September 14, 2009

An Opiate Controlled Population by Ryan Harshbarger

The Centers for Disease Control stated that “accidental drug overdose has become the number one cause of death for adults ages 35-54, and is now the second leading cause of death in America.”

My father is 53 years old and worked from the time he was 15 until he was 40. His whole tremendous work ethic was designed to support his family. He was a strong man with ambitions of one day retiring and living the rest of his day's peacefully and financially balanced. Tragically in 1996 he was blindsided by a work related injury that has left him riddled with pain and countless surgeries.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) a ruthless neurological condition that usually starts in the location of the injury, when the area is healed the nervous system continues to send messages to the brain that there is still pain. This condition wasn't very well known at the time of his accident so the immediate response to his pain was a variety of pain-killers that have not only polluted his body and almost destroyed his liver but has also played an evil game with his cognitive skills.

He was never one to complain about being sick or the simple body aches of a long work day. A former Sgt. In the United States Army is now a man that cannot even walk down the street without a deathly pain engulfing every nerve in his body. All attempts to manage his pain has been one failed attempt after another. I have seen him so invaded by chemicals that he would have to crawl on all fours to pull himself together and regain a drunken balance. To this day when you look into his eyes you see a surreal reminder of failed pharmaceutical experiment's gone wrong.

In 2002 a friend of my father offered him an alternative to living in hell. While setting out back on the dock talking about all the chemicals that have been thrown into their bodies his friend lit up a joint and passed it to my father. At first he was apprehensive at the notion of smoking marijuana to aid his pain, but from the first time a feeling that he had not felt in six years came back. “To feel no pain”. As soon he came home he was in a complete state of euphoria and not from being high but from being pain-free.

The next day we began researching medical marijuana in our state and ran into a wall, the only option was “Marinol” a man made form of cannabis, so he called his doctor and asked him if he could try this instead of all the vicodin and morphine he was taking. It took about a week and he picked up his script. This was the beginning of some sort of serenity for him until the insurance company refused to pay the drug. Over the next few months we tried everything we could to receive some more clarity on why this was such a non-excepted method of pain relief. Without any other options at that time he was forced to go back on the pills that would later cause more problems than good.

As of today he still has no way of getting back to that light in the darkness without either breaking the law or moving out-west. If you compare the use of marijuana to the use of pharmaceutical pain killers you actually get a little disturbed by the comparison of the side affects of whats legal and what isn't.

Here is a list of the collection of pain killers and the side effects:

Vicodin: A highly addictive pain killer that includes a variety of

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting


  • Drowsiness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

Other possible side effects include (but are not limited to):

Oxicontin: Chronic use of opioids can result in tolerance for the drugs, which means that users must take higher doses to achieve the same initial effects. Long-term use also can lead to physical dependence and addiction -- the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped.Properly managed medical use of pain relievers is safe and rarely causes clinical addiction, defined as compulsive, often uncontrollable use of drugs. Taken exactly as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain effectively.

MS Contin: MS CONTIN contains morphine sulfate, an opioid agonist and a Schedule II controlled substance, with an abuse liability similar to other opioid analgesics.

Morphine can be abused in a manner similar to other opioid agonists, legal or illicit. This should be considered when prescribing or dispensing MS CONTIN in situations where the physician or pharmacist is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion.

MS CONTIN Tablets are a controlled-release oral formulation of morphine sulfate indicated for the management of moderate to severe pain when a continuous, around- the-clock opioid analgesic is needed for an extended period of time.

MS CONTIN Tablets are NOT intended for use as a prn analgesic.

MS CONTIN100 and 200 mg Tablets ARE FOR USE IN OPIOID-TOLERANT PATIENTS ONLY. These tablet strengths may cause fatal respiratory depression when administered to patients not previously exposed to opioids.


Dilauded: Constipation; dizziness, drowsiness; dry mouth; flushing; lightheadedness; nausea; sweating; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur when using Hydromorphone High-Potency:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; mental or mood changes; seizure; severe or persistent dizziness or drowsiness; severe or persistent headache or vomiting; shallow, slowed, or difficult breathing; tremor; trouble urinating; vision changes.

All of these are highly addictive and our handed out by doctors all over the globe as suitable treatment for extreme pain.

In 2006 my father had enough of being this way so he made himself come off these drugs but he had us methadone in order to deal with the brutal withdraws. Is this really viewed as a healthy form of treatment? Of course not it is listed on every prescription and told by medical doctors how dangerous these drugs are, yet they still today are manufactured at record highs.

Everyday on the news you see all the crimes that are drug related. Most of these today are committed by white male age's 25 to 45 living in the suburbs with nice homes and come from really good families; “They are not robbing drugstores for marijuana but pills.” The ones I have listed above. It seems in the midst of the governments war on drugs they in fact created a bigger problem than they had when the ridiculous campaign was conceived.

Today my father is still in pain and unable to work, he just had a major neck surgery because the nerves in his spine are deteriorating and the only thing that helped him is still a crime.

Ryan Harshbarger

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