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This advertisement appears in NewsMax, the New Republic, the American Prospect, The Nation, Reason Magazine, and The Progressive in the summer of 2005.

Chronic Pain & Opioids:

Debunking The Myths: Part 1

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a progressive disease of the nervous system, caused by failure of the body’s internal pain control systems. The disease is accompanied by changes in the chemical and anatomical makeup of the spinal cord. Chronic pain is a malignancy, in the sense that when it goes untreated, it increases in intensity and spreads to areas that weren’t previously affected, damaging the sufferer’s health and functioning.

Why treat chronic pain with opioids?

Opioids are substances naturally produced within the body to regulate pain. They are commonly known as endorphins, and recognized as producing the state of euphoria known as the runner’s high. Chronic pain victims, who can’t produce enough opioids on their own, often benefit from supplementation with pharmaceutical opioids.

What are the goals of treatment?

Lowering of pain levels.
Reducing suffering through restoration of functioning in life activities, as close to normal as possible.
Arresting and reversing the damage done by chronic pain to the nervous system and overall health of the patient.

Are opioids dangerous?

When taken as prescribed by your doctor, opioids are among the safest drugs available.

What about those 'OxyContin deaths' reported in the media?

OxyContin, like other opioids, is safe for patients who take their medicine as prescribed. “OxyContin deaths” occur in habitual substance abusers, not patients, and are usually the result of combining the drug with overdoses of alcohol and other drugs. These are deaths associated with OxyContin, not caused by it, and they are not occurring in patients.

Will I have to take opioids for the rest of my life?

Opioids can be discontinued whenever they are no longer needed. Patients may recover from chronic pain, and return to active lives.

Will I get addicted, and how can I tell if I am?

Addiction is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as continued use in spite of harm. Scientific research indicates that opioid addiction in pain patients is rare. If opioids make your life better by controlling pain, you are a pain patient. If they make your life worse, and you continue to use them, you may be an addict.

Will I have to take larger and larger doses to control my pain?

For most patients, their dose remains stable over long periods of time.

(continued in Part 2)

Frank B. Fisher, MD www.drfisher.org frankbfisher@earthlink.net

Common Sense for Drug Policy
www.CommonSenseDrugPolicy.org, www.DrugWarFacts.org

H. Michael Gray, Chair; Robert E. Field, Co-Chair

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