A question in the comments of my previous post made me realise that I had not quite explained the current situation here in South Australia adequately. It’s like something out of the twilight zone. Prepare to be appalled.
Narcotics prescribed for pain management used to be regulated by the Drugs of Dependence section of the South Australian Health Commission. They apparently did a very good job and people suffering from chronic pain were allowed to receive their medication and be treated with dignity. About 18 months ago, the job of regulating prescription authorities was transferred to Drug and Alcohol Services S.A. (DAASA).
DAASA is a board that basically exists to tackle illicit drug use, to prevent and manage problems of drug addiction and abuse and to increase community awareness of these problems.
DAASA is not interested in chronic pain sufferers need for relief. Basically if anyone has been taking opioid medications for longer than their arbitrarily defined length of time or requires a higher dose than their arbitrarily set limit, they are classified as drug addicts.
People suffering from chronic pain have been forced to attend drug treatment programs and to line up with drug addicts to receive their daily allocation of medication.
People have had their prescriptions reduced, against the advice of doctors prescribing these medications and often without any consultation with the prescribing doctor at all.
There is sound research to support the fact that there is no upper limit for prescribed opiates (a person’s tolerance to these drugs increases over time) and that whatever the level of drug required to treat a person’s pain is the appropriate dose – providing this is monitored carefully by the prescribing doctor.
A chronic pain sufferer in South Australia (ironically a former GP) is now taking the South Australian government to court over the fact that she is no longer allowed to access sufficient pain medication to manage her pain. She has also been forced into a drug addiction treatment program. This article describes her current situation and highlights the appalling situation for many chronic pain sufferers in South Australia.
Many people are forced to travel interstate or attempt to buy illegal drugs in order to find a way to manage their chronic pain.
This website offers more information about the current situation in S.A. and presents several stories of DAASA’s appalling treatment of chronic pain sufferers. It makes for some really interesting reading.
The issue I have is that probably the safest thing for me to do now is to stay “under the radar” to hope that the PMU forgets about me and doesn’t attempt further involvement in my care. The PMU has been instrumental in recommending that DAASA limit people’s access to pain medication and it is not uncommon for them to label people as mentally ill or to decide that they are drug addicts and proceed accordingly.
I wish I had known much of this information before I sought help from the PMU. I naively believed that they would listen to what I said, believe me (and my doctors) and try to offer strategies to help me.
I am extremely fearful that if I try to tackle my mistreatment by the PMU I will draw attention to myself and thereby involve DAASA in my case. The PMU may have already flagged my case with DAASA, which is terrifying.
Who would have thought that such a situation could exist?