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Chronic Pain, Opioids & the War on Drugs: Everyone Suffers

People with chronic pain often don’t have access to painkillers because their doctors won’t prescribe opioids. Doctors see plenty of patients who want drugs, not pain relief, and have to decide in a short time which category the patient fits into. The DEA is cracking down on docs who it believes over-prescribe opioids.

There are many, many sides to every story. When it comes to access to opiates, not a single side is happy. Except for numerous recreational drug users, who are still getting the drugs they want.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with a patient’s perspective, but doctors have their own struggles. Dr. Charles, a literary medical blogger, recently chronicled his frustrations with determining whether patients are drug-seekers or just need pain relief. Some doctors don’t even apply for a license to prescribe schedule II drugs* because the risk and hassle are too great.

How long will we as a society continue punishing people who face each day in agony?

*The brand names of some Schedule II drugs include: Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze (fentanyl); Alfenta (alfentanyl); Demerol (meperidine); DHC Plus (dihydrocodeine); Dolophine (methadone); Leritine (anileridine); Lomotil, Panlor, Synalgos  (diphenoxylate); Orlaam (levomethadyl); Sufenta (Sufentanil)

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Docs the Target in New War on Drugs?

Is the DEA going after doctors who prescribe painkillers because the war on street drugs hasn’t proven successful? A New York Times columnist makes this connection in Handcuffs and Stethescopes.

“As quarry for D.E.A. agents, doctors offered several advantages over crack dealers. They were not armed. They were listed in the phone book. They kept office hours and records of their transactions. And unlike the typical crack dealer living with his mother, they had valuable assets that could be seized and shared by the federal, state and local agencies fighting the drug war.”

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Pain Patient or Criminal?

Punishing Pain, an op-ed piece The New York Times published yesterday, describes one man’s struggle to get adequate pain relief. It’s a fight that ultimately landed him in jail. You’ll have to register to read the article, but it’s worth it.

“When I visited Richard Paey here, it quickly became clear that he posed no menace to society in his new home, a high-security Florida state prison near Tampa, where he was serving a 25-year sentence. The fences, topped with razor wire, were more than enough to keep him from escaping because Mr. Paey relies on a wheelchair to get around.”

Linda25 shared this article on the BrainTalk forums.