As someone with chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis, the war on prescription opioids has troubled me because the government wants to punish the many who actually need these drugs because a few abuse the pills.
The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation polled those with chronic pain “who have taken the drugs for at least two months during the past two years.” The majority said the drugs have helped them function and live a normal life. Someone needs to tell Big Government this information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden has told The Post these “prescription opiates are as addictive as heroin” while “the agency’s guidelines have noted that there is limited evidence that the drugs are effective in treating long-term pain.”
Obviously the agency did not talk to those who suffer chronic pain. The Post‘s poll discovered “that about 1 in 20 Americans have taken the drugs to treat pain for at least two months over the past two years, representing a significant barrier to curbing the country’s reliance on the drugs.” The paper reported (emphasis mine):
The survey of adults who have used opioids for at least two months in the past two years found more than 4 in 10 saying that their health is “only fair” or “poor” (42 percent), more than double the share of all Americans who rated their health as negatively in a November Kaiser Family Foundation poll (18 percent). And 7 in 10 long-term opioid users say a disability, handicap or chronic disease keeps them from participating fully in work, school, housework or other activities.
Roughly 4 in 10 long-term opioid users say chronic pain was the reason they first started taking the drugs, while about one-quarter each cited pain after surgery or following an accident or injury.
But opioid users say the painkillers make a significant difference — 92 percent say that prescription painkillers reduce their pain at least somewhat well, including over half (53 percent) say they do so “very well.” In a separate question, 57 percent say their quality of life is better than if they had not taken the medications.
When long-term opioid users are asked about the medication’s impact on five broad aspect of their lives, they rate two positively on balance, two as mixed and one negative. Opioid users report the most positive impact on their physical health, with 42 percent saying painkillers have had a positive impact on their health, another 20 percent saying it has been negative and 37 reporting no impact. Regarding their ability to do their job, just under a quarter (23 percent) say painkillers have had a positive impact, while 14 percent say they’ve had a negative impact and another 48 percent said they’ve had no impact.
The majority of the respondents also told The Post that long-term use has not affected their mental health or personal relationships. Only 1 in 5 said the medicines affected them mentally while 1 in 5 also said it affected personal relationships. But overall, 6 in 10 said the pills had no affect at all in either department.
74% of the respondents said taking the opioids on a regular basis have not affected their finances either.
Side effects remain the biggest concern with opioid users. 55% suffer from constipation while 50% had problems with indigestion, dry mouth, and nausea. Now, one-third of the users said “they became addicted to or physically dependent on the drugs.”
But it turns out those who live with the opioid users have the concerns:
The poll finds that people who live in the same household as a long-term opioid user report a more negative picture across the board — 54 percent say the person they live with is or was addicted to or dependent on painkillers. Household members are also significantly more concerned about side-effects than are opioid users themselves. A 67 percent majority say they’re at least somewhat concerned about side-effects of the painkillers, compared with 49 percent of those who use them. Household members are also more likely than opioid users themselves to say the painkillers have had negative impacts on the user’s physical health (39 percent vs. 20 percent of users) and the user’s mental health (39 percent vs. 19 percent).
But the results of the polls should have an impact on regulation of these drugs:
But regardless of the adverse effects, the Post-Kaiser survey results show clearly why opioid users feel the medication is necessary, and why they are worried about the impact of a crackdown on abuse of the drugs.
Two-thirds of long-term users say they are very or somewhat concerned that efforts to decrease abuse of prescription painkillers could make it more difficult to obtain them. Nearly 6 in 10 say that as it is, prescription painkillers are difficult to obtain for medical purposes.
Allaying those concerns represents a big task for those seeking to combat the worst effects of opioids and one that’s not likely to go away soon.
Congress has passed a bill that has angered chronic pain sufferers because it will make it harder for them to obtain the drugs they need:
The measure, which passed, 92 to 2, would strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts. It would also expand access to a drug that emergency medical workers could use to help reverse overdoses and improve treatment for the incarcerated. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, and Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, voted against the measure.
The Denver Post spoke with those who suffer from chronic pain about the bill and the reluctance of doctors to prescribe these medicines because of pressure from Big Brother in Washington, DC. Kate Conlin found that opioids could help her control her “painful thoracic condition.” Since she started the medicines she finally earned her GED and took college courses online. But most importantly she left the house. But in 2014 Colorado changed its opioid policy followed by the CDC. Now she cannot find a doctor to prescribe the medicine she needs.
Without the medicines, Conlin has slowly gone back to her previous life, homebound and not able to travel or even use the computer to finish her courses.
Officials have said that unfortunately the doctors have taken the new guidelines to mean that they should not prescribe any drugs:
But Dr. Steven Stanos, the president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, said doctors often interpret the guidelines as something more concrete — strict orders not to prescribe opioids above the listed levels.
“I think the guidelines were appropriate,” Stanos said. “The problem is the people use the guidelines the wrong way.”
Doctors, he said, “misinterpret the guidelines to think that patients should not be on opiates at all.”
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of people who do not even know me or what I go through tell me what is best for me and how I should treat my illnesses. That is up to me. Only I know how to control the pain I suffer.
Another thing, addicts have to want to save themselves. You cannot make them do it. Also, those addicts will find the drugs they crave no matter how many restrictions governments put on them.DONATE
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