6 Comments

  1. nathans

    Your a good man, Dr. Junig, a genuine ‘mensch’; too often a lone voice barking in the wilderness, but the message is necessary so please keep it up. Reason and right are on your side, so, hopefully sooner than later, they will come around.

  2. LBB

    I wish there were more like you in the treatment world, Dr.J.
    Something similar happened to me in April of 2011. After using heroin for 6 months, I looked for help. Finding a doctor covered by my insurance was very difficult. Long story short, after I was on Suboxone for 3 weeks, and my life was totally turning around for the better, I had a one-time relapse. The doc I was seeing immediatley dismissed me when I went to see him. I confused my drug use to him even before he saw the results of my urine screen, trying to use my new honesty skills I was picking up in AA/NA. Nope. Done. I begged for even a few Suboxone to tide me over till I could find a new doctor. Nada. Long story short, I went into withdrawals, went back to heroin, and continued to use for 9 more months (with a few futile attempts at getting clean) before I found my current provider who is a wonderful doctor. I’m in group therapy, AA/NA, and I’m now 23 days clean, the longest I’ve been in over a year. I very well could have died or gone to jail in those 9 months of using. I’m not blaming the doctor for my relapse or my return to drug use, that’s not my point. But he also blatantly said to me that he usually treats people who “get themselves into trouble with prescription opiates, not heroin users” so I guess he had a stigma against a junkie off the street like me. Dr.J you are so right on about them having all the power. I’m a white, middle-class mother & homemaker. On the outside I look like your typical “soccer mom”. Then I mention I’m addicted to heroin and the stigma clouds everything, sadly so often even in the medical community where you’d hope they would be more compassionate, understanding, and caring. I pray for the day that buprenorphine is more widely available to those who need it, and the stigma against all alcoholics & addicts is replaced by an understanding that we all are fighting against a vicious disease.

    • So many heroin users were started on opioids by physicians– who found, after getting cut off, that heroin was cheaper and easier to find– especially after the new formulation of Oxycontin. I have nothing good to say about heroin, but it is just another opioid agonist— and a legal medication in the UK. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. gabagool

    At first, I thought it was all in my head. I USUALLY communicate pretty well with people, I speak nicely to them, and, in return, they speak nicely to me. But, when I started recieving my Bupe, the same nice, friendly pharmacists at my local CVS seemed to be…..well, not so friendly. No smiles, I waited LONGER than usual for a script to be filled, they won’t fill it 3 days earlier once when I was going on vacation. Then it hit me……they think Im a junkie……AND I AM A JUNKIE……it really hit home. Made me realize what a mess I made of myself…..but you know, they were STILL Fargin Aceholes, just the same.
    I wonder if any other person has ever gotten the same treatment from their pharmacy.

  4. cory hudson

    Doc u truly a caring, professional, and wonderful physician and its a HUGE shame there aren’t more like you. As an addict I see and deal with the negative stigma persons such as myself deal with on a daily basis. Addiction IS a medical condition, like diabetes, hyper/hypotension, etc….. I have yet to see a diabetic be refered to as scum because they state they can’t eat a bag of M&M’s when seeking medical care. Yet when I refuse narcotics and inform physicians I had a severe opiate addiction for over a decade & I’m NOT comfortable taking anything with the potentional for abuse. I got the same reaction 99 times out of 100 no matter how long I have been clean. A very short, rude, demeaning bed side manor as if I DON’T actually need medical attention, I’m just working some kind of angle and I’m med-seeking. The proper education regarding addiction just isn’t there so I love it when I see an MD such as yourself fighting the good fight along side all of us addicts. You truly the answer to the answer to countless addicts prayers and I can’t put into words how much it means.

    • Thanks! I appreciate your comments, and of course, I have my own bad days. But I know the attitude you’re describing, and I’ve witnessed it myself, a number of times. I think that it comes in several forms. There are the docs who perhaps led relatively-sheltered lives, who see the use of illicit substances as a crime, meaning that anyone using them is a ‘bad person’ or criminal. Other doctors believe that people with addictions are weak-minded for being unable to control their impulses. Some doctors have a divide in their mind between doctors and patients, with them on one side and patients on the other side.
      I remember my own experience of passing from one side to the other. I was head of the anesthesia department, and attended meetings of the executive committee with other department heads…. nobody knew of my brief addiction history 7 years ealier, when I went to AA/NA and left opioid behind. But then I relapsed, and after several months in treatment I was ‘allowed’ to speak with the executive committee. They all say in a circle around the table, and listened as I confessed what had happened. The CEO then winked at me, shook my hand, and said ‘thanks Jeff.’ But I could see on the faces in the room that I had moved from their side, to the other side– and their eyes were not communicating with me, but rather looking AT me, as one of THOSE people. I got home and called the CEO, who said ‘thanks for coming, Jeff– we’re letting you go.’
      I have to say it…. what a douchebag. The nice smile, the nice suit, the guy who said I was ‘such a friend’– and then ‘sorry’.
      Frankly, the experience was painful, but was also an important part of my personal and professional growth ever since. I would encourage you to do the same– and when you see those attitudes, keep the truth intact in your own head– the truth that these idiots should be ashamed of themselves for trying to judge you.

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