There are many reasons that we find ourselves in this mess with regards to the opioid crisis in this country. This song explores just a few of them. But blaming the victims, ignoring those with chronic pain, and stigmatizing addiction as a moral failing are the WRONG answers.

Please share this video with those you care about, and join the Health 3.0 movement to discuss how we can do better. And thanks to everyone who donated on my Patreon page to make this video a reality!

I first dropped a demo of this LIVE on Facebook, check it out below!

A parody of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.”

Lyrics and performance by ZDoggMD.
Audio engineering by the legendary Devin Moore.
Directed by Tom Hinueber.
Director of Photography was Logan Stewart.
Shot on location at Turntable Health in Downtown Las Vegas.

Starring:
ZDoggMD as Himself
Allison Andersen as “The Nurse Practitioner” (she’s an APRN!)
Dr. Christine Estrada as “The Administrator”
Stephanie Lapid RN as “The Nurse”
and starring Reagan Pfifer as “The Addict.”

Thanks to the whole crew at Variables of Light.

Copied below is a call to action for caregivers everywhere:

LETTER FROM THE SURGEON GENERAL

Dear Colleague,

I am asking for your help to solve an urgent health crisis facing America: the opioid epidemic. Everywhere I travel, I see communities devastated by opioid overdoses. I meet families too ashamed to seek treatment for addiction. And I will never forget my own patient whose opioid use disorder began with a course of morphine after a routine procedure.

It is important to recognize that we arrived at this place on a path paved with good intentions. Nearly two decades ago, we were encouraged to be more aggressive about treating pain, often without enough training and support to do so safely. This coincided with heavy marketing of opioids to doctors. Many of us were even taught – incorrectly – that opioids are not addictive when prescribed for legitimate pain.

The results have been devastating. Since 1999, opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled and opioid prescriptions have increased markedly – almost enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills. Yet the amount of pain reported by Americans has not changed. Now, nearly 2 million people in America have a prescription opioid use disorder, contributing to increased heroin use and the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

I know solving this problem will not be easy. We often struggle to balance reducing our patients’ pain with increasing their risk of opioid addiction. But, as clinicians, we have the unique power to help end this epidemic. As cynical as times may seem, the public still looks to our profession for hope during difficult moments. This is one of those times.

That is why I am asking you to pledge your commitment to turn the tide on the opioid crisis. Please take the pledge. Together, we will build a national movement of clinicians to do three things:

First, we will educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively. A good place to start is the TurnTheTideRx pocket guide with the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline. Second, we will screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment. Third, we can shape how the rest of the country sees addiction by talking about and treating it as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.

Years from now, I want us to look back and know that, in the face of a crisis that threatened our nation, it was our profession that stepped up and led the way. I know we can succeed because health care is more than an occupation to us. It is a calling rooted in empathy, science, and service to humanity. These values unite us. They remain our greatest strength.

Thank you for your leadership.

signatureVivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A.
19th U.S. Surgeon General

For all the times that I gave you my help

And still you turned around and dissed me on Yelp

You say you lost your pain meds, girl please what the health?

You never lose your script for lisinopril!

And I didn’t wanna write a song, cause I didn’t want anyone thinking I was breaking HIPAA

But have you heard of Prince, huh?
And maybe you should move along

Cuz I won’t be party to all this desperate drug seeking

I’d like to keep you breathing
And my nurse, she don’t like you and she likes everyone

And Big Pharma ain’t likely to admit that they were wrong
But we got so caught up treating pain, couldn’t see what’s going on

But now I know, above all we’ve been doing harm

So if you’d like that script for percocet

Then maybe you can go see someone else

And if you think you ain’t an addict yet

Then baby you should go and treat yourself

And when you told me that you rated your pain

Ten outta ten while you’re there texting your friends

And every time I told you oxycontin was wrong

I get another Press Ganey survey bomb

And I didn’t wanna write a script, but I didn’t want lawyers to say that I don’t care about pain, now where’d I put that Narcan?

