Chronic Illness, Pain and Suicide — some sources

First, a little good news — we are learning more and pain killers that are more effective and less addictive are likely to show up, someday:

But there’s a lot of bad news, too: as almost anyone with chronic pain knows, getting medication for that is becoming very difficult; even while suicides due to chronic pain increase. However the reasons why access to narcotics are tightening up aren’t pretty, either.

Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in economics, may have the root answer: the huge money grab by the top 1% over the last few decades. (And/or globalization itself if you see that as an inevitable force in history.)

He showed up on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show — CNN on Dec 20, 2015 saying that “white [middle-age] non-hispanic Americans [esp with only a high school education]” … “seem to be killing themselves slowly or quickly” by suicide, alcoholism or drug overdoses. These are the people whose manufacturing (etc) jobs have been outsourced by the one percent (which was done as much to evade taxes by moving overseas as to obtain cheap labor.) They’re doing much worse than their parents’ generation and “seem to have lost the narrative of their lives.” Worldwide, they are a unique slice of people whose life expectancy is plummeting while everyone else is living longer. Their demographics match up quite closely with Donald Trump’s “angry at everybody” supporters.

My view, now: So to connect the dots: the medical profession has seen the huge rise in drug overdoses, and are responding in the simplest most direct way possible: by clamping down very tightly on anybody’s ability to obtain pain prescriptions, period. This both 1) violently harms those with chronic illnesses (leading to still more suicides, particularly in EDS — Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome patients — about 1% of the general population) and — 2) if we believe Mr. Deaton’s demographics — rather misses the point. People aren’t easily becoming addicted by incidental exposure to painkillers and then one day overdosing because pain prescriptions just have that effect. Instead, a generation or two in the U.S. are opting out of the lives they have been relegated to — very often by cirrhosis of the liver, or direct suicides, not just drugs. Nobody’s closing the liquor stores. But those with chronic illnesses now can’t reliably obtain the drugs they need when they need them; and are often also refused other needed medical care because it’s feared they have exhibited “drug seeking behavior.” (Which severe chronic pain might lead to, indeed.)

A note re my personal conflict of interest: I don’t have one. I’m one of the stubborn (often male) EDS patients that refuses painkillers, I take a few Tylenol a year. My having adopted a Paleo Night seems to be a fairly good option for reducing pain, and painkillers haven’t worked well for more than a few weeks at a time for me in the past. (Women respond differently to pain killers than men, however and women with EDS also suffer more severely from EDS, in general.)

Angus Deaton’s recent paper discussing the phenomenon:

There’s a graphic depiction of how tax evasion by moving profits overseas is becoming uniform in corporate-land, from Forbes I believe that I’d love to drop here, but can’t.

Finally, I’ll add a quote from an earlier article about the addiction epidemic in the U.S.:

Now That It Affects White People, Presidential Candidates Are Talking About Drug Addiction
By Zeeshan Aleem November 10, 2015

“While heroin use has been on the rise among all demographic groups, the rise has been particularly acute among whites. In the past decade, nearly 90% of new users were white.”

Bottom line — the situation is a mess, and there’s plenty of suffering all ‘round. But the “solutions” being imposed now are closer to knee-jerk reactions by the medical profession than considered policy.