Cruel & Unusual Punishment: Comments from Pain Sufferers

By Josh Bloom — Aug 13, 2021
Maia Szalavitz's terrifying article in Wired, which described the cruel laws and punitive regulations that pain patients are forced to abide by, brought to mind hundreds of similarly tragic comments I've been reading for years. These can be found following any of my ~100 articles about pain, opioid denial, or government malfeasance and ineptitude. Here are a few.
Image credit: Ayo-Ogunseinde on Wunderstock 

Even those of us who are fully aware of the misery that our appalling system of drug regulation has heaped upon pain sufferers will find Maia Szalavitz's recent article in Wired to be sickening and deeply disturbing. "The Pain Was Unbearable. So Why Did Doctors Turn Her Away?" tells us what happens to some people, who through no fault of their own, have been assigned a poor Overdose Risk Score, a meaningless number generated by an untested and arbitrary algorithm using "AI" developed by a faceless company. 

Some of the comments in the article sounded familiar. Of course, they did. I've been reading different versions of these same comments following the dozens of articles I've written about our deeply flawed drug policy and the toll it takes on people in pain, or "addicts," as meddlers like Andrew Kolodny and his merry men and women of PROP would call them. 

After combing through hundreds of comments, I've selected some that exemplify what can reasonably be termed "government-mandated cruelty." Although prisoners are protected by the Eighth Amendment, pain patients are clearly not being protected from "cruel and unusual punishment." Otherwise, how could you explain the following?

"Denying Patients in moderate or severe Pain an available Pain Relief medication with 3 millennia worth of recorded human usage is Torture and a violation of Human Rights.  END OF STORY."

Matthew Smith


"With what I have to go thru to get my daily 30mg, I honestly think I would rather just do heroin if I had a good source.



I threw up all night [in the hospital] and into the next morning from untreated pain (1) because they insisted on no more than 1 5mg Percocet every SIX hours."

Faith N. Love


The CDC Guidelines have destroyed what little dignity we as chronic pain patients had.

Luanne Smith


"What kind of a society have we become to treat our wounded veterans, disabled citizens, hospice and nursing home residents, and victims of genetic disease or severe auto-accidents worse than enemy combatants who per the UN cannot be tortured?"

Jeffrey Edney

Image credit: Ayo-Ogunseinde on Wunderstock 

"I recall a discussion my father had back then with his mother's doctor - she was about 80 and had advanced Parkinson's disease, and was in considerable pain. My father asked why he couldn't give her something for her pain, and the doctor said, "Because she might become addicted." And my father said, "But she's dying" and the doctor repeated that she might become addicted."

William Stevens


"A serial killer on death row has more legal and constitutional rights than an incurable disabled in the nation right now."


Saving the worst for last:

Even though I'm under palliative doctor's care now, he's still limited to around 275 MMED by stupid MassHealth. Right now I'm in so much pain I'm wishing that I hadn't fought and won against stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

Audrey Lynn 

What kind of society are we? As Matthew Smith, Jeffrey Edney, and JmkillingNYC noted, the rights of pain patients are essentially nonexistent thanks to the heavy-handed and thoroughly misguided crackdown on prescription opioids.

Should Faith Love have to vomit all night in the hospital because of undertreated pain or 196ski have to even consider buying street heroin because the DEA's campaign of terror against doctors has made them afraid to write even legitimate prescriptions? 

Have we become so fearful of addiction that doctors won't provide an 80-year-old dying woman with adequate palliative care for fear of addiction? The doctor's excuse is pure BS. He is not worried about addiction, just his prescription count.

And can someone please explain why Audrey Lynn, who went through a torturous treatment in an attempt to extend her life, should be forced to spend the rest of it in agony?

Bear in mind that there is not one of us who isn't an accident or disease away from becoming another pain patient, innocent "pariahs" who are victims of both their medical condition as well as a cruel and ignorant policy that supposedly is in place to protect us from ourselves?

Something is very wrong here. 


(1) People can vomit from untreated pain


Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

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