And maybe Purdue Pharma’s wrong, when they pushed that everyone should be slanging all that Oxy, they honest like Bill Cosby

And this opioid crisis, is killing everyone

CMS, they ain’t likely to admit that they were wrong

Chronic pain folks are suffering

Treated like they’re criminals

But now I know

It’s time we fixed what going wrong

So if you like those HCAHPS scores so much, then maybe you should go run a hotel

And if you think that pain’s a vital sign

Then baby you should go and burn in hell

For all the times that I made you feel small

As if addiction was some character flaw

We should be treating folks when they’re so vulnerable

We’re losing lives, why can’t we break down these walls

Cuz if you’d like that script for narcs so much

Then maybe we should help you get some help

And if you think you can’t quit all alone

Then baby we can help you treat yourself

  • Joyce

    “And if you like those HCAHPS scores so much, you should go run a hotel” That’s a gem.

  • ellie

    This is good, but i kind of have to wonder where your profession was 2 decades ago when pain became the “5th vital sign” and COINCIDENTALLY your profession was encouraged (read: bribed) to prescribe opiates in such an irresponsible manner. The letter from the SG says they were told opiates were not addicting, but, what studies were cherry-picked to conclude that? And how did MD’s and their professional groups not see the very clear evidence (hello, OPIUM has been known to cause addiction for literally hundreds of years) that the big opiate push was just to appease pharma donors? Or maybe they did – and played along willingly. NOW you’re on our side, huh? NOW you don’t want my mom on opiates, you care SO much you want her on this NEW painkiller that has a $60 co-pay. Uh huh. Although I know there are good practitioners – like yourself – out there, as a whole, I have lost SO much respect for clinicians over the last few years. SMH :/

    • logical

      Many did, but docs were punished for not “treating pain” by Medicare and insurance companies. Hospitals also pushed them due to Press Ganey scores which affected reimbursement. For the rest, they trusted CMS and Pharma when they said they were safe. This crisis was caused by business incentives in a time when docs trusted HHS and before google/pubmed/uptodate/dynamed made it possible for each doc to critically review the data. Now many have too many disincentives to withholding opioids, even when prescribing them is inappropriate. There is a reason docs don’t trust Pharma, HHS, CMS, or most studies anymore until they have been reproduced. We need to stop treating pain as a vital sign and we need to stop worrying so much about patient satisfaction. Instead we need to get back to evidence based care and treating pain appropriately, not based on protocols and scores that result in chronic pain being undertreated and minor pain being overtreated.

    • DestinationUnknown

      This entire “opioid crisis” is a double-edged sword, blamed wrongfully on healthcare practitioners everywhere. The real culprits & perpetrators of the crime is Washington—the FDA & CMS. Big pharma has the FDA in its pocket and CMS began making reimbursements based on patient satisfaction,of which “pain relief” was a large part of the survey. Now, the government has dumped the accountability on those same healthcare practitioners that were only doing what they were told to do by CMS. Doctors only know the details about medications based on what studies show—-they’re not out there running their own studies because they don’t have time to do it. They’re busy trying to take care of patients & make a living. The problem is that now we have the government pointing its finger at the practitioners for “over prescribing”, but they have given little to no help for people to manage their pain in other ways (i.e., physical therapy, acupuncture, etc.) because CMS won’t pay for them. If physical therapy helps, that’s great—-but insurance will only authorize a set number of visits. Acupuncture & chiropractic is usually not covered at all. So, what’s left in the doctor’s arsenal to help patients with pain? Don’t blame the doctors, blame our illustrious government for pulling off the ultimate “bait and switch” with healthcare practitioners and people with pain. Instead of practicing medicine, doctors now are doubling as circus performers, jumping through hoops & climbing over obstacles to just get through the day—appealing denied insurance authorizations, Press Ganey reports, reduced reimbursements, and trying to do as much as they can with the little time they have for their patients. The sad truth is that physicians yield little to no power when it comes to government affairs—-the entities with big money, namely big pharma and insurance companies, yield the power and get what they want. Physicians have sadly become puppets for a government system.

    • Nicole James

      Two things you’re missing in the picture: First, every decade or so a new opioid or synthetic opioid is developed and marketed as being a “safer, less-addictive” one than the last one. It took some of us a while to catch on, but I really don’t think it’s fair to rail at people (like me) who entered the field just a few years ago for what we were or weren’t doing 2 decades ago. 2 decades ago, I was running a Blockbuster Video store, and had no opinion on pain management at all. 2 decades ago, Dr. Damania (“ZDoggMD”) wasn’t done with medical school yet. Doctors and nurses are not a monolithic block any more than patients are. We’re individual people with individual opinions, just like you are. \n\nAnd second, as some others have mentioned, we get punished for “not treating pain,” and “not treating pain” means whatever the patient says it means on a survey. So I can do all the teaching I want to about hot and cold packs and exercise and repositioning and TENS and NSAIDS and TCAs and other non-opioid pain management techniques, but if the patient thinks “treating pain” means Vicodin or Dilaudid, then they answer that I didn’t address their pain satisfactorily. My boss loses money, I get written up, and absolutely no one is happy. \n\nIf you’re looking to point fingers, direct them toward the FDA and drug company reps who outright lied to us about the “safer, less-addictive” new drugs, and the agencies tying patient satisfaction surveys to payment, please.

