Opioids Kill White Americans – Is it opioids or suicide or addiction or untreated pain?


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Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in

Mortality Rates of Young Whites

New York Times

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Yes, white Americans, headlined yesterday by Gina Kolata and Sarah Cohen, New York Times science writers.  This article points to the highest mortality in young whites. See post early November on the Princeton researchers who reported deaths in white Americans. True, infants and children have severe pain, but this new article is on young white adults.


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Those who are anti-opioid and those who lost a loved one from opioids and heroin (an opioid that helps pain), will send in comments to the paper so that everyone can see how bad opioids are. Most patients who take opioids are too disabled from pain to write.

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Pain is stigmatized, opioids stigmatized, people in pain are stigmatized, doctors who treat pain are stigmatized. Any wonder 97% of medical schools do not teach pain management?

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Is it opioids or suicide or addiction or untreated pain that is killing our youth?

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How many suicides have opioids prevented? Americans make up less than 5% of the global population but consume 80% of the world’s supply of opioid prescription pills. What if your cancer pain now becomes severe intractable chronic pain? Cancer has been changing. The survival rate has increased, and many of these cancer patients treated with opioid therapy, survived the cancer but have residual chronic pain from cancer or its treatment. Surely they are among the 18,000 white people who died.

 

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Please read the earlier post this week on the ethics of opioid treatment, on

CDC’s imminent radical cut in opioid doses for 100 million patients nationwide.

Use search function above photo – type in CDC or DEA.

Your pain. Your lives. Their profit.

A thorny problem.

Tell us what happened to you. Doctors, tell us what you are seeing.

Have you been denied disability due to pain? Denied non-opioid treatment?

Chronic severe pain affects forty million Americans.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Some insurers have denied or limited non-opioid treatments yet continued expensive opioids for decades. Has your insurance refused your treatment? Pain specialists have been barraged by denials for years.  Please comment below.

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As noted last week, I have spent 15 years developing alternatives to failed opioid treatment for chronic intractable pain and writing about that on these pages since April 2009. But opioids must be available as last resort.

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FACT:

  • Opioids killed almost 18,000 Americans in 2014 – prescription opioids, not street drugs.

  • 40 million American millions with severe pain, millions not thousands

  • 100 million with chronic pain.

  • CDC will imminently, radically cut everyone’s opioid dose

  • Health insurers will oblige, and incidentally show increased profit to shareholders

  • Suicide increases with untreated pain

  • Death rates for “whites ages 25 to 34 was five times its level in 1999”

  • This age group has more injuries from work and play that can lead to disability, job loss

  • Insurance is unaffordable or not purchased by many young adults

  • My own colleagues cannot afford high deductibles – prescriptions are now counted in deductibles, now unaffordable

  • Can you afford $20,000 per month for your opioid or is cheap heroin more affordable? Can you afford your usual drugs on Medicare once you are in the “donut hole.” Can you afford $28 per day, $840 per month for gout, when colchicine was 12 cents a day a couple years ago?

    • Do insurance denials increase liklihood of cheaper alternatives such as heroin or illegal marijuana resulting in death by drug dealer?

    • Do exhorbitant costs of opioids lead insurers to deny your medication?

  • Insurers have refused to pay for abuse-deterrent and tamper-resistant formulations of opioids

  •  Insurers have refused to pay for proven, widely accepted, nonopioid analgesics:

    • Lyrica

    • Horizant

    • Gralise

    • Cymbalta

    • Does it help the DEA and NIH and universities to teach those as nonopioid alternatives when they are not covered and not affordable the rest of your life?

    • Insurers deny every known compounded analgesic though low cost and effective, even for Tricare’s disabled veterans, even 5% lidocaine ointment for nerve pain, dextromethorphan, oxytocin, low dose naltrexone – Stanford published research on naltrexone years ago and now doing research on it again for CRPS, many many others

    • Insurers deny proven analgesics that are used by armed forces, university hospitals, select doctors, for life threatening pain: ketamine

    • Insurers deny off-label analgesics that may work better than opioids, e.g. memantine, an Alzheimers drug – can relieve intractable nerve pain (French publication on CRPS/RSD pain)

    • Insurers deny medications that reduce side effects of opioids, e.g. nonaddicting modafinil popular with students, to increase alertness when opioids cause drowsiness that may cause injury, death – gosh 10 years ago!

