Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. To Hell with Your War on Drugs

 

My father is visiting us here in Schenectady. While my he’s traveling, my mother is staying with my sister in Gettysburg. As some of you may know, my mother has some health problems, and as a result, is on serious pain medications.

Last night, my sister posted the following on Facebook:

Adventures in trying to get my mother’s pain medication (narcotic) refilled while she’s here visiting:

-Six calls to doctors offices-Six calls to the insurance company (two that resulted in having to ask for a supervisor)-Only one call to the insurance company that resulted in my hanging up on someone -Calls to six different pharmacies-Calls to six different urgent care facilities-Surprisingly, only one crying fit-Two calls to nurse navigator-Trips to two different urgent care facilities -Three calls to the pharmacy that finally has the prescription

And do we have it yet? No, because the insurance company screwed something up and refused to fix it in time for us to get it tonight.

Now, there’s no way that even a marginally free market could produce those results. The magic word included above is “narcotic.” My mother’s pain medication is a controlled substance. Controlled by whom? The government, of course.

Why? Well, every time I bring up the War on Drugs here on Ricochet, I’m basically told that we need to control drugs because of the destructive effects of addiction on individuals and families, or the costs to the public purse when people inevitably become addicted to a drug, lose their job, and go on welfare.

So let’s apply that idea here:

In order to protect my mother, a retired nurse, from the potential for addiction and to keep her from destroying her family, or to keep her doing losing her job and going on welfare, she has a hell of a time (and I think “hell” is a fair description here) getting pain medication.

Well, she’s retired, so she doesn’t have a job to lose, her illness does not lend itself to a long lifespan, and it’s the government controls, not the drugs, that’s causing her family stress.

Here’s the thing: While I have no doubt there are some people who pop pain pills recreationally (and let’s be real here, we’re talking about serious narcotics here, my mother has lung cancer), in order to keep those few people from popping pills, we make it so its hard for cancer patients to get pain medicine.

Does that make sense to you? Does it seem fair? Does it seem right?

Here’s the crux of the thing: The problem (one of many) with these kinds of restrictions is that they don’t just keep pills out of the hands of the people who use them recreationally, they also trip up people who have done nothing wrong, and who need them as medicine.

Now, I’ll hear from the nannies (and sorry, but that’s a fair term) who insist that they know what’s better for everyone else, that people popping drugs has negative consequences. Perhaps. But what about the negative consequences for my mother? Why is it difficult for her to get medicine? What did she do wrong to deserve this?

 

There are 92 comments.

  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m with You, Fred.

    Perhaps Yer Sister would have had an easier time scoring a bag of pot for Mom.

    • #1
    • September 17, 2015, at 10:09 PM PDT
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  2. Zafar Member

    Awful, Fred. Good luck with getting it filled ASAP.

    War On Drugs, meet reality.

    • #2
    • September 17, 2015, at 10:50 PM PDT
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  3. MarciN Member

    I’m really sorry, Fred. I’m hearing the same story from a friend of mine who works with the elderly. It’s gotten terrible. People are frantic.

    • #3
    • September 17, 2015, at 10:56 PM PDT
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  4. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I hear you, Fred. My late wife was in a similar situation. Always more and more hoops for legit patients to jump through while doing nothing to curb the misuse by those who don’t need them. My wife was on them so long that she didn’t get any sort of high or buzz, she needed them to function. Thank god she had a good pain doc that had a relationship with a small pharmacy that wasn’t afraid of the meds. The big chains freak out with the pain meds and always added a layer of extra hassle.

    • #4
    • September 17, 2015, at 11:42 PM PDT
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  5. Pencilvania Inactive

    I’m sorry too, Fred, your mother of course should not be put through such ridiculous entanglement. I’ve heard this discussed on talk radio in the past year also, I thought I heard there were some regs in Obamacare that made this situation even worse than it had been.

    • #5
    • September 18, 2015, at 3:40 AM PDT
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  6. PsychLynne Inactive

    MarciN:I’m really sorry, Fred. I’m hearing the same story from a friend of mine who works with the elderly. It’s gotten terrible. People are frantic.

