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The Myth of the Accidental Overdose*
There really is no such thing as an “accidental” opiate overdose. Virtually all drug overdoses are
Look at it this way. If you take your opioid medicine as prescribed by a responsible physician, you’re
not going to get high — not after the first few times anyway. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some acute or
long-term pain relief. If you start chasing an opiate high and/or total pain relief, you will have to take
more pills than prescribed.
Overdose. Nothing accidental about it.
And if you combine an opioid overdose with intentional abuse of other drugs like alcohol or
benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium), you could very well kill yourself, either unintentionally …
or on purpose.
Sticking to the script
I’ve been on opioid medication most of my life, and on one benzodiazepine or another for decades.
I am the product of better living through chemistry. I’m not proud of this. It’s just my reality. For
me, my opiate prescription — along with a total pain management protocol — has allowed me to
keep my chronic pain at a “tolerable” level so I can work and have a life.
Likewise, my prescribed benzodiazepine — along with years and years of cognitive behavioral
therapy — helps me stay focused on my work and not obsess with suicidal ideation.
These are my medicines. They are the reason I’m still here, and the reason I am able to be a
productive member of our community — instead of an invalid on SSDI. Or dead.
Nevertheless, the government, medical corporations and insurance companies are attempting to
“wean” me off these critical medicines. Why? Because they want to “protect” me from the “risk
Yeah, right. I don’t overdose, because I don’t want to “risk” intolerable pain. I need
my pills to last the whole damn month.
Medicine is for patients. Drugs are for addicts.
I’m sorry so many people are accidentally or intentionally killing themselves with opiates and
benzos. It truly is tragic. But that’s no reason to take away medicines that I use as prescribed and
that are essential to managing my disabilities.
I’m not an addict, but I am physically dependent. Taking me off these medicines is dangerous.
Literally, cold turkey could kill me. So I have to be tapered off and/or possibly given drugs I don’t
want to counteract the effects of withdrawal.
More important, depriving me of my medicine would destroy my quality of life. It’s not like they
have a better plan.
Forcing me back into intolerable pain and obsessive suicidal thinking is not
protecting me from anything. It’s not reducing my suicide risk. It’s increasing it.
Millions of innocent victims
I am not the only chronic pain patient who is being harmed by the anti-opioid hysteria. Millions of
us are being sacrificed to “save” addicts who will just move on to other drugs … as they always do.
According to the 2018 “The Draft Report on Pain Management Best Practices” from the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services:
Today, chronic pain affects an estimated 50 million U.S. adults, and as many as 19.6
million of those adults experience high-impact chronic pain that interferes with daily
life or work activities. Pain management stakeholders have been working to improve
care for those suffering from acute and chronic pain in an era challenged by the
Even an organization that specializes in opiate withdrawal medication, The National Alliance of
Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, recognizes the difference between an addict and a patient:
Physical dependence can occur without addiction; this is the common experience of
most chronic pain patients who are able to take their opioid medication as prescribed
for pain but don’t develop the uncontrollable compulsion and loss of control. A desire
to avoid withdrawal is not addiction.
Chronic pain sufferers are not the cause of the “opioid crisis.” We are the victims of it.
*This was written before clandestine fentanyl became prevalent in street drugs. Since then,
even experienced drug users risk true accidental overdose death if they don’t know the drug
was laced with fentanyl or other highly potent synthetic opioid.
Originally published in The Union newspaper in Grass Valley, Calif. 4/11/19.