When to be Honest

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Date Joined Feb 2009
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   Posted 6/17/2009 10:07 PM (GMT -6)   

I have read in several posts lately that the issue of when should a person tells the truth comes up. Some believe that one should always tell the truth either because of religious or personal conviction. Sometimes it comes down to how much of the truth should you share. Still I know that there will be a variety of answers to never volunteer information to only that which is absolutely necessary. Some of us have been in the situation that afterwards we wished we would not have shared something.


Without going into my personal history much most should know that I have been fighting the CP battle for 11 years after being injured as a law enforcement officer. I worked through allot of red tape with my department, Work Comp and even the state I was living in and had to take my case all the way to Washington DC to win. Long story. I went back to work as a pastor of a small church with WC on board. My work Comp claim will remain for the rest of my life as there was no question I was injured at work in the line of duty.  about 6 years ago, an organization came to me and asked me to start a college program for them allowing individuals that have gone through a drug/alcohol treatment program and been clean and sober a year. We resigned our church and the school has been open for 5 1/2 years. My CP has increased the last 3 years and in the last 1 1/2 years I have had three surgeries, many pt sessions, medication changes etc. I knew that this day was going to come. I was asked today by the A Corp. Officer what meds I am on and what others I have been on recently. After sharing what information I thought was appropriate as I refuse to lie, I was notified that they will be bringing me in for a meeting with the Corp. Board. There has been a change in individuals on the board and I know the one who is the power broker does not believe that anyone should be on narcotic pain meds. I feel I am starting to see the writing on the wall that will bring another battle that I will be facing. There point is, how a person on drugs can help other drug addicts. They don't recognize dependence verses addiction. I have never taken a day off because I was hurting in over 5 years. I have never used all my sick leave or vacation time and end up just turning it back into them (not remunerated for). Now I am finding myself in the sights. My question is not do they have a right to do this or if it is legal or ethical. The question is how truthful should we be.


I built a strong career in courts as being reproach and have had judges threaten attorneys when attacking my credibility. I had expert witness status in court, I taught at the state law enforcement academy. I have always stayed on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I can see where at times this could be something that could be used against a person as well. You know me, just thought I would open up an interesting thread.  

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Date Joined Mar 2008
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   Posted 6/17/2009 10:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi fatherjohn,

Let me get this straight - Is this the police board that is reassessing your WC, or is it the corporation you now work for? This sounds like a really tough situation. You are one of the strongest, most hardworking, caring, compassionate, and dependable people I 'know.' I find it absolutely ridiculous that someone would question your credibility!
As for telling the truth, I agree with you, that I believe that the truth should always be told. Lies bring nothing but trouble in the end. So I too, would have been honest with this officer. I can see why someone who is ignorant may question the reason why someone taking narcotics is counseling those who are abusers of narcotics, but as you said, there is a HUGE difference between dependance & addiction. Honestly, I feel that anyone who doesn't care to recognize this distinction does not have the right to judge. These medications have been used for thousands & thousands of years to treat pain. Why should everyone be judged by the actions of just a few? Can people not fathom that there are some people who actually use this medication as directed, to treat the horrific pain that they deal with every day of their life, and the it is only because of this medication that they can continue to live a "relatively normal" life? It's not like you want to be on these medications. No one (well, mostly no one - certainly not true CP patients) does! But we don't have much of a choice. You listed for this guy, all the meds & treatments that you have tried without sucess. Can't they see that you have pursued other options -- all other options, and that you are now left with nothing else? It's bad enough to have to live with pain every day, but to have to live with the stigma surrounding the medication that keeps you from lying in bed all day, screaming in pain? Honestly, many CP patients would not be able to be productive members of society, or be in control of their lives without narcotic pain medication.
And this isn't even to mention that you are potentially putting yourself at risk, by working with narcotic addicts when you yourself take narcotics for pain. If one of your students were to find out of your situation, the might be persuaded to take advantage of you & that could hurt both you and others around you.

But, if you were not to tell the truth to these guys, then they would have even more reason to label you as a drug seeker. They could claim that you hadn't tried other options, so you didn't know if they would work & that you may un-necessarily be taking pain meds. Argh! This is a very frustrating situation. I do think that you did the right thing, and if the time comes, you are just going to have to fight it & convince them of the difference between addicts & dependance, and prove to them all the good that you have done teaching these kids. I'm sure that hundreds, if not thousands of young adults owe their life & livelihood to you, fatherjohn. No one should be able to take that away from you.
Okay, now I just feel like I am rambling. I hope that it does not come to this. It's definitely a tough situation. You have spent your life helping others, yet you seem to be stuck with so much pain & sorrow. I truly hope & pray that your situation will improve, on many levels. You certainly deserve some happiness & gratitude from this world!