    • Is drowsiness the cause of some of those 18,000 opioid deaths?

  • Health insurers have refused coverage for treatments such as P.T., psychotherapy for coping skills, blocks.

  • Insurers deny medications that relieve the withering side effects of opioid withdrawal, making it impossible for many to taper off, e.g. Adderall, Wellbutrin (dopamine)

  • Cannabis, a nonopioid, classified by US Congress as Schedule I, illegal federally for human use, illegal to take on a plane or cross state/national borders, found on meteorites, made by sponges and some of the earliest living species on the planet, used for thousands of years for pain, while cocaine and methamphetamine are classified as Schedule II for prescription purposes.

  • Opioids, even vicodin, require monthly doctor visits, costs, monthly for sixty years

  • Why whites dying of opioids? People of color are denied prescription opioids. Stark data published for decades.

  • Heroin is an opioid, cheap and available; its “unAmerican” – used in England for pain, used thousands of years for pain

  • Untreated pain is one reason people turn to heroin, affordable is another

  • Violence and drinking and taking drugs can begin with chronic pain and job loss, not always the other way around, chicken egg

  • Opioids cost pennies to make, patient’s cost is $20,000 per month for Rx. Insurers paid what the market would bear… in the old days. Who is trapped in the middle of this fight for shareholder profit?

    • How many of us would take 2 or 4 extra pain pills when pain spikes to extreme for days?

    • If you are disabled, can you afford insurance or expensive prescription drugs?

  • “Poverty and stress, for example, are risk factors for misuse of prescription narcotics,” Dr. Hayward said.

  • When you are not getting enough sleep and rest, working too many hours overtime or 3 jobs, inflammation and pain spikes

  • Misuse of opioids in > 33% (perhaps 48%?) of cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in high resource settings when insurance was better, published 1990’s.

  • Cancer pain – usually time limited. Intractable chronic pain – forever.
    .How many jobs will be lost and how many suicides when CDC imminently imposes strict cuts in opioids?

  •  DEA recently requires every pain patient taking opioids, including those with cancer, to be diagnosed “Opioid Dependent” — not only addicts – the same diagnosis for pain patients includes addicts. The term “addiction” has been equated to dependence by most psychiatrist over the past 30 years. It may be interesting to see what criteria are used to define “addiction” if any, in DSM V. Some important members acknowledge that the addition of dependence into addiction in DSM-III was a mistake….the DSM-V criteria will get rid of “abuse”, and will include craving. it will also apparently eliminate the legal/criminal criteria. DSM comments are extracted from here, with many good arguments on this epidemic, such as: “The US is leading the way in eradicating pain, but in doing so has created an unwanted byproduct: painkiller addiction.”
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    What would you want if you had intense chronic pain?

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    “For too many, and especially for too many women,” she said, “they are not in stable relationships, they don’t have jobs, they have children they can’t feed and clothe, and they have no support network.”

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    “It’s not medical care, it’s life,” she said. “There are people whose lives are so hard they break.”

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Opioids kill – or is it untreated pain?

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Pain kills, a maleficent force.

No one can help you. Only you have the tools to do it

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Alarms went off for me on radical opioid cuts in October and I posted when

DEA suddenly held conferences across the nation on sharply cutting opioid doses.

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How many of us especially seniors and male persons refuse to learn or use coping skills that

reduce pain without medication?

How many of us refuse to diet and lose weight to reduce pain and/or disability?

Politicians are sued if they tax sales of sugar loaded soft drinks.

One single can of soda per day exceeds acceptable sugar limits for entire day.

Snacks need to say much much time it takes to burn off fat –

quarter of large pizza 449 calories, walk off 1 hr 23 min;

large coke 140 calories, walk off 30 minutes.

Foods can be anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory.

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Obesity is pro-inflammatory.

