Ending pain without prescription drugs

Overuse or misuse of prescription drugs is growing at an alarming rate

Overuse or misuse of prescription drugs is growing at an alarming rate

“High doses of painkillers raise heart attack risk,”  reported a Reuters News Service article.  A few days later The Baltimore Sun (July 19, 2013) reported that a southwest Baltimore auto repair shop was a front for selling prescription pills. The Baltimore DEA on the case, Gary Tuggle described the drugs as “overused, abused and oftentimes over-prescribed opiate medications.”

The dangers of overusing or misusing prescription drug painkillers is widely publicized and seems to be well known, but the problem is still very much in the news and the warnings are pointed.

William Piechal, a physician in Fayettville, Arkansas, is “one of a growing number of pain doctors requiring patients to submit urine samples to demonstrate they are taking pain medications as directed.”  If a patient refuses they do not get a prescription, relates an article in the Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, July 20, 2013.  The results of the initial urine samples have been “shocking.”  “Failed tests revealed some were taking opioids he hadn’t prescribed or illicit drugs like marijuana or methamphetamine.”

“Despite public education and publicity surrounding the dangers of prescription drug abuse, our study shows that misuse rates continue to be alarmingly high for opioids and other powerful medications,” said F. Leland McClure, Ph.D., director of pain management, mass spectrometry operations of Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services. This study indicates that about 3 in 5 Americans who were tested had misused their prescription drugs in 2012.

The test results were “based on an analysis of 227,402 de-identified urine lab-tests of patients, age 10 years and older, of both genders in 49 states and the District of Columbia performed by the company’s clinical drug monitoring services.  These services aid clinicians in monitoring patients for appropriate use of up to 26 commonly abused prescription medications, such as opioids and sedatives, and illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine.”

Certain popular painkiller prescription drugs have risks for those “people who suffer chronic pain and take high does of painkillers for long periods of time.” states Colin Baigent, who led a  study at Britain’s Oxford University and later published his findings in The Lancet medical journal.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “prescription drug abuse has become the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States.  Medication-related adverse outcomes in US hospitals and emergency rooms increased 52% between 2004 and 2008.”

Behind all these statistics are the actual lives of individual people, like a young woman I met about 7 years ago, and with whom I have kept in touch. She seemed a textbook case for the warnings we see all around us today. She was hooked on prescription drugs from the age of 13 through 18 at which time she began drinking along with the drugs.

Her condition came to a head when a broken back from a car accident was misdiagnosed as a mere sprain.  She began abusing painkillers even more to fight the pain— popping pills like candy. She overused and misused the drugs until she woke up in a hospital.  Her family was told the drugs she had been abusing had destroyed her liver and unless a new liver was found within 48 hours, she would die. To make a long story short, she did have a transplant and is now living a productive and full life.

Following the transplant she had to attend pain management sessions to be weaned off prescription drugs to which she was addicted both before and after surgery.

I had the opportunity to speak with her about her recovery and how she has learned to manage (physical and mental) pain and overcome her addiction.

“After the accident, I was drinking every day and overusing my prescription pills.  I was also getting more from someone else.  This went on for a month.  The prognosis when I went into liver failure (which I didn’t even know was happening until I woke up at Hopkins with a new liver) was Tylenol toxicity from all the pain meds.

“The physicians put me in pain management after a year of being in and out of Hopkins.  We did physical exercises, practiced meditation and were taught to focus thought on things other than ourselves and the pain.  The meditation process required a huge change of thought from self medicating to get rid of the pain and difficult situations, to focusing on others and their needs.

In regard to the meditation process, she said that God was an important part in her change of thought process after she left the hospital’s program. She became involved in a 12 step program which places emphasis on bringing God into your daily life. In fact, 7 of the 12 steps in the program mention the importance of knowing God or a Higher Power better.

Today, through God and the program, my life is pain free and better than I could imagine.”

Photo from:

  • models are used for illustrative purposes

Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, Christian Science, science, the importance of prayer and religion.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  She and her husband enjoy hiking, especially with Callie, a Blue Heeler, and riding motorcycles.  







  1. Knowing God can only bring a “freer breath.” And it can only progress well from there…(quoted words are from Science & Health, by Mary Baker Eddy.
    Thank you for this blog post