I commend Maura Healey for her promise of action in support of heroin recovery programs. I hope she continues to work with all the great people coming together to deal with addiction issues. But we as a people have to come to terms with a deeper issue: our attitude toward pain.
I was just released from UMass Med. The care I received, from physicians, nurses, PCA's was wonderful. Its weaknesses were those not just those of American medicine but of America, and one of those was their attitude toward pain.
As they poked, stuck and prodded, cleaned and swabbed and asked me to put a number on my pain, almost every time I flinched or grunted or reported a pain they treated it as a problem. I was told 1000 times how sorry they were something hurt, asked 100 times if I wanted something for pain - with the attitude of course I would.
No, I didn't. No I don't. I was reporting to them as clearly and promptly as I could what was hurting, because they needed to know.
Pain is not a terrible thing to be avoided at all costs. Pain is first of all information being sent from somewhere in your body to your brain that something needs attention. Or from one part of your brain to another. Knowing when and how to override our body's reaction to pain is something we must learn as we grow older. Yes there are times when we need to make our pain shut up. But generally it's something to pay close attention to, and if you figure out and deal with what it is saying, it usually fades to background.
When I left, my physicians insisted I take another prescription for Oxycodone, even though I told them I'd only used one pill from the last batch. (I was sorry I did!)
With that attitude toward pain no wonder there are so many addicts. Heroin, coke, speed, pain pills, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, love, even 12-step programs, the list of addictions is endless. Human beings need to fully commit to something larger than ourselves, such as family, neighbors, community, even humanity.
The more we do, the less our pain matters.