A new nationwide poll conducted by Research!America discovered that Americans are far more concerned about prescription medication abuse than they are about chronic pain. In fact, only 18 percent of respondents said they believe that chronic pain is presently a major health issue of concern whereas as a whopping 85 percent of those surveyed worry about the misuse and abuse of prescription medications.
These concerns may be due in part to the fact that 82 percent of respondents felt that taking prescription painkillers for long-term use for chronic conditions might cause addiction. Half of participants ranked prescription drug abuse as a major health problem in the US.
Battle Between Access to Painkillers and Controlling Addiction
Right now there is a push among legislators, law enforcement, and concerned citizens to put more regulations on prescription pain meds because of the escalating epidemic of addiction. Across the country, there are public health campaigns to help make people more aware of the problem, prescription drug “take-back days” both locally and nationally for unused painkillers to be disposed of properly, and laws to help doctors and pharmacists both educate their patients on the addictive potential of these drugs as well as help stop addicts from doctor shopping to get extra pills to feed their habit.
Some laws have been proposed to limit how long prescriptions for painkillers can be written without having to see the doctor for an assessment, while others have even proposed going back to only using some of the stronger opiate drugs for cancer pain and nothing else. Certain doctors and pharmaceutical companies have come out publicly against these options saying that chronic pain in America is a grave concern and they worry that people with that issue may suffer unnecessarily from such legislation. Critics of this standpoint say that no patient with truly severe pain chronic will be denied pain medication from any proposed legislation, but they may have to go to the doctor more often to be reassessed. Officials in all areas have difficult choices to make, in order to ensure they do not replace one person’s suffering with another.
Developing Less Addictive Painkillers to Get the Best of Both Worlds
Researchers say the ultimate goal should not be to limit painkillers, but to keep studying addiction so we can understand far better how it develops. Once we have a firm grasp of the addictive process, the hope is that then scientists will be able to design medications to conquer pain for chronic sufferers that do not cause addiction. This, of course, would be the holy grail of pain management and the direction many research teams are trying to take.
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