In the wake of an Opioid epidemic-lobbyists, medical professionals, and government personnel are working hard to limit access to opioids and combat the increasingly detrimental statistics of drug abuse nationwide. Although their efforts and good intentions are in fact improving many aspects of the substance issue, some individuals who use opioids to manage regular pain are concerned they will lose necessary access to their pain medications.
Opioids for Chronic Pain
Not all drug use is drug abuse – these medications were invented to serve a positive purpose of managing pain. In fact, a large percentage of drug addictions stem from a doctors prescription that later led to addiction.
People will a large array of medical conditions use opioids and narcotics to reduce the daily pain levels and help them live somewhat normal lives. Conditions range from autoimmune disorders, bone and muscle disorders, and neurological conditions. The individuals struggle to maintain a normal life without the support of these pain-suppressing drugs, and as the anti-opioid campaigns increase, their comfort is being threatened.
The stigma surrounding opioid use seems to appear as the image of a lazy person sitting at home all day, causing trouble, and not contributing to society. That, however, is false. While some people who choose to abuse opioids may fit into that image in some ways people with chronic pain who use opioids in a measured amount for the purpose of reducing pain are fully functional.
One advocate for regulated opioid use, Mary Cremer, said “I get the addiction side of it and I do understand. But there’s also the people who don’t have an addiction, and this punishes us because of this”
When it was once in the power solely of the physician to control distribution, the new crackdown has handed things over to insurance companies, clinical managers, and people with no direct connection with the patients.
Benefits of Opioids for Chronic Pain
Opioids, when taken as directed, can effectively help relieve all kinds of pain. Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors to reduce your perception of pain. Essentially, opioids help your body to not feel pain as intensely. Numerous studies have confirmed that opioids are effective at relieving pain for patients with cancer, low back pain, peripheral neuropathy, and other painful conditions. Relieving severe and chronic pain can improve sleep, appetite, energy levels, mood, and overall quality of life. Holistic approaches should be used in combination with opioids, but those suffering from chronic pain know just how life-changing it can be to effectively reduce pain over the long-term.
The Harm in the Crackdown
Even when prescribed, insurance companies can deny coverage, meaning people with chronic pain and documented conditions have to pay out of pocket- which often isn’t possible.
There are too many cases where opioids are more beneficial than harmful. Sometimes patients are allergic to over the counter NSAIDs and only take few opioids. Other times it may be a larger amount and for a long period of time, but the drug merely combats pain and does not limit the function of the individual. These medications were created for a reason, and while anti-opioid lobbyist fight for people who go against the reasons, those who have stuck with the intentions of opioids are being forgotten.
Another worry is that people who suffer from chronic pain will turn to unregulated drugs to manage their pain. Getting their drugs from dealers on the street could actually heighten addiction rates because their intake would not be distributed properly. If they unknowingly were taking more than they needed, this could cause a pattern of steady increase intake wise and heightened addiction. It also takes away the safety factor of knowing what they’re taking, because all too often street drugs are a mix and contain dangerous and even deadly ingredients and combinations.
Balance in the Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has become so widespread and intense that people are trying to avoid all association with it. Getting rid of it altogether is not the answer- knowing how to properly control opioids is.
Opioid restriction for chronic pain sufferers is more than an inconvenience, it’s a possible fatality. People with intense disorders, conditions, or injuries can potentially die without opioids. Being under that much pain stresses the body to the point where normal function is inhibited. Strokes, heart attacks, organ failures can all occur due to unmanaged pain.
Studies show that around 2.5 million children alone die without proper pain management. 35.5 million people suffer from chronic pain and don’t receive adequate treatment– and these numbers are slowly increasing with the new regulations on medication.
It’s not an easy task to balance the distribution of medications that are both dangerous and life-saving, but it’s a task that needs to be done to protect people all over the nation. Keeping in mind that opioids were created to serve a good purpose, those with chronic pain are hoping the medical world will acknowledge their need for the drugs and find a way to control distribution appropriately.