    One of my former supervisors used to characterize treating pain with this example:

    Patient: Doctor the pain meds you gave me have really kicked the pain for me. I’m thinking about going back to work. I can get out of the chair.

    Doctor: I’m glad to hear it helped you

    Patient: That stuff is great! Can I get my Rx refilled?

    Doctor: drug-seeking!

    He always said that pain is the only area where we pathologize success in treatment.

    • #6
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:10 AM PDT
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  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Fred, all politics aside, it may help to try to fill the prescriptions in a different neighborhood. When my grandmother was dying (in Washington, DC), we had exactly the same problem — and we had exactly the same reaction to it. When my sister and my mom died, in Seattle, filling prescriptions for opioid painkillers was never a problem.

    I suspect this was because the pharmacies in my grandmother’s neighborhood were in a much higher-crime neighborhood, although I’m not sure. It might also be because we filled the prescriptions at the neighborhood pharmacy that my mother had been going to for twenty years. Again, I’m not sure, but it seems plausible to me.

    • #7
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:10 AM PDT
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  8. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sounds like an insurance company problem. Sue them and include a claim for ‘pain and suffering’. It is the anarcho-capitalist thing to do.

    I’m sorry your mom and sister had to go through this.

    • #8
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:14 AM PDT
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  9. Merina Smith Inactive

    Claire is right. If you know a pharmacist it is a big help. My father-in-law ran a family-owned drug store all his life and he knew who he could trust. And who he couldn’t trust.

    • #9
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:17 AM PDT
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  10. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Fred: I am grieved to hear about this. Tell your sister she’s a real Mensch for getting through it with one crying fit.

    Claire: You are probably right but if there’s a regulatory reason behind it you are not. It all depends on the what the unseen ‘why’ is and at what level it is situated.

    • #10
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:30 AM PDT
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  11. I Walton Member

    Some people will become addicted no doubt about it, but this will happen whether the drug is prescribed or not. They gave me enough oxicontin when I had my knees replaced to become addicted had I used it, always assuring me not to worry and I could have gotten more. But that stuff is scary. The war on drugs, heroine and cocaine on the other hand is shear insanity, the damage visible daily everywhere, but interests want the war and the system is so deeply corrupt we can’t touch it. We can’t even stop illegal aliens and they are all considerably larger than a kilo of narcotics, can’t be reshaped as aspirin, injected in airplane frames, tubs of lard, live or dead returning citizens and visitors, dissolved as starch and imported in suits, or sold to hundred of mules for a mere 1000% profit instead of 10000% once inside the border. The war on drugs is the perfect bureaucratic fraud, the system can’t win the war so can never lose budget and the more we confiscate the higher the short term profits and supply always responds robustly. I called it insanity. Wrong word. Suckers game? Or a perfect match of deep pervasive corruption posing as righteous battle against evil which it causes in the first place.

    • #11
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:32 AM PDT
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  12. Blondie Thatcher

    Fred, I’m so sorry for your mother. You know I’m with you on this one. Just like with more gun laws not keeping the guns away from criminals, these stupid drug laws don’t keep the drugs away from the abusers. It just makes it harder for the docs to prescribe it for those that need it. DocJay has written about this before. It is ridiculous. Heck, you have to almost be fingerprinted just to get certain types of cold medicine if it contains psuedoephedrine. You might be a meth head.

    • #12
    • September 18, 2015, at 4:44 AM PDT
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  13. Owen Findy Member

    The problem (one of many) with these kinds of restrictions is that they don’t just keep pills out of the hands of the people who use them recreationally, they also trip up people who have done nothing wrong, and who need them as medicine.

    Sounds something like the effect gun control has on access to guns by good people who want them for good purposes.

    • #13
    • September 18, 2015, at 5:15 AM PDT
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  14. Victor Tango Kilo Member

    Even though I am still personally opposed to recreational drug use (and, yes, I am aware that recreational use was not the topic here), I no longer oppose drug legalization. I haven’t suddenly become a fan of recreational pharmaceuticals, but the expense, the abuses of civil rights, and the absurdity of situations like the one described above finally made me say, “Enough, it’s not working and it’s not worth it.”

