“Five years ago, Kathy S., a nurse, underwent spinal surgery. She has been in pain ever since. Still, she needs two more operations. She emailed me recently to say that her physician cannot prescribe her pain medicine because of government pressure against prescribing opioids. She asked me why she is being treated like a drug addict when all she wants is to function.
Once, Kathy’s story would have shocked me. Now, although her experience distresses me, I’m no longer surprised.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, attitudes towards opioid use for pain have shifted dramatically. In the 1990s and early 2000s, pain relief was front and center on the newsstands and in medical literature. During that time, compassion for people in pain increased and permeated our culture and opioids became standard therapy for chronic pain, because few affordable and effective treatment alternatives existed.
By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, however, opioid-related casualties started to rise. When these deaths were attributed to increased opioid prescriptions for pain, tragic stories of ordinary citizens dying of opioid overdoses grabbed the headlines. Predictably, the United States public demanded a quick and easy solution.”
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