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Patients need support managing withdrawal

Thanks to The News for its excellent series on prescription pain medications.

There is something visceral about the prospect of experiencing excruciating pain. Humans are hard-wired in the brain to avoid it at all cost. My shattered hip (December 2005 ice storm) gave me a lesson in pain and the frantic search for relief offered by narcotics. I don't know if the pain would have killed me, although I felt that it would when I was under-medicated. I do know that I could never have done much of any of the challenging physical therapy that took me from bedridden to walking again.

After just days on morphine in the hospital, I was already physically dependent and into withdrawal when my medications were changed. After three months of oxycodone use, it took me six weeks to taper off and finally regain my mental clarity. I don't know how I could have done it without my skilled personal physician and my loving and supportive wife.

As a result of my experience I wrote to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, then director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse National Institutes of Health: "No prescription for any narcotic will be written for an amount likely to establish dependence without including log sheets for recording every dose taken, a pro-forma withdrawal plan, titration tables and contact information for withdrawal assistance."

Volkow replied, "Thanks for sharing with me your experience and thoughts on opiate medication withdrawal. I agree on the needs of standards to help those afflicted and their physicians."

Intentional drug abuse is bad enough without adding the many thousands of truly hurting people who unintentionally become physically dependent through the proper use of pain medications and do not have the knowledge or support for managing withdrawal. To my knowledge, that support is still largely unavailable. Thank you again for such a well-done and important series.

Steven Martin



Obama has handled Libya situation well

President Obama used diplomacy to save the lives of innocent civilians in Libya. He and his staff worked 2 4/7 to persuade the U.N. Security Council to adopt Resolution 1973, imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and tightening sanctions on Moammar Gadhafi, and persuaded China and Russia not to veto the resolution.

Obama worked within the framework of the United Nations to get the job done. He did not do it alone, and he kept Congress informed every step of the way. And now, due to our leadership, NATO has taken control of the no-fly zone, and the United Arab Emirates are sending warplanes to join the battle with NATO. NATO is also planning to strike Gadhafi's troops on the ground. I can only imagine what he would have done to the rebels and civilians if he were not stopped. Libyans would have been tortured and murdered by the thousands. President Bill Clinton said his deepest regret is Rwanda. The United Nations was there, but did nothing. Clinton did nothing. Perhaps Obama is learning from history, which is not usually the case with our leaders.

We are very fortunate to have Obama as our president. With his intelligence, his demeanor and the respect he has earned around the world, he appropriately led the way regarding the crisis in Libya. Even the financial markets are responding positively, after suffering losses due to the uprising. If it were not for Obama's leadership, Libya would be headed in the wrong direction.

Errol Daniels

East Amherst


Police must display strong show of force

This is in response to the letter titled, "Gestapo-like tactics are unwarranted for arrests." The writer expresses concern over what he perceives as law enforcement utilizing too many officers, armed with too-powerful weapons, while serving "simple" warrants on "low-risk offenders." Such terms do not exist in the mind of a law enforcement officer.

In 2010, 160 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in this country, a 37 percent increase from 2009. Many of those officers died while serving warrants. The officers don't know what awaits them on the other side of a door, nor can they afford to make assumptions. Criminals do not operate under a distinct set of rules and regulations. They are not predictable and rational.

Raids and warrant executions are designed to provide maximum safety and security for all involved, and officers are trained to expect the unexpected. Despite this preparation, nobody can know what the suspects are thinking, what they are planning to do, or what their mental state will be once the officers pass through their door. Where they live, what they do for a living and what they're charged with have nothing to do with their capability of killing a police officer. That is why an overwhelming show of force, both in manpower and weaponry, is necessary each and every time.

I would encourage any armchair-quarterback who likes to dissect police operations after the fact to leave the planning and decision-making to the professionals. After all, decisions that are made at most other jobs don't have the potential to get people killed.

Peter J. Guido



Birds listed in 'Buzz' are here year-round

Mary Kunz Goldman, in her March 24 column, "The Buzz," noted that she had recently heard "new spring birds" -- the chickadee, the cardinal and the mourning dove. None of these migrate; they are with us all year long. She may well have not heard them for some time, because they are more active and vociferous as the mating season nears and, well, many of us were able to open our windows a bit during the recent break in the weather. This is no reflection on the overall competence of Goldman, but she may wish to run her avian observations past an expert like Gerry Rising in the future.

Anthony Palma Jr.



Upstate and downstate have little in common

In response to the letter, "Upstate reaps benefits of downstate revenue," let me ask this: What do we really have in common with the ultra-liberal and arrogant political culture that is New York City/Albany other than currently sharing the same New York State landmass?

Said writer fails to take into account that nine (repeat, nine!) western counties, as a bloc, voted for Carl Paladino in the 2010 gubernatorial election; his views and his upbringing share more with us than those of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Given that the vast majority of people living in Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Allegany, Steuben, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties all voted for Paladino, let's just admit that this makes us populous enough (1.6 million people), and sizable enough (some 9,000 square miles) to be our own state/commonwealth. We are the Commonwealth of Niagara. Let us think like it, act like it, celebrate it, embrace it and be one with it.

Lloyd A. Marshall Jr.


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