So is lack of sleep.

People who sleep with animals in their bed and their bedroom, I’m talking to you.

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Yes, pain is in your mind.

Chronic back pain is no longer in the back, it’s in the brain, the pain matrix.

It’s behavior, not just pills. Pain is an emotional and psychosocial  and spiritual experience.

Work on it! Constantly.

Lord forbid we should teach stress reduction and meditation in grade school

and improve school lunches before kids start looking for heroin for pain.

Yes, kids have chronic pain, are sleep deprived, often obese.

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Isn’t this all un-American?

Injuries, pain, habits, pace activities, learn to avoid and treat pain – start young.

Taxpayers end up paying for ignorance and disability.

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I will soon be posting published research that documents health insurers have refused to pay for nonopioid treatment and how health care policy aimed at all people with chronic pain leads to suicide when drastic cuts are made to opioid doses – Washington State we are looking at you. Florida you’ve made headlines and 60 Minutes TV specials years ago.

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Do please comment below if your health insurer has refused medication, physical therapy, psycho-therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress reduction, for chronic pain.

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How many of you have been denied social security disability by doctors who don’t know how to diagnose RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome? Let me know. I will pass on that data to researchers collecting information on untreated pain.

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I have written many times on these pages, and more often than ever these past years as insurers cut back more and more. This will rapidly get worse. We need your data.

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Please send in your stories. You are not alone.

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So many issues. Steven Passik, PhD, was interview by Lynn Webster, MD – emphasis in bold is mine. Dr. Passik pioneered in management of chronic pain and pain in addicts. He has read some of Dr. Webster’s book. “You’re calling, the need for love and connection and all those things in the book, I’ve been – what’s largely lacking is outright, at times animosity towards people with pain and I think there’s a lot of projections sometimes because the therapy – the stigmatized disease – treated in stigmatized people with stigmatized drugs and interventions and so, it’s like a hat trick of stigma.  I’ve been to my share of pain conferences lately that people are really talking about, “Okay, well there’s come a realization that opioid-only, drug-only therapy, is really not going to work to the best majority of this population.  It doesn’t [mean] that opioids should be ignored and we’ll get into that later, but that they’re going to work in isolation and should never been expected to.  And then they start advocating things that are a lot like supportive and cognitive behavioral therapy and to be practiced basically by the primary care physician or the pain doctor.  And the idea that, to me that’s in a way comical because as a psychologist myself, we’re dealing with the system wherein cognitive behavioral therapists can’t even get paid to do cognitive behavioral therapy.  And so, I think something’s got to give, and I think one of the main obstacle is that – and this really gets into the next question as well but I’ll come back to that more specifically – but when people have a set of whatever chronic condition that involves psychiatric motivational, lifestyle, spiritual as well as nociceptive elements, and we put a premium only on what you do to people, prescribed to people, put in people, take out of people, and then that’s only going to relegate the other kinds of treatment or the other kinds of ways in which a caring physician and treatment team would spend time with the patient to the very poorly reimbursed category.  You’ll always going to have a problem with people being treated with the kind of respect that should go along with treating that kind of an illness and it’s not unique even to chronic pain.  I’ve seen treatment scenarios with people who are taking care of people with pancreatic cancer, have an afternoon clinic that has 45 people in it.  I mean how you – something’s got to give in our healthcare systems and I do think that patients are going to have to stand up and say, “I don’t want to be on a conveyor belt.  I want to spend some time and make a connection with the people that are taking care of me and it’s not just about the piece paper in my hands, for a prescription or that I walk out the door with.”

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Clematis Blue.

 The New York Times article further says:

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…This is the smallest proportional and absolute gap in mortality between blacks and whites at these ages for more than a century,” Dr. Skinner said. If the past decade’s trends continue, even without any further progress in AIDS mortality, rates for blacks and whites will be equal in nine years, he said….

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…Not many young people die of any cause. In 2014, there were about 29,000 deaths out of a population of about 25 million whites in the 25-to-34 age group. That number had steadily increased since 2004, rising by about 5,500 — about 24 percent — while the population of the group as a whole rose only 5 percent. In 2004, there were 2,888 deaths from overdoses in that group; in 2014, the number totaled 7,558….

