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Few who aren’t themselves in pain may realize what harm such articles are doing to tens of millions of people.

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Why do we ignore the 88,000 alcohol-related deaths that occur every year?Patients are being involuntarily taken off opioids — or outright deserted without referral by doctors who fear US Drug Enforcement Administration prosecution if they continue to prescribe the only treatments which give many people even a marginal quality of life.None of this is to say that over-prescription or diversion of prescription opioids never happens or that prescription overdose deaths do not occur.Moreover, “…in general, new addictions are uncommon among people who take opioids for pain in general.A Cochrane review of opioid prescribing for chronic pain found that less than one percent of those who were well-screened for drug problems developed new addictions during pain care…” There is real and valid concern for the avoidable death and destruction which are wrought by illicit opioids in the US.But among that minority, opioids are a last resort and a necessary enabler of life.

Take them away, and you may contribute to a wave of suicides and a surge of people seeking street drugs out of desperation.

Present public attitudes and assumptions toward chronic pain must change.

A fraction of the millions diagnosed with incurable pain conditions will be prescribed opioids.

Much has been written lately about an “epidemic” of opioid overdose deaths, in some cases advocating for a blanket reduction in the availability of prescription opioids.

Regrettably, many readers will not penetrate beneath the sensational headlines to grapple with the complicated realities of this issue.

Or the even larger number of deaths by medical misadventure and error – the third highest cause of death in the US?