Should access to opioid painkillers be restricted? | The Tylt
Should access to opioid painkillers be restricted?
Lawmakers around the U.S. are limiting access to opioid painkillers in hopes that it will slow the epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the staggering rise in heroin use and overdose deaths can be directly tied to the surge in availability of prescription opioid painkillers in the past decade. The reasons for the surge in opioid painkillers are complex, but it's largely due to the confluence of the medical community taking chronic pain more seriously and major marketing efforts from drug companies.
Some medical professionals worry the backlash against opioid painkillers will leave people with chronic pain in agony. Lawmakers setting arbitrary rules on opioid prescriptions unfairly restricts how doctors can treat their patients. What helps with one patient may not help with another. Managing pain is unique to each person and doctors should have the leeway to make that choice.
Some studies suggest that limiting painkillers could drive patients to use heroin. Using prescription drugs to manage your pain is expensive. But when the only way to manage chronic pain is taken away, the patient is still left with that pain and no way to keep it under control. Since heroin is readily available in many of these communities, it becomes an easy and cheap replacement.
It's important to address the opioid crisis, but there are better ways to deal with it than at the expense of those in pain.