The New York Times Blogs have an interesting post this morning concerning a report on how America — the medical industry and the government — deal with chronic pain. To sum up: not well at all. I was amazed to see that 70 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. That’s much more than I was expecting. For those that need a definition, usually pain is considered chronic after a patient suffers for about 3 months, but it varies quite a bit depending on what’s causing it. I’m definitely a sufferer, and can attest to how pain gets to the point where you would do anything to make it go away. It sucks almost all enjoyment out of life, and can cause a cascading problem in your life, going from pain, to depression, to inactivity, which causes more pain, etc.
There’s something deeply, deeply wrong in this country that the authorities are more concerned with making sure people don’t enjoy a drug or become addicted rather than relieving people of never ending pain. I think it comes from our puritan past: enjoying, well, anything is suspicious, if not downright bad. And on the flip side, pain is something to be dealt with stoicly, offered to God, and bourne silently. Do seek out a chemical treatment for that pain? Well, you are either weak, trying to get high, or more likely both.