How Chronic Pain Patients Have Become Casualties in the War on Prescription Drugs
The “Opioid Crisis” and “War on Prescription Drugs” have frequented headlines on a national scale as of late. While there is no denying the growing rates of drug overdoses and addictions, the media forgets the chronic pain patient population that has become a casualty in this war.
What is the opioid crisis?
The opioid crisis is a rising national concern due to the rising rates of deaths caused by overdose on prescription drugs and heroin.
What does it mean for chronic pain patients?
With a push to crack down on opioid use and distribution as a whole, many patients who truly need pain medications are being shortchanged. Chronic pain patients who have long relied on painkillers to maintain their quality of life are now having their treatment limited and even stopped completely, leaving them struggling.
The punishment of 100 million patients who truly struggle is a side effect of the war on prescription drugs that cannot be overlooked. For patients struggling with chronic pain, being believed is already a hurdle they need to overcome, and now the hurdle has been raised to absurd heights.
Patients with chronic pain generally look healthy on the outside. As pain is subjective and challenging to quantify, many patients are hesitant to express their hidden burden and physicians are already slow to believe them, as no test can prove their pain to be true. This means that with heightened awareness of the potential dangers of wrongfully prescribing opioids, many patients who have a true need are not able to receive proper treatment.
In 2016 there were 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers. This means that 100 million people are being punished for the actions of 20,000.
How can we fix the problem?
Opioid abuse needs to be addressed, but to call this abuse a crisis and a war does a disservice to the millions of opioid users who are safely adhering to treatment instructions. Simply cutting back on prescribing opioids is not the solution. Instead, the focus should be on providing support, resources and treatment to those who struggle with addiction to curb abuse rates.
Not everyone using opioids is an “enemy” in this war.
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Thinkstock photo via BackyardProduction.