DEA, War on Drugs, and Pain Management Patients

The DEA is pulling out the big guns on the War on Drugs. The newest battle is against "diversion", meaning pain patients selling or giving their prescription meds to others. Did you know If you are prescribed an opiate/narcotic medication and you test 'negative' on a pain mgt. drug screen, you will likely be discharged from that doctor for suspicion of "diverting" your meds? I sure didn't! I had an annual drug test last visit and did not take my pain med (norco 7.5) that morning because I am only allowed 3/day and I was going out that evening with my girlfriends. Since my med only lasts 4 hours, I delayed taking it so I would be on a later schedule that day so I could be functional that evening. I thought this was perfectly acceptable and I was MANAGING my pain. Well, this week was my 3 month visit and I saw Nurse Practitioner who was acting funny like I was dirty or something. Then she says there was an "inconsistency" on my drug test, that I showed 'negative' for opiates. They ran a confirmation screening and there were NO opiates. (BTW, I got $1700 bill from lab that's NOT covered by my insurance!) She handed me 1-month prescription instead of usual 3-mo. and said I needed to make appt. with the doctor for next month. I felt so SHAMED and WRONGED. (But god knows, I sure didn't voice that) I went home and googled DEA + pain management and several discussions where people had been discharged for signs of 'diverting' their meds because of negative test result. My fear is that if your record shows you were discharged from one pain mgt. doctor, will any other pain mgt. doctor even accept you?

Hello Mary L,

When you went back for your “3 month visit”, were you seeing a NP at your Pain Management Clinic, or were you at your Primary Care Provider? I am not a medical advisor, but I’ve certainly endured my share of being made to feel shamed, and discriminated, against due to the fact that my pain has only responded to traditional opioids or Buprenorphine.

If I were in this position and had a good relationship with my Primary Care Provider, I would explain the situation to him/her, just as you have here, and request a referral to another Pain Management practice.

We know that our bodies metabolize the medications we take at different rates.

I’ve not encountered this specific problem, but that is my two cents, for what it’s worth.

Best wishes for you for finding effective and compassionate care.