Police Officer Says His Chronic Pain Highlights Drug War Failures

Nick Selby

A Texas police officer is speaking up about his experience with the opioid epidemic, both as a law enforcement officer and as a patient with chronic pain, highlighting the failures in the system that lead to addiction and illegal drug consumption.

A year ago, officer Nisical therapy sessions and refused more,” he wrote. “They’ll pay for buckets of Vicodin. But non-narcotic relief? I’m on my own.”

Insurance denied Selby’s claim for buprenorphine, which he said relieved pain without making him drowsy or euphoric. Instead, they said they would pay for fentanyl, a synthetic opioid gaining popularity on the street that Selby knew was so powerful that it had to be handled with caution by police officers during drug busts.

He refused the fentanyl, knowing that he needed to have full command of his faculties in order to do his job. “As a cop, it’s even more complex: I need to be extra careful not to dull my senses, because I must be able to testify under oath that I wasn’t impaired. I must, in fact, always actually not be impaired, because I carry a gun.”

Selby also discusses the indignity and shame of being a pain patient, including having to undergo regular drug testing and presenting his pill bottles to a nurse so that the remaining pills can be counted. “Every month when I try to get my prescriptions filled, it becomes another skirmish in the War on Drugs,” he writes.

This frustration leads many patients to turn to illegal drugs to manage their pain, Selby writes. “After four decades of all-out war on illicit drug use, scoring street heroin is still far simpler than filling a legal prescription at an authorized dispensary. How can this be considered a success?”