As a chronic pain patient with a spiritual practice, I have long been fascinated by discussions about the advisability of using opiate pain medications. The concerns often center around prohibitions against the use of intoxicants in eastern religions because the concern is that they will cloud the mind. Today as I was watching one of those discussions on the Internet, it occurred to me that I finally understand the source of the confusion! People who have used drugs recreationally to achieve an altered state of consciousness assume that when they are used to alleviate pain the result is the same. The assumption is that pain patients who take pain medications get “high.” If doses are appropriate, nothing could be farther from the truth. While there may be a minor distortion of the senses at the initial doses, the body adjusts quickly and there is no distortion of consciousness. In fact, pain is far more distorting of consciousness that the medications are! It’s simply not logical to assume that the way a medicine makes you feel when you abuse it is the way it will make you feel when you use it appropriately under a physician’s care. When I think that there may be people suffering tremendously from terrible pain and not taking medication because of this false belief that it will hurt their spirituality, I am deeply saddened.