Tampa Bay Opinion column posted an article defending pain medication, on behalf of people suffering with legitimate pain, written by two directors for the American Academy of Pain Management. According to a Tampa Bay Times opinion, people living with chronic pain and the doctors who treat them are the real victims in Florida’s new policies aimed at curbing the prescription pill abuse that has been raging in the state for years. While attempting to crack down on dealers and pill mills, the new laws “run roughshod” over millions of disabled, elderly, and chronically ill people who live with pain.
The author admits that prescription pill abuse is a major problem, and the problem has allowed unscrupulous drug dealers masquerading as physicians, pharmacists, and “patients” to flourish. This has lead to a suspicion of all physicians as dealers and all pain patients as addicts. In essence, the author asserts that Florida lawmakers have “stopped good pain care in its tracks.” With such a dramatic increase in scrutiny from law enforcement, many physicians fear losing their licenses and even being arrested for prescribing medication to a drug dealer posing as a patient. With fearful providers and a short supply of pain medication, “people with pain who benefit from these medications are sometimes forced to drive hundreds of miles to find a doctor and to visit dozens of pharmacies to get medication that will loosen the unrelenting grip of pain.” (This scenario sounds so similar to ones I have heard before, only it was addicts that were doing this…)
Last year the Institute of Medicine issued a report, “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint For Transforming Pain Prevention, Care, Education, and Research,” that estimated nearly 100 million American adults live in chronic pain. The report details how our current treatment model for pain, based on medications, nerve blocks, and steroid injections has largely failed. The report also calls for a “cultural transformation” on the way pain is perceived, judged, and treated. It recommends a more holistic approach to pain, one that may include medication, but also focuses on diet, exercise, physical therapy, counseling, and chiropractic care. It asserts that doctors do not know how to manage chronic pain, and patients have come accustomed to the quick fix.
The authors claim that relieving pain and suffering is the duty of all healing professions, and in this new era of pain medicine crackdown has created an environment in which healthcare providers are being encouraged to walk away from their duty to treat pain. ”Relieving Pain in America” establishes a way for all parties to work together to create a healthier community where pain patients are not punished for the behavior of criminals.