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…For young non-Hispanic whites, the death rate from accidental poisoning — which is mostly drug overdoses — rose to 30 per 100,000 from six over the years 1999 to 2014, and the suicide rate rose to 19.5 per 100,000 from 15, the Times analysis found….

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…For non-Hispanic whites ages 35 to 44, the accidental poisoning rate rose to 29.9 from 9.6 in that period. And for non-Hispanic whites ages 45 to 54 — the group studied by Dr. Case and Dr. Deaton — the poisoning rate rose to 29.9 per 100,000 from 6.7 and the suicide rate rose to 26 per 100,000 from 16, the Times analysis found….

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…Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, said the causes of death in these younger people were largely social — “violence and drinking and taking drugs.” Her research shows that social problems are concentrated in the lower education group.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please call the office to schedule an appointment.

This site is not email for personal questions.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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CDC Will Create New Injuries & Suicide with Unprecedented Experiment in Sudden Opioid Changes – Prediction


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Tapering patients without sound and attainable alternatives

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Tampering with patient autonomy

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Failure to provide informed consent

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Avoidance of coercion

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Nonmeleficence – Do No Harm – Primum non nocere

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Treating patients like numbers not individualized

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Intellectual and academic dishonesty

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Anti-opioid zealots supported by zealous insurers? 

Containment of drug costs, not pain

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Failure to assess risk vs benefit

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Chronic pain has long term consequences including

brain atrophy and memory loss

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We have a duty to preserve life, and relieve suffering.

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Is it morally wrong to do nothing when almost 18,000 Americans died of prescription opioids in 2014?

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Is it morally right to radically chop the opioid dose of everyone in severe pain?

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Are we relying on drugs rather than coping skills and physical therapy?

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CDC will profoundly limit opioid doses to 100 mg/day morphine maximum or its equivalent for severe pain.  Is this safe? Ethical? See several previous posts on the dosage limits and CDC proposal.

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Michael E. Schatman, PhD, who edited “Ethical Issues in Chronic Pain Management,” lectures nationally on optimal treatment for chronic pain when ethical principals collide, has published “The role of the health insurance industry in perpetuating suboptimal pain management.” Medical ethics is not a business model of “cost containment and profitability.” His essay “addressed some of the insurance industry’s efforts to delegitimize chronic pain and its treatment as a whole.” He examined the industry’s “self-serving strategies, which include failure to reimburse services and certain medications irrespective of their evidence-bases for clinical efficacy and cost-efficiency; ‘carving out’ specific services from interdisciplinary treatment programs; and delaying and/or interrupting the provision of medically necessary treatment.”

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Many of the above ideas are taken from the course on ethics he taught May 2015 at the American Pain Society annual meeting.

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I have spent 15 years developing alternatives to failed opioid treatment for chronic intractable pain and writing about that on these pages since April 2009. When patients have failed all known treatments, low cost  alternatives to opioid medications become unaffordable when not covered by insurance – cost may be $300/month out-of-pocket rather than a $30 copay for opioids costing $17,000/month. How many can afford $300/month for the rest of their lives when they are on disability with severe chronic pain?

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When there are no options, opioids are the last resort.

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There is no argument opioids are often misused when there are better choices of treatment but resources are lacking, even more so in rural and under-served communities. And studies show lack of evidence of benefit with opioid treatment — but my patients would not be able to work or care for themselves if not on opioid therapy.

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Opioids cause pain by creating inflammation in the innate immune sytem (brain/spinal cord).

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There is no argument that opioids can cause central sensitization – that means higher doses cause worse pain which is misinterpreted as requiring more opioid when instead pain would improve with less. Opioids cause increasing numbers of deaths (almost 18,000 deaths in USA in 2014 from prescription opioids, NOT street drugs). Opioids may lead to addiction and diversion. Efficacy of many drugs is often compromised by some form of toxicity or need to add drugs to treat side effects, often denied by insurers.

