At the center of the nation’s opioid crisis is a simple fact: Large numbers of Americans experience serious pain, and the vast majority of those who have used strong painkillers for a long period say they work.
CDC Director Tom Frieden recently told The Post that “prescription opiates are as addictive as heroin,” and the agency’s guidelines have noted that there is limited evidence that the drugs are effective in treating long-term pain
This is how to lie while telling the truth:
knowingly insinuating that that something doesn’t work just because it hasn’t been proven with a double-blind placebo-controlled scientific study, and also implying that there is evidence for other treatments that do work.
The Post-Kaiser survey finds that about 1 in 20 Americans have taken the drugs to treat pain for at least two months over the past two years, representing a significant barrier to curbing the country’s reliance on the drugs.
7 in 10 long-term opioid users say a disability, handicap or chronic disease keeps them from participating fully in work, school, housework or other activities.
Roughly 4 in 10 long-term opioid users say chronic pain was the reason they first started taking the drugs, while about one-quarter each cited pain after surgery or following an accident or injury
But opioid users say the painkillers make a significant difference — 92 percent say that prescription painkillers reduce their pain at least somewhat well, including over half (53 percent) say they do so “very well.” In a separate question, 57 percent say their quality of life is better than if they had not taken the medications.
Opioid users report the most positive impact on their physical health, with 42 percent saying painkillers have had a positive impact on their health, another 20 percent saying it has been negative and 37 reporting no impact
Regarding their ability to do their job, just under a quarter (23 percent) say painkillers have had a positive impact, while 14 percent say they’ve had a negative impact and another 48 percent said they’ve had no impact.
About 1 in 5 say painkillers have had a positive impact on their mental health and another 1 in 5 say they have had a negative impact on their mental health, while almost 6 in 10 say they’ve had no impact
Similarly, 68 percent say opioids have had no impact on their personal relationships, while 15 percent report a positive effect and 16 percent say it has been negative.
Just 8 percent say painkillers had a positive impact on their finances compared with a larger 17 percent who said they were negative. A 74-percent majority, though, said painkillers had no impact on their finances.
Roughly one-third (34 percent) of long-term opioid users say they became addicted to or physically dependent on the drugs (separately, 31 percent say they are dependent, 23 percent say they are addicted)
Physical side effects are common, with 55 percent saying the drugs have caused constipation and another 50 percent reporting indigestion, dry mouth or nausea.
Household members are also significantly more concerned about side-effects than are opioid users themselves. A 67 percent majority say they’re at least somewhat concerned about side-effects of the painkillers, compared with 49 percent of those who use them.
But regardless of the adverse effects, the Post-Kaiser survey results show clearly why opioid users feel the medication is necessary, and why they are worried about the impact of a crackdown on abuse of the drugs.
Two-thirds of long-term users say they are very or somewhat concerned that efforts to decrease abuse of prescription painkillers could make it more difficult to obtain them.
Allaying those concerns represents a big task for those seeking to combat the worst effects of opioids and one that’s not likely to go away soon.
This Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 3-Nov. 9 among a random national sample of 622 adults age 18 and older who say they have taken strong prescription painkillers for a period of two months or more at some time in the past two years other than to treat pain from cancer or terminal illness and 187 household members of someone meeting the previous requirements. The results from the sample of personal users have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points and the sample of household members has an error margin of plus or minus nine percentage points.