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The Blue Balloon Campaign
for humane laws and policies in the treatment of chronic and severe pain
What is the Blue Balloon Campaign?
We are law-abiding Americans with chronic and severe pain, loved ones and concerned citizens seeking a redress of grievances:
1. Pain treatment is a matter that concerns only the treating physician and the patient. Medical decisions, and discussion of risks and benefits to the individual patient, should not be subject to override by legislators, even those rare legislators with medical training.
2. Depriving pain patients of adequate prescription medication is a cruel and futile policy. The drug war’s failures should not be visited upon people who are already suffering incurable diseases or permanent damage from injuries.
3. Some states’ restrictions are even more severe than federal law. The fact that states are permitted to enact restrictions harsher than federal statutes, but cannot choose to ease access to pain prescriptions warps the idea of states’ rights.
4. The specialist or GP treating the patient’s chronic condition is the logical professional to address the pain. But American pain patients are often forced to seek the services of an additional specialist in pain management. This entails unnecessary additional expenses for patients and insurers, and unnecessarily takes up the patient’s time.
5. Law-abiding pain patients are subject to heavy supervision in the form of pain contracts that can be revoked at any time, even if the patient has faithfully complied with every demand. Unlike convicted criminals, law-abiding pain patients have no opportunity to appeal.
6. There are patients who are able to be productive, contributing members of our society with high dose pain medications. When deprived of access to adequate prescriptions, such individuals endure unnecessary disability and suffering.
Beginning on Wednesday May 15, 2019, the Blue Balloon Campaign is staging peaceful public activities to call attention to the plight of law-abiding citizens who suffer chronic and severe pain facing severe restrictions of safe and reliable prescription pain medications. Activities include public balloon releases, distributing balloons and flyers to the public, sending balloon bouquets to government and media figures to increase public attention to the plight of Americans with chronic and severe pain.
50 million Americans suffer medical conditions that cause chronic and severe pain. Each year, many people will have illnesses or injuries that cause severe pain for limited periods of time.
The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 97 million Americans were prescribed pain medications, mostly without negative effects.
Claims that Americans use 80% of opiates prescribed worldwide are inaccurate. Americans use approximately 30% of prescribed opiates. Some medications are prescription only in the U.S., for example acetaminophen and codeine, but over-the-counter in other countries, like Canada.
The world population in 2019 is approximately 7.7 billion, and 5.5 billion have no access to prescription opiate medications.
What Inspired the Blue Balloon Campaign?
In recent years, law-abiding Americans suffering chronic and severe pain have been subject to increasingly restrictive legislation and policies grounded in misinformation, distortions and over-reactions rooted in the drug war. And while these policies affect pain patients, the concerns and difficulties of this group are rarely discussed.
Because pain patients, especially with un-or under-treated pain have unique difficulties in attending public events to call attention to our issues, there is clearly a need for a political campaign that could include opportunities for participation even from home. This was the birth of the Blue Balloon Campaign.
The main idea is to call attention via releases of balloons, preferably blue balloons. Those pain patients, loved ones and concerned citizens who are able, can release balloons in public places - ideally visible to employees of government agencies that affect our lives, such as DEA, CDC, FDA; state capitols; medical facilities. It’s important to bring flyers to distribute to passersby.
Balloons can be decorated with hand-drawn faces similar to those on pain charts.
Blue Balloon events in public places can also include distributing balloons to the public.
Homebound individuals can release balloons from their houses, porches or yards. From home, people can also write letters to government officials. Feel free to use the Blue Balloon logo on such correspondence.
Balloon bouquets, including a note explaining our concerns, can be sent to key government officials. Also, letters can be sent that include the Blue Balloon graphic, and refer to the campaign and our issues.
Balloon releases - from public places and from individual homes - can be recorded or photographed, so they can be posted on the internet. This way we can amass a record of our campaign over time that is accessible to the public. We can also contact local TV, newspapers, and internet channels to cover our balloon releases.
The Blue Balloon Campaign is conceived as an ongoing effort.
Balloon releases occur on a Wednesday in the middle of each month. This is a day in the middle of the work week to symbolize the fact that adequate pain control makes it possible to participate in ordinary activities like work, volunteering, raising families, travel and keeping house.
The key to our success is to keep the effort going and expanding. So May 15th isn’t the day - but the Beginning. We can keep the campaign going and growing through regularly-scheduled balloon events, inviting more people into the campaign, contacting government officials, putting posts on the internet.