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.
Our position: Partial support
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
Examples of U.S. Pain’s efforts
- The federal report on pain management is finalized. What’s next?
- Pain task force hosts first day of final meeting
- 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
- Help us keep the conversation about pain going at a national level
- Cindy Steinberg to speak at U.S. Senate hearing on pain management
- Webinar now available on new federal guidelines on pain, why they matter and how to weigh in
- Director of State Advocacy speaks on panel about opioids at BIO summit
- HHS Pain Management Best Practices Task Force holds second meeting
- U.S. Pain Foundation awarded project grant from Massage Therapy Foundation
- Two deadlines this month to contact federal government on chronic pain
- Take action on Oregon’s Medicaid proposal
- Massachusetts passes landmark legislation that includes help for pain patients
- Addiction vs. Dependence – Health Central
- Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse – Mayo Clinic
- 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