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Physicians and opioids: Part of the solution, but challenges ahead
- By James S. Gessner, MD, President Massachusetts Medical Society, Guest Contributor
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Thank you for this discussion. I hope those who are responsible for carrying this out will look at this differently now.
I am a chronic pain patient. I have had debilitating pain for 17 years. My condition is rare. There are no known cures for my pain, probably because my condition is rare. I have been prescribed opioids for 8 years. I have reached an amount in which my Pain Doctor and I have worked on for a long time. I am able to cope. I live my life the best I can, which is limited, but I CAN FUNCTION AND COPE WITH MY EXISTENCE as a human being.
This not the case anymore.
My Pain doctor is under such pressure to cut back and /or drop patients, he was forced to drop my dosage slightly. I am now a victim. I am suffering. I can’t believe that someone who doesn’t know me and my life, can decide that I should suffer MORE each and every minute of my life. THIS IS A NIGHTMARE.
I understand that when a physician takes an oath to cause no pain and help those who need are lying. I am now in more pain. I am not able to function. I am in too much pain as I write this now.
I am not an addict who seeks out a high. I do not experience a high on my medication. I am probably addicted to my medication, as I am probably addicted to my anti-depressant.
I take my pain meds as they are prescribed.
I am in excruciating pain with this small change in my dosage.
Please give me my life back, as small as it has become, it is my life.
As a patient, and, as a now disabled RN with chronic pain, I have been able to reduce my use of opioid pain relievers. I have used acupuncture, yoga and physical therapy. I have taken prescription anti-inflammatories and anti-inflammatory topical gels. However, only physical therapy is covered by insurance and Medicare. Now, Medicare and insurance have denied the use of the anti-inflammatory medication, I use. Yes, physicians must take a larger role in controlling the use of opioids. However, if a patient cannot afford other proven options to reduce their pain, what are they to do? Both, our government and the insurance companies, must take a larger role in fighting the opioid epidemic. Frankly, I don’t see this happening, at all.
Thanks for your help. Can you please provide information on orthostatic hypotension.
I’m happy to see that research in addiction treatment is finally starting to catch up to the true complexity of the problem.
It’s unfortunate that it took so long and that so many have gone untreated or under treated thus far. The current epidemic has really highlighted this.
I write for cokeclear.com, we try to keep track of this issue and hopefully enable family members to identify the early sighs of addiction.
Thank you for this article. I think it’s really great that physicians are getting involved and sharing responsibility for the opioid crisis. However, that being said, I believe addiction is far more complex than simply having access to a substance. For example, most people have access to alcohol and yet not everyone gets addicted to it.
I appreciated that you acknowledged the rise of a new problem: the increased difficulty for patients who are truly experiencing pain to get the meds they need. Opioids can be a very important and effective part of pain management for many people. I am hoping that most physicians will lean towards increased patient education on the potential for addiction rather than ceasing to prescribe opioids.
Ms. Ditzian: Thank you for your comments on the essay and your acknowledgment that physicians are acting to address the opioid crisis. You have captured the key issue physicians face when treating pain: how to balance the risk of addiction while providing help for those patients who truly need relief. Achieving that balance requires the continuing education of both prescribers and patients, and the good news is that many in the medical community are responding positively. With millions of patients experiencing chronic pain, however, prescribers must be alert that, in addressing the opioid epidemic by reducing the number of prescriptions, the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the opposite direction.
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You might also be interested in…
Understanding Opioids: From addiction to recovery
Opioid use has exploded during the past two decades. Since 1999, sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled. The good news is that there are a number of effective interventions for opioid addiction. These include self-help strategies, psychotherapy, medications, and rehabilitation programs. Consider using the strategies from Understanding Opioids: From addiction to recovery to discover new ways to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties.
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