Friday, January 11, 2013

The War on Drugs Hits Home

OK, fair warning - this is a bit of a rant.


You know, I've never been a big fan of the so-called "War on Drugs." It's just always seemed a tad bit absurd to me that you can walk into a store and buy an assault weapon - the only purpose of which is to kill a lot of people really quickly. But you can't buy marijuana, because you might hurt yourself with it. (Except that you soon will be able to buy dope here in Colorado - hooray for my state! But that's another story.)


Somehow I always thought that it was my government's job to protect me from other people, not from myself, and that people do bear some modicum of responsibility for what they choose to do to their own bodies. Oh silly me...
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of drug abuse, and I know what havoc addiction can wreak in people's lives. CatMan lost his brother to a heroine overdose, and the primary reason I left my Ex was because of his drug and alcohol problem.

I just think that criminalizing the substances does very little to keep them out of the hands of people who want them, and in many cases fear of prosecution delays or prevents people from seeking the help that they need to overcome these sorts of problems.


It just seems that by in large the "war" against these drugs does much more harm to the general population - especially to innocent bystanders - than the drugs themselves do. But never has this "war on drugs" hit home like it did over the past few weeks.

You see... cats can't tolerate most painkillers. In fact, the only ones that they can really handle are opiates, more commonly referred to as narcotics.


So here I have poor little Sputnik with his bladder tumor. Now it's unclear how much actual pain he is in, but he's clearly experiencing irritation when he urinates, and the painkillers help to keep him from getting into a cycle of urination-irritation-urination until he's straining to pee and further complicating the whole situation.

Anyhow, the pain killer of choice for cats is something called buprenorphine. It's basically synthetic morphine, and it's delivered in a liquid form that is absorbed through the skin inside the mouth. Coincidentally, humans can use this very same liquid intravenously, and hence, it is a controlled substance, and REALLY expensive.



The cost really didn't bother me, because I have pet insurance which is paying for 80% of the cost of his care - but getting the prescription filled was a complete and total nightmare! Seriously, I could only get a few day's worth at a time and every time I'd call the vet to refill it, there was a major problem. Either they didn't have any in stock, or it was on the way but not there yet, yadda, yadda, yadda.


I was starting to understand the panic that an addict must go through when they're not sure where their next fix is coming from! So since it's looking like this is gonna be more of a "long term" situation (ever hopeful - we really have no idea how long his "term" may be - but since he hasn't worsened appreciably over the past month or two there is room for optimism.) Anyhow, it seemed like we should try to find a better alternative for pain relief.

Soooo, we attempted one of the few other choices out there - another opiate called Tramadol. For reasons that are unclear to me, this drug is not a controlled substance, hence it's cheap and (more importantly) easy to get. Suffice it to say, the experiment did NOT go well. Apparently Tramadol can cause "dysphoria" in cats - all I can say is that the drug would be more aptly named.... "Trauma"-dol!


Seriously, we tried for 2 days, and by the end of it, I had to isolate poor Sputty to one cement floored room in the basement with 4 litter boxes - where he basically ran around in a drug induced panic peeing constantly for about 24 hours.
IT. WAS. HORRIBLE.


After that little adventure, I called the vet back and basically pleaded with him to find a way to make the buprenorphine more available. Turned out all they had to do was fill out some extra paperwork and tomorrow I get to go pick up a 3 week supply. Thank Fucking God!


Plus, he's back on his amitriptyline (an anti-depressant which had to be discontinued during this little experiment because it doesn't play nice with Tramadol) and he's doing much, MUCH better.

It all just makes me sad and angry. I mean really... why should my poor little cat have to suffer just to try to prevent some junkie from getting his hands on this medicine - which, BTW is generally only used as a method to get OFF of heroine or other more problematic drugs?!?!

And don't EVEN get me started on the countless other victims of this ridiculous "war." There are the obvious ones, like the people caught in the crossfire of gang violence (which is fueled by illegal drug trafficking).


But then there are the less obvious ones like my friend who was very nearly infected with hepatitis by some hospital intern who was stealing drugs to fuel her habit because that was the only way to get them.

Or another friend whose brother was in hospice care dying of AIDS - he was near the end, so my friend brought him some marijuana brownies, and suddenly his brother started doing much better... at least until the nurse found out about it and threatened to press charges against my friend. He stopped bringing the brownies and his brother went sharply downhill and died within a few days. Because, you know, it would be terrible if a terminally ill patient actually got some pleasure in his dying days.


