hours in extreme pain. I grabbed the attending physician, surgeon and anesthesiologist in the morning when they all happened to be making rounds to extract an explanation and some better pain relief. The anesthesiologist told me that a year earlier he would have prescribed double the dose I was getting in my morphine drip. He told me the change was the direct result of enforcement actions from the Feds and he and other doctors were not at all happy about it.

          The net result was that I had to suck it up and deal with it. So, thanks for that Mr. Drug Warrior.

    4. You have to see a doctor every 90 days. In Colorado I have to go to the office and pick my script every 30 days. I don’t have to see any doctor just go in the office every 30 days. I am unable to drive a car so it really makes it a pain in the ass for me. As an extra bonus the pharmacies in Colorado are so fucking scared of the feds that they keep a low supply of Oxy so I sometimes get the extra bonus of having to wait for them to get a new supply. This sometimes leads to running out and going thru withdrawal.

  5. As the POST story explains, the new regs are less than a year old.

    1. Also, they are specific to hydrocodone based painkillers, so if you are using different types, wouldn’t apply to you.

      1. But they are steadily squeezing the truly effective opioid medications into schedule II. To avoid the hassle, physicians write for less-restrictive but less-effective medications.

  6. OT: These “Nameofvictim” Laws never end up being good laws. Felonious assault is already a thing.


    1. The felony isn’t covered under the 30+ stabbings?

  7. If they’re not above fucking over the troops on pain management, then there’s little hope for anyone.

  8. “I’m fully aware that people doctor-shop…”

    How dare citizens actually try to get the health care they want, instead of being obedient little dogs to the first medical mafia master who deigns to give them an appointment?

    Isn’t it grand, that it is now considered contemptible to try to work within our totalitarian health care system to preserve your health?

    I’ve just come back from another episode of “doctor shopping.” The new trend is that doctors have the treatments they’re comfortable giving, and you pay for the privilege of attending an infomercial from them where they tell you what they do, and how much they’ll charge you for doing what they want to do.

    The problem for these veterans, as it is with us all, is that we are not *free*.

    Free to buy what and from whom we choose.

    In a free society, these vets would not need permission from an agent of the state to choose their meds, or to buy them. They’d order their meds from amazon, and they would likely be delivered that day.

    There’d be no story to write. There’d be no problem. In a free society.

    I know – I may as well talk about a society on Neptune. Just as relevant.

    1. Yeah, watching my Uncle Jon (retired Air Force MP, Vietnam vet) wither away and die under the “care” of the VA was heart wrenching.

      Fortunately, he didn’t have too much pain for too long – but why is ANY necessary if it can be managed?

      Fuck the drug warriors, hard.

    2. In a free society, these vets would not need permission from an agent of the state to choose their meds, or to buy them. They’d order their meds from amazon, and they would likely be delivered that day.

      At 1/10th the price.

  9. When we were a free country you could just pop on down to the general store and pickup a bottle of laudanum. Forcing people to live in pain because somebody somewhere may use the drugs for pleasure rather than simply pain relief is immoral. The drug war is morally reprehensible and those responsible for perpetuating it are vile, evil sociopaths who deserve to die alone and in great pain. Shooting them is too good for them, they need to have their limbs broken and then they need to be tossed into a hole to die.

    Oh and fuck you pig.

    1. “Forcing people to live in pain because somebody somewhere may use the drugs for pleasure rather than simply pain relief is immoral. ”

      Amen and well said.

    2. Stomach cancer. That’s what I keep wishing on the drug warriors.

  10. It’s not just pain meds either. I’ve had my former pharmacy reject a Rx because the date was not written out in long-hand, a requirement in FL that Bondi is responsible for. She is a genuine scumbag.


    The More Time You Spend Awake The More Time You Spend Asleep.

    Relationships Are Messed Up But Your Face Isn’t.

    I’m So Glad I Have A Group Of Elders Who Can Guide Me In The Right Direction.

    This Cute Little Blonde Baby Just Looked At Me.

    1. You are incorrect. AC is the Iron Sheik.



      Nancy Grace YOU FAT DUMB BITCH I beat the fuck out of you talk bad about my wrestling brother. GO FUCK YOURSELF YOU DEAD DOG WHORE

      1. Either one is utterly brilliant!

        I gotta go with Jaden on this one. Those are disturbingly Cyborg-like.

        I love that guy…(AC, not young Mr. Smith)

        1. I could read Iron Sheik tweets all day


          1. It certainly is charming!

            1. Do yourself a favor and find his live-tweets for the Super Bowl. I’m laughing so hard my sides hurt.

              1. Ok..last one.


                1. Thanks for the tip – FOLLOWING!

                  The Iron Sheik @the_ironsheik ? Feb 17

                  You’d pay MONEY for that – and it’s FREE!

    2. I think of AC after every @dril tweet.

      wint @dril ? Feb 10
      if youre looking for good movies about grease, do not watch the nmovie “grease”, because you will get swindled

      wint @dril ? Feb 16
      my good new plan is to aquire a storefront, name it “please dont come in here” and jack off inside of it, alone, until i run out of money

      wint @dril ? Feb 17
      if any of oyu crude boys want to come after me *room lights up revealing collection of r/c helicopters behind my outspread arms* be my guest

  12. Anybody else watching the Budweiser Dual 125’s? Ain’t got nothin’ for them Chevys….

    /all the Toyota and Ford drivers

  13. So much hypocrisy in the Drug War. Rush (King of the Rednecks) Limbaugh said this:

    “Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. … And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995.

