Chronic pain can be a result of trauma from an accident, cancer, arthritis, herniated disks, or countless other sources. Although Florida has established regulations which have limited doctors prescribing opioids such as fentanyl and oxycontin, opioid overdoses still kill thousands of Floridians each year.
Last year, Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office handled 525 opioid overdoses. That’s almost 2 every day.
How do people get addicted to opioids? The body has pain receptors which get dulled by opioid medicine. That’s how it works. But in the long term, what happens is that the pain receptors actually CREATE more pain in order to get more of the drug. That’s why people who are on these drugs for long-term therapy have to continually increase the dosage to get relief. Unfortunately, many doctors who run “pain clinics” don’t care. They’re in it for the money. They call them “pill mills” for a reason. They don’t usually take insurance, and have the patients show up once a month, pay for an office visit, and get a refill of their prescription. They usually don’t even see the doctor. And there’s a “community” of patients who find out the doctors who are the easiest to get pain pills from.
Patients with chronic pain who get hooked on these medications aren’t to blame. It’s the doctors who make it easy for them to get the pills. Doctors who find it more profitable to run a pill mill than to work with the patient to find alternative ways to help them deal with their pain.
Not all doctors are like this. Most are caring, compassionate physicians who genuinely care about their patients. But some are only after a quick buck.
What options do chronic pain patients have? There are other things to try which have been proven effective. Not everything works for everybody, but some doctors are recommending acupuncture, yoga, exercise therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to break the pain cycle. If you suffer from chronic pain, sit down with your doctor and discuss alternatives. You may be saving your own life.