Policymakers, health care providers, and members of the public continue to grapple with how to address the ongoing opioid crisis. Most recently, President Trump deemed the opioid epidemic a national health emergency, calling on the country to work together to solve it.
But many people with pain feel the discussion about reducing opioid abuse is often one-sided, overlooking that these medicationss can be a critical part of treatment that allows them to function.
In an effort to encourage reforms to take into consideration the needs of both individuals with substance use disorder and chronic pain, the campaign “A Call for a Change,” was created. Founded with an understanding that the addiction and chronic pain communities have more that unites than divides them, the campaign is bringing health care providers, policymakers, patients, advocacy groups in the health and addiction fields, law enforcement, and insurers together to ask for more balanced reforms.
Paul Gileno, founder and president of U.S. Pain Foundation, welcomes this joint effort for a balanced conversation. “Reforms are necessary, but we need to be sure they don’t help one patient population at the expense of another,” he explains. “As a member of ‘A Call for a Change,’ our goal is to shed some light on what’s not being discussed. The vast majority of people taking opioids for pain are legitimate patients who are not abusing their medication. Instead, it allows them to participate in daily life and be contributing members of society.”
The strict guidelines enacted as a result of opioid abuse, in some cases, may prevent clinicians from offering effective therapy to legitimate pain patients. “Because of this, everyday people living with chronic conditions that cause pain are suffering needlessly in through dosage limits, prescription renewal refusals, or even dropped termination of care.”
Yet Gileno recognizes this is just one facet of the problem; while access must be preserved for legitimate patients in pain, those with substance abuse disorder need protection and support, too. “Chronic pain and addiction are two devastating, stigmatized conditions that both need comprehensive treatment. We need to work together to combat the negative rhetoric affecting both communities.”
“A Call for a Change” focuses on pursuing the safest prescribing practices and ensuring all patients living with addiction or chronic pain are receiving the best, comprehensive, multifaceted treatment possible. By giving every stakeholder the platform to address important issues targeting their communities, the campaign aims to find real solutions to access and fair practice currently through videos and social media. The campaign hopes to expand its reach and potential to affect change in the future through political advocacy.