    Of course he was later found to be an addict.


    1. Turd lies. That’s what he does; turd lies.

      1. I despise that POS, but I had to tune in to his show one day and I really enjoyed it. It was the day after Clinton was reelected. I voted Libertarian, but just wanted to hear Rush cry.

  14. I hear shrieking – something about, what, decade-old news? Who gives a fuck that some radio talking head is a hypocrite? He didn’t make the fucked up laws.

    PS Notice how the Rushmeister is becoming a bit more libertardian of late? It’s noticable. Wisdom with age?

    1. I have noticed this as well. Sees the writing on the wall I think. But he’s still plenty fucked up.

  15. He didn’t make the fucked up laws.

    No, but he sure as hell supports them.

    And there is nothing libertarian about PigBoy.

    1. Yep, lies. Maybe 8% aren’t lies, but that’s accidental.
      Turd lies.

      1. The only person I ever see bring up Rush is PB and I have yet to anyone here defend Rush. It’s like Bo and PB are the same person. They really think this is a haven for conservatives and team red.

  16. Since we apparently cannot persuade our would-be lords and masters to repeal the laws against fee trade in pain killers, maybe we could get a law,passed that allowed any patient with a diagnosis of chronic pain to hit any politician he meets in the head with a ball-peen hammer.

  17. Everyone in the DEA is scum. Either they’re actively doing evil things or they’re tolerating those who do. Fuck them all.

    1. Please, no. I’m picky about what I touch with that…

  18. Since we are making others pay for our healthcare, it only makes sense that we should limit what people do to their bodies.

    And the obvious solution goes strolling by unnoticed.

  19. World Cup update: England all out for 123 in the 34th over.

    1. I understand all of those words individually but they make no sense when ordered like that..

      1. Wow! New Zealand 72 runs from 5.2 over. RR=13.5, RRR now 1.16.

        1. Now you are just fucking with me..

            1. I know it’s soccer, rugby, cricket, or one of those other gay European sports so “Not Interested.” Post at some sports site to people who give a fuck.

        2. For a second, I thought that was from a test match.

  20. In opiate related news, writer/comedian Harris Wittels died, likely from an overdose. He was a really talented guy, having written some of the best episodes of Parks & Recreation, and at only 30 years old had a promising career ahead of him. He also created the word “humblebrag.”

    It’s been a day of nut punches.

  21. For your evening reading pleasure. Interesting take from David Harsanyi.

    Obama Is Wrong. Democracy Is The Last Thing The Middle East Needs Right Now

    No, it’s the grievances themselves that are the root of the problem. In most Arab countries, the authoritarian leadership is in some ways more liberal than the majority of the citizenry. As bad as these regimes are ? and we coddle and enable many of them ? almost every time the democratic process has been tried in the Islamic world, it’s produced more extremism and factional violence. So which nation does the president propose would benefit most from more democracy? Pakistan? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? How would Christians and Alawites fare in a democratic Syria, do you think?

    1. Democracy, qua democracy, is pitched often enough as a positive value.
      Unless it is tempered by some constitutional limits (and it’s obvious the US Constitution has proven less than totally effective), it’s mob rule.
      Try democracy in the asylum; I’ll spectate.

      1. Unless it is tempered by some constitutional limits…

        And a temperate philosophy among the electorate. I think of the world as a programmer (I know this a sketchy POV in real politics) but the word (instruction) “And” is important. The Christian philosophy, with its “Eye for an eye” and “Turn the other cheek”, is contradictory, but pleasantly temperate in practice.

        1. “And a temperate philosophy among the electorate.”
          Asking a lot there, but then so is asking for an effective Constitution…

        2. With all due respect, Christian philosophy actually rejects the “eye for an eye” teaching. There is no contradiction in this matter.

          Jesus specifically taught:

          “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” –Matt 5:38,39

          This only works for those with a conscience, of course. Nonetheless, this is at the core of western crime and punishment philosophy. We no longer cut off the hands of thieves, for example.

    2. You have to look at Turkey. They’ve elected Islamists and turned a Western looking country of moderate Islam into a lunatic clown factory.

      1. I wonder if the Turkish military still has the chops to put a stop to it. I thought they would have stepped in by now, but maybe the will is no longer there.

        1. I don’t think so. They just built a new US$615,000,000 presidential palace (not including cost overruns). I’m sure the military, and the people in general, would have found a better use for that money.

    3. In most Arab countries, the authoritarian leadership is in some ways more liberal than the majority of the citizenry. As bad as these regimes are ? and we coddle and enable many of them ? almost every time the democratic process has been tried in the Islamic world, it’s produced more extremism and factional violence.

      It’s fucking pathetic that this needs to be said.

  22. Headline I did not expect to see today:

    Oral sex may be a life saver for spider

    1. It does wonders for human relationships too.

  23. In our culture racked with opiophobia…

    As a practical matter, opioids causes constipation. And not all phobias are irrational, BTW. I have tried Vicodin, heroin, and methadone. I didn’t like the first two, but methadone I did. I couldn’t take a crap for 3 days after taking any of them. Maybe the body adjusts, I didn’t want to wait to find out.

    1. There’s also the limitations you might choose for other reasons; downers mean you don’t get a lot done. I really like to accomplish things.
      But when the back spasms, you BET I want opiates available.

      1. I really like to accomplish things.

        What a curious sentiment for a libertarian. :p

        1. And speaking as an atheist, it’s also my cross to bear!

    2. Raw opium is a traditional treatment for diarrhea.

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