Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Migraine in the News: MORE Magazine, Migraine Research Foundation Miss Mark


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MORE magazine recently published an appallingly ignorant article on the issue of migraine patients and addiction. To make matters worse, the otherwise incredibly reputable Migraine Research Foundation, Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute and Jefferson Headache Center all contributed to the article.

The Scary New Migraine Mistake

My main criticism is that the article focus so much on addiction rather than on simply conveying important and much-needed information about safe use of pain medication. There is no reason given the ready availability of information about pain and pain medication that the article did not differentiate between dependence, addiction and rebound, which are all three separate issues.

Dependence means the body will experience certain symptoms of withdrawal if a medication the body is dependent on is abruptly stopped. It is different than addiction.

Addiction is a psychological and behavioral disorder characterized by (1) compulsive use, (2) continuation of the substance despite adverse consequences and (3) obsession and preoccupation with obtaining and using the substance.

Rebound or medication overuse headache is a condition that occurs when a patient uses too many doses of treatment medication for their headache or migraine attacks within a specific time frame. This causes the body to rebel and experience more frequent headaches in response. Often these headaches can be differentiated from a regular migraine attack by the fact that they will not carry the same symptoms as a migraine attack, instead resembling a dull, regular headache.

Some high profile sources in the migraine community contributed to this article (Migraine Research Foundation, Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute and Jefferson Headache Center), making it even more perplexing that the finished piece was so misguided and off focus.

A staff member at the Migraine Research Foundation reached out to me after I tweeted about the article and offered the opportunity for me to speak with the president and cofounder of the MRF, Cathy Glaser, who had been interviewed for the article. Unfortunately for both of us, I haven't had much time without major migraine pain and nausea for the past few weeks, and we weren't able to connect up. I give all three organizations the benefit of the doubt they didn't know exactly what the article would be about and wouldn't necessarily have contributed if they'd known it was this obsessed with an issue that affects very few people in the migraine community. Contributors are rarely offered a review of articles they contribute to before publication.

For a national magazine targeted toward the demographic that is most likely to experience frequent migraines (women in their 30s, 40s and 50s) to focus on addiction as though it's the most pressing issue facing migraine patients is ignorant and misleading. I wish the mainstream media would "get it" and that experts like the Migraine Research Foundation, Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute and Jefferson Headache Center would take this kind of opportunity to set the record straight, rather than reinforcing an off-target article with their participation. If these experts aren't setting the record straight for us and taking the lead in educating patients through these interviews who will do it?

Sources:
National Pain Foundation: Addiction and Chronic Pain
The Scary New Migraine Mistake
National Pain Foundation: Tolerance and Dependence

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.