Trump Says Opioids Are ‘No Good,' But People Living With Chronic Pain Have A Different POV

by Erin Migdol for The Mighty
Pool / Getty Images

During a briefing in New Jersey about the opioid epidemic on August 8, President Donald Trump referred to opioid medications as “no good” and suggested opioid addiction could be solved by convincing people not to use them in the first place.

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,” Trump said. “If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem. If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: ‘No good, really bad for you in every way.’ But if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.”

He also called for tougher law enforcement and policing U.S. borders as potential solutions to the opioid epidemic, though no formal policies have been announced yet.

Trump’s comments didn’t seem to take into account a group of people who are often left out of the opioid discussion — those living with chronic illnesses, who take opioids as prescribed by their doctors to improve their quality of life.

We asked our Mighty community members with chronic pain to share what they wish politicians knew about taking opioids. Here’s what they had to say:

1. “I shouldn’t suffer because others have abused a medication I need, a medication I’ve obtained legally, a medication I use as prescribed, and a medication that is a highly controlled substance. Additionally, no politician should get to decide what medication I need to try before being allowed the one my doctor has prescribed!” — Leigh K.

2. “Without opioids, I would have zero quality of life. Because of them, I can care for my son and my husband the way I need to an1d not have to spend days on end in bed. I always take my medication as directed, and when my doctor suggests I increase my dose, I refuse. I’ve been on the lowest dose of pain medication possible for over two years, and it’s still incredibly difficult to get at times. People who are in pain deserve medication so that we can live the best lives possible. Period.” — Jennifer G.

3. “We need laws in place to help to prevent addiction but there’s a huge population of us living with, what most people would consider, unbearable pain levels, we are the chronically ill — we are not drug seekers. We are looking for ways to continue living active lives. We truly need lawmakers to understand not all those on long term prescription pain medication are looking for a high, most of us are desperately seeking relief!” — Christy W.

4. “I don’t take them because I want to, I take them because otherwise I would be curled up in a ball unable to move because I’m in so much pain. I would love not to take them but I need them if I’m going to live a decent life and be a productive member of society.” — Tyler S.

5. “The suicide rate of those with chronic pain is staggeringly high, and much of that is from inadequate pain management. This is life or death for us, too.” — Bethany R.

6. “Legalize marijuana and give people a choice in how they’d like to treat their chronic pain. I was prescribed an opioid for over a year and experienced awful side effects and eventually, a physical dependency. I’m not trying to demonize opioids because I know that for some people, they are the only option. However, I believe everyone should be educated on and provided with different options.” — Nicole A.

7. “Stop grouping chronically ill people and start treating us as individuals! These meds work for some people…other abuse it. Not unlike other substances. It’s up to the doctor and patient to decide. Period.” — Danette M.

8. “Opioids aren’t usually a patient’s first resort but their last to find relief. And if we do have to take them we take them either too little or exactly by the book. The goal isn’t a high, it’s relief.” — Jessie S.

9. “Please don’t forget about us in this discussion. There are millions of chronic pain patients, and many of us use opiates responsibly. These medications give us some quality of life. Our lives are important, too.” — Kari R.

10. “Walk a mile in the shoes of someone who lives with an incurable, chronic disease and then make your choice. It’s easy to say ‘I would never take pain medication’ when you have never had to live with the pain. I don’t want to get high. I just want to feel normal.” — Sara H.

11. “I don’t take opioids to get high or even to be pain-free. With them I am functional, but still in pain. Medical providers should be required to educate anyone they prescribe opioids to regarding the dangers as well as taper people off these drugs properly. Story after story from addicts say they didn’t know the risks. Short-term opioids should be started at the lowest dosage before graduating them up.” — Wendy W.

12. “No amount of physical therapy, yoga, meditation, praying, etc. will fix me. I am in pain 100 percent of the time. I am not a drug abuser, seller, or thief. The amount of crap I have to go through and deal with, and the way I am treated to get medication I need just to be able to function is appalling.” — Whitney S.

13. “I hate taking them! I hate that my body becomes dependent on them! I’ve been through withdrawal twice, it was hell on earth for me and for my family to see me go through it! But I need them no matter what. If I’m to have some sort of normal (well normal in a chronic pain person) then I take them, but please don’t judge me or treat me as an addict. I’m just trying to be pain free!” — Fiona D.

14. “They’re not fun or recreational in the slightest. The side effects suck and I use them as a last resort. If I didn’t have them, I’d probably go to the ER and block up the lines there trying to get some relief from the pain so I can sleep and breathe easier.” — Apryl E.

15. “Although I use pain meds, I also use many alternative and natural ways to maintain reduction in pain; walking, stretching, swimming, gentle yoga, gentle chiropractic care, essential oils, clean diet, heat packs, ice packs…to name a few. My point is, we who live in constant pain do not only take prescribed medications to reduce pain, we try and incorporate as many positive avenues as possible to live a healthier life with a little less pain.” — Gretchen W.

This post originally appeared on The Mighty.