    • #14
    • September 18, 2015, at 5:17 AM PDT
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  15. Austin Murrey Inactive

    Fred, I’m sorry to hear about your mother and her terrible time getting a prescription filled.

    I’ve grown increasingly wary of drug overregulation as I’ve grown increasingly weary of government in general and it should, in fact, be easier to confirm that she has a genuine need for the narcotics.

    However I’m still not convinced that a totally free market like we had in the 19th century is the ideal. There should be a happy medium where people with a genuine need for narcotics can get their drugs while keeping the same powerful, addictive narcotics off “the streets”.

    Oddly enough this is one of the things that the centralized medical record database provided for in Obamacare would actually help – although the insurance company should also be able to confirm that information.

    Something relatively unobtrusive like a confirmation check such as we have for firearm purchases could help – it’s still open to abuse, sadly, but it beats days of phone calls to refill a prescription.

    • #15
    • September 18, 2015, at 5:18 AM PDT
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  16. Mike H Coolidge

    John Penfold: The war on drugs, heroine and cocaine on the other hand is shear insanity, the damage visible daily everywhere, but interests want the war and the system is so deeply corrupt we can’t touch it.

    Heroine, also known as diamorphine, is used in hospitals. It’s only called heroine on the street. My impression of cocaine is many people use it recreationally for short periods of time without long term addiction or consequences.

    I’m surprised you didn’t use methamphetamine as your example since that seems to be the least sympathetic drug. Still though, the war does more harm than good and creates something of a real war on our southern border.

    • #16
    • September 18, 2015, at 5:26 AM PDT
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  17. I Walton Member

    Mike H: I’m surprised you didn’t use methamphetamine as your example since that seems to be the least sympathetic drug. Still though, the war does more harm than good and creates something of a real war on our southern border.

    My experience with the war off and on over a period of 30 years was the war on cocaine, mostly in Colombia. I don’t know anything about methamphetamines but they don’t have to cross the border do they? Stopping them at the border is the thrust of my charge that it’s all insane. Our southern border is a tiny piece of the horrendous damage this war has wrought.

    • #17
    • September 18, 2015, at 5:48 AM PDT
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  18. Fred Cole Member
    Fred Cole

    See, here’s the thing. We allegedly have to control paid meds because people take them recreationally. They do that because they can’t get access to other drugs that they actually want, like cocaine and heroin.

    So the two go hand in hand.

    And if I may push a little further, both are based on the flawed idea that the government should be regulating what people put into their bodies.

    • #18
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:07 AM PDT
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  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fred Cole:See, here’s the thing. We allegedly have to control paid meds because people take them recreationally. They do that because they can’t get access to other drugs that they actually want, like cocaine and heroin.

    So the two go hand in hand.

    And if I may push a little further, both are based on the flawed idea that the government should be regulating what people put into their bodies.

    Actually, as we have controlled access to Opiates in pills, there has been a return to heroin on the streets. This has lead to a OD crisis as synthetic heroin is far worse than the real stuff in terms of consistency.

    So, instead of addicts using pills, they are shooting up, increasing the spread of blood born diseases and more likely to drop dead.

    Whoops.

    Now, that being said, I am not for full legalization of everything. I am for treating people differently. I see the lives changed for the better with Drug Court. That only works because the Judge can limit their freedom. We are going about this the wrong way.

    • #19
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:13 AM PDT
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  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    And Fred, prayers and sympathy for your family. This sounds very toug

    • #20
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:14 AM PDT
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  21. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Fred, all politics aside, it may help to try to fill the prescriptions in a different neighborhood. When my grandmother was dying (in Washington, DC), we had exactly the same problem — and we had exactly the same reaction to it. When my sister and my mom died, in Seattle, filling prescriptions for opioid painkillers was never a problem.

    I suspect this was because the pharmacies in my grandmother’s neighborhood were in a much higher-crime neighborhood, although I’m not sure. It might also be because we filled the prescriptions at the neighborhood pharmacy that my mother had been going to for twenty years. Again, I’m not sure, but it seems plausible to me.

