“I’m a unicorn”


Jennifer Matesa writes about the seeming contradictions in some recent FDA decisions.

First they tightened regulations on hydrocodone, the most-prescribed drug in the U.S. and the opioid painkiller in Vicodin. Then, against the recommendation of their own advisors, they approved Zohydro, a long-acting hydrocodone whose formulation includes no mechanism to prevent abuse. So on the one hand patients will be able to buy another super-powered opioid that’s crushable, snortable, and shootable—let’s call it “OxyVicodin”; and on the other hand, they’ll have to jump through more hoops to get it.

She continues with her own experiences with the issue.

To be sure, we pain patients need to have access to treatments that will improve our quality of life. But the jury is still out on whether opioid painkillers actually serve that function for those with chronic non-malignant pain. And it’s a sorry fact that, when we look for almost any “treatment,” our medical establishment—and the regulators, media, and comments-section flamethrowers—are so focused on drugs. It’s ironic: when I told my pain physician I’d started outpatient detox, I thought she’d be glad I’d gotten help. Instead she was incensed I’d quit her drugs without consulting her first, as though I’d denied her the perverse satisfaction of kicking me out. And when I returned for continued pain treatment, the nurses expressed surprise: I wasn’t taking painkillers anymore, so what was I even doing there?

This month, I’ve been five years drug-free. According to public perception, I’m a unicorn: addicts, especially opioid junkies, are supposed to be unable to recover.

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