In an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, author Dr. Anna Lemke, MD author of the book Drug Dealer, MD, describes what has been taught to medical doctors about pain.
“Doctors began to think of pain as something that had to be eliminated at all costs, today we think of pain as purely dangerous, we don’t see any medicinal value and we certainly don’t see any beneficial spiritual value.”
All of this began at the beginning of prescribing Opioid pain medications. It was believed that there was no such thing as overprescribing when this medication when it first arrived on the scene. It was one of the first drugs that really dealt with chronic or intractable pain. Doctors were thrilled to have something to share with people who had suffered for so long.
This class of drugs has a long past. Opioid drugs were originally derived from the poppy plant producing opium and has been in recorded use since 3400BC. In the 1800’s morphine was derived and given to many soldiers during the civil war. In the 1900’s heroin was given out by the Saint James company to morphine addicts to attempt to curb the addiction. Starting in the 1950’s the FDA approved Oxycodone in the form of Percodan. Since then there has been a form of opioids in the medical prescriptive system ever since.
In the 1990’s an interesting small shift caused a spike in opioid prescription use. The Joint Commission, a non-profit that accredits hospitals and health care organizations recommended that all doctors ask their patients about pain. Pain became the “5th Vital Sign”. Accordingly, more people focused on their pain and more Opioids were prescribed.
Lemke describes the Joint Commission as a regulatory structure that was became enmeshed with Big Pharma and eventually Big Pharma started to direct much of it’s suggestion to hospitals and doctors regarding pharmaceuticals.
Luckily the tide has turned in the last few years. A 2012 article published by Baldini et. Al stated:
“Through a variety of mechanisms, opioids cause adverse events in several organ systems. Evidence shows that chronic opioid therapy is associated with constipation, sleep-disordered breathing, fractures, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation, and overdose. However, significant gaps remain regarding the spectrum of potentially opioid-related adverse effects. Opioid-related adverse effects can cause significant declines in health-related quality of life and increased health care costs.”
And the New York Times reported a drop in drug prescription rates in 2013, 14 and 15. So what are the implications between this overperscription epidemic and Reorganizational Healing (ROH).
First it seems important to consider the perspective taken. It would be easy for alternative practitioners to take the moral high ground and vilify prescription drug prescribers but is further stage 2 division really going to help the problem or just entrench each side more deeply?
The answer seems to be offering people solutions that really work. Prescriptions are an energy neutral strategy on their best day and energy poor for many people in actual application. It seems the central crux here is how to view pain. Here we land at the central principle of Reoganizational Healing. Restore or Reorganize?
The reason this opioid epidemic has occurred is because the perspective on pain has been that it is bad and should be eliminated returning (or Restoring) the person to a now nonexistent previous state of being.
If pain is appreciated as a natural feedback mechanism for a body and life off course it can be invited in and valued as an invitation for course correction that typically results in more of what we desire – health, love, fun, connection and many other positive benefits.
Valuing pain is central. As developer of ROH Donald Epstein, has shared you can never change something unless you value it first. This is exactly what ROH encourages, a Discovery of the pain and what it is trying to share with us. A Transformation of who we are once we have learned from the pain and circumstance and an Awakening to the next level of who we can be.
Opioid timeline on The Atlantic
2012 Baldini et al