I guess that's the part that really gets to me... the whole idea that somehow this "war on drugs" is some sort of a moral crusade. Apparently in the eyes of this crazy society, preventing a consenting adult from getting an unauthorized high is a cause so noble, moral and important that it's worth incarcerating a significant percentage of our population, or turning our streets into virtual war zones, or creating currency to fuel gang violence, or perpetuating virtual civil war in Mexico & Central America, or making it ridiculously difficult for people with a legitimate need for certain drugs to actually get them!


OK... rant over. Seriously though, I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on this whole topic.









35 comments :

  1. Why interject logic into the discussion? That's clearly un-American (snark). While I'm not a fan of drugs, the so-called War of Drugs has been an abject failure and wasted too much money & too many innocent lives. For me the word WAR is the foulest word & act - yet most people would rather complain about the use of certain 4 letter words as a much bigger sin. Our country's obsession with more & bigger and bigger guns is pornographic in my mind. Rant away, my dear.

    Poor you & Sputty. I'm so glad the painkiller problem has been resolved.

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    1. Thanks Connie, I totally agree - isn't there some quote about how fighting for peace is like f___ing for virginity?

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  2. I think is completely irrational to prohibit the consumption of drugs while allowing alcohol -- and we all know what happened in the US when they tried to forbid alcohol.
    Like you said, the government should protect us from other people, and I don't see how a person on drugs imposes more danger to me than a drunk one. I was once robbed by a pothead; a beloved high school teacher of mine and her teenage daughter were killed by a drunk driver.
    Thinking that forbidding something will cause those who want it to give up is naive to say the least. Living in a country that ranks high up on piracy records (Brazil), you would think the government should know best. At least growing and consuming small amounts of marijuana, although still illegal, can no longer send you to jail here. Now crack is causing a mess.
    My best wishes to you and Sputnik, I can only imagine how you must have felt during his panic attack. I'm glad he's back on the proper medicine. Pet insurance is such a great investment, I hope it picks up around here -- there are very few companies that offer it, and the plans are crap.

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    1. Thanks Bele - it is always puzzling to me that this country didn't learn it's lesson with alcohol prohibition. But, as my dad always says: If we learn one thing from history, it's that people don't learn anything from history!

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  3. I am pretty much confused on the issues of controlling both guns and drugs. If you want them, there is always a way to get them, but there is a lot of harm that can be done in both cases. However, my husband is 100% behind you with the drug issues. He thinks controlling them causes a lot more damage than if they were legalized.

    As for the pet insurance. Do have a policy that will let you have a family rate for all of your cats? The ones I have seen, you have to buy it for each individual pet and that gets very expensive.

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    1. My policy is with a company called "Pet's Best" and you do have to pay for each pet individually. When I first took the policy out Sputty was an "only cat" so I had him on one of the higher cost plans with better benefits. I thought about dropping him down to the regular coverage like I have on the other cats... I'm sure glad I didn't!

      Part of me thinks the expense of pet insurance is silly and I'd be better off to just put that amount away into the bank each month... but since I went through a few very expensive situations with previous cats I guess it seems worth it to me. Maybe I should do the math though...

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  4. The "War" on (some) Drugs is insane and IMO, totally UN-Constitutional (as is the War on "assult" weapons, but that's another rant for me). How much harm is done with FDA approved drugs, yet the Feds let the drug companies crank them out like candy? It's all about the money. Do you know how many MILLIONS of taxpayer money is spend on the Drug "war"? How many jack-booted-thugs, useless pencil pushers and high and mighty government appointed jackasses would be out of a job?

    But I'm probably preaching to the choir here.

    Hope your fuzzy feline feels better :)

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    1. Thanks Carolyn - I totally agree, it's all about the money!

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  5. The war on drugs is a total failure. The only thing is does do is make cartels and some government officials rich under the table.
    I live one door from a major drug dealer that has been there as long as I have lived there. He was busted last December and a few months later, continued on with his dealing only changing his way he was dealing. He had people pick him up in the middle of the night and he made his rounds.
    Trying to control any human is impossible, humans have the ability to decide what and when they are going to do something. You cannot control them. And the government will be unable to save any of us from the unstable, crazies that we all have around us.
    Don't get me started on rants as I will rant about many things.
    I have had the same issues with drugs for my pets. I demand a running prescription and usually get it. I can't even get lye for my homemade soap unless I go to the State Patrol to tell them what I need it for as we are the worst county for meth labs and drugs in the state, and people like me who do things for ourselves are penalized for it. Don't get me started on this either.
    A few years ago, I did farmer's market here in our community. I grow herbs, greens and started growing culinary mushrooms like oysters, and Shatakii and Morels, and Winecaps. I started bringing some to market, and the first day I did that, someone seen the mushrooms at my booth, and the next thing I had, was cops at my booth telling me I was selling drug mushrooms. It took the head management of the farmers market to get that calmed down and was a total embarssment to me. Should tell you how retarded my community is here. One reason I am moving out to a different county and village.
    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

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    1. OMG - your mushroom story is hilarious in an infuriating sort of way. Reminds me of a story I saw in a documentary made in the 60's about a group of hippies living in a commune somewhere in rural California. One day the cops decided they were gonna bust them, so they staged a raid in the middle of the night... they came storming in and dug up all of their tomato plants! Oh my...

