Chronic pain patient reacts to emergency declaration to fight opioid addiction

A Wabash Valley woman and chronic pain patient says she's concerned about President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fight the opioid epidemic.

Posted: Oct 30, 2017 11:10 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2017 3:27 PM

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - A Wabash Valley woman and chronic pain patient says she's concerned about President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fight the opioid epidemic.

Uncertainty surrounds Mr. Trumps announcement and how funding will be used to curtail the crisis.

Meanwhile, members of the chronic pain community are concerned any new regulations could impede their ability to get the medication they need.

Ashli Pharr, of Clinton, uses a prescription opioid for chronic pain.

She suffers chronic pain caused by gastroparesis, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, thyroid tumors and heart issues.

Her health troubles began in 2013 but worsened a year later. She is unable to eat and instead gets nourishment through a tube. She uses an opioid prescribed by her doctor to manage her pain.

“It helps me get out of bed. Without that I don’t think I would be able to get up.”

Ashli says she has a pain contract stating she will not go to any other doctor for pain management and she will not fill any prescriptions other than what is prescribed by her pain management doctor.

“I am also urine screened. Every time I go into office, my pills are counted. Every time I go into office. If you fail those you will lose your medication. You have to follow the rules.”

Ashli says she thinks the steps in place now are a good thing but worries further regulation will prevent pain patients from getting the care they need.

A member of a few support groups, Ashli says she has seen what can happen when patients cannot manage their pain.

“There’s been so many people who have been stripped of their medication and not even tapered down and they’re having withdrawal symptoms and a lot of times people have committed suicide. We’ve lost several people in our group because of it.”

Ashli blames officials for letting their opinions get in the way. She says there are many misconceptions about people who use opioids to treat their health problems.

“I depend on my pain medication to get up out of bed. I’m not addicted though. Addiction and dependence are two total different things.”

“A lot of people who do misuse opioids are the ones who get them by theft, fraud and forging prescriptions.”

Ashli wants to ensure patients are heard.

“They feel like they’re being brushed off and they feel like they’re being targeted as drug users and drug addicts when that’s not the case at all.”

She says those using the drugs legally should be considered in any future plans and more should be done to make help accessible.

“We need your help. As chronic pain patients, a lot of us don’t have the option to go to pain management and a lot of times there’s not even pain management around where somebody’s living.”

Ashli says she is lucky because she has a great group of doctors and a support system.

Her message to other patients like her is to advocate for yourself.

For more information about Ashli and her fight with chronic pancreatitis and pain visit Digesting Life with Chronic Pancreatitis on Facebook.

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