To solve opioid crisis, address people’s pain

Op-ed: To solve opioid crisis, we first must address people’s pain | The Salt Lake Tribune – Aug 27 2016 – By Lynn R. Webster

According to Journey Healing Centers, an astonishing 97 percent of Utahns admitted using diverted prescription drugs without a doctor’s permission.

“This behavior shows a lack of knowledge if not downright naiveté about how dangerous it is to fool around with potent medications that can addict and kill,” says their web site.

In fact, national data has shown a significant drop in opioids prescribed in 2012, 2013 and 2014 while the number of overdose deaths has continued to increase. Most of the increased deaths are due to heroin, or heroin laced with extremely lethal opioids like fentanyl.

Yet more restrictive measures are still being placed on opioids being prescribed for pain. Rx opioids are down, overdoses are up, but our government continues its policies aimed at the wrong culprit.

The government claim these restrictions (CDC guidelines) are evidence based, but they are certainly not following the evidence when it comes to the source of heroin overdoses.

They claim these restrictions (CDC guidelines) are evidence based, but they are certainly not following the evidence when it comes to the source of heroin overdoses. 

The problem is not a medicine that eases debilitating pain for people who suffer from painful conditions.

It’s about addiction, which drives people to continue using a drug even after horrific consequences,

When taken only for pain,
opioids do not induce euphoria
and do not lead to addiction*

*Only about 3% of legitimate pain patients become addicted

Reducing the supply side of the addiction problem does not address the demand for opioids, nor does it help address the needs of people with the disease of addiction.

People with pain will suffer without their prescription medication, and that suffering won’t save the lives of people with addictions who turn to illegal substances

Additionally, in all likelihood, we will see an increase in suicides from people who just cannot live with their level of pain if they are unable to find adequate treatment for their pain.

We cannot solve the opioid crisis
without solving the pain crisis.

According to PROP, there is no pain crisis, because we are not actually in pain, but addicted like all the other  millions of pain people.

They claim that nyone who takes opioids for over a month for any reason whatsoever is addicted. They even believe pain is a symptom of our addiction.

  • Educating the public,
  • providing access to effective and affordable mental health treatment,
  • ensuring access to free substance abuse treatment if necessary and
  • decriminalizing the disease of addiction

will go a long way toward reducing the number of people with addiction to prescription drugs or who suffer an overdose.

There are solutions, but they will require thoughtful and non-judgmental involvement by all the stakeholders.

It is imperative that we allow compassion to lead us forward while science lights the way. Only then will we be able to solve both the pain and opioid crisis in Utah.

Lynn R. Webster, M.D., is a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and author of “The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us.” He lives in Salt Lake City.   



3 thoughts on “To solve opioid crisis, address people’s pain

  1. JayKay

    Thank you for this thoughtful and well-reasoned argument–many who suffer from severe chronic intractable pain are suffering further from the CDC guidelines.
    We must argue–and yet, those (like me) who are afflicted by pain that never abates are hard-pressed to do more.
    Why blame responsible patients for the actions of the addicts across town?
    To benefit the addiction-recovery industry, which profits most from the failure of its work. To benefit wealthy people, we are being persecuted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Just to be sure you understand, this article is authored by Dr Lynn Webster, and these are just selected annotations from his writing.

      The link to the full original article is on the first line of each post. Perhaps you could post your comment directly on his website?


  2. david becker

    I have been saying what Webster said(before him). I say doctors often used opioids and anti inflammatories etc inappropriately for they had little or no education in pain care. And now guidelines reflect the same lack of education in pain care-and the same uncaring ways about people in pain and the rest of society. But even as the author of two bills on pain care education- there is a deeper malaise in medicine and society that needs addressing which is related to politics. Medical consumerism is needed along with a more pluralistic and bottom up pain care system. Government and health care industry and legal industry has too much control over the pain care people have. And unless people in pain can have much more power over what pain care treatments are developed and distributed, real change in pain care will not amount to much. Call me a Marxist call me an anarachist but the facts point to a system in America that reflects the weaknesses that MAr wrote of so long ago.
    The opioid debacle will not end well unless political changes are made which will greatly empower people in pain and people who use substances for other purposes as well. Power to the people right on- Now back to reading Brave New World.



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