Oh how we dread the thought of feeling any type of pain. God forbid we are led to endure any type of discomfort in our lives. Headache? Grab a bottle of Motrin! Back pain? Get the doctor to write a script of Vicodin or Oxycodone! Hurt feelings, remorse, or any form of guilt? Let's drown it all out by consuming a bottle of whiskey! Don't get me wrong, there certainly is a place for 'pain therapy' but it seems America is not only attracted to but also addicted to the idea that pain is meant to escape. Somewhere in our interpretation of 'the pursuit of happiness', we (Americans) have determined that pain was not contained within the definition of happiness. In our Disney-fied Hollywood saturated minds of life, our happily ever after pictures of life have no place for pain. When pain comes, our first move is to escape it! It doesn't matter how the headache evolved, all that matters is the pain is felt, and the goal is NO PAIN.
A quick glance at our love affair with painkilling drugs is quite illuminating. Over an eight year period (1997 - 2005) statistics from the the Drug Enforcement Administration shows the amount of five major painkillers sold at retail stores rose 90 percent. More than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores during the most recent year represented in the data. That total is enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in the country. Without writing a book, although I could, here are a few statistics concerning just the use of pain pills alone in these United States.
* Painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs.
* The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of painkillers, using 71 percent of the world’s oxycodone and 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone, or Vicodin.
* In 1991 there were 40 million prescriptions for painkillers worldwide, but by 2001, there were 180 million painkiller prescriptions, most of them in the U.S.
* 7 of the 11 drugs most commonly abused by high school students are prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
* A 2006 survey found that 7 million people 12 and over had abused prescription or over the counter drugs in the past 30 days. Most abused painkillers.
* 2.2 million people age 12 and up started abusing painkillers in the last year.
* Young adults, age 18 to 25, show the most painkiller use and the greatest increases in abuse.
* About 1 in 4 teens will abuse prescription drugs before they graduate from high school
* Emergency room visits related to painkiller use rose 153 percent from 1995 to 2002.
* Admissions to drug treatment programs for people using painkillers rose 321 percent from 1995 to 2005.
* The number of people abusing painkillers is estimated to have risen from half a million to 2.5 million between 1985 and 2002.
* Deaths related to painkiller use rose 160 percent from 1999 to 2004.
* The abuse of painkillers causes more deaths than heroine and cocaine combined.
And on and on it goes ad nauseam...and this doesn't even include all the other prescription drugs Americans swallow, inject, inhale, spray, infuse, and pat on their bodies for medicinal purposes!
It seems the more our society unravels, the more we look for solace in avoiding pain. Every where you look pain is to be avoided at all costs. From physical pain to spiritual pain, the goal is to minimize its signal and strength. Like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, we have created this out of sight, out of mind world of illusion. If I don't confront it, then it doesn't exist. It is far easier to mask the pain in our body with a drug than to actually have to discipline ourselves to some requirement of having to change how we do things. The same tune is sung with our spiritual pain. Rather than deal with our inner man, we saturate our minds with avoidance techniques. Recreational drugs of choice helps to enshroud our repressed grudges and anger, leaving us numb to the realities of life.
If for just a moment I could get you to step away from your shrine of victim hood and perpetual pursuit of pain avoidance, I may then be able to get you to 'see' that pain is good. Think of a life without pain. There are rare cases in this world where people are born without the ability to feel pain. There are cases of children, because they were born with the inability to feel pain, biting their tongues and fingers off. If we can perceive pain correctly, pain then is a gift from God. Pain tells us something is not right. The physical pain of a sprained ankle warns us there is something wrong. If we didn't have that ankle pain, then we would walk on, causing more and more damage to our body. The spiritual pain of the psyche warns us we must change our way of thinking and doing things. Yet, rather than confront, we try to conceal. We begin to perform covert operations against our own soul. Then when the harvest of such underground mole work begins to manifest itself in our lives with alcohol and drug addictions, we then shake our fist at God and blame Him. When, if the truth be known, God gave us the gift of pain to guide us back to health.
To confront pain is not easy. It takes guts. It takes honesty. It takes grit and determination to deal with pain head on. Only you can take this journey to confront the inner hurts and pains of life that have seemingly forever slowed you from achieving and grasping the fullness of life. Don't you think its time to 'get your head out of the sand' and confront your life?
Submitted by: Elder David Green