  • ButDoctorIHatePink

    You let me down with this one Zdogg. \n\nSpeaking as a cancer patient who is forced to pee in a cup monthly to get meds..who is treated like an addict even with disease eating my insides and while living on chemo for years…. I wouldn’t have expected this lack of compassion from you. More shame for legit pain sufferers, being called part of a crisis and having docs shake their fingers at us and talk about Prince… What pain did he suffer? What cancer did he have? Why do I have to jump through extreme hoops to get my meds after the torture I’ve been through and continue to be put through-because of what Prince did? \n\nMy oncologist is fine with my meds, but the insurance company makes me go to yet another doctor, (the list is too long: pcp, oncologist, radiation oncologist, infection disease specialist, gastroenterology, various surgeons) now add pain specialists who are all puzzled at why I’m there. \n\nWhy? Because of a manufactured opioid crisis. What, you want me to quit narcotics so I can feel every bit of the cancer invading my lungs? So I can feel the burning of my hands and feet, the aches caused by years of chemos and surgeries? \n\nThe opiod crisis, if there is a crisis, comes from Mexican drug lords. The people going to doctors instead of street corners are not a problem. \n\nWhy don’t you sing a song from the perspective of a suffering patient who is demonized and lectured for taking drugs to make what life she has left livable? \n\nOh, you don’t mean me? Of course, nobody would. Except, the system is not differentiating between suffering cancer patients and over-prescribed 10/10 fake pain patients. They don’t look at diagnosis, just prescriptions. The more the media latches on to this “crisis,” the more the government gets involved to fix it – then the doctor /patient relationship is invaded and that’s when common sense goes out the window. It leaves us all heaving in a toilet. \n\n

    • Peace

      First, I’m so sorry you are suffering from lung cancer. I had rectal cancer and have chronic pain from complications due to radiation, surgeries and chemo, so I understand your frustration.\nSecond, you must be lucky enough to live in an area of the country where the opioid crisis has not hit. The problem is that opioids were legitimately prescribed for pain in tons of people for longer than they needed it. They got hooked and then were stripped from the drug without help…without weaning off it…so they went looking to fulfill that fix elsewhere. Heroin is the same high as oxy, but the sellers are cutting it with fentanyl. These two drugs in combining are killing thousands. So they are trying to cut down on the initial usage…too many pills for sorry amounts of pain. \nYour cancer pain should never be in question, as mine isn’t. ZDoggMD has a line in his song about chronic pain being being the ones paying for all this instead.\nI suggest if you are having such problems with your insurance, contact your Congressman. Ask your Dr to contact your insurance…all your doctors. Write them a letter yourself explaining why you need these meds…why you aren’t abusing them.\nAgain, I’m sorry for your cancer and your pain. I know how crappy all that is. I pray for your healing.

    • Jenny N’ Kingsley

      I agree, I feel let down too. This feels judgy, mean and shallow. To tell pts to go treat themselves, those who believe pain as the 5th VS to go to hell…sad. We need to educate folks with chronic pain about opioid tolerance and we need clinicians who have the time to explain the risks of opiods when folks are first prescribed them. We need to look at ptognosis and goals of care, we need to know tge prs story and teach clinicians to do a really good pain assessment so we treat folks with the right drugs. How about training doctors, giving them time and fair compensation to have honest conversations with pts? Isn’t that really the problem with HCAPS? Clinicians are incentivized to give pts the answers they want to hear instead of the truthful bad news. Doctors aren’t given enough time in healthcare to treat folks as a whole person…for example we only treat the back injury and not the depression and anxiety that came along with the loss of work because of the back injury… we know that depression and anxiety make pain worse but ortho docs don’t have the time or care to talk about what they consider is a mental health specialty conversation. Doctors and pharmacists need connected EMR’s within different healthcare systems to identify those that are drug seeking and offer treatment when they can see a problem arise. Also those going through narcotic withdrawl are suffering. This might not be how we think of traditional pain but they might truly be a 10/10 suffering. You lost me on this one ZDOGG, but I do thank you for getting us talking.

