Is There a Stigma Around Chronic Pain Patients Due to the Opioid Epidemic?

Chronic pain is a common condition that affects more than 3 million people every year. It can last for months or years, and it happens to all parts of the body. There are different treatments available for chronic pain, but the most effective approach seems to be a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy.

The most common class of medications used to treat chronic pain is opioids. Everyone knows that opioids are highly addictive, and that we are in the middle of an opioid epidemic. How are chronic pain patients treated with the epidemic continuing to worsen? Are patients without a history of addiction suffering the consequences?

Due to The Opioid Epidemic, Are Chronic Pain Patients Stigmatized?

The truth is that this opioid epidemic has affected everyone with chronic pain issues. There are many patients that do not have addiction or substance abuse issues that are now being stigmatized due to the opioid crisis. These patients are afraid of being judged when they go to get their prescriptions filled at the pharmacy. Many are afraid to report any changes they are having with their pain to their doctors. There are a lot of people who suffer from their doctors from acute pain issues that aren’t being treated fairly in emergency rooms because of this epidemic. Physicians are too scared to prescribe narcotics these days.

What Was Done to Combat the Opioid Pandemic?

Laws and strict guidelines had to be implemented because so many people are dying from opioid overdoses. Some of these guidelines include: doctors are advised to give their patients no more than a three-day supply of opioids to treat acute pain and also urged to try other treatment options first before prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Other guidelines include prescribing the lowest effective dose possible, and taking measures to ensure patients aren’t misusing their medication like drug tests and pill counts. These guidelines make it really difficult and inconvenient for a lot of people with chronic pain issues.

Breaking the Stigma

Pain, pain treatment, and addiction are all associated with a stigma. Yet, something has to be done so that people out here suffering can get the treatment they deserve.

The National Institute of Health “Stigma: Overcoming a Barrier to Pain Treatment and Addiction Recovery” says:

The Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, approaches the opioid crisis from two major angles: enhancing pain management and addressing opioid misuse and addiction. From mindfulness meditation to aid in recovery from addiction to studies to understand a person’s response to pain, researchers in hundreds of funded projects across the country are exploring diverse paths to reach these goals and overcome obstacles.`“Stigma is a major obstacle to our efforts to help end the opioid crisis,” said Rebecca G. Baker, Ph.D., director of the NIH HEAL Initiative. “We not only recognize the barriers stigma creates for people with pain and addiction but are working intentionally to address stigma through HEAL research. (NIH)

This opioid epidemic has destroyed people’s lives. Both chronic pain and the epidemic are significant public health issues, and more has to be done to regulate both issues more appropriately. Thank goodness for the NIH and the HEAL Initiative for stepping up and addressing the issue at hand.

Get Your Opioid Treatment at Riverwalk Recovery Center

Riverwalk Recovery Center understands how hard the recovery process can be. Recovery is a journey and not a destination. Our programs help people overcome addiction and mental health issues by helping them change their lifestyles. We have a team of compassionate and understanding professionals who are invested in your success. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give us a call and let our team help you.

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