As a person who suffers from chronic pain, I feel qualified to say a couple of things in defense of the drug class itself and the doctors who write the prescriptions.
Anyone who has been injured and left with any sort of permanent damage is going to seek out help from many sources, as I have done. I have worked with local health care providers, as well as a pain doctor who has really gone the distance to help me, part of which is staying on an opiate while trying other things.
I don't want to be on this drug, but it helps me function in as near a normal lifestyle as I can create. Yes, I am drug-dependent, and the list is long of the many things I have tried in an effort to become free of this pain. The opiates contribute to my sanity, such as it is.
My doctor(s) continue, after six years of post-mastectomy chronic pain (look it up, it's a real serious thing), to seek other ways to help me, but the one constant in my care is the opiate. The breast cancer was one thing, but what I am left with is a whole other matter.
I do not feel that I, or my doctors, should be judged by those who do not live in the day-to-day grasp of chronic pain. I no longer care if I am drug dependent. I do resent that my doctors have to stand up against the judgment of those who do not understand the individuality of chronic pain and put stringent limits on how/what he can prescribe for my pain.
In the best interest of the patient? Who gets to determine that? At my age as a senior, I want my doctors to treat me as an individual, with my specific pain, leaving the outsiders in government out of it who are not involved in my pain or my care. We don't all fit the mold that is being created.
There are always those who will deviate from the treatment or just get high for reasons of their own. But please leave the prescribing to my doctor and me as we see fit. Do not tie his hands with laws that hinder the treatment of those who truly need his long-term help to live a day with less misery.
Patty Crumrine lives in Medford.