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  6. I thought your rant was very justified. My heart breaks for your poor kitty. (LOOOVVVEEE cats)

    As the other commenters already stated, the whole issue of regulating certain drugs such as weed, is a dismal failure. There is such hypocrisy in villianizing weed while allowing alcohol. I don't use either one so I actually don't have a horse in this race but it just seems ridiculous to put people in jail for pot and have booze everywhere.

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    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts. I agree that the whole weed vs. alcohol thing makes little or no sense. I can't help but think that it's all part of the "culture wars" leftover from the 1960's.

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  7. What is left to say? I so agree. Drug laws are absurd, especially when they deny a kitty his pain-killers. To find the cause, follow the money. Best to Sputnik.

    jesinalbuquerque

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    1. Thanks Jes... follow the money indeed!

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  8. Totally agree. I have a handicapped severely retarded daughter that might get some relief from pain and 'anxiety', from MJ but we have to go through hoops. She's forty years old and not about to score drugs or drive a car while under the influence. And there are many more out there. And why can't I get a little MJ at my time of life?? The senselessness of it all!!!!!!!

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    1. I'm so proud of my little state for legalizing MJ... hopefully it will be a first step in correcting this ridiculous waste of money and resources, and lead to more sensible laws nationwide. I'm so sorry about your daughter - I know many people who have benefited from medical marijuana, and I really don't see the point in criminalizing it at all.

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  9. Knowing how much you care about your kitty, your anxiety level when the drugs made him totally not himself must have been through the roof. And to have to confine him must have been very hard on you. But I am glad you persevered and got him the drugs he needs. I think it would be so much easier to deal with cat health issues if we could only talk to them and reassure them. I feel so bad when I have to do things to my kitties that are unpleasant for them but are still good for them (like vet visits!).

    The war on drugs? What a joke. I say let them have all the drugs they want; we do it with alcohol anyway.

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    1. Thanks Holly,

      CatMan and I are calling it "the great tramadol freakout." I did feel just horrible... like I'd made him worse instead of better. He seems to have recovered from the whole little episode though. And while he's a long way from "normal" he's at least feeling better.

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  10. I can't believe the vet would even try such a terrible medicine - your poor cat! Are those reactions normal?!

    Thank goodness you were able to switch him back to the first medicine :)

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    1. Apparently some cats do just fine with it and others don't. And I can't really blame the vet because it was me who initiated the conversation about Tramadol in the first place... Sputty HATES taking the buprenorphine because you have to squirt it into their mouths - whereas Tramadol comes in a pill form and since he's a major pig I can put pills in "pill pockets" and he thinks they're a big treat. So I was really hoping this would be easier on him... oh how wrong I was! Sigh.

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  11. So glad that Sputnik is properly sorted out! I don't support street drugs because of the drug/gun/gang cycle and the indirect support of horrible regimes. Not to mention the pesticides and lack of quality control, LOL! When I lived in Massachusetts, the DARE program was in full swing in the school system (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). It was ineffective. I heard that drug use in the population actually increased while the program was being used, yet the program was justified by saying, "Without the program, it would have increased further." It seems that teaching skills to resist peer pressure should work, but no one has got it right yet. Also, with the War on Drugs, first time offenders are given jail time and they find it even harder to re-enter the community without dealing. *sigh*

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    1. I totally agree about the whole drug/gun/gang cycle. I really believe that if drugs were legal the gangs would lose their currency and their power. I mean think about it... how many bootleggers are there these days?

      There's actually a great scene in the Humphrey Bogart movie, Key Largo. Edward G. Robinson plays a washed out mobster who is on the skids because prohibition ended and now he didn't have any way to make money. Anyhow in the scene, one of his gangster friends is trying to cheer him up saying that they'll bring prohibition back and then he'll get back on top.

      Seems so obvious - why don't we learn these lessons?

