Drug Addiction vs Drug Dependence

If you know anyone who has been dismissed or refused employment because they are taking an opiod prescription drug, you might be interested in this post. Employers are woefully uneducated concerning the difference between drug addiction and drug dependence.

We all know about drug addicts, or think we do. These people have wrecked their lives in the pursuit of drugs. Drugs are slowly (or not so slowly) killing them. Addicts spend their life in search of another, better high. Their health, families, friends, obligations, futures have been abandoned in search of that driving, all consuming obsession with getting high. If you take their drugs away without tapering them off, their bodies will go into withdrawal; and withdrawal can kill them just as surely as the drugs and getting high eventually would.

What we do not readily see, do not recognize, are the thousands of people out there who are drug dependent. Like the addicted, if they are taken off their medications abruptly they will suffer the same kind of physical effects.

So far as the general public and most employers are concerned, because the physical symptoms of withdrawal are the same, all of these people are addicts. The truth is, they’re not anything alike and they are NOT all addicts in the classic definition of the word.

Let me put this as simply as I can:

A drug addict lives for their drugs. The drug dependent take their prescribed drugs to improve their ability to live a full, healthy life.

Drug addicts take highly addictive opioid drugs. Drugs they have acquired, usually illegally, in order to escape life and reality. They want to get the best high they can. There is nothing positive or constructive in their drug usage. Drug addicts are mentally addicted as well as physically addicted. By that I mean, they mentally & emotionally crave their drug of choice. Usually that results in a constant search for a stronger drug that will give them a longer, hopefully less expensive high that will allow them to escape the realities of life.

Those who are drug dependent take highly addictive opioid drugs. That is where the similarities end. Drug dependent people have been prescribed a certain drug that will enhance the quality of their life. This classification includes not only epileptics and people with neurological disorders, but those under pain management.

My husband is a perfect example of a drug dependent person. At the age of 16 he was ejected from a truck when it crashed. His back, hip, tailbone, collarbone and a few other things were broken. As a result he spent over a year in hospitals, in a cast and was told he would probably never walk again.

This guy is not a quitter and set out to prove the doctors wrong. He walked. Then he got a job as a Canadian parks back country ranger and fire lookout. He went on to ski, ice climb, roller blade, get his open ocean SCUBA certification… in short he went on to live a full life. But it was at a price. All those broken bones and nerve damage meant he was in pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As he got older, he was no longer able to ski or rock climb or work an outdoor job, so he took retraining as a computer instructor, technician and technical writer. He was still in pain 24/7/365.

In 2008 we were working a job in the Phoenix, AZ area and he was quite frankly very depressed and thinking of giving up. His physician sent him to a pain management specialist who, after extensive testing and analyzing, decided to put him on a form of morphine.  We both did a bit of a freak out, but the doctor asked us to trust him and just try it.

Within a week there came a morning when I looked at my husband as he was laying in bed after just waking up and there were tears streaming down his face. I asked what was wrong and his reply was, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. For the first time in my adult life I just woke up and was able to lay here and listen to the birds and watch the shadows of the branches on the wall and I AM NOT IN PAIN.” He went on to say he always woke up because he was in pain, and on this day there was… nothing.

The form of morphine he is on is an extended release. It feeds into his system slowly over several hours. The dosage is quite small (30 mg). It is just enough to take away the pain and allow him to live a better quality of life. In the eight years since being put on this drug, he has never increased the dosage, in fact, his original prescription was for 60 mg 4 times a day and on his own, with his doctor’s approval, he has cut it back to 30 mg twice a day. He is able to be more physically active, hikes, swims, rides a cruiser motorcycle, splits our firewood himself, builds furniture, does minor repairs around the house, gardens… many of these things he was not able to do prior to getting on the morphine.

Is it dangerous? Yes. Is it physically addictive? Yes. If he doesn’t take it as prescribed (Skips doses) does he experience withdrawal symptoms? Yes.

Here’s the sad part. He is now 65 and since he was around 55 he has worked security, first at a high security power generating plant and more recently since we moved back to the Pacific Northwest, at a large mall. All employers were aware of his prescription. His specialist has certified in writing to his employers that this regimen does not impede his motor skills, mental cognition, equilibrium or ability to function normally. He is safe to drive, operate equipment, etc..

He was required to take periodic drug tests at all his jobs, all of which he passed with no problem. In fact, he has always gotten the highest scores in his performance reviews and has received recognition for at least two instances where he helped save people’s lives in the course of his job.

Does this sound like a drug addict? I think not! But he IS drug dependent. And there are thousands of people like him out there, doing their best to keep on living a decent life, supporting themselves and their families, being physically active and living healthy.