    Claire, the laws involving narcotics have recently changed in the states. What Fred is describing is now the norm for all. The additional reporting and enforcement has gotten so that many doctors will not subscribe medicines for pain but instead refer the patient to a “pain clinic” that requires the patient to see a doctor every month or two in addition of requiring the patient to physically come in a pick up a written prescription on the day of the refill that must immediately be taken to a pharmacy that has been predetermined for refill. The whole process to refill a narcotic prescription now takes about a day of the patients time. Any deviation from the script ends in not medication and the patient in pain.

    • #21
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:19 AM PDT
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  22. Fred Cole Member
    Fred Cole

    Right. It actually flows both ways. People who can’t get pain meds turn to the alternatives they can access and people who can’t get recreational street drugs turn to the ones they can access.

    Both groups are forced by government controls to turn to less preferred alternatives. And both groups are harmed by being forced to choose less preferred alternatives.

    • #22
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  23. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fred this pisses me off to. This is government overreach for I think most conservatives. It pisses me of that in Florida to get Cold medicines they tell me no you can only buy so much or they make a mistake and say you can’t buy it because our databases says you can’t have it.

    The key is when tyrants get into attempting prevention and to make investigators life easier, at the expense of law abiding citizens. It is the whole lets prevent drug abuse before it happens by making ever increases restrictions on drug use that is evil. This happens more often in Republican dominated states which start enacting these fascist polices. If we could just get the government out of the prevention and only punishing people who actually break the law we would have a vastly more free society. However when your idea of government is that it is a government jobs to treat people like kids because they could get hurt you get abuses of petty tyrants.

    Law officers and politicians never seem to care how much harm a policy will have on freedom. They just get people complaining about a real documented problems and feel they have to at least look like they are trying to fix it even if it is a problem they can’t fix or the fix is from the devil.

    Make drug abuse and selling illegal but just because criminals find loopholes does not mean you have to get ride of the loopholes, and punish 99% of people using the loophole for legal means. I don’t have issues with the government closely tracking a well document loophole but making it illegal or difficult to do the loophole and telling me no I can’t have this, up yours lawyers.

    When the burden of proof of innocence is now on an American citizen for their behavior not the government proving your guilt, that is when you have this evil. All the lawyer that come up with these laws and the judges that uphold them should be rotting in jail. So I am with you Fred and I am a Federalist not a libertarian.

    Fred our founders were really wise. Most of these governmental abuses could actually be prevented if public officials who broke the constitution of the U.S. were actually criminally punished for it. However we get punished for breaking a states administrative law (which some unelected bureaucrat came up with) and elected officials can break the U.S. constitution and almost 100% of the time receive no punishment.

    • #23
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:29 AM PDT
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  24. RyanFalcone Member

    I’ve always felt that as long as the government is forcing me to pay for the consequences for others for being stupid enough to use the stuff, I should have them on my side, keeping the idiots from using drugs to protect me.

    I’ve slowly grown to wonder if the government forcing me to pay for others’ consequences may not be a reason that they AREN’T protecting me after all? It seems like some ingenious scam to make both sides miserable and dependent.

    Sure, end the drug war. But ending it while still keeping the public safety net for those who are using is madness.

    • #24
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:34 AM PDT
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  25. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My daughter has a genetic condition known as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, which requires her to take medication every day. A few days without it, and she goes in to adrenal shock, and ultimately dies.

    We have had more than our fair share of run-ins with pharmacies. Like your situation, it almost always comes down to issues with the insurance company. It’s a change in the brand, and they don’t have that brand in their system so they won’t pay for it. The pill size is too big, or too small. When she was an infant, she had to ingest sterile salt water due to the disorder. The insurance company didn’t like the brand of salt water, which cost about $3 more than another brand, which the pharmacy didn’t have.

    In my opinion, this isn’t a #warondrugs issue. It is a #waronhealthcare issue. Leaving insurance companies out, you (and we) would not have had the trouble.

