To the editor:
My sincere sympathy goes out to any one who has lost a loved one from addiction. I pray to the Lord God future deaths and pain are eliminated. The thoughts I am about to express in no way are made to minimize or trivialize the grief this dirge has caused. There has to be a better way, though, to attack this problem.
If you do honest research on pain modification drugs you will find people like Dr. Gerald Aronoff, director of the North American Pain and Disability Group, who asserts millions are treated with success for pain. He makes a distinction between control and addiction, as when a person’s function and life improve, it is successful pain control or management. For millions of people, pain control has increased the function of positive lives.
According to the National Institute of Health, less than one tenth of one percent of pain patients become addicts. Please look at the papers published by Stephen Ziegler Ph.D, JD and associate professor at IPFW on the subject of “Patient Abandonment in the Name of Opioid Safety” for another view of the situation. Understand I am not minimizing the horrible effects of drug addiction, but I have concern this is being reported too one-sided and legitimate use of these medications are being marginalized.
I personally know several people who use these medications like their doctor prescribed without which they would not be able to function. Of course, most I know are seniors who are reaping the rewards of long lives who due to accidents, strokes, nerve pain, hard work etc. need effective relief. They are veterans, firemen, police, steelworkers, tradesmen, retailers, executives, our friends and peers who for no fault of theirs live with chronic pain and have exhausted most other means of pain management.
There is a huge difference between chronic and acute pain and the efficacy of managing thereof. I find it interesting the media portray doctors as people who do not seem to understand this issue. I am blessed with many friends in the medical field, and frankly I have never met one who did not put their patients first.
Without question these are some of the most intelligent people on the planet, and when they prescribe medications and track their patients’ progress they, with their years of training, are certainly qualified to determine the effectiveness of the treatment offered. Our media would say others, mostly non-medical, know more about solving the problem … silly advice.
In states where pain medicine has been severely restricted, suicides have increased. Many chronic pain sufferers simply can not revert to the pain level that drove them to the medications. We are letting these people down. I stress we need to take an informed view on these drugs and not abandon those who benefit from them and play the game fairly and honestly. Most do not think about going to other drugs that are not legal. Most people use their drugs as prescribed in an adult and responsible fashion.
I have heard it said these drugs are bad because they are addictive. I contend all drugs are addictive. Take drugs for hypertension. Stop taking them and, guess what, you greatly increase your risk of heart attack or stroke and death. Is that not addictive? I do not know the answer to this problem. I only want fairness in the discussion. We as a country prohibited alcohol and that just increased crime and worsened the problem.
Learn from history. Balance and thoughtful creative thinking is required here. Compassion please. Let us not abandon the good people whose lives hinge on the relief their doctors provide. This story does have two sides; the media highlights only the bad. We must demand equal treatment for our friends who benefit from this amazing technology.