Deb was in a near-fatal car accident. Her arms, legs, and pelvis were severely injured and would require multiple surgeries. She relied on opioids to ease the pain. Along with her other day-to-day medical challenges and constant setbacks, she suffered from constipation which her doctor attributed to her use of painkillers. But he offered no treatment or advice, nor did any other members of the hospital’s medical team. With all of Deb’s serious health problems, constipation wasn’t on the list of issues the team felt obligated to address. The medical team, therefore, allowed Deb to suffer, perhaps needlessly, from a common and potentially treatable side-effect of opioid use: constipation.
Prescription medications, by definition, must be prescribed by a doctor. Many people in pain are reporting that doctors are becoming increasingly wary of prescribing opioid medications. This leaves patients in the lurch.
People will often do almost anything to obtain medicines for their pain or to feed their addiction, even if it means buying counterfeit drugs.
To complicate matters, there are several types of counterfeit drugs. All of them are risky, if not deadly, to consume.
Carl Jung once remarked, “The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” When I think about the nation’s patchwork quilt policy toward opioids, I’m reminded of how right he was. In my book “The Painful Truth,” I devoted some space to outline a brief history of opioids, and the sensical and nonsensical polices adopted by government and payers.
Our current path of understanding has been littered with good intentions and unintended consequences. While we’re better off with what we’ve learned about opioids today, we still have a long way to go to address the unfortunate side effects of opioid policy in America.