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Solving the prescription opioid problem

Posted Jul 09 2013 7:09am
English: Drug overdose

English: Drug overdose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve posted several times recently on the problem of opioid over-prescription and overdose .

Some might assume that I want some regulatory or statutory intervention to address the issue. Truth is, I’ve got more questions than answers and I would not support a response that forces us to choose between treating pain and preventing addiction and overdose.

It appears that opioids are a great solution to acute pain but a lousy treatment option for chronic pain. (Though,  they may be the least bad option.)

I’m not an expert on policy in this area, just an observer. But, my first thought is that The Joint Commission played a huge role in shifting pain treatment and that they may be a good way to change the behavior of prescribers and health systems.

The big difference this time is that PHARMA provided some wind at the back of those system changes. Other than medical cannabis, it would seem that the wind would be working against us this time. (Though, there is research being done on different delivery strategies for cannabis and its relative effectiveness .)

The current state of pain management is especially bad for addicts. It leads to bad care, neglect and stigma. Even addicts who really want non-opioid, but effective, pain management get brushed off as drug-seeking .

This feels like I’m stating the obvious, but it would seem that we need more education research on non-opioid treatment options, better access to the ones that already exist and better engagement strategies for the existing behavioral strategies.

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