Blake and Tonya Karlowicz.

On July 23rd, 2019, I lost my son Blake to an overdose. To me, Blake will be forever 28 years old. He suffered from depression and substance use disorder (SUD) for 14 years before his last overdose. While my son’s life has been lost, I have kept his memory alive by telling his story and fighting for state and federal legislation that will help thousands of others beat their substance use and live healthy, productive lives.

Not every SUD is the same. When it comes to opioid use, very often it can begin with prescription opioid abuse. These prescriptions frequently include an excessive number of pills that can very easily lead to abuse. They can continue to be abused by whoever the prescription was written for or fall into the hands of someone else, like a child or other loved one.

The Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction In the Nation Act, or No Pain Act, seeks to address opioid SUD and the over-abundance of opioid prescriptions that add fuel to the fire of the opioid crisis. This bipartisan legislation currently in Congress, will give Medicare patients and their health care providers options when it comes to treating their patients’ pain – something that is lacking under current policy. If we decrease the number of opioids prescribed, it follows that the rate of opioid SUD and overdoses will go also down.

Consider this, 6 percent of all surgical patients that receive prescription opioids transition to persistent opioid users, and nearly 80 percent of heroin users start with a prescription opioid, as did my son. The situation has become worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as overdoses increased drastically, reaching record highs in March 2020. Overall, according to the CDC, overdoses and overdose deaths have been increasing year over year with no end in sight.

Any number above zero is too many overdoses.

The No Pain Act will not solve all of our problems, but it will be a strong step in the right direction. Studies estimate that a 10 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions can result in 300,000 fewer people developing an opioid SUD each year. If this legislation passes, more people will have the option to access pain treatments that don’t involve opioids, lowering the abundance of opioids out there, and saving potentially thousands from addiction.

The opioid crisis has sadly become personal for me. I would do anything to bring my son back, but I can’t. He suffered from a serious disease that was compounded by his long battle with depression. For the longest time, I was terrified for him and his life. At some point I learned that I could not get in the ring with him and that I had to let him fight the actual fight.

I will do what I can to help others escape the grip of SUD and support the families that have suffered so much. Supporting the No Pain Act is just one way we can reduce substance use disorder caused by the over prescription of opioids. I ask Senators Wyden and Merkley to work to make sure the No Pain Act makes it to President Biden’s desk.

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Tonya Karlowicz lives in Sunriver and lost her son to an overdose in July 2019. She has authored a blog, Terrified No More, to document her thoughts and to continue spreading Blake’s memory.

(3) comments

Frenchy Facciano

Please do better reporting! Medical patients who have the most painful diseases and conditions known to exist are being harmed by being denied humane pain medication because of the lies of PROP.

Medical patients have been abandoned and what most people don't understand is that anyone can have a new diagnosis or accident. There have been 500 new prescribing laws written since 2016. Doctors won't take pain patients who need to choose a new doctor and they are refusing to treat the most painful condition/diseases know to man. Cancer patients & palladium care patients are being denied humane pain medication. Acute surgical patients are being denied opioids and given tylenol instead. Abdominal surgery, amputation, brain surgery, spine surgery patients have told horror stories that belong Ina Stephen King novel. Please let pain patients SPEAK!!!!


Media comment “opioid crisis “

It amazes me how media directs a judgment and regardless of evidence chooses to stand behind their untruth. Some very powerful anti opioid zealots with deep pockets want you to believe that opioids (those prescribed by doctors) are the end all evil. The fact is that opioid prescribing has gone down the past few years yet overdoses continue to skyrocket. Why? Because those who suffer addiction are using illicit illegal street drugs laced with illicit fentanyl which is so powerful, it kills. Patients, suffering from cancer, rare diseases and medical conditions that cause intractable pain have been abandoned, most finding it difficult to have their pain treated. These are sick people that would love nothing more than to not have diseased bodies, yet this vulnerable population has been left to choose whether to live in excruciating pain with no quality of life, to commit suicide or go to the street. Pain patients who are lucky enough to find a compassionate physician, are strictly managed , they sign pain contracts, they submit random urinalysis and must bring their prescription to the doctors office on a moments notice for pill counts. We want nothing more than to be treated with compassion, if we have tried every available treatment and in the end, a medication works to alleviate a small fraction of our suffering, and we are carefully managed by a physician, where is the harm. We have been abandoned by our government, our media, our country at a time in our lives when we need medical intervention. Yes our bodies become tolerant of a medication, this is dependence, not addiction. No different than when your treated with a steroid and can’t just stop taking it, you can’t just stop taking pain medication. Please do your due diligence, read more than one side, open your minds and your hearts to the human rights crisis staring you in the face. Just as those suffering the ravages of addiction deserve compassion, treatment and empathy, so to do those suffering medical conditions that cause intractable pain. We are only human beings, we would rather have quality of life, be able to function, walk our dogs, play with our grandchildren. YOU are one diagnosis or accident away from joining our unfortunate numbers. Be the one who sees the injustice, not the one who plays repeat.


While I am sorry for your loss - this bill will not only fail to prevent OUD, but will HARM chronic pain patients.

The 2016 CDC opioid guidelines have been a DISASTER for chronic pain patients. Patients have been force tapered, cut off of treatments that were working. They've gone from functioning to bedridden. We have seen a huge rise in suicides from not being able to manage pain.

While I support increased Medicare access to alternative therapies, they will NEVER be completely successful in treating intractable pain.

This bill will only make it even harder for chronic pain patients to get the opioids they need to manage their pain and maintain a life worth living.

"If we decrease the number of opioids prescribed, it follows that the rate of opioid SUD and overdoses will go also down."

But it hasn't. As a result of those CDC guidelines, opioid prescriptions are already down by 47% - yet overdoses have continued to rise 1040%.

Addiction rates have remained steady for decades, and are the same today as they were in 1920's.

We don't have more addicts. We have more overdoses. And that's a direct result of illicit fentanyl added to street drugs.

Groups like PROP and Shatter Proof are anti opioid zealots who don't understand the difference between physical dependence and psychological addiction.

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