Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not sure why.. but

Have you ever been so intrigued by a topic that you had to get to the bottom of it? Yes, I have. And I do it all the time.

Yesterday's discussion with some of my (homeschooled) students, revealed that drug abuse is alive and well amongst their peers. And that their knowledge of drugs and its dangers was far more advanced than mine. Although I did not suspect any of them to be involved with drugs, it was very clear to me that they had known some kids who were involved. (not kids who go to our co-op, but just people they knew)

So, I asked them: what sort of drugs do these people take? Most of them take things like pot, or cocaine, or "cheap stuff" not like meth or heroin.

They also mentioned that programs like "Dare" were just peaking kids' interest in drugs, rather than accomplishing the goal of getting kids off drugs.

And as my mind wandered from that discussion, I recalled the recent news stories that I've been hearing about prescription drug abuse. The most recent story of this was on the case of a Florida woman who seemed to be from the "right side of the tracks" and was given a prescription for oxycondone, an pain killer.

So, I wanted to do some research on this because this could very likely affect someone I love or someone you love down the road. Here is what I've come up with.

Oxycondone is an opiate, sort of a manufactured form of opium. In the U.S., heroin used to be a prescription drug made by Bayer--can you imagine? Now we think of heroin users as the "most addicted" form of drug abusers. I am not sure when heroin made it from the prescribed status to the "illegal drug" status, but it was before my time. But my understanding is that oxycondone makes heroin look wimpy, very wimpy. In fact, it has put the makers of this stuff into a tailspin to make it "better".. whatever that means?

So now we have "oxycondone" as our modern-day prescribed "heroin". It is given to everyone from cancer patients surviving their last days to fibromyalgia patients. And prescribed opiates come in many shapes and sizes, depending on your ailment--vicodin, anyone?

The problem with these types of drugs is that they are highly addictive. Thankfully, I have never had a drug addiction or an interest in drugs, but I probably would be stupid enough to take medicine that was prescribed--especially if I were in a lot of pain.

And yes, I took vicodin after the C-section and the hysterecomy. And noticed a huge amount of pain and anxiety after deciding to be done with taking it after 5 days!! I was taking the medication for five days, people. After it happened not once, but twice, I decided never to take that medication again--for anything. But my question was why? Why the big drama of going off the meds? Now it is clear--opiates..

So, what is to be done? What if you, or someone you love has inadvertently gotten addicted to a pain killer, such as ocycodone? I would probably start here. This tells of personal stories and help available to regular people (like us) who have gotten help. In polite circles, we really do not want to bring this kind of thing up, do we?

How do we start a conversation with someone, "Oh so, how is your Bible study going? and uh. oh.. I think I'm addicted to prescription drugs.."

Well, let's talk about this stuff, OK? If you know someone who has chronic pain, ask them. So, what are you taking for that? How often do you take it? What do you feel when you take it?

Let's give a rip and care for people. There are other ways to deal with chronic pain. And there has GOT to be a better medication out there. And then I can teach them pilates or something!

Seriously, I am not an experienced chronic pain person, so I do not claim to know all the answers, but I just thought I'd put this out there. Can we at least raise awareness of this in our little circles of influence? See? I'm doing my little part right now. And I plan to tell my kids and family, as soon as they get out of bed... well, I'll probably let them wake up a little bit, first.


Jan Hatchett said...

I agree with you that addiction and drug use among teens is heartbreaking. I taught high school for 11 years before homeschooling my own kiddos and I saw how rampant drug use was. And I worked at both public and private Christian schools.

I am glad that you are talking candidly with your kids and the blogging community. We need more of this kind of talk!


Kathryn said...

I'm rather opinionated on this one, largely because i personally believe my poor health is directly related to my past use of prescription drugs. I could go on & on & on about this. I'll try to be brief.

I think, most of the time, people are better off not using drugs. (I differentiate very little between legal & illegal drugs these days, except legal drugs are easier to obtain & you don't automatically go to jail if you are found possessing them. You CAN however, easily get a DUI for driving under the influence, with all the penalties of driving drunk from alcohol. Not enough is being done to warn folks about this.)

There are many powerful herbs & supplements that will do the job that drugs do - usually just not as quickly. Most of the time they are safer than drugs, & don't have the side effects. I have treated severe UTIs with herbs. I'm currently treating an h. pylori infection with herbals, but it will take 4-5 months rather than the 10 days of antibiotics (which are no guarantee, anyway).

Drugs are overused in this country. Too many folks want to be given a pill so they can continue their current lifestyle without making the painful changes that would give them better health. My mother would prefer pain meds to change of diet, even tho the change of diet would improve her health in other ways as well. I've known diabetics who prefer meds to having to change diet.

Oh, and your doc doesn't know as much about your meds as you might think he does. Many doctors have only the basics of chemistry and little knowledge of being able to truly read statistics. (Read John Abramson's Overdosed America.)

Case in point: I am severely reactive to fluoride. About 30% of meds currently are fluoride-based. When i tell doctors i can't have any med that is fluoride-based, many of them don't know what i'm talking about. Last week i had to have a procedure done in ER. I told them over & over about the fluoride-based med issue. Fortunately for me none were needed for the procedure (although i was desperately checking the internet for their drug even as i was being put under; many anesthetics are fluoride-based & i didn't trust them to know what they were talking about) but the prescription the doctor wrote for me on discharge included a med which was fluoride-based. Taking that could be severely detrimental to my health, but the doctor had no awareness of it. However, i've been self-treating this week with herbals & naturals, & i'm amazed at how much quicker i'm healing with these as opposed to past history using drugs.