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  12. I can so relate! You should have seen the hoops I had to jump through when I was recently given a narcotic pain killer for a very severe dental issue. I had never been in such severe pain in my life, yet had to go to 4 different pharmacies and be treated like a drug addict before finally getting my prescription filled two days later! It's just not right to do things like that to people or pets. Shame on our system.

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    1. Oh Martha, that's terrible! It really is a crazy system when the people who really do need the medication can't get it.

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  13. Well said - I couldn't agree more. I run a pain support group in the UK and one of the group is in constant pain and it really affects his mood but because marijuana is illegal he can't try it without breaking the law. Because of this if he does get hold of some and try it, he's unlikely to tell his doctors as it may get him into trouble.

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    1. That's just terrible... and you also bring up an excellent point about people not telling their doctors about what they're taking because of fear of prosecution. It's just craziness.

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  14. So, so sorry about your cat's additional trauma. Horrifying.

    As for drugs, I feel the same way, but I'm not so well-spoken.

    Drug education is troublesome, too. If you act like all drugs are the devil, and then kids try marijuana and learn that it's really not that big a deal, they don't trust you about any of them.

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    1. Thanks Debbie - and I totally agree about the marijuana thing... it's not that I think it's without risk, but I do believe that the most dangerous thing about pot is that it's illegal. Not only does it fool kids into thinking that all illegal drugs are "no big deal" but it also initiates them into the whole process of breaking the law. Why can't we just be honest and reasonable? Sigh.

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    2. Well, it also makes you pretty stupid. And forgetful. And boring. "The speed limit is 65. Do you know how fast you were going?" "No, officer." "You were going 25 miles per hour." Smart enough to be careful, but not good at it. So, still dangerous, but not the devil.

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    3. Ha! Well... I wasn't thinking of the dangers of trying to do anything meaningful while actually under the influence! By that benchmark cough syrup and Benadryl should be considered dangerous drugs. :-)

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  15. I am so sorry for what your cat had to go through,I don't know if I could have sat by during that period with out going a little crazy myself.

    As for the war on terror, I can tell you from history that it's all about who is giving the drugs. It's now common knowledge that our own government sent heroin to Vietnam to "help" the soldiers deal with the horrors they were seeing, but then refused them help, have they ever looked to when the drug situation escalated?

    My son is a corrections officer, so I know in our state, which is bordering on broke, we could save so much money by not locking up everyone busted for drug use.

    When it comes to MJ, it's well known to be safer than alcohol and cigarettes which are both legal. Sure make it legal to use a substance that will cause liver cancer, lung cancer and then complain about the cost of medical care rising in the country. But don't consider legalizing a drug that doesn't cause illness, but can relieve the effects. Look at the benefits glaucoma patients received by smoking it, or those who need less time on dialysis as a result of using it. What costs more dialysis or a joint?

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    1. Hi Lois,

      Well, I was pretty much a basket case during the whole Tramadol episode. I just felt so terrible for making everything worse. I'm SOOO relieved that he's doing better.

      The hypocrisy of the whole drug thing is maddening isn't it? Seems like I saw a documentary once about the sordid history of our relationship with Mexico in terms of immigration, farm laborers etc. The gist was basically that when it's convenient for American business to have cheap labor, we quietly encourage illegal immigration - but as soon as the economic situation changes and it's not in our best interest to have so much cheap labor, we start "cracking down." According to the show, one of the crack down methods was going after people for using marijuana, since it is quite popular in Mexican culture. I thought that was an interesting angle to the whole mess that I hadn't heard before.

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  16. Different subject, just wanted to say I'm sorry about your Broncos tonight, we were all, around here, hoping they would win.

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    1. Thank you for your condolences.... it just totally sucked. The thing is, we could have, and SHOULD have won that game. I'd love to blame the abysmal officiating (which really was terrible) but I fear it wouldn't be accurate. We just didn't play very well.

      It really reminded me of the 1997 season. It was one of those years when we could do no wrong - we had home field advantage sewn up in November, or something ridiculous like that, and everybody was busy counting their chickens before they hatched. Then we got beat by Jacksonville in our first playoff game. All these years later, I still haven't been able to wash the taste of that one out of my mouth!

      But... the next year we came roaring back and won the Superbowl, so maybe this will turn out to be the kick in the pants that they needed. It still sucks though!

      The worst part for me is that my brother lives in Baltimore and I can already hear the gloating... sigh.

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  17. Oh No! I'm sorry you will have to hear him gloat. As my son said when Denver lost, "well there goes the AFC, there's no reason left to watch this year" I hate the Patriots, but then the Ravens are the Steelers main rival....

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