Promoting simplistic policy responses to complex social issues rarely produces meaningful solutions. Such has been the case during the past month as lawmakers at local, state and federal levels have targeted elimination of a single, FDA-approved hydrocodone product (Zohydro ER) as the linchpin action to effectively address our nation’s growing medication abuse problem. For them, facts be damned.
FDA’s Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has undercut their reasoning and loose “facts” as well, pointing to our need for a far more complex approach to turn the tide on medication abuse in the United States.
I’ve detailed the errors of their Swiss-cheese arguments in the following blog posts at this LINK.
Notwithstanding, the opioid clock ticks on and the figurative pendulum continues to swing from opiophilia to obiophobia and back again. A recent editorial in Journal of Pain Research, entitled “The damage done by the war on opioids: the pendulum has swung too far” discusses that “media sensationalism, neuromythology, and mischaracterization of pain patients as drug addicts has even deterred some prescribers from treating pain patients that they have successfully treated for years without problems of drug aberrancy”.
On May 10, just hours before the above open access article was released, the New York Times ran an story entitled Opioid Boom Leading More Doctors To Turn Away From Prescribing Painkillers. I don’t deny the merits of this particular story, as opioids certainly are not the panacea for all patients and clearly should not be prescribed pervasively for chronic use without careful deliberation and assessment.
But largely missing from the national conversation and media coverage are the voices and stories of the tens of millions of people that must endure pain on a daily basis. Instead, the day-to-day struggles of these individuals (and their families) to achieve even a marginal quality of life are buried under an avalanche of commentary that stigmatizes and marginalizes these people. That must stop…NOW. It’s time for all of us to step back.
It’s time for us to remember the people with chronic pain and to honor their humanity as they struggle to find some relief from debilitating pain. And that’s where I ask you, to help me, help you.
I want to amplify the stories of people living with chronic pain. It’s time we build awareness among lawmakers, physicians and our neighbors of what portraits in courage look like and why people with chronic pain deserve access to educated providers that could bring them a degree of pain relief.
I believe that people with chronic pain are entitled to be part of the discussion and part of the decision-making. If you agree, I invite you to share your story of coping with chronic pain. I’d like to help you tell your story so that those who are in the position to make decisions that could affect your life and the lives of those who care about you, understand your life, your hopes and your struggles better.
If you’re interested in helping raise understanding and awareness of the lives of people with chronic pain, please comment below with your story. The plan is to get these stories out to people that can make a difference.