Chronic Pain Patients Are Suffering From Maine’s Strict Opioid Laws | World of Hurt (HBO)

Maine has one of the highest overdose rates in the country, with a record 378 deaths in 2016. And the state has responded aggressively, by passing one of the nation’s strictest laws on prescribing opioids. It caps most patients at 100 milligrams of morphine, or its equivalent, per day.

But the law has had unintended consequences. Hundreds of chronic pain sufferers are now finding it impossible to access their typical dosage. After some Mainers pushed back on these restrictions, lawmakers said they could qualify for higher doses under the law’s palliative care exemption. Despite these assurances though, many doctors have their own interpretation of palliative care, considering it reserved for symptomatic relief at end of life. And with the medical community often blamed for causing the opioid crisis, patients are struggling to find doctors to give them the medicine they need. VICE News visits chronic pain sufferers in Midcoast Maine and one of the only physicians willing to exempt them from the new law.

This is the second installment for our series “World of Hurt,” which examines the ways different regions are impacted by the opioid crisis. If you or anyone you know would like to share their story as part of our ongoing coverage, please email Seth Dalton and Cassandra Giraldo at and

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25 thoughts on “Chronic Pain Patients Are Suffering From Maine’s Strict Opioid Laws | World of Hurt (HBO)

  1. I have suffered migraines since I was a baby, diagnosed chronic since grade school. My Dr's. don't want 2 tlk abt it, hear abt it so I don't mention it. I have chronic back problems 4 last 15 yrs, can't walk, won't help there either & I've tried everything and spent the $ 2 prove it. If u can't tlk 2 ur Drs who do u go 2, whose left. I never ever abused my meds but I'm the one home bound, have no family left 2 turn 2, no friends bc I go no where – I'm home 24/7 bc of pain. Now the epidemic is real on the streets, ppl r dying, but THEY continue 2 get what they want, why can't I get what I need 2 live a productive life? Please someone stop this insanity and Drs remember ur Hippocratic oath. Please

  2. I too have chronic back pain 3 back surgeries and fusion at L4,5 ans S1 along with nerve damage, both knees have been replaced and 3 of my metatarsal bones in my right foot have been fused. I suffer from arthritis which no amount of surgery is going to help. Because I am taking pain medicine the DEA/FDA monitor the amount of medicine I am taking. There are days when it is so bad that I can't hardly move and with the pain medicine being reduced I am often in tears because I have no way to control it. My doctor gas flat out told me that she wont increase my dose because she doesn't want to lose her license. It's a horrible situation that I have been put in and NOBODY wants to help the patient.

  3. This was a year ago and look at where we are now!! Nothing has changed to help us chronic pain patients!! Simply pathetic and WRONG!! We have got to keep screaming to get our voices heard!! The CDC are liars and gave out bogus statistics on the overdoses in regards to prescription opioid medications just to push their agenda!! Secret meetings to get the guidelines in place!! That is criminal and they need to be held accountable and be prosecuted!! This is our lives at stake! DO NO HARM!!

  4. My doc has cut mine by half. I have degenerative disc disease, 2 bulging discs and a slipped disc. You can imagine my pain 24/7. They only care about the people who do NOT take their medication as prescribed so therefore people like me have to struggle to get out of bed without our medicine.

  5. Shows you the Goverment should stay out of something they know nothing about.They put a cap on opiods of 100mg a day of what??every opioid is different.They need to get in a serious accident & be in chronic pain to see how fast they change their mind on this 100mg bullshit.

  6. The government likes the 'one size fits all' approach- they use it for education and now they want to use it for medicine! What's next- regulating our sleep and eating schedules? Wake up and push back people- or that may very well be our future. How would you like to pay a hefty fine for oversleeping/overeating because you aren't being a good and productive member of society??? ( A good little soldier/slave…..) But, I digress- because what do I know? I'm just a conspiracy theorist….

