I don’t normally copy and paste in this blog but there are some cold hard facts – Americans are as a country becoming addicted to pain medication. As a doctor coming up through training, I have watched this trend become alarming. It started when pain became a vital sign and got worse when doctors could be sued for not acknowledging a patients pain. Now I agree you need to treat pain, but I have literally seen patients barely breathing wake up to tell me they are “at a 10 of 10” pain.
As a sidebar – the opinions expressed- as always are mine.
So I got my Agri-Pulse Daily insider this morning and here are some staggering facts:
Rural America and the Opioid Epidemic: A Call for Partnership
If the words OxyContin, fentanyl or addiction evoke images of homeless people on the streets in big cities, think again. In 2016, nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, which is more than any other year in U.S. history. At 174 people each day, this is more than the number of lives lost in car accidents or gun-related homicides. While no corner of the country has gone untouched by this issue, the opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard.
In October 2017, the Centers for Disease Control brought the impact of this crisis on rural communities to a new light with a report showing that deaths from drug overdoses in rural areas have now surpassed drug overdose death rates in urban areas. Similarly, a November 2017 report released by the Economic Research Service found that for the first time ever the overall rural population is declining due to rising mortality rates among working-age adults—mortality that is stemming in part from prescription drug and heroin abuse. And, finally, both of these findings are consistent with a recent survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union which showed that just under 50 percent of rural adults have been directly impacted by opioid abuse and over 74 percent of farmers have been directly impacted.
So as a doctor: give my profession the right to say no to patients abusing their meds, institute better detox processes and programs to help people to learn to live with chronic pain, and don’t punish doctors that do say no to people abusing Meds, and if a doctor is overprescribing let’s have penalties for that too. Cause it’s a very long walk for me to have to tell families that someone they love is dead from an overdose.