Tony McGuire
Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 483
   Posted 6/17/2009 10:56 PM (GMT -6)   
Father John,

I have always taken the same tact as you have; honesty at all levels and at all times.

I officially 'retired' today. I take Methadone and Morphine - for starters. I started my adult career with nearly 10 years in law enforcement.

If I can be of any assistance at some point (court, research or something from here, you name it and we'll discuss it), PLEASE don't hesitate to contact me.

Sounds like a project one could feel very good about being a part of.
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Date Joined Jul 2008
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   Posted 6/17/2009 11:14 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm with Skeye -- honesty is the best policy.

Actually, it has been the addicts who have made the best case for me about there being a difference between addiction & dependence. I have run into more than a few of them at the pain clinic where I attend (they're the ones screaming at the top of their lungs as they're being escorted out of the clinic). I have a friend right now who I am trying to get help for. I used to try to hide my medication from absolutely everybody & while I wouldn't lie, I would refuse to answer certain questions. Now I take it as an opportunity to educate people. I tell them what my life is like without medications. I tell them what my life is like with medications. And I tell them that when there are rare occasions where being off meds would be better than taking them, that I voluntarily talk to my PM & stop them until the situation changes. People aren't always immediately accepting that there is a difference between addiction & dependence, but my background is in education so it is worth it to me to practice patience & persistence and to keep offering different explanations until the person understands that there is an important difference.

But everyone is their own person & I realize not every CPer is able to take on the short term risk for the long term benefit of better understanding of the role of pain meds in our society. I think each person needs to make their own decisions, but this has worked pretty well for me -- or at least substantially better than just keeping quiet about everything.

best wishes with your corporate board. i'll send up an extra prayer for you.

Moderator -- Depression Forum

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   Posted 6/17/2009 11:21 PM (GMT -6)   
Firstly Father John, best of luck with dealing with this new corp board. It seems so unfair especially when you have been doing such a wonderful job for them that they can be suddenly so biased aganst you now!!! I also struggle with the truth to my employers. I work casually for both a university and a Government technical institute. I find I'm completely honest with my immediate bosses and sort of bend the truth for the upper echelons with my bosses approval. Otherwise they panic about health and safety issues as we use quite antiquated equipment in some departments that is very hard physically to operate, as my mobility has gone down I use the technical support more and more and have so far slipped under the radar. Both my bosses carry injury or sickness so they are really understanding but I often wonderhow long I'll manage to keep going. I want to be completely truthful but I also need the money and enjoy my job, I also know I'm good at it and my students enjoy my classes...its tough these days. Everyone is so paranoid about being sued. Its a very good topic, goltiho

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Date Joined Feb 2009
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   Posted 6/17/2009 11:45 PM (GMT -6)   

Skeye, I know that whether it is me or anyone else, even several of the other threads currently listed evoke emotions when people with CP are labled directly or indirectly as abusers or addicts. This has nothing to do with the law enforcement community in any way. I had to fight a battle after being labled by the state WC as being totally and permanantly disabled. The county then argued I was not due insurance because I was not retired just disbaled. I fought them at the Dept. of Justice in DC and won with no problem. This is a private, faith based non-profit that I am now dealing with. The one and only issue will be that I am using narcotics while being the Executive Director of a center for the Corporation. Things do wrok a little differently in the non-profit world so I will be waiting for a notice of a meeting. I am leaving next week for a week at a  conference in Arizona. They could surprise me there but I doubt it. I deal with crisis on a regular basis and one more just gets added to the pile. I have already checked the corporation's policy manual and there is not much they can do but time will tell. It really is an organization that has done so much good.

Tony, a common thread with us. Even if they say I am high while at work or driving, they will have a hard time proving as I don't take my meds during the daySome students ask what meds I am on and I always close that conversation quickly. They know I hurt and have had surgery and are stupid. They know I am on mds. I refuse to tell them as for protection. Thanks for the offer but I hope it is not needed I handled beter before and I will stand agau-in,

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   Posted 6/18/2009 12:41 AM (GMT -6)   
This is a great topic to bring out, fatherjohn! Thanks for having the courage to share. I too hate to tell anyone what I take for fear of what they might think or do. But I am also in favor of telling the truth. It may be hard at the time but it makes life harder later when lies catch up to you...besides, it's just the right thing to do. That said I too feel that I do not need to tell everything there is to know about me either. I have learned the hard way not to divulge things that aren't asked for or are not necessary. This is something that is between my doctor and myself and it seem like if the doc has a commitment to privacy with my records I certainly should have....unless, obviously it's something legal or medically imperative.

