The reality television show "My 600-lb Life" chronicles the lives of morbidly obese people but it teaches lessons on weight loss that everyone can benefit from. In two recent episodes, 800-lb Steven Assanti was denied Bariatric Surgery despite losing weight. His opioid Drug Addiction sabotaged efforts to slim down enough to have gastric bypass surgery. Steven's story proves dangerous links between obesity and prescription drug abuse.

Drug abuse, obesity, food addiction trifecta

Addiction to prescription painkillers is one of the scariest of all drug habits. Opioid along with some antidepressant drugs are directly linked to obesity.

Drugs like Tramadol, Hydrocodone (Vicodin) oxycodone and Fentanyl create a dependence that is almost impossible to break. "My 600-lb Life" shows that many morbidly obese folks are also addicted to painkillers. These drugs set a vicious cycle in motion concerning weight gain.They dull senses but also lower resistance and impair thinking. When Steven Assanti was high, he mindlessly ate even more. The more he ate, the bigger he got and the more pain he felt, and the more he drugged.

Obesity pain vs. regular pain

Weight gain causes pain that the person would not have if they weren't overweight. Not all the aches are attributable to obesity, but the majority are. 900-lb Sean Milliken was completely bedridden at just 25. If you carry around 100 extra pounds, that's 10 gallons of milk. Leg, back, joint and muscle aches, lymphedema, infected sores, cellulitis are common with the very overweight.

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The hard part is isolating which are caused by weight but also how to treat chronic pain without developing an addiction to hydrocodone type meds. Doctors should prescribe Tramadol or Vicodin only for emergencies. They shouldn't prescribe for routine pain, but they do as Steven Assanti proved.

Obese patient exaggerates pain for drugs

Steven Assanti was found to have amassed thousands of pills of Tramadol and Oxycodone. He didn't obtain them illegally. But from hospital emergency room doctors. He'd exaggerate his pain to level 8 at which point doctors were forced to give an opioid IV. He went home with a prescription and repeated this procedure at other hospitals.

"My 600-lb Life" shows many obese folks taking opioid painkillers like Vicodin though the pain they describe seems exaggerated. Folks with arthritis don't get prescribed such strong drugs. Is this why so much morbidly obese are also on prescription pain meds? Weight loss for Assanti was about mastering the drug habit as much as food addiction. He was able to find healing in detox and at rehab. And only then was he able to shed weight.