Monday, March 26, 2012

The Sobriety Police

Just had a thought-provoking discussion with a friend about the medical community's attitude towards pain medication. Too many physicians and nurses want to play sobriety police -- always on the lookout for drug-seeking behavior. Can't have you feeling good, must make sure you're stopping at not-too-excruciating. Frankly, I'm a little sick of doctors and other health care professionals using their jobs as bully pulpits from which to trumpet their opinions on addiction. Wanting to feel good, pharmaceutically or otherwise, is nobody's business but the person who is doing the feeling. An ex of mine, a physician, once observed that he didn't believe I had suffered enough physical pain in my life. Apart from being inaccurate and impertinent, it's highly presumptuous of a mere M.D. (you're not a physicist; essentially your greatest intellectual accomplishment is memorizing Grey's Anatomy) to think it's within his bailiwick to prescribe agony as some sort of lesson to be learned from. Anyway, if you're an adult, you're entitled to get fucked up when you feel like it -- particularly if you're not causing trouble for anyone else. And if you're poor and miserable, who could blame you? I would never begrudge any down-and-out denizen of 6th Street his or her crack rock and Steel Reserve.

Chances are, the friend with whom I was speaking wouldn't have suffered his paralysis had St. Mary's not been so damn obsessed with checking what they perceived was his desire to get high on pain meds. They actually thought he was lying about his chronic pain and immobility in order to score happy pills. And all of this applies only to the poor, not the wealthy, of course. If you're low on the socioeconomic totem pole, you're obligated to be a teetotaler... But if your husband manages hedge funds, it's expected that your stash rival Hunter S. Thompson's.