If someone asks about my medications who has no reason to know then I feel their reasons likely aren't for any good. They are likely asking so they can judge me and in my life there is only one Creator who has that right.

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Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 6/18/2009 1:29 AM (GMT -6)   
You know I'm going to keep pondering this one a bit, and may just toss a new thought in here or there.

First, I have a good idea of the perspective of the non-profit you're dealing with and the D&A community. As I have learned CP from the inside out, it has given me a new perspective on people who deal with CP and have addiction issues. NOT saying you have addiction issue, not at all, but I am saying I see the huge gap in the recovery arena in thiis regard. I know I've mentioned this in other threads.

I'm glad you checked your policy manual, and if you signed any contracts up front about the use of narcotics (prescribed and medically necessary). You ask if about honesty and I may be somewhat in the minority in that I think in your situation I would say not to lie, but not to necessarily answer all questions. I would strongly suggest you try to consult at attorney who specializes in employment and discrimination issues, particularly ADA stuff. Your disability has already been proven, and that should work strongly in your favor. Even a private non-profit I do not believe can discriminate because they are receiving tax deferrment status as a 501C3 corporation. And if they receive any public funds (or your students receive loans, etc.) that makes it even more subject to federal laws, and possibly state.

So I think it's worth a consult with an attorney to find out what you have to tell them, and what you don't. And what they are permitted to do in relation to your private medical treatment. I suspect like many bosses (in non-profits or other areas) they try to get away with whatever they can. Or they are acting out of pure ignorance of the laws they're subjected to. Knowledge is power; please get what you need to protect yourself.

I'm not saying you want to become belligerent, but I already know you know how to deal with difficult situations directly, firmly but with assertiveness rather than aggressiveness. I wouldn't even meet with them until you've got all the legal info. you need. Some you may be able to find on a website, but you might be able to get a phone consult with an attorney for free or at little cost.

I hope this helps some. And it may in the end serve as an education for this agency. Just like for many years the recovery community was rigidly oppposed to anything - even anti-depressants - mostly that has changed (or is changing, but slowly). I think there is a need for some eyes to open about the fact narcotics aren't always bad, and the difference between dependence and addiction.

Oh - I'll try to look up an article I had posted awhile back which is a joint statement from the addiction and pain management professionals communities about clarifying dependence, tolerance and addiction. It might be helpful.

Just what you need right now. Sigh......

Hugs to you,


Post Edited (PAlady) : 6/18/2009 12:33:25 AM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
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   Posted 6/18/2009 1:54 AM (GMT -6)   
Here is the link to the article. You'll have to cut and paste it. Notice the society for Addiction Medicine was one of the participants.

Hope it helps.


For anyone else who's interested, it's an excellent clarification of the difference between dependence, addiction and tolerance.


Mrs. Dani
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Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 2787
   Posted 6/18/2009 1:58 AM (GMT -6)   
     Dear FatherJohn,
     I know this might sound just awfull, but here goes......
      I wish I could lie. I really do. So many things would be easier. Noone would know any better, life would be goooood. No uncomfortable pauses, not dropping jaws, no barly audible *gasps*. Would so much simplier! Right?
     So, then reality hits and I realize I literally just dont have the memory to lie. Ever wonder how those smooth cats do it? Always look so charismatic? How DO they do that? *shivers* dark souls can lie without a single blink of an eye, and about the most horrible things.
       I have run in to many many problems, being honest. Most re occuring problem, is others using my honesty to hurt, brush off, attack, use, manipulate me. *shiver* I never looked back once those folks were eventually moved along out of my life. In the end, they always got a taste of themselvs. Thank goodness.
     When it comes to your students... You know I knew a gal once she always would say "A lie by omission is still a lie." I dont believe that to be so. I have known many very important people in my life that have had to struggle with addiction.. Your help to those in such a fragile state requires discretion about your personal life. Completly understand.
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,  
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And be one traveler, long I stood

