Doctor Refused to Prescribe My Father Pain Meds Because He Smokes Pot?

Question by hannah: Doctor refused to prescribe my father pain meds because he smokes pot?
[rewrite]My father has split discs in his back along with severe arthritis. He walks bent over half the time because he is in so much pain. That being said, he is also an alcoholic and has been to rehab a few times throughout his life for alcohol and drug abuse. He does double or sometimes even triple his prescription. He says it’s because he needs more to get through the pain. I don’t want to say he’s not in a severe amount of pain every day, because I know he is – but I also know that he likes getting high too. So anyway he went to a new doctor a few weeks ago and was honest and said that he smokes pot once or twice a week – and she was very judgmental about it, sort of rightfully so since he has issues with addiction. He went back today per her request and she told him that she would not prescribe him any pain medication because he smokes marijuana. I do understand where she is coming from – she thinks he is abusing the drugs, which he does sometimes. My question is what can he do? It is a double edged sword because he is an addict but also does suffer from excruciating pain daily.. I am 21 years old and just don’t want to see my 52 year old father in so much pain. We live in NY. I dont know if there are any non addictive pain medications or … maybe some kind of or …. ?????
He is on medicaid – there are only certain doctors he can go to – and this is his 2nd doctor. His other doctor refused further treatment because my dad couldn’t afford his copays. He is on disability.
slipped discs** not split, oops.
MellowTones – thanks – yes, my dad could be lying to me – but I did research a little and there are a lot of people who say they are going through the same thing – their doctors stop prescribing them pain meds because they admit to smoking pot. I would completely understand if the doctor stopped treatment because they feared he was abusing the pain meds – but it just baffles me (if it’s true) that a doctor would actually stop prescribing pain medication because the patient smokes marijuana. Surely and legitimate doctor realizes that marijuana is pretty much medically harmless…. and actually is beneficial for his pain.

Best answer:

Answer by ryan
just get a new doctor

Answer by MellowTones
Well, if I were your dad, I would find a better doctor. marijuana does not interact with other medications and would be safe to take while on other medications… so her reasoning has nothing to do with his safety.

It seems like she is trying to make a point, by not prescribing pain meds, as pain meds don’t do anything but make you not feel pain. They don’t heal, and they are terrible for you in the long haul… that being said, if your Dad is in pain, he needs something to dull it a little at least.

He should go see a better doctor and explain what happened at the last doctor, there are many non addictive pain meds, but they are non-narcotic, which means they don’t kill pain really as much as they are anti-inflamitories.

When I was about 21, I was dating a guy who had 7 slipped discs in his back… he had been a drug addict and was doing all he could to stay off of all drugs, so he only took Ultrims as needed for pain…. but over time, he gave up and slowly integrated hard core pain killers back into his life and now he’s a full blown junky…. There are reasons doctors don’t like prescribing addictive meds to people with problems with addiction, but for the doc to say its cuz he smokes pot? that sounds like either your Dad is lying to you about why she wouldn’t prescribe them, or she’s a total idiot.


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One Response to Doctor Refused to Prescribe My Father Pain Meds Because He Smokes Pot?

  • mistify says:

    It’s not just because of the pot smoking that is the likely reason his physician is refusing pain meds. One of the other reasons is he is also an alcoholic and likely has liver damage already. Nearly all pain medications are mixed with acetaminophen which can be highly toxic to the liver. I’m certainly speculating about the physician’s motives, but I imagine this at least has some sort of effect.

    Being a PT myself and having had a father who also had a degenerative spine condition (way beyond what PT could help), I can tell you with experience that narcotics are way over used. They actually do very little to curb mechanical pain. They might take the edge off, but nothing gets rid of the pain completely. Combine that thought with the fact that those with history of drug abuse already have a higher tolerance requiring more of the drug to get the effect and, it’s a big risk for your dad for little payoff. In fact, most narcotic pain medication comes with a contraindication for those with a history of drug abuse.

    For people who have pain truly from a degenerative condition, anti-inflammatories tend to work better than anything else. These, too, certainly come with a risk…namely, it can lead to bleeding in the digestive system…something alcoholics are prone to already. But he should certainly discuss it with his physician personally.

    The other thing to consider are pain patches. There are transdermal patches that come in either a narcotic (fentnyl). What this would at least avoid is the acetaminophen side of it. However, even fentanyl patches come with a very high potential for abuse. He would have to have a long serious discussion about these before even considering using them. As a non-physician, however, I would thinking that at least in patch form, that this would be a drug that’s harder to abuse….but again, I’m speculating and a physician could probably have more insight into this.

    There are also anti-inflammatory patches: Flector is an example…although there is still some risk of bleeding, this at least bypasses the stomach.

    The final consideration are TENS units. Often recommended by PTs, these can be a way for patients to manage their pain with a little electrical device that delivers stimulation right to the back. Although not typically covered by public aid, they are relatively inexpensive if ordered over the internet…they might not come with all the bells and whistles of a TENS unit bought in a medical supply store, but they really work the same.

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