Last year the security company he worked for lost the contract at the mall he was working at. The new company told everyone they would most likely be hired. “Just fill out the application.” My husband did as instructed and was put through the new company’s training program and issued a new uniform. Then he was asked to bring in his medication bottle to be photographed. Then he was informed the job offer was being withdrawn because the drug prescription that he has been taking for 8 years, and performing at the top of the staff where ever he worked, was on their dangerous substances list.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Council) has reviewed my husband’s wrongful dismissal case and has ruled it to be a legitimate case. So we know what it is like to suffer this kind of discrimination. Another man who is on epilepsy control drugs was awarded a cash settlement for discrimination last year after the EEOC determined he was released from his job just because of his prescription.

I guess what I am saying here is: If you, or someone you know, has been discriminated against because of a legally prescribed medication you need to stand up, fight back, don’t just take it. By fighting back we can hopefully make more people aware of this problem and increase the chances employers will make an effort to educate themselves and their human resources departments so the practice can be stopped.














Hothouse Humans

Have you noticed that people are getting sick more often and more easily than in the past? Do you ever wonder why?

I had a theory: In the past getting out in “nature”, whether it was in the form of a farm, yard, sandbox or playground, was a natural part of growing up. We were exposed to all kinds of stuff and we not only survived but flourished. So I came to the conclusion that dirt, to some degree, and exposure to pollens and germs, again to some degree, was good for us.

I looked back through history and realized that the people who had to work for a living and who were not so protected, were healthier than the more privileged, who were usually coddled and kept separated from “life” as children. Privilege does have it’s downside.

So I let my own children get out there and live a full life. I let them get their share of bumps, bruises, sniffles and scratches… and a few stitches along the way.

Recently I came across an article on WebMD that supports my theory. How about that?! Common sense made medical sense for a change! Check the article out. Especially if you are currently raising children or have children who are raising THEIR children like hot house plants.

Hmmm… reinforcement for the old adage that “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” seems to apply here as well.

In 2015 May You Have Enough…

2014 was a pretty rough ride for an awful lot of us. As I look ahead into 2015 and all the possibilities out there for all of us, I am reminded of a story I heard a while back about “enough”. I’m not going to retell it here. You can find the version I first heard here.

Look ahead to an infinity of possibilities.

Look ahead to an infinity of possibilities.

Here is what I hope you each have enough of in the coming year:

  • I wish you enough love to spur you on to be your best.
  • I wish you enough adversity to help you better appreciate the good things that come your way.
  • I wish you enough faith in yourself to give you the courage to do what you know is right instead of what is most expedient or what “everyone else” is doing.
  • I wish you enough challenges to keep your life interesting.
  • I wish you enough compassion to make an effort to help someone else whenever you can.
  • I wish you enough friends to make your life merry.
  • I wish you enough quiet time to allow you the opportunity to look inside and get to know yourself.
  • I wish you enough wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen.
  • I wish you enough courage to follow your dreams, no matter what anyone else thinks of them.
  • I wish you enough health and happiness to let you appreciate all you have.
  • I wish you enough comfort in your times of trial and sadness.
  • I wish you enough of an open heart and mind to embrace life and the people around you.

Happy New Year everyone!

The Foolishness of Eulogies

Coming from a different cultural background, I have always been baffled by the stupidity of eulogies. Think about it. You wait until the person is dead and gone. Then everyone who knew them, cared about them, come together and tell one another how much they cared for, respected, valued the person who is gone. What’s the point?

In the culture I grew up in we did things differently. My father’s passing is a perfect example. When he knew he was getting close to stepping from this wheel of life to the next, he called us all together. He took that opportunity to share with us his thoughts on life, living, how he felt about each of us, what he wished for each of us. In turn we were able to share with him how we felt about him.

The whole scene was one of calm, love and light. Once it was done he seemed to be at peace with everything and he gently passed on a few days later. The memorial service was short and sweet. The biggest thing about it was the give away and the food. He had made lovely wooden carvings, cribbage boards, clocks, etc. as well as hand painted t-shirts and tote bags which he sold at craft fairs. We put them all on a table and encouraged everyone to take something from the collection to remember him by.

Then, according to his wishes, we put half his ashes into my step-mother’s grave and took the other half to Halawa Valley on Moloka’i. There my husband and a group of male relatives paddled out and scattered his ashes in the ocean outside the mouth of the river.

I think Pop gave his stamp of approval because as the guys were paddling back to the beach a rather good sized fish flopped up onto one of my nephew’s surfboards and just stayed there. We took it as a sign and Pop’s contribution to the family BBQ that was about to take place on the beach in Pop’s honor.

So what brought all this contemplation on you may ask?

Joe Beaupre - Sail on!

Joe Beaupre – Sail on!