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 487
   Posted 6/18/2009 2:00 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Fatherjohn:
I know I'm seeing it from a CPer's point of view, but it seems so obvious to me that you being compared to your clients is like comparing apples to oranges.  If one of these board members was sick, they would take whatever medication the doctor said was necessary and appropriate.   Chronic pain should be viewed like any other illness or medical condition. 
You go a step further to keep yourself above reproach by suffering all day when it should be perfectly acceptable for you to take your pain medication through the day as it is prescribed, even though noone but you would know that you took the medication in the first place.
May I ask what business was it of his in the first place to know what medications you were on now, and why in the world would he need to know what you have been on in the past?  I realize at this point "the cat is out of the bag," but for future reference, maybe you could say something to the effect of "I only take what my doctor feels is absolutely necessary to treat a valid, documented condition."
I sincerely hope that after your meeting with the board that they will be satisfied with the truth and that you will not have to fight to keep doing what you so obviously were born to do, but if you do, we will be here to be your support, your sounding board, and your cheerleaders yeah yeah yeah yeah !!!
Please keep us updated as you will be in my thoughts  idea and prayers!!!

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Date Joined Feb 2003
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   Posted 6/18/2009 4:21 AM (GMT -6)   

Wow, I think I am still in shock. I too believe in being honest and have always found that just works the best for me. My mother taught us kids this and we lived by it. I have seen many times in the past honesty was something someone else perhaps did not want to hear but, none the less it was put out there. I have just seen it too many times once a person starts off lying it takes another lie to cover the one before.

You know with you working and getting this program off the ground and obviously making the program a complete success.  I have to question the motivations of the person that asked you about your medications. I have to wonder about what is really behind this whole picture with this? I need to think about this a bit. 


crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & decreased circulation in both legs. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 16 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.

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   Posted 6/18/2009 8:44 AM (GMT -6)   


I have to agree that honesty is best, but like Susie also question the motivation behind this person's inquiry. 

I can't add anything that hasn't already been said!

The bottom line is that your work record should serve as proof that despite the pain and PRESCRIBED medication, you give 200% to your job and are always there when needed.

You are in my prayers!



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Date Joined Nov 2007
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   Posted 6/18/2009 12:45 PM (GMT -6)   
It seems that honesty may be being seen as black and white, and in some senses it is, but I think context is also important. I am not advocating lying. But there are some people and situations to whom and where you may not give the full story, or may evade a question legitimately. Kind of like what Chutzie is suggesting.

If it's a spouse or close friend and you're evasive or ommitting important details, that's one thing. But in an employment or similar setting I think one has to ask who has the need or right to know certain things. Because they can be used against you, plus an employer may not have a legitimate right to ask certain questions.

Fatherjohn's situation may be difficult for some to understand because it has to do with the policies and procedures and viewpoints throughout the entire Drug & Alcohol treatment community. Some of these things are legitimate because an addict can be very manipulative and deceitful, and many programs have peopel who have been in recovery for a long time themselves (clean and sober, so to speak, for a year or longer) working as counselors or therapists. That is ofen a good thing, but someone can relapse so programs do have to watch for that with employees. So it gets rather complex. Other employers also are doing more random drug screens, especially where someone's alertness could be a factor flying a plane or operating certain machinery. So it gets tricky and a grey area where someone may be using prescribed medications legitimately, as fatherjohn is, but when is that legally permitted in a given job situation. That's why I think a consult with an attorney would be the way I would go so that I knew for sure what my employer was entitled to know, and what actions they were permitted to take under the law. Otherwise, things may be none of their business and I think it's fine to say that - perhaps in more polite ways, but some people just need to hear it directly.

Anyway, fatherjohn, I do hope you let us know how it's going. And how we might be able to help.


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   Posted 6/18/2009 1:17 PM (GMT -6)   
FatherJohn, I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. I am glad that you shared it with us. You are so well thought of and respected by everyone here. And you know that we are on your side 100% , and we will give you all the support and encouragement that you need to get through this or any other situation you may have.

It appalls me that you were asked that question! I cannot believe they asked you what you are taking and what you've taken in the past. You are so dedicated to your job and your students. The fact that you do work at all speaks highly of you. You put your on pain and problems aside everyday to help others learn to deal withe their problems. And to do it without any meds during the day, I admire that. I also didn't take any meds during the day at work. I didn't want my judgement off as I dealt with my patients. I know how hard that is to do first hand! That is one of the reasons I applaud you so- it is often times unbearable at best. I am glad that you researched the book on the policy.I know that you are a wonderful man, a christian man, a caring and compassionate man. Your integrity speaks volumes. If they do call a meeting or conference, you hold your ground. You are most definitely not an addict! You know your job. My gosh, you have gotten out of your own bed after a long and trying day and gone back up there for emergencies and such!!!! You relax, FatherJohn, you are not doing anything wrong. You are a blessing to that organization not a hindrance and the truth of the matter is, they know it.

