Letter | Sally Morton: Opioid epidemic - focus on the real problem

This is in response to the article "Community View: Opioid addiction isn’t just a ‘drug addict’ problem."

I have suffered from a condition that causes chronic pain for the past 15-16 years. The only medication that has had any effect on the constant pain has been prescription opioids. I am extremely grateful for the fentanyl patches that allow me to sleep through the night instead of waking up every few hours to take more pain medication.

It is a documented fact that people with chronic pain very rarely become addicted to opioid pain medicine. My PA has yet to have one death that he is aware of among his patients due to misuse of prescribed opioids, and he has seen an average of about 34 patients a day over the last 10 years at this pain clinic.

The problem is NOT those of us who use these painkillers to help us cope with constant and chronic pain. The patches themselves have a printed warning on the box that they are not to be prescribed for short-term or post-operative pain. That is a problem of prescribing the wrong medication for the condition.

However, now even the CDC knows that the drugs that are causing the problems on the street are illicitly manufactured opioids, not those being legally prescribed. They are flooding into our country over our southern border from the drug cartels in Mexico. An article titled "CDC says RX painkillers not driving opioid epidemic" is available at the following web location:

https://newsletter.fibroandpain.org/component/content/article/newskit/news/news-fall-2017/cdc-not-rx-driving?Itemid=573.

This new heroin and illlicit opioid epidemic is a terrible thing and needs to be addressed, but we need to know what the problem truly is, which will then make it possible to pass legislation or use other methods to deal with it that will actually be effective. So much of what has been done in the past has been aimed at making the drugs harder and harder to get by the people who truly need and should have access to them. The hoops I have to jump through every month are absolutely ridiculous already.

Let's not make that problem any worse by continuing the same policies that not only make life so much more difficult for those of us who depend on these medications for the maintenance of a minimal quality of life, but have little if any effect on the problem itself.

It's time to start finding strategies to fight the real problem, and allow those who honestly need the medications to get them without undue restrictions and delays.