Kathryn said...

I was dependent on benzos for a while for sleep (about 10 years ago). I chose to go off of them & go thru the "withdrawl" of not sleeping for 7 days. I didn't find it difficult, but it also wasn't a true addiction. Had i not gone off of them, i'm sure i would have shortly been addicted. The result of that, however, was that if i ever use them for more than 2 nights in a row, i go thru "withdrawl" of sleeplessness. God has done much in me, & i'm thankful to no longer need drugs. I don't use even Tylenol or Advil/Motrin.

I'm concerned for our country, that we have replaced God with science; & given doctors too much power (or believe in them/trust them too much). We also want a quick fix, even if the ultimate result of that is negative long term. I'm not saying that drugs are wrong 100% of the time, but i do think we need to cut back our reliance upon them. Drug companies don't want us to do that or the knowledge of how to be more self-reliant for our own health. Pharmaceutical companies are one of the largest money-making industries in this country.

How are our kids suppose to know that drugs (street drugs or prescription) are not the best choice when they see parents taking meds for all kinds of things, rather than living more responsibly?

Ok, i can't be brief on this, but i could say so much more!

Drugs are often much easier to take than to go thru grief, stress, depression, etc. We need to learn to deal with normal life issues outside of medical assistance:

Herding Grasshoppers said...


You've said a lot, there, and I just want to respond to one piece.

First, btw, it's oxycodone, not oxycoNdone.

I'm NOT a doctor (and don't play one on TV ;D) but I do have several friends in the medical community.

Certainly there seem to be plenty of doctors around - especially in the media - who are all too willing to give people unnecessary prescriptions. (I could write a book about my sister-in-law's drug abuse problem, and how easily she gets them.) BUT...

The prevailing wisdom, (from my medical friends/doctors) is that people who have had surgeries, for instance, and take pain meds as prescribed for pain, are really not at risk for becoming addicted.

Most of us don't like that fuzzy feeling and want to get off the meds as soon as possible, right?

I had a C-section too, and quitting your pain meds after five days may have been too soon. You would notice pain, and that would lead to anxiety, yah?

The docs also say that people who take their pain meds as prescribed (and stay "ahead" of their pain) usually end up taking less pain meds in the long run.

Yes, they're addicting, and yes there is a real problem. But I don't think that we need to be afraid to take them when and as legitimately prescribed. (Unlike the doctor in the Florida article, handing out BLANK prescriptions, left and right.)

Just my .02 cents.

Which brings up a bittersweet, yet funny, story. My grandma died of cancer in 1990. When it was identified it was untreatable and they gave her about 3 months to live. Which turned out to be, sadly, accurate.

When you have a patient, known to be terminally ill, what you try to do is help them manage their pain, yah? So they offered her morphine.

"But it's addicting!" she worried.

And - at that point - that matters?

Organizing Mommy said...

Kathryn--thanks for chiming in and giving such great advice.

Juli--thanks also. You made some good points. Treating someone for pain--especially severe pain--can be a legitimate use of those types of drugs. But at what point do we cross the fuzzy line between pain management and addiction? Thanks for the correction on spelling. I knew that it was wrong, but wasn't sure what the right spelling was. There are two drugs that are very similar in spelling; I think I just combined them.

And yes.. your grandmother is a case in which these type of things are very useful.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

You're right about the fuzzy line!

My experience with people using those kind of drugs had been either terminal patients (relatives, dying of cancer) or post-surgical, myself included.

The legitimate (and ethical) goal of using those meds was to gradually "step-down" to OTC meds (over the counter) and then to NO meds.

I'm not thinking in terms of people who WANT to abuse the drugs and find it all too easy - through unethical doctors or other means - to get them.

But the other gray area is people with chronic pain. How do we help those people?

Kathryn mentioned that people who are unwilling to change their habits/lifestyles and just want a pill to "fix" everything.

Now that is the scenario that doctors should be addressing!

Kathryn said...

My diatribe against meds was not directed at short term pain models or end of life help.

In fact, i have read that many docs are erring on the side of leaving folks in pain, citing the "addictive" properties of those meds, even in end of life cases! That, i believe, is simply horrible.

The fact is, however, that in many cases of chronic pain, the pain can be alleviated by natural means or change of lifestyle. But that is much harder to deal with.

I deal with chronic, but rarely severe, pain most days. It is much better these days thru hard changes in diet.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Good for you, Kathryn!

I think we agree on much more than I thought at first :D


Organizing Mommy said...

The gist of the link (to the Florida woman) was clearly a case of these drugs used in an unethical way--and an abusive way. And these drugs seem to have a much higher propensity to become addictive--such as the case of the woman with fibromyalgia.

Anyway, I need to solve other world problems now. Thanks for all of the input. As usual, I allow my readers to moderate my opinions! LOL.

Mrs. Parunak said...

Interesting stuff! I'm sure that if I were in pain, and a doctor gave me a medication, I'd take it. In fact, after my pneumonia, I had excruciating pain from throwing one of my ribs out coughing. It was so bad, we went to the ER. They offered me a drug. I didn't even bother to ask what it was. I just gave them my arm for the needle. I suppose if I had a prescription, I'd be able to look into the drug, but it could be too late at that point.

Organizing Mommy said...

When you go into the ER for pain, I'd take "whatever" also. I'm thinking about long-term pain management. And it's very individual--how much "pain relief" each person requires is different. There are obviously some legitimate uses of strong drugs for long term management. I am not going to cast judgment on my friends who are in chronic pain! But the dangers are there for a "heroin type of addiction" to be present.