You may have seen the recent publicity over a family-owned pharmaceutical company that had been fined for producing and heavily marketing its addictive opioid drug to the medical profession for pain relief.
When I heard about this, I was mad as hell. It’s true; they knew that once a person started using their medication for pain, it was virtually impossible to stop. It follows that at some point, people would do almost anything to get that drug – legally or illegally.
Because of this, many people had overdosed and died from taking it. In fact, the latest statistics (hyperlink to: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html) from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show an increase in deaths from opioid overdoses in every age group. The largest jump in death rates was seen in the 65 years and older age group, with a sevenfold increase!
So yes, I am angry at this pharmaceutical company. But I am even more upset at medical doctors prescribing this drug, or any pain relieving drug, to alleviate pain when they could – nay, should have – referred those patients to professionals who are trained to treat people in pain, not just mask their symptoms.
Consider these scenarios:
- If I have a raging toothache, I call my dentist. He/she will examine my mouth determine the source of the pain and fix the problem.
- If I have a spot on my skin that looks suspicious, I make an appointment with my dermatologist who will examine and determine the correct course of treatment.
But what if I have back pain? Going to my medical doctor who prescribes pain medication is not a course of treatment for addressing what is causing the problem. Pain pills won’t fix the issue – they’ll only mask it! So why are doctors merely covering up a patient’s pain and not referring he/she to a specialist who can determine the cause AND work towards a course of treatment?
As I see it, drug manufacturers bear some burden for producing these addictive substances, but the bottom line is that they do not prescribe them to patients – medical doctors with prescription pads do that.
I understand there are circumstances when pain relief is necessary (i.e. post surgery, physical trauma, various internal problems, or disease conditions), but the statistics show that the majority of people dying from overdoses have had chronic pain, mostly back- or spinal-related. Most of these patients were never referred to a specialist for treating their pain, thus obviating the need for opioid drugs. How many of those people became addicted to opioids? How many overdoses could have been avoided if treatment were sought instead of just pain relief?
You don’t have to accept an opioid prescription as your last option. Instead, give your body the attention it deserves and seek the appropriate treatment. You deserve better than temporary relief.