Opioids are a class of strong pain medication. While they may effectively manage moderate to severe pain, they do have addictive properties. Due to misinformation about the risk of addiction, a lack of accessible alternatives for pain relief, and other factors, opioid abuse and overdose have increased significantly in the last decade. In an effort to address the crisis, government officials and other policymakers have enacted far-reaching reforms on how opioid medications are prescribed and dispensed.
While reform is absolutely necessary, some of the restrictions on opioids have unintentionally harmed legitimate patients who rely on opioids to manage their pain and use their medications appropriately. As a result, these individuals may be left with their pain undertreated or untreated. A failure to treat pain appropriately, however, leads not only to unnecessary physical suffering, but also increased disability, lost productivity, depression and anxiety, and even suicide.
In order to effectively address the opioid epidemic, we must enact balanced reforms that consider the needs of both patients with pain and patients with substance use disorder. Balanced reforms include things like increased access to alternative treatment options (including complementary and integrative medicine and medical marijuana); prescription monitoring programs; abuse-deterrent formularies; increasing public awareness about safe medication disposal; better understanding of risk factors and appropriate screening for substance use disorder; and so on. Read our full position statement.
Reforms must balance the needs of both patients with pain and patients with substance use disorder
Recent examples of U.S. Pain’s efforts
- How should the FDA evaluate new medications for pain?
- U.S. Pain Foundation submits comments to CMS RFI
- CMS holds public meeting on pain and opioids, seeks public comment by Oct. 11
- Cindy Steinberg to speak at CMS meeting
- Update on the Pain Management Best Practices Task Force
- Do you have two minutes to fight for better pain care?
- The federal report on pain management is finalized. What’s next?
- U.S. Pain representatives take part in federal task force’s final meeting
- Participate in the final meeting of the federal task force on pain
- FDA, CDC react to harm to pain patients
- Pain community unites to respond to federal draft report
- CPATF submits letter on draft report to HHS Secretary Azar; docket letter planned
- One month left to comment on federal recommendations on pain
- Learn about the draft report on pain management
- Help us keep the conversation about pain going at a national level
- AMA Opioid Task Force Progress Report 2019 – American Medical Association
- Pain Management Best Practices Task Force toolkit – U.S. Pain Foundation
- What to do if you’ve been denied pain care – U.S. Pain Foundation
- Addiction vs. Dependence – Health Central
- Opioid Addiction Is a Huge Problem, but Pain Prescriptions Are Not the Cause – Scientific American
- Opioid Abuse in Chronic Pain — Misconceptions and Mitigation Strategies – The New England Journal of Medicine
- Lost in Chaos: The State of Chronic Pain in 2016 – PAINS 2016 report