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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 2

(continued from Part 1)

Will I get high, or lose control?

When opioids are taken on a regular schedule, tolerance quickly develops, and the psychological “high” goes away, leaving the user feeling completely normal. Long-term opioid users, as a group, have driving records for accidents and violations that are the same as everyone else’s.

Will I hurt myself because I don’t feel any pain?

No. Opioids improve functioning by reducing pain levels. They don’t remove all the pain, or the ability to perceive new pain.

Will I become dependent?

You may. Dependence means that if opioids are abruptly discontinued you will have a physical withdrawal reaction, similar to having the flu. This reaction can be prevented by gradually tapering off the medication. Dependence is a physical phenomenon, not a sign of addiction.

What if I had a previous substance abuse problem?

This should not prevent a trial of opioids. Studies at Harvard Medical School and the University of Washington indicate that a past history of substance abuse has little or no predictive value for failure of opioid treatment. If you have current behavioral or substance abuse problems, you may appear to have trouble with opioid treatment.

Are there any side effects?

Constipation, nausea, itching, insomnia, and drowsiness commonly occur. All of these side effects can be successfully managed.

Will the medicine damage my liver?

No. Opioids occur naturally in the body, and are not harmful to any organ system. They can be taken safely for a lifetime, if necessary. Anti-inflammatory nonopioid medications, on the other hand, kill 16,500 patients each year through bleeding from the stomach, and are toxic to the liver and kidneys.

What is the correct dose?

The amount that allows optimal functioning is the correct dose. There is no upper limit to the dose of opioids that can be safely used, when the medicine is increased gradually.

Why won’t my doctor prescribe enough medicine to control my pain?

He is too scared. As part of the War on Drugs, law enforcement is conducting a witch-hunt against pain doctors who prescribe opioids compassionately. Most physicians won’t risk being targeted by law enforcement, because they have families to support. As a result, chronic pain sufferers have become non-combatant casualties in the war on drugs.

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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