Pubdate: Sun, 08 Apr 2001
Source: Bristol Herald Courier (VA)
Copyright: 2001 Bristol Herald Courier
Authors: Loretta J. Johnson, Bruce Shaffer


To the editor:

I am appalled by the attempt to remove oxycontin from the market. People 
who advocate that are overlooking two things: 1. The drug is not the 
problem; abusers are the problem. 2. Advocates probably have never been in 
severe, long-term pain.

In 1998 I broke a vertebrae in an auto accident. At the same time, a kidney 
stone was dislodged and became very painful. I did not get lithotrypsy for 
several weeks. I was in extreme pain and several drugs were tried for pain 
relief. Only morphine and then oxycontin were effective, without 
undesirable side effects. My back pain lasted for over a year. This drug 
allowed me to survive the long-term pain and function daily. No other drug 
worked so well.

In 1994-95 I suffered a rotator cuff tear for which surgery was denied for 
eight months. During that time I functioned with severe pain and only 
Tylenol for relief after the first six weeks. Doctors would not prescribe 
more potent painkillers after that time. I assure you, the second 
experience was a great improvement.

To abuse oxycontin, one must alter its form, a deliberate act. Persons who 
do so are like those who use guns to kill and then blame the gun, or those 
who use cars as weapons. The instrument is not at fault; the user is.

There is no good reason to deny pain relief to those who need it to survive 
debilitating pain, in order to reduce temptation for abusers. Does anyone 
doubt that if this drug is removed from the market, another will take its 
place with abusers?

Could we look for alternate methods to reduce drug abuse, or to reduce 
abuse of this particular drug? Banning oxycontin for legitimate use is not 
the answer.

Loretta J. Johnson
Cedar Bluff, Va.

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To the editor: After reading the article about the two Virginia High 
students caught using marijuana in the school restroom, I began to wonder 
why they call it a ``zero tolerance'' policy.

If smoking pot in the bathroom doesn't exceed zero tolerance, then what in 
the world would? After thinking about it, I realized the inconsistency must 
be because of ``who'' the students are. As someone who only knows what I 
read in the paper, I can only guess that the students must be related to 
someone on the School Board or to one of our city officials or social 
leaders. If the child of the average working man was caught using marijuana 
at school, he would surely feel the effects of ``zero tolerance.'' Perhaps 
I am wrong, but that is certainly the way it looks to me.

If the School Board thinks the penalty for the zero tolerance policy is too 
harsh, then the policy should be changed. But don't exempt certain students 
and leave the policy in place for others.

Bruce Shaffer
Bristol, Va.
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