The Mind of James Donahue

Unnecessary Suffering

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Those Pharmaceutical “Pain Killers” Are Killers


By James Donahue

June 2005


We older Americans now experiencing arthritic joints and lower back pain are facing a real dilemma. The magic relief we once thought we could safely get in available pills either prescribed by our doctors or over-the-counter are turning out to be linked to a rise in heart attacks and strokes.


I wasn’t too concerned at first when the prescription medications Vioxx and Celebrex got targeted as troublemakers because I was not taking them for my own joint pain. I was getting by all right with ibuprofen, which I found was less costly and seemed to be as effective as the others.


But now a new study finds that even ibuprofen is suspect. Researchers have just released new findings that ibuprofen can also significantly increase the risk of having a heart attack. To be safe, it is recommended that we use the minimum dosage and take it only when absolutely necessary.


If you look on the label of any bottle of ibuprofen, the recommended dosage is one tablet every so many hours, and that we discontinue using it after a few days. But with arthritis sufferers, the pain can be constant, with some days worse than others. I personally try to limit my use of this drug to night time hours so I can get more comfortable rest. But there are nights when even two tablets are not enough.


The popular alternatives, acetaminophen and naproxen also have been found to do some bad things to us after prolonged or excessive use. The acetaminophen, best known as the brand name Tylenol, is found to damage the liver, and naproxen, sold under the brand name Aleve, is suspected of causing heart problems.


That old standby, aspirin, appears to be the only relatively safe pain relief medicine available to us in the store. But constant use of it for the kind of pain we are experiencing is out of the question. Aspirin thins the blood, often causing rectal and stomach bleeding, and if we aren’t careful, it can bring on stomach ulcers and fatal bleed-outs.


Pain relief is a growing problem for everybody now because the new and popular perscription drugs are suddenly determined to be dangerous. The narcotic prescription medications containing morphine and other opiate derivatives, plus the synthetic morphine OxyContin, are not only considered addictive, but have become a hot item for street venders, thus making them off-limits for people with long-term problems of what is considered by doctors as “moderate” joint pain.


So what is the solution to this problem? It appears that we either endure the pain and hobble through life, barely managing to walk our way through a day and avoiding stairs as much as possible, or gamble that the pain pill we choose doesn’t give us a heart attack or stroke. The options are both bad.


There is a third solution, but because of the nation’s ridiculous drug war, it is illegal. That is medical marijuana. Smoking the leaves of this amazing plant not only is known to relieve the pain, but it has no known side effects except a slight sensation of euphoria, which the nutty lawmakers of the land considers bad for us.


I disagree. While I do not advocate breaking the law, I urge Americans to carry on the ongoing fight for a lifting of this ban on a wonderful medicine that has been taken from us by religious do-gooders who seem to think that anything that makes us feel good has to be sinful.



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