The opioids epidemic has been declared loud and clear in the media over the past several years. However, I have yet to see anything published that focuses on the patient who lives with chronic pain. There is very little understanding for these individuals.
Society reacts empathetically towards the person who has pain related to cancer or a severe medical condition, such as a burn. But what about the patient with less tangible pain? We assume that these individuals are drug seekers that haven’t taken care of themselves, so they are must be responsible for their pain.
Many people who take prescription opioids for chronic pain report similar experiences feeling humiliated and stigmatized by the reactions they get from doctors, pharmacists, even friends and would be employers. Criticism and even verbal abuse from physicians, pharmacists, and emergency room workers was cited by dozens of patients who wrote in about their experiences taking medication for pain.
As many as 100 million Americans are estimated to have been prescribed opioids for pain. There’s people that are probably dying from not being treated properly for their pain than patients who are affected by the overdose of pain medication. Successful opioid therapy dictates that benefits of analgesia outweigh safety concerns.Unlike patients with acute, short-term pain or pain associated with terminal illnesses such as cancer, they’re looking at a lifetime of living with conditions associated with chronic pain. Others are dealing with persistent pain from injuries.
Many patients recognize that opioids help them manage pain effectively, some still fear them, worrying that their relationship with their medication may be sliding into addiction. At the same time, they’re dealing with side effects. In an environment where physicians who aren’t extensively familiar with pain management and opioids can leap to conclusions, it can be difficult for patients to have honest conversations with their doctors about their concerns, as they may fear
Opioids are a vital component of modern medicine that have measurably improved the quality of life for millions of people, particularly cancer patients and those with acute pain or chronic pain.
Patients vary widely in their response to the drugs, and only about 1 in 10 is at risk of addiction global studies show that many more people suffer from chronic pain than from addiction. patients, who function well on a steady dose and comply with monitoring, can safely use opioids for years. But lately, many can no longer get the medication, or enough of it.
“Robert N. Jamison, chief psychologist at the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the fervor to cut back on opioids is sending new patients to his clinic. “We see people that have been on opioids for 25 years, and all of a sudden their providers don’t want to write any more”
Opioids, when taken for a long time, can cause tolerance, dependence and addiction. These are all different. Not everyone who takes opioids develops these problems. Dependence and tolerance occur more commonly than addiction.