It’s because of one of my husband’s best friends, Joe. Back in April he was informed he had probably no more than to the end of this year to live. Colon cancer. He has faced the situation head on. He’s been open and up front about it with those he cares about and who care about him. He made the informed decision not to go through chemo or radiation. Rather, he has chosen to accept what is and live every day of the time left him to the fullest of his ability.

I admire this man. I don’t know him very well. I’ve only heard of his escapades from my husband, spent a few days with him several years ago and shared stuff on good old Facebook.

None of us gets out of life alive. By Joe’s example I have been given a road map of how to accept my mortality and make what time I have left as good as possible not only for myself but for those I care about. I have seen how you can be honest about what’s going on and make the acceptance of it by those I love a little easier. I have learned how to face the inevitable with dignity and humor.

Now why would I want to wait until Joe is dead and gone and then tell everyone else these things? I may not make friends for doing so, but I am going to tell him NOW, while he can know he has made a difference in someone’s life. I just hope everyone else will have the courage and love him enough to do likewise.

A Different Kind of Valentine Message

My son posted this to his Facebook page today. He is currently on vacation in Las Vegas, so can’t take part in the search back home on Maui. Yet he manages to be supportive from afar. This is kind of a different Valentine message, but a very relevant one. You can follow the missing person case he references here by visiting here: https://www.facebook.com/MAUIWatch and here: https://www.facebook.com/FindCharliScott

His message:
This is going to come across as a lecture, so if you don’t like being lectured, don’t read this….

Stand up and head into the room where your family is gathered or where your kids are sleeping. Take a good look at those faces you love so much. They feel joy when you love on them. They smile when you make them happy. They are there to receive these things and you are there to shower these things on them.

Now imagine that they were not there for you to look over at. Not there for you to love on and know that you are doing all you can for them. In fact, go ahead and imagine that you now don’t know where they are, or how long they’ve been gone. That they were not there when you went in to find them. Are they fed? Are they healthy? Are they in pain? Are they dead?

I share the “find Charli” posts because I am capable of this imagining. My wife works in Hana sometimes and when she does. she drives out there alone. This could some day be her, or one of your children, sisters, brothers, husbands, or wives.

Each time I see the posts I look over at her and can’t even imagine what I would do if this missing woman were her. This will not go away for the family of this woman. Time does not take meaning from these peoples loss and worry. Don’t become desensitized to this just cause days go by and the posts repeat over and over. What you should see every time these posts come up is your own wife, kid, or husbands face. Their words should come to you with your own voice, your own heartache.

Call me too sensitive, but I can’t sleep tonight cause I can’t help but wonder what new news has come up about this. The weekend is coming up and that will mean some time off for some.

The search is happening in a certain area of the island, but it’s a big island out there, and if she was abducted then she may be in a totally different area than where all this evidence is being found. That is the way of the predator; to mislead and sneak, then strike again.

Take a drive with the family this weekend. Go around the back side of the island for a picnic or some photography. Try Kaupo area. Make a day of it, and while you are at it, do a little investigating of your own. Keep your eyes open. Watch for suspicious characters. Make note of things that may mean something to this cause.

If this IS some malevolent act of some sinister fuck, we should all be moving heaven and earth to make sure that she is found as soon as possible, and we should be equally concerned with bringing whoever is responsible to some much needed justice (if that is the case). There have been a few missing people recently. Are the disappearances connected?

Don’t forget about those women who were abducted and held captive for TEN YEARS, then found just a few years ago. Lets make this weekend a huge push to bring answers to this mystery.

Thank you for sticking with this lecture till its finish. It’s all I can do from Nevada, but I hope this helps keep things in perspective.

Putting it out there may even help me sleep. At 2:00 in the AM…

Pharmaceutical Rape

The cost of pharmaceuticals in the United States have been a bad joke for a long time. No other country in the world pays as much for medications as we do. Adding insult to injury, most of those medications are made right here in the USA. Yes, even the ones bought by people in other countries who pay much less than we do.

Think I’m making it up or repeating what I’ve read on the internet? Wrong. I’m stating fact. Let me give you a first hand, first person, no “I heard it on the grapevine” story. Our own story. Unfortunately, I know we are not an isolated case.

In 2010 we were living in Tucson, Arizona. Both my husband and our Australian Cattle Dog were diagnosed with Valley Fever. The medical name for this disease is Coccidioidomycosis. According to the Free Medical Dictionary “Coccidioidomycosis is an airborne infection. The fungus that causes the disease is found in the dry desert soil of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. Coccidioidomycosis is sometimes called San Joaquin fever, valley fever, or desert fever because of its prevalence in the farming valleys of California. Although commonly acquired, overt coccidioidomycosis is a rare disease. Chronic infections occur in only one out of every 100,000 people.”

