The Potential Dangers of Prescribed Pain Killers
Recently we (Ben Burks & Dr. Crabb) read an article about the increase of heroin use in Southwest Michigan. The Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason, whose department responded to two overdoses at the same spot last week, agreed. “Most of the people that we respond to look like a normal person,” he said. “I think heroin has no boundaries. Poor to rich people, religious to not religious. It doesn’t matter what kind of home you come from or what kind of person you are. It’s sad.”
On our drive back from a wonderful RU conference in Michigan, we heard on the Chicago famous “News Radio 78” that heroin use has sky rocketed in the Chicago area due to – don’t miss this – the growing problem of the misuse and abuse of prescription medications, specifically pain killers. People are getting hooked on pain killers and then trading or escalating their addiction for heroin on the streets.
As we travel, we meet pastors, church leaders, and church members of all sorts who are addicted to pain killers. The feeling of euphoria they receive from these pills gives them a break, not only from their pain but from the reality of their life. Dosages are increased (called tolerance) and abused to take a break, howbeit momentarily, from their lives that are beginning to unravel at the core.
CNN editor, Mariana Van Zeller recently did an article on “Painkillers are a gateway to Heroin.” “In the U.S., more people are abusing prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy combined, but the most destructive have been prescription pain drugs such as oxycodone, best known by the brand name OxyContin.” In the article she states that “The Centers for Disease Control data show overdose deaths from prescription painkillers more than doubled from 2000 to 2007, and in 17 states, painkiller overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death.” In the State of Florida, 11 people on average die from an overdose of painkillers a day.
After meditating on this subject for 72 hours, we came up with a few questions that may help you or someone you love overcome this stranglehold that will eventually take more than they ever could imagine.
- Are you aware of the number of people that cannot control pain killers?
- Are you aware many doctors who treated people with long term pain killers are now questioning their prescribing practices?
- Are you aware that the Scriptures make no promises for a pain free life, but rather grace to endure every circumstance of life?
- Are you willing to allow someone to hold your medication and distribute them to you?
The number of annual overdose deaths from narcotic painkillers has grown four times higher than it was a decade ago. The current statistic is that about 16,000 people die (annually) of overdoses involving prescription narcotics. The thing that was even more powerful for us was the growing realization that there are risks or side effects from these drugs for the patient themselves, not just for people who are out-and-out abusing these drugs. People taking these drugs as directed by their physician have far more significant negative consequences than have been previously appreciated. Consequences such as impaired cognition, slow response time, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression which can lead to death amongst others. It becomes a question of, “How are we treating chronic pain over the long term and are these drugs really the answer?”
Previous to the outburst of prescribed pain killing drugs, people used and still use Marijuana. Marijuana was called the gateway drug for basically all addictive drugs in the past. Now the pain killers have become a gateway drug and it is far more deceptive and deadly because of its dosage being easy to abuse.
One leading expert said: “We thought the big problem with these drugs is addiction. Now we realize the problem is with patients who take them and basically opt out of life.” I am not speaking of a short term solution after surgery. I am speaking of treatment with no end in sight.
Pain killers in general are not the long term solution to the problem that is causing the pain, they are only meant to be a temporary “band-aid” until the body can heal itself or further treatment is rendered to correct the problem. Sometimes living with a measure of pain must be expected!
The Bible says in Genesis 3:16, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” The word sorrow comes from the same word which means hurt or pain. This was God’s response to the woman as a result of sin and the separation that occurred. The man was promised pain as well in his work.
We also see biblical characters who suffered with pain throughout the Bible. Job suffered with extreme pain and discomfort. Paul suffered and provides us with a long list of the causes of those sufferings. Do not misunderstand us, we believe there is a place for pain medicine, but we do not believe that our entire trust should ever be placed in narcotic medicines to help us cope with our pain or to cope with our current situation. We believe our complete confidence and trust should be in the Lord.
1Peter 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
2Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Often a person addicted would not even consider a loved one monitoring the situation. They know they have a problem and pride overtakes their decision making. We have even had ladies in our Discipleship Home tell us that their husbands wanted them to keep the pain medication from them and only give it to them as prescribed. However, they would become violent, vicious, and demanding to regain control over the pain medication.
Often those addicted will look to every illness and sickness, and even creating some disorders in order to go to a doctor to get another prescription for pain medications so that they may get their fix. Many people will “doctor shop” in order to stock pile their drug of choice. These pain pills are also being sold on the streets in the effort to get stronger drugs. OxyContin can sell as high as $10 a pill on the streets.
If you have a loved one who you think is abusing prescription pain killers, you might want to consider a loving intervention, using this email to talk about the “big pink elephant in the room” that everyone is aware of and that everyone has been avoiding. Something needs to be done to pull your loved one out of this destructive behavior before they are a part of the statistics above.
We are thankful for how God is using the ministry of RU to see people recover themselves, through God’s grace, from abuse and addiction to pain killers. If we can help you, please call our hotline today at 866-reformu. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is freedom available for all!