Being a Victim of the “Opiate Crisis”

Being a Victim of the “Opiate Crisis”

I am a victim of the opiate crisis.  No I have not lost any friends or family to drugs, and no I am not, nor have I ever been an addict.  But the war on opiates has more than one type of causality.  I have spent the last year trying to get a job in my area (so within an hour drive) in the field that I have dedicated my life to, emergency medicine.  I have gotten a bachelors in health sciences, taken many classes pertaining to medicine, obtained my AEMT certification, and worked for multiple fire departments as an EMS provider.  But all of a sudden I find myself unable to become employed in the field I was put on this earth to be a part of because of the medications I have PRESCRIPTIONS for to help control the chronic pain I have from a rare disease.  I do not want to go on disability yet, I am just not ready to admit that is what my life has come to.  I am able to work, I want to work, but no one will hire me because I have prescriptions for and take on occasion opiate medications.  I have worked for several years in this field prior to this year with no issues, an exemplary record for care provided and letters of recommendation from employers due to my ethics, ability to function under stress, and provide excellent care to any patient in all situations.  However, now because of the war on opiates, pain medication and chronic pain have become an extremely taboo issue in the workplace.  

The FDA uses a lot of different adjectives to describe everything from A to Z when it comes to opiates.  What I find interesting are all the things that seem to be ignored such as:

This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive or do anything that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you. Sit or lie down if you feel dizzy. Stand up carefully.

So what employers and their legal teams seem to ignore is the part where it states these meds MAY have certain affects, as in they MAY also not affect you at all.  Or how you should not perform certain activities UNTIL YOU KNOW how it will affect you, as in you are good to go if you already know how it will affect you.  This is what applies to my case.  I do not process most medications the way the average person does and as a result it means the combination of medications I take for various things is a bit odd.  However I also know after years of being on these medications exactly how they will affect me, for how long, in what manner, and even how long they will affect me based on what I have eaten or drank recently.  The websites basically give all the worst case scenario information which is what companies and legal teams grab onto.  

I find it very hard to be told that I should find another field to work in, or to let it go and apply somewhere else and just don’t put down my medication list.  I want to get a job in the field I love and I want to do it honestly.  Why should I have to hide my medication list, or give up the thing I love the most after already doing it for years?  I understand that rules and regulations are put in place for a reason to protect the patients.  Personally I would never endanger a patient by taking something that affected me so severely it could cause them harm.  But when advising physicians are making recommendations based on one aspect of the medication it can be very hard to for those few who have no issues to make it through.  There is a “black box” warning on almost all medications state that they can impair you in some way, and for good reason.  But again that is there because a few people reacted that way and now it must be put on all prescriptions regardless of the person taking them.  I have met people who respond so poorly to caffeine they are unable to function on even the smallest doses present in things like chocolate.  Just an example of how something benign can have a profound affect on someone the same way it can have none. 

I will not give up, I work every day to find a way to do what I love.  I am always looking into new research and new methods of pain control that do not involve medication or at the very least opiate medication.  There are people out there every day showing that you can do what you love despite all the odds, you just have to believe and work hard enough.

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