If two 747’s were to crash every week, would you fly? And yet that same number of Americans die every week from an opioid overdose. If you knew that approximately 10% of patients on opioids become addicted, would you take them? And yet thousands of new prescriptions are written every week.
Ever since the late 1990’s when pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers, the number of prescriptions for pain killers sky rocketed. I am part of the generation of doctors who were taught that opioids were safe. We were taught wrong.
No one is arguing that acute pain should not be controlled, but I along with the entire medical community are awakening to the dangers of chronic opioid use and it is my hope that through patient education and better monitoring of prescription pain use that we can get this medical crisis under control. It’s the right thing to do.
If you want to read more about this terrible tragedy, I recommend starting with this website from the National Institute of Health.