I am so sorry that this is happening to you. You certainly don't deserve it. Hang in there. We are all here for you every step of the way.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 6/18/2009 1:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, you should be honest..... to a point I have never been in your situation but honestly is great..... to a point you shouldn't lie but like you said you shouldn't tell them any more than they ask and sometimes its best to be vague or through depending on the query

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   Posted 6/18/2009 2:19 PM (GMT -6)   
I stopped in while on lunch break which I never take but as I sit at my desk and read these reponses, I can see that many have had to make decisions in their lives regarding CP, meds and truthfulness. I will be back after I get off work Blessings to all.

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   Posted 6/19/2009 12:19 AM (GMT -6)   
How are things going for you?


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   Posted 6/19/2009 12:26 AM (GMT -6)   

It is going to be hard keeping up with this one as i have too many extra hours. I will try to amke a few connections.

Chutzie, I know that we deal withn different catagories of people and it could be smart to be careful with each group. When tellin g someone you don't feel it is there need to know information that tends to put the realtionship back a bit which could be ok. Others we trust can handle more information. If we get through without a lie, we should not have to fear the future. A lie can open things up later.

 PAlady, in checking out the policy manual all that it states is personel are not to report to duty under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drugs can be vague. Aspirn to herione. I take drug tests every month and can prove that there is noting in me that has not been prescribed. I may look into an attorney. My insurance is not through the corp. so they can't get my information there.

Dani, I dod not tell my students what meds I am on. They know there is some meds I just don't go into details.

Lori, what was it hat hade it his right. He called to ask a question and I reminded him I wsa do for surgery but should not miss much work. I only took one day off. I did not by any poilcy have to share with him but it would look bad if I refused to answer. They don't check on me much, I do my job and more. They see me walk with a cane and I have to walk through there offices. It is hard to hide pain but I must be good. They have no idea what my level of pain is.

Rather than saying I will not tell a lie, we can say I won't lie but I am not going to offer information to people who don't have the need. I will add more later, bad night.

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   Posted 6/19/2009 9:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Does your workplace know about your chronic pain problems? If so, allowing you to take meds as long as you're not in front of the students, may fall under "reasonable accommodations". I've heard other people who've used that defense & won. PA has a great idea about contacting an attorney to find out, but at a minimum your employer needs to know that you have a condition that is protected under the ADA. If you haven't told them by the time that they tell you you're termed, there isn't as much that an attorney can do. You can always leave some options open by just mentioning your disability & saying that you are looking into options for reasonable accommodations -- that should buy you some time to talk with your PM & attorney & anyone else needed.
If you already have an attorney in mind, maybe run that by him first, but definitely don't wait too long to mention your disability to your company. At this point, there probably isn't much harm that could come from letting them know & there is the possibility that a lot of good could come from it.

Your work is very important to the community & hopefully the board members will realize that you provide a vital service & ask for very little consideration in return -- but just in case they aren't quick to realize that, it doesn't help to have a few "tricks" up your own sleeve.

take care,
Moderator -- Depression Forum

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   Posted 6/19/2009 10:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Frances, I know that assuming is not a good thing to do. I teach our students that when you assume, you are normally wrong. They know that I was a law enforcement officer and was injured. They also know that I have not been able to take the company insurance because I am labled permanently and totally disabled by the state of Montana and had to fight to keep my Insurance with them. My fear was that I would take the company Ins. and then leaving employment and then trying to find insurance with a lable of perm. and totally disabled. Not easy. They won't pay my private ins which is half of the company ins. so I pay it myself. They are also aware of that. They do not have a copy of my letter from Montana but I could have it added to my personel file. I have seen several other directors sent down the road and I know that it is not out of the question. I am looking into an attorney as I don't know one here that does not have connections to the organization. The organization is well aware of my health as I have had 3 surgeries in the last 1 1/2 years. Thanks for your input.

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   Posted 6/20/2009 5:38 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm so sorry you have to deal with such an emotional situation. My opinion is they should be giving you an award for being an x addict who has CP who in turn has to take medications who shows control. Your are the ultimate model in recovery. Just my thought.

Had to pop in and put my 2 cents in...

39 yr young female with,
Chronic Kidney Stones, PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease), Chronic Kidney Failure, Severe Hypertension, Urological RSD
Also CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) and Sleep Apnea
Hopefully NO MORE........ I think I have it all

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