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The War on Pain Patients: A Primer
The federal government is waging a war on pain patients in America. Politicians and the media portray people who take pain medications as the cause of the American opioid crisis. Problem: this portrayal is a convenient lie.
It is convenient for politicians because it is a tidy solution to the government’s failed “War On Drugs.” Rather than take on the actual cause of the opioid epidemic – the lucrative illegal drug trade – politicians are waging a very public war against the legal prescribing of opioid pain medications. Every day, another politician joins the cause. In state houses and in Congress, an increasing number of legislators are co-sponsoring bills to curb the legal prescribing of opioid pain medications. It is the policy issue du jour, and any politician wishing to be elected or re-elected must state loudly that he or she is firmly anti-opioid.
For the media, the American opioid crisis has it all: it is sensational, it is easy, and it is lucrative. Stories showcasing patients-turned-addicts delivered by very sincere anchors sitting in front of stock photos of prescription bottles are dramatic, but lacking in substantive facts and relying on numbers that have been manipulated to support false claims. These stories keep people watching their networks and reading their publications, which ensures advertising dollars.
The CDC’s Prescribing Guidelines clearly communicate a threat to physicians who prescribe opioid pain medications. Those who continue treating their pain patients with appropriate and necessary opioid medications are at risk of legal action and possible loss of their medical licenses.
Lost in all of the political bluster and media hype is the fact that the government is targeting the weakest, most vulnerable members of our society – people living in chronic, debilitating pain. Very few politicians and media outlets are telling their story. We want to change that.
Richard A “Red” Lawhern is the spouse of a chronic facial pain patient. He has advocated for pain patients and their family members for twenty years with online research, physician referrals, authoring of websites and critical commentaries. From Red’s website:
“I retired as a systems engineer and operations research analyst… In my so-called spare time, I support an online community called “Living with TN” as a moderator and content author, providing literature and internet research to chronic face pain patients. I also mentor young people who are struggling with life in our times.”
Red is the Corresponding Secretary for the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain (ATIP.) If you want to join Red in the fight for pain patients’ rights, ATIP is the place to start.
Red’s Body of Work
Forewarned is forearmed.
Read up so you’re ready to counter any false claims with hard facts.