Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2004
Source: Trenton Times, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2004 The Times
Author: Andrea Hammel
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


Millions of Americans suffer daily from chronic pain due to cancer,
nerve disorders, spine problems, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and
many other diseases. We suffer and cry, and live our lives in painful
solitude because doctors and clinics in this country do not want to
prescribe the medications that will take away our pain: narcotics or
opiates like methadone, fentanyl, and oxycodone.

Recent press coverage has made a mockery of the actual pain treatment
scenario. Many articles leave the reader with the impression that
drugs like oxycontin are killing people in epidemic proportions.
Readers may also get the idea that prescribing powerful drugs for
chronic pain is causing an addiction crisis in this country. But most
addicts are not chronic pain patients, but recreational drug users.
The media has participated in the vilification of prescription drugs,
the Drug Enforcement Administration has focused it's scrutiny on
doctors who prescribe them and the medical community has not taken a
stand to fight for patients' rights. I believe that doctors are too
quick to refuse treatment when patients cannot immediately "prove"
that they have a pain-causing condition. While I completely empathize
with doctors who are afraid of law enforcement penalties, it is common
medical knowledge that opiate control for pain is effective and does
not lead to addiction in the majority of cases. If more doctors and
health care professionals stood up for this cause, local and national
government would have no choice but to see in the injustice in the
bias against these medications.

I have experienced this bias for years. Doctors continually tried to
prescribe NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for my pain,
rather than narcotics, even though NSAIDS did not work and caused me
severe stomach problems. These same doctors did no diagnostic testing
to find the cause of my ailments, but rather said I was "depressed"
and "anxious." Sometimes they refused to treat me outright. Finally,
after being emotionally and physically drained, I found a pain
treatment center where I was taken seriously. The doctors pursued
complete testing and found several tangible causes for my pain and
treated it properly. No one would know that I take fentanyl and
oxycodone daily to relieve my pain. I drive, volunteer at my
daughter's school and shop at the local supermarket. Yes, I am
dependent on pain medications to live a normal life, but no more than
some heart patients are dependent on their medication to maintain a
healthy and vital lifestyle.

If treatment for the cause of pain is not available, then the patient
should be allowed to live comfortably, whatever the pain-causing
condition. Think about it, if your child were in pain, would you want
him or her to suffer?

If you are a doctor, chronic pain patient or know one, please support
this cause by speaking out and writing to your local newspaper or
government representative.

Andrea Hammel

Lawrence Township
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