Dear Ohio Leaders,
Last night I voted via absentee ballot, as I have done for the past 3 years since my disability (which impairs my strength, stamina, and mobility) began. I was pleased to see that every leader running for office mentioned their deep and sincere concerns regarding the opioid crisis, which has hit Ohio in general hard, and my city of Dayton, particularly hard.
In my suburban neighborhood, over the past 5 years, I have personally witnessed people in terrifyingly angry states of withdrawal and people trying to get into my backyard fence while my daughter and I sat outside, unaware, until a neighbor showed us the video hours later. I have seen 2 deaths (one, a family member of my husband), heard raucous parties at all hours next door, had a car broken into, and coordinated with local police on numerous occasions. I have seen children left without parents, toddlers being dragged through the foster care system, and parents who failed rehab again and again.
At the same time, I have also witnessed neighbors with legitimate, painful, chronic disabilities, desperately asking for pain meds, terrified because they had no money for the emergency room, no money for the constant doctor appointments required now of chronic pain patients, and no doctor willing to treat them anyway. They had to work, but how could they work when doubled over in agonizing pain? They had to work, but how could they work and go to the long, frequent, and burdensome appointments needed to receive legitimate medication?
Ohio leaders have not taken the needs of chronic pain patients in mind when going after the opioid crisis. Indeed, current laws have squeezed such people so much, many feel they are either doomed to die by suicide or stress from the unrelenting pain, or be forced to obtain illegal substances (currently so much cheaper and easier to get, and increasingly without penalty-unlike the near-impossible hoops chronic pain patients have been forced to jump through) so they might survive. Ohio laws are MAKING MORE CRIMINALS where there were none.
Despite popular theories from addiction psychiatrists with no experience treating chronic pain patients; despite propaganda backed by anesthesiologists (who make up the majority of pain clinic doctors and have a great deal to gain, financially), statistically, most chronic pain patients are not opioid addicts. They desire to get back to living, while opioid addicts are trying to escape life. Both populations need help, but in different ways.
Most chronic pain patients are elderly and veterans. Most chronic pain patients have already tried multiple, non-opioid approaches to manage their pain. Most chronic pain patients are not seeking a high, but simply control of their real, physical pain to get back to having quality of life. Consequently, most doctors are also responsible citizens and professionals, but their practices have been upended and in some cases unjustly destroyed because of laws that assume guilt first.
I know you want what is best for all Ohioans, so I challenge you to find innovative ways to help stem the opioid crisis, by talking to practitioners from multiple backgrounds; by talking to chronic pain patients; by talking to police officers; by talking to substance abuse counselors; by talking to addiction specialists; by talking to those with substance abuse problems. So far, we have seen the devastating effects of one-size-fits-all approaches on all of the aforementioned communities. While pain is rarely treated anymore, opioid overdose deaths continue to rise to staggering proportions. We need to regroup and come up with a better plan that involves everyone. Together, we can make Ohio great again.
Ohio native for 35 years
P.S. Please read more in-depth research on this topic and how we got here at