The other opioid crisis

After many years of back and knee pain, I got a prescription for hydrocodone from my doctor.

I rarely use the pills—about once or twice a month—but the government overreaction to the opioid crisis has left me and others feeling like crack addicts.

I used to get 30 pills every six months. But new government and insurance regulations force me to make an appointment every two months. That costs me $20 per session.

I have to provide a urine sample every time I see the doctor, who agrees that the restraints are extremely silly for people who don’t abuse their medication.

But my complaints about overreaction are far less serious than those who need pain relief.

The Washington Post wrote an excellent story—yes, that Washington Post—about how the opioid “crisis” has created massive problems for people who use pain drugs legally.

The news organization provided the story of Hank Skinner, 79, of Alexandria, Va., who has had seven shoulder surgeries, lung cancer, open-heart surgery, a blown-out knee, and lifelong complications from a clubfoot. He has a fentanyl patch on his belly to treat his chronic shoulder pain. He replaces the patch every three days, supplementing the slow-release fentanyl with pills containing hydrocodone.

“But to the Skinners’ dismay, Hank is now going through what is known as a forced taper. That’s when a chronic pain patient has to switch to a lower dosage of medication. His doctor, Hank says, has cut his fentanyl dosage by 50 percent — and Hank’s not happy about it. He already struggles to sleep through the night, as Carol can attest,” The Post reported.

Tami Mark, senior director of RTI International, a North Carolina think tank, said the changes in drug prescriptions might be a serious mistake. She has conducted one of the few formal studies of forced programs to cut back on legal prescriptions.

“This national effort at ‘de-prescribing’ is again being undertaken with limited research on how best to taper people off opioid medications,” Mark told The Post. “You can’t just cut off the spigot of a highly addictive medication that rewires your brain in complex ways and not anticipate negative public health consequences.”

The opioid “crisis” is a classic example of how government underreacts to a problem and then overreacts to it, leaving people angry and confused. These people—like me—aren’t drug addicts or criminals. They’re people with pain who were just following a doctor’s orders.

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