Jeff Sessions’ Advice to Pain Patients: ‘Take Some Aspirin’ and ‘Tough It Out’

Reason – by Jacob Sullum

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a well-known admirer of Nancy Reagan’s recommendation that kids “just say no” to drugs. It turns out he applies that advice not only to curious teenagers but also to people suffering from severe pain.

“I am operating on the assumption that this country prescribes too many opioids,” Sessions said during a speech at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa yesterday. “I mean, people need to take some aspirin sometimes and tough it out a little. That’s what Gen. Kelly—you know, he’s a Marine—[he] had surgery on his hands, painful surgery. [He said,] ‘I’m not taking any drugs!’ It did hurt, though. It did hurt. A lot of people—you can get through these things.”  

While I’m sure we are all impressed by the White House chief of staff’s stoicism, his personal preferences have no bearing whatsoever on whether doctors should prescribe pain medication to people recovering from surgery or whether those people should take that medication rather than “tough[ing] it out.” Balancing the benefits of pain relief against the tiny risks of addiction or overdose, I think this is an easy call. But I am not a Marine, and I see no moral or practical value in suffering pain that can be relieved safely and easily.

To this day, I resent the fact that I was given nothing but acetaminophen after an appendectomy when I was 10. I vividly remember the postsurgical pain (although it was not quite as bad as the presurgical pain). At the time, I did not realize that more effective treatment was possible, but in retrospect it pisses me off that none was offered, presumably because someone was worried about turning a fifth-grader into a heroin addict. That kind of irrational stinginess is pretty common, notwithstanding Jeff Sessions’ confidence that “the country prescribes too many opioids.”

If we extend the attorney general’s medical advice to people who suffer from severe chronic pain—people who need opioids to get out of bed in the morning and have something like a normal life, people who may be driven to suicide when they are denied adequate medication—his attitude is not merely cruel but downright barbaric. As a college student with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome told me when I interviewed him for an upcoming Reason feature story about opioids, the right kind of pain medication can be “the difference between wanting to put a bullet in your brain and enjoying life.”

Sessions’ “tough it out” recommendation is similar to remarks he made after a speech on Tuesday night at the Heritage Foundation. “Sometimes you just need to take two Bufferin or something and go to bed,” he said.

Bob Twillman, executive director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, says Sessions’ comments show he has no idea what he is talking about. “That remark reflects a failure to recognize the severity of pain of some patients,” Twillman told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s an unconscionable remark. It further illustrates how out of touch parts of the administration are with opioids and pain management.”

12 thoughts on “Jeff Sessions’ Advice to Pain Patients: ‘Take Some Aspirin’ and ‘Tough It Out’

  1. I’ve passed 9 Kidney stones , and 1 was so big they had to go in after it
    I’ve also had Gal-Stones and Gallbladder surgery

    I dont like Opioid pain meds , they mess me up bad..but something is needed to take the edge off.

    I pray this man ends up with an 8mm stone , and someone drives his sorry ass out to the Nevada desert and leaves him there with 2 bricks , F you Jeffy

  2. Jeff sessions is technically a physcopath. Give this creature a comprehensive drug screen, then send him up to rendezvous with the TELSA convertible with a bottle of aspirin.

  3. Lets break his kneecap, fix it with surgery, and make him do landscaping work for 12 hrs a day for a couple of weeks 3 days out of the hospital. THEN, lets see how he feels about it.

  4. “I am operating on the assumption that this country prescribes too many opioids,” Sessions said…”

    The only thing this @sswipe is operating on is the NWO agenda.

    “It further illustrates how out of touch parts of the administration are with opioids and pain management.”

    I SERIOUSLY doubt that.

    Those pukes pop ’em whenever the mood strikes.

  5. Well, Jeffy…..given the provable evidence that ALL POLITICIANS ARE A$$-SUCKING LACKEYS……we the people are operating on the knowledge that y’all are parasites. Therefore, upon the soon to be uprising……you can just tough it out.

  6. I’m having trouble still believing this guy’s a lawyer, much less the crowned prince of the attys as AG. He should know that you don’t make false assumptions when there is provable data to show otherwise…from the DEA! I doubt he’s even set foot in a law school, except to visit his daughter.

    And yes,this shows how ignorant these people are on pain.No one is arguing that opiates shouldn’t be given to people after surgery in acute pain.Kelly and Sessions bragging about not taking ANY pain meds then is just stupidity.

  7. So we’re all supposed to be as tough as Marines? The Marines will always have my utmost esteem and it’s out of this respect that I admit I am not that tough. They are the top of the top, right? A small percentage that undergo the hellish training with how many dropping out? Im sure its not 100% just tough it out and make it.

    Im trying to just get out of bed each day praying for relief from the small herbal treasure God has provided us and given us permission and direction to use. Why is this man standing on moral grounds while stomping all over God’s Law and His safe natural life-giving plants?

    1. Marines as a group aren’t especially tough — at least not the Marines of the past couple decades. I think the average football player at the local high school is tougher than the typical Marine.

      Sure, the Marines love to thump their chests and promote that “tough guy” image of themselves, and that sort of mentality is encouraged from boot camp onward. This sort of ego-masturbation helps to ingrain loyalty to the Oligarchy. (The Constitution is quickly forgotten after the oath is taken, since “honor” is just a pretty word to these people.) It also helps in the recruitment of impressionable young adolescents who want to be seen as “tough” themselves.

      You can watch videos of Marine training on YouTube. Even Force Recon doesn’t look very impressive, with marksmanship training seeming especially weak.

      Any successes the Marines (or the US military in general) have had in combat over the past couple of decades can be attributed mostly to the staggering technological advantages they enjoy over their opponents. I think they’d get slaughtered if they had to fight, say, the Taliban while only having access to the same weapons and gear the Taliban possess.

      In a word: no one is “special” just because he serves a government.

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