      • Christina cooper

        Telling them to treat themselves was a reflection of the way many healthcare providers deal with opioid addiction. Didn’t they at the end embrace the addict and say let is help you instead of judge you? Or did you get so angry that you stopped listening?

    • Christina cooper

      I thought that was exactly this point, that people come in and want pain meds and think that opioid are the only thing that helps them when we skip over pain management. That people who truly need these medications are denied it because they are so often abused by those who don’t. That we should be looking at treatment options before giving the heaviest stuff, and help the people who are addicted to overcome. We have to see the people behind the pain and help them. \n\nIts not about a celebrity. Its about the people who go go the hospital and their doctor and say they can’t handle their pain. Its the patient with 20, yes 20 active narcotic scripts. Its the COPD exacerbation patient who says they can’t take nsaids for their rib pain r/t their coughing, only IV dilaudid will help even they are an hour away from discharge. Its the diabetic who goes from a blood sugar of 200 to over a thousand in less than 24 hours, refuses insulin, and is abusive to staff unless he gets his narcs. It is a problem. Opioid are a huge problem. You think we should look at the diagnosis and not the script, that’s fine. Tell me why the hell I give my pneumonia patients IV narcotics every 2 hours but half of my cancer patients deny pain and only want nausea medicine.

  • Georgia Blueskies Reed

    amazing! Thank you for calling out Perdue, and I hope one day they share the cost of the clean up

  • Eric Kreckman

    ZDogg is right on the money. With respect to #ButDoctorIHatePink, we acknowledge that chronic pain patients are treated like criminals and this IS VERY wrong. Unfortunately the epidemic has changed the way we look at opioid users because the population of users has changed so drastically. Opioids have been overused and the resultant problem is greater than the initial problem. The opioid crisis is hardly false. It pervades so much of our society. Still none of this justifies you being treated poorly.

  • camille

    I work in a psychiatric emergency room in the inner city. Many of my patients are opioid addicted. They start on percs or oxys for legitimate pain, then are cut off by their doctors when they become habituated. Then they buy street pills. These are expensive, so they move to heroin, which is cheap and pure in our area. I work my ass off to get my patients into detox, but there are never enough beds. I am NOT talking about patients with cancer pain here.

  • Bindy

    I’ve worked as an emergency nurse for 12 yrs. I see my share of drug seekers and overdoses. I had back surgery 4 yrs ago, damage from lifting patients. Why the public believes nurses are weight lifters has always boggled my mind. After back surgery I took one Percocet and vomited for hours- I turned to my trusty Motrin and I dealt with the lingering pain. Fast forward to this past December , my contact got stuck to my eye lid and ripped my entire cornea off my eye. I was at my ER, then was taken to the eye doctor – which knows me as a past patient, knows my parents and knows me from the ER I work in. This ophthalmologist would not give me a script for 5 Vicoden to help me deal with this excruciating pain. It was indescribable ! Worse than labor. I never asked for any pain medicine in my life until this last December . The physician said he doesn’t write for narcotics- told me to go to my general. Called my general and he told me that he didn’t treat me for this condition and that I needed to go back to eye doctor. So there I sat with a cadiver sheath over my eyeball, eye taped shut with a small opening to drain. I did not sleep for several nights due to the pain. It was torture- I walked around blind for a full week. When I returned to my job in the ER my physicians I work along side with were floored. They told me I could have called them. I know I could of but didn’t. I was just fed up. Here I was being treated like a drug seeker! Easily you can be checked now to see if you have filled any script at any pharmacy by plugging in your social security number. I instantly hated this doctor because he was going about treating his patient totally the wrong way. And no- I did not “yelp” him .😒

  • Willow32263

    Ok, seems that people posting here really missed the jest of the song & Lyrics!!!! Hello closed minded people…STOP and listen!
    The song was showing addiction, and the antics that the addicted person goes through. Explaining that the people who have legit pain, now have a hard time being believed BECAUSE of the opioid addicted people abusing the system!! Maybe all the “Judging People” who commented their ugly opinions below…should REWATCH this video….there is a message in it of POSITIVE!! That addicts can get help, if they TRULY want the help! And hospitals, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical community are NOT helping the opioid abuse in the USA.
    Thank you ZDogg for your spot on message. I totally understood it.

  • Elena Robinson