Why Opioid Tapering Makes Me Think of Suicide

By Charlene Bedford, Guest Columnist

I am 40 years old, with two young boys. In 2011, I was diagnosed with ankloysing spondylitis, a severe auto-immune disease for which there is no cure. I have severe damage to my sacroiliac joints. They are fused together, and boy is that painful. It is now traveling up my spine.

I have tried every biologic on the market and almost died from Cosentyx after developing a severe intestinal infection. I also almost died from Humira. I’ve had many medicines over many years, but I am stable on opiates, no longer bedridden and able to keep my job. The opiates take my pain level from a 10 down to a 3 or 4. They’re very effective. Nothing else even comes close in relief.

Then the CDC opioid guidelines came out. Last month my doctor said to me, “According to the CDC, I have to taper you off all opiates.”

I am a government contractor and have colleagues at the FDA, CDC, Medicare and Medicaid. I even emailed my state senator. They ALL told me there is no law that says she can’t prescribe opiates. It is still up to the doctors. But no doctor working within 100 miles of me will prescribe. I have called every single one since she stated she was going to taper me completely. 

So, each day I can’t sleep, worrying about what is going to happen at my next refill. The dosage is being cut each time. I told my boss that once the medicine is gone, I will not be able to mentally or physically deal with the pain.

The pain in my spine is as bad as labor pain. It never goes away. Every minute, every day, all year long. No human can tolerate that kind of pain. I think about suicide, but I can’t leave my children. I’m thinking maybe I could buy heroin and use very little to control my pain. But I have never seen it, wouldn’t know where to get it, and figure I’m just better off dead. 



For 7 years I was a stellar patient. Never failed a drug test. Pill counts were always spot on. But now my life is literally being taken away. I can’t stand without medicine. I can’t walk without medicine. Yet addicts have 13 pages of rights I read about. If an addict is being treated with medication, they can’t be denied a job, housing, etc. But what happened to my rights? I am fully disabled. 

To make matters worse, I asked the doctor about palliative care and she said “No, that is for cancer only.” Which I also found is not true. The three criteria for palliative care describe my illness exactly: no cure, a shortened life span, and a symptom treatment that significantly improves quality of life.

I can’t even oppose or file a complaint against my doctor or she will discharge me. She doesn’t like to be challenged. 

Please, please help us. There will always be addicts. Putting everyone in one category is not right. There are more traffic deaths than overdoses but they’re not banning cars. One million abortions and that’s okay?

The inflated CDC overdose numbers that caused opioid hysteria are all a big fat lie. Yes, people will overdose, but studies show they would have anyway. They have mental health issues or other problems. How many of those deaths were related to patients being denied medicine? A bet there are a lot.

The studies are out there. Prescription opioids have declined, and heroin deaths increased. It’s not that hard to figure out why. The VA denies all opiates now. More vets are committing suicide than ever before.  

This needs to stop. I want a lawsuit against the government. There is a federal law that states the government cannot interfere with doctor-patient care. Their fake hysteria and crisis have scared every doctor and they just aren’t prescribing. This has gone too far. 

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Charlene Bedford lives in Pennsylvania.

Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to editor@painnewsnetwork.org.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.