The nation is amid an opioid crisis where more than 130 people die each day from an overdose. But, because of the rampant abuse by many, those with legitimate needs are suffering insurmountable pain with no place to turn.
Across the county, local organizations are bringing attention to victims whose only crime is having a debilitating ailment. After watching both of her sisters suffer from degenerative spinal stenosis, Kathy White knew she had to use her insight to make a change.
“I say, ‘do you want to go to lunch?'” Kathy White, state organizer for Don’t Punish Pain, has said to her sisters. “They’re like, ‘oh, I just don’t feel good enough today to do that.'”
Lisa Nagy also suffers from chronic pain. She is among the millions of Americans with the condition.
“It feels like you take a hot iron poker, you stick in a poker and then you poke me with it,” Nagy said.
On Tuesday, White and Nagy took a stand against those who abuse opioids. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation makes it more difficult for everyone to get the prescribed drugs.
Dozens gathered in downtown Fort Myers and across the country for the “Don’t Punish Pain” rally.
White said the organization brings attention to chronic pain patients. She believes the patients are being punished by the lack of an understanding about drug abuse and medication.
Medical professionals said the problem is CDC guidelines are misinterpreted.
“The CDC never recommended a limit of 90-milligram equivalence of morphine per day for anybody,” said Dr. Keith Susko, a pain management physician affiliated with Cape Coral Hospital and Gulf Coast Medical Center. “They say that the risks are higher over that dose and for patients who need more than that it has to be closely documented.”
For people who know they will never escape the pain, they at least want some relief.
“We want a quality life,” Nagy said. “We need help and we need our pain medication back.”