Guest Post: Barby Ingle on Chronic Pain and Opioids

By Barby Ingle, President
Power of Pain Foundation

Imagine going from living an active life, where dance was a central part of your life, to living in pain that limits your every move. It happened to me. As head of Washington State University’s cheer and dance programs, physical fitness was a central and wonderful part of my life. That changed in 2002 when I was diagnosed with a painful autoimmune disease that ended my ability to coach. Pain like that isn’t just physically limiting – it is morally debilitating. Add to that the injury of being told you may not be able to access the pain medication you need because a physician worries that you may be abusing the medication. It is a problem faced by many who have legitimate need for pain medication. Instead of being treated with compassion, pain patients are too often treated with suspicion.

Prescription pain medications are an important component of modern pain management. Abuse and misuse of these products, however, have created a serious and growing public health problem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has worked to address this problem while ensuring patients who are in pain have appropriate access to opioid analgesics.

The question, however, is how we can make pain medication available to those who need it and address the legitimate concerns of physicians and law enforcement about misuse. Fortunately, there is good news. One important step towards the goal of creating safer pain medication has been the development of opioids formulated to deter abuse. The FDA considers the development of these products a high public health priority.  For patients with pain, help comes in the form of three letters: ADF.

Pain medications with abuse deterrent formulation (ADF) make it difficult to tamper with the pills, reducing the risk they will be used improperly. The good news is that several formulations of ADF now exist, giving physicians a range of options for their patients with pain. Some ADF formulations simply make it hard to crush the pills. Others contain an antidote that destroys the medicine if crushed. A variety of solutions means better options for care. It is time to fulfill the promise of these new treatments. As a leader in the pain community and someone who advocates for thousands of pain patients each year, I strongly believe that we can combat the issues of abuse while still giving patients who need pain relief a safe, effective and accountable access to these medications.

With many new medications, insurers put limits that make it difficult to access the medicines. With the societal cost of limiting pain management so high, such an approach is penny wise and pound foolish. There are many things we can do to increase access to these treatments, but we need to start with the recognition of their value and the promise they hold for many pain patients who have been denied care due to suspicion. We must find a balance between the pain patients who truly need opioid medication for daily living and those who are abusing them. There is a need to stem the tide of drug abuse, but not at the detriment to those who need proper and timely care and access to tools for better daily living so they may function in a more productive way in our communities and provide greater benefit to society as a whole. The responsible patients should not be punished by the crackdown on prescription drugs and opioid abuse.

Barby Ingle

Barby Ingle is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and President of the board for the Power of Pain Foundation. Barby is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics. She has been a pain patient since developing endometriosis in 1997, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy in 2002.


  1. Brenda Alice on February 11, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Your blog is excellent and touching. It’s hard to be treated as a criminal instead of a patient. I appreciate your advocacy along with the effort of pharmacist Steve and the utube clips by Ken Mckin. Wishing you the best.

  2. Dollie Felling on February 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    It is so wonderful to hear that there out there trying to help people who have extreme pain do to and illness. They have very little support to get them the medication they need . My son has a tumor in his spine and has constant pain 24/7 365. Have him from Dr to Dr over the last ten years. He is still in pain and has no quality of life. I pray and keep on trying everyday to get him some help. We live in a rural area in Minnesota we have to travel for hours to get him to the next Dr. and then the next. He has yet to be at a pain level that is tolerable .He is at the point where he not sure he can go anymore, he spends days and weeks in bed after each trip. Has been in the hospital 3time for bleeding ulcer because of all the pain meds he takes.. We are at a wall and keep tring but think its never going to happen. It so nice to hear that you are trying to do something for the people who need the help. Thank you and God Bless you. Dollie Felling

  3. Anonymous on February 13, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Hello Barby,

    I just stumbled upon your website and very glad that I did. As its getting very late tonight I will have to look back at your website tomorrow when I am less tired & in less pain. As I’m quite sure you are well aware of the end of the day is one of worst times of the day for pain. See you tomorrow!


    Kevin M Johnson

    WWW. GoFundMe.Com/KJSRSDS

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