Painkiller Drug Regime (03:26)
Declan Lawn interviews Helen Derici in Cornwall. She takes co-codamol, Valium, tramadol, gabapentin, morphine, ibuprofen, and amitriptyline for osteoarthritis, spinal issues, and fibromyalgia. Opioid prescriptions for non-cancer patients have increased six fold since 2006.
Becoming Addicted (02:44)
Author Cathryn Kemp was prescribed Fentanyl for pancreatitis; after two years her tolerance increased to the point of fatal doses. Dr. Cathy Stannard of Southmead Hospital in Bristol demonstrates daily morphine volumes typical of addicted patients.
Bristol Chronic Pain Clinic (02:02)
Stannard thinks opioids are unsuitable for long-term use. Derici checks in for a two week detoxification program and relinquishes her medication. Stannard prescribes methadone for withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawing from Opioids (02:21)
Derici experiences sweating and hot and cold flashes while stopping morphine. She asks for methadone for the symptoms. Kemp experienced hallucinations when withdrawing without methadone.
Opioid Development (02:18)
Despite dangers of addiction, U.K. doctors are prescribing more painkillers. Lawn travels to Kentucky, where pharmaceutical companies first convinced physicians that opioids were safe. OxyContin use was linked to addiction and increased robbery rates.
OxyContin Epidemic (02:41)
Prescription opioids were widely used in rural Kentucky; rehabilitation clinics became the norm in coal mining communities. Lawn interviews chronic pain patients who became addicted and lost their jobs. Police say crime rates soared; addiction knows no class boundaries.
Personal Tragedy (02:25)
Dr. Bill Fannen began prescribed opioids when pharmaceutical companies assured him they were harmless. Patients became addicted and sold them on the black market; his son died of an overdose. OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma denies their marketing caused harm.
A Glimmer of Hope (04:17)
Dr. Martin Johnson believes the U.K. health system will prevent an opioid black market, but general practitioners have no prescription guidelines. Simon England is dependent on liquid morphine for colitis. He takes the highest dose Stannard has seen; she recommends methadone and detoxification.
Successful Detoxification (04:43)
Clinic staff members use physiotherapy and counseling to help Derici manager her pain without opioids. Kemp discusses learning to live with her pain. The NHS says high-prescribing GPs are monitored, but chronic pain must be treated.
Credits: Hooked On Painkillers (00:35)
Credits: Hooked On Painkillers
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