    • #25
    • September 18, 2015, at 6:35 AM PDT
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  26. Fred Cole Member
    Fred Cole

    Yeah, but if it weren’t a controlled substance, insurance aide, you could just go buy it otc for cash, even if it’s just to get through until the script gets filled and the insurance stuff gets straightened out.

    But that’s not a thing.

    • #26
    • September 18, 2015, at 7:22 AM PDT
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  27. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fred’s mom’s situation is more dire than most, and sadder. But this sort of bureaucratic nonsense occurs on a much larger, every-day-annoying sort of scale:

    Yesterday, I was carded (I am 61) when I went in to buy an OTC cough syrup (Delsym) that contains no alcohol.

    God forbid I needed Sudafed, an OTC decongestant. Here in Tennessee, to buy it one must produce ID and sign for it at the pharmacy counter – because it contains a key ingredient in making meth.

    Maybe I should move someplace where I’m not affected by seasonal allergies.

    • #27
    • September 18, 2015, at 7:23 AM PDT
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  28. Trinity Waters Inactive

    #1: Sympathy for her needless suffering. Heart wrenching.

    #2:Another example is the war on guns. Honest law-abiding citizens lack protection in the very locales where it is most needed. The common thread of course is unconstitutional coercion.

    #3: The cure? Follow the constitution and your mother gets the relief she needs and deserves and multitudes of other rapacious injustices vaporize.

    • #28
    • September 18, 2015, at 7:47 AM PDT
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  29. Pelayo Inactive

    The war on drugs has not worked because it does not address the root causes that drive individuals to use them. There are people who are willing to throw away their future for a temporary “high” because they lack hope and don’t believe they have a bright future. There are also people who are reckless and think drugs are about having fun. They don’t realize the power of addiction until it is too late.

    I don’t know how to fix those root causes but I do know that simply legalizing drugs is not the answer as long as we have to provide a Government safety net for those who suffer the damage caused by addiction. The war on drugs is not stopping illegal drug use, but at least it slows down the spread. If as a society we can find a way to convince people that using drugs to escape reality is dangerous and that they alone will suffer the consequences (no welfare) then we can end the war on drugs and let people take whatever they want.

    Some comments are drawing comparisons to gun control. The two are not the same. Owning a gun does not often lead to an addiction (shooting people) that takes over your life. Those who do use guns illegally are punished severely if they are caught. The consequences of gun ownership and drug use are very different in my experience.

    • #29
    • September 18, 2015, at 8:14 AM PDT
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  30. Max Ledoux Admin

    I’m sympathetic to what you’re going through with your mom, Fred. My mother died seven years ago from cancer. She had breast cancer, but it had spread to her lungs and her spine (and several others places). She had the same bronchial symptoms that you described your mom having in your mother’s day post.

    But I do not see why your mom and dad could not have planned ahead and gotten her prescription filled in their normal pharmacy where, presumably, they don’t have this problem. If it’s an issue of when the supply of pills ran out, they could have planned their trip to not overlap the prescription refill period. Or they could have worked out the refill in advance, by having the doctor call the pharmacy and explain that your mom would be visiting her daughter. They could have called the insurance company in advance. Sorry, but I do not think that we should change drug laws because you’re upset that your mother is sick, and she didn’t plan ahead for a trip.

    Again, I sympathize deeply with your emotions. There are fews bonds stronger than those between a mother and a son. And, in fact, to tell the truth, I just started crying. I’m sorry, but you will never recover from your mother’s death. So instead of using this as an opportunity to talk about your favorite libertarian policy goal, my suggestion is that you spend time with your mother and make sure that there’s nothing that after she dies you’ll wish that you had told her. My mom’s cancer had a 90% death rate within 22 months of diagnosis. She died 22 months after diagnosis.

    Watching your mother die over a period of two years is terrible. I know. But it gives you the opportunity not to have any regrets about your relationship with her. In many ways, and this seems counter-intuitive, I think that death is for the living. The person who dies is gone. You’re going to have to live with her death for the rest of your life.

    • #30
    • September 18, 2015, at 8:21 AM PDT
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