  7. Folks, are you aware of the fact that dopers ARE responsible for major outbreaks of AIDS and every level of Hep, and every caliber and type of VD that washes across society?? Yes, it's true. The dope not only destroys their bodies and mind but also their sense of right and wrong and destroys morality as well. Think about that when you hear the words "pain clinic".

  8. All sane non-addicted Americans need to consider the horrific impact addicts are having on our Social Services, disability monies, health insurance, hospitals, families, communities and schools. Set aside the fact the dopers ARE frying their brains, heart and entire cardiovascular system, liver and brain. Put them aside for a moment and take a look at what their addictions are costing all of us and I'm speaking of financial, not the horrific damage they inflict upon others. The situation is out of control. Legitimate Patients can't even get disability for five years because the dopers are sucking the accounts dry and worse, a lot of them either never paid into the system the way normal people have OR the States have mandated instant acceptance and they are given money they never even worked for. All those high prices translate to money coming out of OUR pockets which ends up funding the dopers and dealers.

    It's all being allowed. Someone stupid, someone heinous has designs to kill off Americans with dope AND make all of us foot the bill for their agenda.

    Try as you might to spew and urp out the propaganda that promotes dope, facts are facts and facts are nothing dopers and dealers OR their sleezy ignorant promoters embrace.

    What we need are lifetime institutions for addicts, automatic death penalty for dealers and promoters, and major care provided to their families because of the harm the dopers inflict.

    Can addictions be healed? No, they cannot. It's a horror story beyond compare. And look at the caliber of people who are dedicated to keeping addicts addicted. Would you want that human garbage in charge of your health care? Certainly not. But that's what dopers want and get, and then along comes the mortuary services.

    And look who is working that sorry agenda.

  9. Why I am getting this over a year later to watch? I started researching this because I am in the same situation. After 3o years on narcotics that helped me, now it's been 3 years not being able to get my meds anymore. Inhumane!

  10. I am sick of being treated like a criminal, looked like as a criminal, and this humiliation is more than I can take. Severe pain 24/7 is intolerable and I will end my life because of this. I have had over 25 surgeries that leave tight scars that hurt, subject myself to horrible injections in my brittle spine. That is IF I can get an appointment. The shots themselves cause more pain, isolation and depression. I am treated like a leper. When do you think they will send us all to pain colonies to die?

  11. Once you start taking opioids for "constant pain" you've basically committed yourself to be a junkie for life. Once you take 100mg of morphine a day which would kill a person not dependent, you're a junkie, you're just a self-righteous junkie. Doctors see it 1000 times. The guy who has a slipped disk deal with it through other methods and the guy who 10 years later is on enough Oxy and fentanyl to kill 3 elephants pounding crying screaming "I NEED MOOORE!" and looks like absolute shit. You're not specialty case.

  12. I don't think this is a question of addiction here you can clearly see the government's are doing away with opiate drugs it is a very sad case though however because a lot of these people need this to survive from day-to-day the question that I have for the government's including Canada Province Ontario Dennis got a hard band on specially Tylenol number 3 S and they even went as far to ban Tylenol number ones over the counter where you need a prescription now the sad part of it all is the people that really need it they won't be able to get it I ask myself how will they cope the ones that work how will they keep on doing their job if they're in too much pain it is a sad case because we don't even treat dogs that way if they're in pain we try and fix them and there's pain meds so basically we try and fix them and if we can't we put them down why are we doing this to our own people we have strict orders in place for these drugs I just don't understand I think people will start to pick alternate methods of pain relieving and that could get more dangerous than if they would have left it the way it was anyways today is August 5th 2018 my heart goes out to all of yous that have to suffer in pain because of our governments whether you're in Canada or the United States of America or even a n in Maine good luck to you all God bless

  13. Today's news reported — doper threw 18 month old child and after the child fell on the floor, doper stomped on child's stomach killing child. Doper mom watched and did not attempt to stop the attack on her child.

  14. What I don't understand is why our government always seems to either overreact or completely ignore a problem? There ARE legitimate chronic pain patient's that DO require opioid pain medication on a daily basis. There needs to be some common sense used when treating these patients!

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