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Social media has been buzzing over the topic of opioid induced constipation (OIC) since a commercial aimed to raise awareness about the issue aired this weekend during the Super Bowl. While many patients and patient groups were happy to have a spotlight shone on an infrequently discussed topic, several celebrities, comedians and politicians took to their twitter accounts to bash the advertisement and by doing so the issue itself. Ignoring the quiet suffering of those living with chronic pain, some failed to recognize that while drug abuse and addiction are critically important issues to tackle, solving that epidemic should not be done at the expense of those in chronic pain.
Immediately after the airing, comedian Bill Maher took to twitter writing, “Was that really an ad for junkies who can’t shit? America, I luy ya but I just can’t keep up”
Was that really an ad for junkies who can't shit? America, I luv ya but I just can't keep up
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) February 8, 2016
Responding to Mr. Maher, and several others who share his sentiment, many in our community have fired back on social media and blogs in an effort to change the tone of the discussion and dispel the myths and falsehoods.
We here at CreakyJoints responded, “@billmaher, you’re a funny guy but for many #chronicpain is real and opioids are need for quality of life.”
— CreakyJoints.org (@CreakyJoints) February 8, 2016
CJ featured blogger Dina Neils (@titaniumtri) joined the conversation saying, “Offensive.14+ years of chronic pain conditions+autoimmune disease. People like me need pain meds to LIVE.”
— Dina Neils (@titaniumtri) February 8, 2016
Many others continued, saying, “@billmaher OIC doesn’t impact junkies. If affects the millions of Americans who live with pain.”
— Nicole Hemmenway (@NicoleHemmenway) February 8, 2016
“Opioids = quality of life for millions of ppl. Work, family, school, athletics, etc”
“#chronicpain patients are fighting an invisible illness thats falsely reported on. Stick to politics.”
— Alan Brewington (@abrewi3010) February 8, 2016
“@billmaher Chronic pain pts arent junkies. Some of us need pain meds to live. Shame on you Bill.”
— Kristin M. Coppens (@KristinMCoppens) February 8, 2016
and, “This is ignorance in its purest form. May you never need serious pain intervention, @billmaher.”
— Hurt Blogger | Britt (@HurtBlogger) February 8, 2016
Writer Mariah Z. Leach wrote about the subject on her blog, Stop The Stigma on www.rheumatoidarthritis.net. Being that the Super Bowl is one of the most widely watched events on television, Mariah took exception to what was supposed to be an awareness campaign being used as an opportunity for others to minimize the suffering of those living with chronic disease.
As a working mother who has achieved a law degree and a masters degree, she resents being branded a “junky”, simply because of the course of treatment she has been advised to take.
The National Pain report also addressed the issue in their blog, highlighting the backlash Maher has received, as well as taking the opportunity to inform readers of the actual data related to this issue. Not surprisingly, the data did not support Maher’s assertion that all opioid users are in fact, “junkies”.
In her blog, City Girl Flare, writer Lori-Ann expressed her own feelings on this sensitive issue. Lori-Ann describes how she herself suffers from OIC, and because of the symptoms often chooses to suffer with pain rather than take pain medication. Understanding that Maher was indeed trying to make a joke, it is particularly the word “junkie” that strikes a nerve. In addition to Mr. Maher, Lori-Ann also addresses recent comments by white house staffers.