In August of 2017, President Trump announced to reporters, “The opioid crisis is an emergency and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency.  It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.”  Later on, he went on to say that people who take prescription opioids should "Just say no."  “If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem,”  In early September of that year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the same thing. “The best long-term solution is prevention. The best action is not to start. Just say no,” he said at an event in West Virginia. 

however, the "just say no" advocates don't seem to be offering any alternatives to those of us who are dependent (that's dependent, not addicted) on opioids to assist us in our efforts to maintain a decent quality of life.  the section of the national safety council's website which addresses the treatment of chronic pain (which is all of about a quarter of a page) states "NSC medical advisors say alternative medications and non-pharmacologic treatments should be used for treating pain."  That's a great suggestion.  But who's going to pay for those alternative medications and treatments?  insurance companies pay for big pharma and traditional western medicine.  they don't cover chinese or ayurvedic medicine, essential oils, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or even chiropractic in many instances.  many people with chronic pain spend thousands of dollars out of pocket to try alternative treatments, and many more cannot afford to do so.  So we turn, in desperation, to opioids.  

The same national safety council page makes the outrageous claim, "Studies have shown non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen) are just as effective as opioids."  However, there is much research to the contrary.  a May 12, 2017 research article, "Differences between Opioid and Non-opioid Analgesics," published on emedexpert states UNEQUIVOCALLY, "Opioid analgesics are more effective than NSAIDs in providing pain relief.  NSAIDs provide effective relief of many types of acute and persistent pain, especially associated with inflammation. Prescribed alone, these agents can relieve slight to moderate pain. Alternatively, for moderate to severe pain, they can be used in combination with opioids to enhance pain relief.  Opioids are much stronger and are used when pain signals are too severe to be controlled by non-narcotic analgesics."  and Then there's the penultimate expert opinions -- those of us who live with chronic pain, have tried all the other treatments, and have finally turned to prescription opioids as our last hope.

let's talk about statistics for a moment?  the media is throwing around numbers such as, the opioid crisis claimed approximately 63,000 lives in 2016, according to data from the national center for health statistics. But according to a recent article on The Mighty, what they don't tell you is that synthetic opioids like fentanyl caused about a third of those deaths, heroin caused about a fourth, and prescription opioids caused only 23 percent, down from 26 percent in 2009.  so deaths from prescription opioids are actually declining. Other research shows that Rates of addiction among patients who are legally prescribed opioids averages between 8% and 12%.  Additionally, results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that about 75% of people who become addicted do so by obtaining opioids illegally.   YET THE POLITICIANS ARE SUGGESTING THAT THE SOLUTION IS TO MANUFACTURE AND PRESCRIBE FEWER PILLS.  the solution is not to manufacture and prescribe fewer pills.  the solution is to target the dealers and the illegal drugs on the streets.  those are the opioids that are causing the "crisis" in america.  the legally prescribed drugs, and the law-abiding chronic pain patients who are taking them as prescribed, are not in crisis.  and the millions of chronic pain and acute pain patients who have a legitimate need for opioid medications should not be made to suffer because of the poor decisions of a group of dissidents who happen to commit crimes related to opioids. 



The "Opioid Crisis"

The facts you are seeing in the media are not all there is to the current opioid situation in America.  The chronic illness community is being deliberately ignored and left out of the search for a solution.  It's time to make our voices heard!


Erin Migdol, The Mighty Staff

March 29, 2018