The video posted by Patriot Nurse on March 27, 2013 “Pain Control In Disaster Scenarios” was excellent! [Editor note: here’s the referenced video.] I am grateful that she shared her experience and input. Although I have no formal medical education, I do have some thoughts on this subject. I suffer from chronic, painful spinal conditions from parachute landings early in my career in the military. I take several anti-inflammatory and pain medications every single day. Any long term crisis, disaster, SHTF/WROL situation where these pills become unavailable, will have an adverse effect on me. My mobility will be severely decreased without my medicine.
Of the many items we put aside while preparing for potential crisis or long term disaster, narcotic medicines will be very difficult to stock. The illegal market for pain pills is enormous. I recently watched a television program that stated abuse of prescription medication is the largest area of drug violation in the United States, more than all other controlled substances combined. One county in Florida issued a few million Percocet in a single month! Consequently, medical professionals and law enforcement will be very leery of anyone’s attempt to obtain or stock large quantities of these pills. I am NOT a doctor or a lawyer. I am in no position to give medical or legal advice. I am not recommending or advising anyone to follow any methods or measures listed in this article. I am merely making some suggestions to those Preppers who realize that a long term crisis or disaster situation will prevent them from obtaining medications that they use frequently right now.
The first step would be to speak with your physician. Tell him or her that you are preparing for long term crisis. Dr Cynthia Koelker wrote an excellent article on her website about developing a good relationship with your physician. Anyway, ask your doctor the steps to titrate to a lower dose in event your medication becomes available (like Patriot Nurse explained with skipping doses or skipping days). If you have good rapport with your doctor, he/she may write a prescription for several months of medication. Some insurance companies want you to do this. The military health system, Tricare, advertises this program frequently. The only drawback is, you must use the mail order pharmacy through Express Scripts. But, depending on the date of the crisis or disaster starts, you could have several months of medication already in your possession.
If you are on an extended or sustained release medication (dissolves slowly over a period of hours), but still receive an immediate release pill for “breakthrough pain”, try to save a few of the immediate release pills from each prescription. Now, I am NOT recommending that you suffer with extreme pain. If your medicine stretches exactly from RX to RX, then you won’t be able to do this. There are ways to skip a dose of the immediate release medicines. For example, lay down and take a nap (if time permits), or go to bed early. Perhaps stretch a dose from 4 to 6 hours. You will know what you can get away with. Any of these methods may net you a few pills for your emergency stock.
Those folks that take Schedule III medications (Hydrocodone or Codeine based), that get refills on their prescription, can try to reorder a day or two early. Ask the pharmacist what the drug store and the insurance company allow. Don’t abuse this method! If the pharmacy and insurance company allow you to refill your RX 4 days before it is due, perhaps go in at 2 days. Be honest with the pharmacist. Tell them what you are up to. I went to my pharmacy 2 years ago with a checklist of essential medical supplies to stock. I spent several hundred dollars on bandages and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. When I checked out, I forgot my clipboard that held the checklist. Now, everyone that works there knows I’m a Prepper. However, I take Schedule II medicines, which cannot be refilled. So, I cannot get my pills any earlier than the due date.
If you are unfortunate that a disaster or crisis scenario catches you off guard, and you run out of the narcotic medicine that you take daily for chronic pain, many of Patriot Nurse’s recommendations may bring you some relief. OTC drugs like aspirin or Tylenol, NSAIDS (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Naproxen), essential oils such as lavender and wintergreen, all have analgesic properties. If you are lucky to have a chiropractor nearby, or a physical or massage therapist, they can bring relief, too. Alcohol is one of the oldest pain killers known to man. You may want to stock some whiskey with your medical supplies. Booze makes for great bartering material. Patriot Nurse was reluctant to mention some things for legality reasons. I am not. Medicinal marijuana is one of the largest growing businesses in the United States. Thousands, maybe millions of people are smoking or eating pot to relieve their aches and pains. The areas where this activity is sanctioned (legal by state laws, still illegal by federal regulations) are mainly out west. Again, I am NOT recommending that anyone violate current laws! If you live in one of the states where marijuana is allowed, you may want to look into this method. I certainly cannot vouch for the pain relieving properties of pot. I am a retired military man and won’t explore any illegal methods of pain relief. My family is preparing for economic collapse. If the nation falls into a Without Rule Of Law (WROL) situation, I don’t believe that we’ll have law enforcement chasing murderers, yet alone arresting pot growers and smokers. Until then, I will obey all local laws. That’s just my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.
Before closing, I want to extend a few warnings. Some folks split their pills to spread them out in order to save money. NEVER, EVER, CUT, BREAK OR SPLIT EXTENDED OR SUSTAINED RELEASE MEDICINES for any reason! This includes medicines like Oxycontin, Opana, Oramorph or MS Contin. These pills have a coating on them that dissolves over a period of time. Altering the medication will remove this slow release feature and give you all the narcotic at one time. THIS CAN BE FATAL! Some medications such as Avinza and Kadian (morphine sulphate), allow you to open the capsules and sprinkle the contents (beads) on applesauce. AGAIN, DO NOT CRUSH THE BEADS! Talk to your pharmacist. Read the literature that comes with the prescription. Another bit of life saving advice: If you do put aside some narcotic medication, DON’T TELL ANYONE! Your neighbors may laugh at you knowing that you are buying freeze dried food preparing for the Apocalypse. But, if word gets out that you are holding opiates, YOU MAY ATTRACT A RATHER UNSAVORY, CRIMINAL ELEMENT! Although I personally fail to understand what drug abusers like about these pills, I am completely aware of their dangers. People will kill for them. Take precautionary measures when you pick up your medicine at the pharmacy. Good Luck!