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That Awful Orange Flavor

You know that terrible orange flavor thats used to make cough medicine more palatable? Perhaps you know a purple or "cherry" variety instead? It sort of tastes like Mr. Clean smells. I'm tired of it. I taste it up to three times a day and I have to hold it in my mouth waiting for it's active content to absorb into my cheeks. I take this little package the size of a business card, tear open the foil, and remove a carefully engineered pharmacuetical "film" that's only the size of my pinky nail. Then I am left with two pieces of litter and a horrible taste under my tongue. If I forget to brush my teeth before I take this medicine I have to wait for an hour.

Why do I have to do this? Because I have chronic back pain from an injury. Why on earth do I have to take medicine like this? Am I five? Do I need an airplane spoon to feed it to me? No. It's the same reason that I can't get this medicince without my doctor filling out special forms. It's becuase it's pain medicine: the wonderfully helpful little compound called buprenorphine, a smooth, slowly metabolized opiate that can be very helpful for pain. It's actually not even a total, full-agonist opiate, rather it is a partial agonist, acting as an antagonist to the kappa receptor. It's a great drug for chronic pain. It even has potentially antidepressant effects! So why does this medicine come in a horrible, orange-flavored film instead of an easy-to-use pill? Well, one reason is that the buccal cells of the patients cheeks store the bupe' and release it more gradually into the body. A doctor might be clever enough to stall you with this excuse. But the real reason is it's an opiate, and a lot of people seem to have a great, ignorant prejudice to both these drugs, their uses, and their users.

The orange flavor covers up the taste of the concoction of not only the medicine I need but also the exact antidote of it. This combination forms a kind of trap. The antidote, the opiate blocker nalaxone -- something used to save people during overdose -- is included in the strip. If the patient follows instructions, ingesting the medicine, the nalaxone is barely active. But, if the patient attempts to dissolve and inject the medicine, the nalaxone will now be predominant as it's VERY active intravenously, causing, instantly, opiate withdrawal, a painful, flu-like condition. This is s cruel way to treat a human being. Doing this to medicine goes against the basic idea of it all: healing and helping people. Will one of my strips help a person shooting up? No. It will not do the trick and they will continue looking for relief. Only, this time, they might be angry, probably have fewer resources, might be more desperate. Sure, one cannot overdose in this way on Suboxone. But one can certainly overdose on the low-grade street heroin you have to score in order to remedy wasting your time and resources on the suboxone.

By creating booby-trapped, heavily-regulated medicines the state and the pharmacutical industry can wash their hands of their direct involvment in addicts lives. And the public sees this as progress, quite often. They perceive it as safer. Afterall, something, has been done. But, this pushes people to go to riskier, shadier, less reliable sources for their substances. And this, in turn, pushes dealers to need to decrease overhead, to cut the product. But, becauses it is so hard to get good, pharmacutical quality opiates, smugglers are forced to deal in the most potent form they possible can, as, per weight, this goes the farthest. So, what do they buy? What's their high-fructose corn syrup? Fentanyl: death concentrate.

Overdoses are being caused by the very restrictions and technologies being implemented to avoid them. And what's so amazing is that there's no reason for this. Opiates are fantastic medications that make modern medicine possible on many fronts. They turn off the pain signal in the nerve, and that's it. This can leave you constipated and, if you take too much, you could stop breathing and need a blocker administered. But those are the only notable side-effects save addiction. And the addiction problem is solved.

The addiction problem is solved?! Yes, it has been solved for a long time through agonist therapy using specially designed opiates that release smoothly and gradually freeing the addict from needing to chase relief. You've probably heard of methadone, or perhaps even, buperpenorphine -- which happens to be a proven useful, long-term drug for addiction cessation as well as for pain. They are safe medicines that can and have been taken for patients entire lives. But, for some reason, the public still cannot accept that these medicines must be taken forever. They cannot resign themselves to this idea when it comes to addiciton. But there's nothing wrong with taking a drug forever. I'm certainly fine taking this one for the rest of my life. I just hope that oneday I can get the medicine without the moral bullshit.