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Likewise there is misuse of surgery, procedures, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulators, pumps which can lead to paralysis, anxiety, depression, insomnia and death. How many billions are spent on spine surgeries done simply for pain that is not surgically treatable?

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Opioids may be treating anxiety, mental health problems or addictions, but they also serve an important function in relieving pain. They may be the only option many patients have. Opioid taper can uncover or cause PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fear of withdrawal symptoms, inability to cope. Poorly managed or sudden opioid withdrawal can lead to severe hypertension, stroke, heart attack and/or intolerable side effects of substitute drugs.

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The disabled insurance system has shut down patient autonomy, by closing more than 1,000 interdisciplinary pain programs — now only 70. And are those truly interdisciplinary? or are they strictly procedure oriented with $50,000 pumps and spinal cord stimulators that have failed to work for my patients? Have they ever shown long lasting efficacy for 5 years? Have you seen the

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“Chronic pain a malefic force”

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“Pain kills”

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John Liebeskind, MD

Past President American Pain Society

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Tapering opioids in chronic pain is very different from tapering opioids in addicts and much more difficult than treating cancer pain.

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Unlike cancer pain, severe chronic intractable pain is endless, lifelong, day and night, often associated with depression, insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, hypertension, and disability caused by severe pain.

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Having taught cancer pain at an 800 bed cancer hospital, cancer pain may be easier to treat simply because most cancer pain is acute pain which responds better to opioids than chronic pain. Cancer is often treatable and pain resolves. And insurers are not battering doctors by denying medications for pain every couple months as they do for chronic pain. Stress! Denials nonstop! Paperwork instead of practice of medicine. Doctors cannot take the constant battering and leave.

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This unprecedented radical frightening cut in medication comes from the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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The CDC excluded cancer patients from this new chopping block.

Will that come next?

Sequoia wildflower

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QUESTIONS FOR THE CDC & ANTI-OPIOIDISTS

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 Where is the data? What is the risk/benefit ratio for this radical cut in dosage? There is no evidence upon which to base their chosen dose.


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40 million Americans have severe pain, 17.6% of the adult population, not counting children with severe pain or adults with moderate pain.

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Will the CDC monitor the increase in auto accidents that occurs from untreated pain? People with incident pain have slowed reaction times due to pain. Despite normal strength and cognitive function, they may not be able to move muscles quickly due to untreated pain. They may not be able to move at all when severe pain clouds even the ability to think.

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Will CDC monitor risk of suicides from untreated pain? Columbia University recently published on suicide in only one pain syndrome, but there are many forms of severe pain, not just one.

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When will NIH and CDC fund research on medications besides opioids for treatment of pain?

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Will CDC monitor how many days of lost work, lost jobs from opioid withdrawal?

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Will CDC monitor how many new injuries occur from untreated pain? My patients may be perfectly strong, but cannot prevent falling if sudden pain prevents them from stabilizing their hips, legs, or spine.

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How suddenly do they demand this be implemented? Insurers have already been cutting opioids for months and allow 30 days on the last prescription. What then?

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Will CDC recommend that insurers provide medications for opioid withdrawal?

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Will CDC recommend that insurers allow payment of  medications such as Wellbutrin to replace dopamine for the depression malaise that occurs after opioid withdrawal that may last for one year or more?

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Will CDC recommend admission to hospital programs when patients are unable to suddenly drop opioid dose to the magical 100 mg without supervised inpatient care?

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Will CDC have nationwide training programs for doctors to teach how to deal with and study the sequellae of this unprecedented population experiment in suicide, new injuries, depression and hopelessness in patients and even physicians?

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Will CDC recommend anything for untreated pain after opioid reduction?

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Emily Dickinson

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Pain has an element of blank;

It cannot recollect

When it began, or if there were

A day when it was not.

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It has no future but itself,

Its infinite realms contain

It’s past, enlightened to perceive

New periods of pain.

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HamiltonFallsSequoiaHighSierraTrail

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice,

diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

If any questions, please call the office to schedule an appointment.

This site is not for email.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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