As luck would have it, both of them had the rarer, sometimes lethal form, of the disease. There was no question about whether we’d treat it or ride it out. As the doctors told us, the complications can kill you. We laughed about the fact both of them were put on identical medication. We were being prescribed large enough doses that we got the drugs in their original bottles rather than the orange pill bottles the pharmacies usually use.

Fortunately, my husband’s case responded fairly quickly to the $250/mo. medication and he recovered in just over a year. Yes, his cost $250/mo. The dog’s was “only” around $80/mo. Same dosage, same medication, identical bottles, same manufacturer. Go figure. But the story gets better… or worse…

Unfortunately, here we are in 2014 and the dog’s case is still active and being treated. She has a blood sample drawn every 3 months to check her blood titers that is sent off to Arizona, because that is the only place in the country with labs that do the test, or so we’ve been told.

This disease has never been seen here in Washington and the labs practically went ballistic when our vet sent a sample to them to be tested. She ended up being contacted by all sorts of government agencies over it. Turns out, coccidioidomycosis is considered to be a potential biological weapon of war and having it turn up in a Seattle lab started a tempest in a teapot. But I digress…

The large, national chain pharmacies go on about how they can give us better prices for our medications because they can shop around, buy in bulk and thereby save us money.

When it was time to have her checked after we returned Washington State in 2012, after the dust-up with the labs and government settled, the vet handed me a prescription to take to my usual pharmacy. She did not carry Fluconazole and figured I’d get it cheaper and faster from a commercial pharmacy.

I called Walgreen’s since we have all our other prescriptions filled there. I was told a month’s supply (60 tablets) would cost me just under $1000 without any kind of insurance. Of course if we had their saver’s card (which we do) it would “only” be around $485.

Insanity! We’d been paying $250 for the exact same thing in Arizona from the same pharmacy chain. And paying $80 for the same thing from the vet there.

So I went back to my vet and told her what had happened. She said she’d see if she could get it in for me for less. The next week I had TWO months worth of Fluconazole waiting for me at her office. She showed me her invoice from her supplier. $8.12 per bottle. Yeah, PER BOTTLE! She charged me $12.50 per bottle and I was a very happy camper.

Jump forward to yesterday, January 3, 2014. I went to the vet’s office to pick up Lady’s meds and the first thing I got was an apology. Why? Again, I was shown the invoice from her supplier. What had cost her $8.12/bottle for the past year and a half is now $98/bottle! She asked the supplier why it had gone up so much and they could not explain it to her. Basically they just told her, “Sorry but that’s what it is now.”

I know there are people reading this who will say, “Well just put the dog down and you won’t have that expense.” What if it were my husband instead of the dog who has not recovered. Should I put him down? And that isn’t the issue. The issue is that we are all being financially raped every time we buy a prescription and no one is doing anything about it!

I have a sinking feeling this is part of a trend. I also suspect ObamaCare is going to be blamed for it. But let me point out a couple of things…

  • The disparity between what pharmacies pay and what they charge us is a long standing problem.
  • Now pharmacies are being charged more so we are going to be hit even harder.
  • The people who are being hit the hardest are the ones who can least afford it… the sick, the elderly, the working poor, the people who cannot afford health care coverage.
  • As we have seen in the past months, health care coverage prices are skyrocketing.
  • Those of us who can least afford coverage and our prescription costs are still being hit the hardest.

I don’t have any brilliant answers to the problem. I just want you to know, if you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone. Who will go to bat for us? Who will put a stop to the insanity? Pharmaceutical companies have been holding us hostage and financially raping us for years. When and how is it going to stop?

Check out this guy’s video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqLdFFKvhH4#t=142 The end is a flagrant pitch but I’ll bite. He makes that much sense!

Here’s another real life example. This time of medical procedure and health care costs: http://www.app.com/article/20140105/NJBIZ/301050005

Happy Mother’s Day, Whether You Like It or Not!

Have you called or visited your mother this fine Mother’s Day? No? Why not? Perhaps because you think it’s not necessary to keep telling her every year how much you appreciate her.

More than likely, if you answered “No” it’s because you don’t feel she deserves recognition. A lot of people feel that way, so you’re not alone.

Daughter Suzanne, Son Cayce, Grandson Isaac and me. Mother's Day 2004

Daughter Suzanne, Son Cayce, Grandson Isaac and me. Mother’s Day 2004, the last time I was with all of them for this holiday.

I am not unique, but at 66 years of age, I am rich in life experience. I know we all tend to make a lot of assumptions. Perhaps the things I have learned may give you food for thought about your assumptions, make you reconsider your view of your own mother. (more…)

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