The opioid crisis has sparked a national debate on how Americans are dealing with pain, and what should be done about it. NBC News recently reported the fact that as doctors are becoming stricter on refills and prescriptions for certain medications, people are moving towards over-the-counter drug such as Advil or Tylenol to help them manage their pain. CNN reported another drug, kratom, as being abused by many people for pain relief, even though the drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has shown no scientific evidence of safely reducing pain.

Although most of the discussion has been focused on consumers, it’s important to understand how the opioid crisis has made it challenging for those who are responsible for prescribing: the doctors. One doctor described their experience through the New York Times; they explained that they worked with a patient who was very difficult and didn’t respond to any “safe” alternative to painkillers. The doctor went on to state that this particular patient was calling, emailing, and paging the doctor to the point of harassment – the patient would yell at hospital staff until they gave her the strong opioids that she wanted.  The doctor felt cornered because they had not run into a situation such as this before. Here is an excerpt from the doctor’s story:

To try to treat addiction was to discover an inverted form of doctoring, in which the patient and doctor turned into wary, suspicious aliens circling and jabbing at each other. Medicine depends implicitly on a therapeutic alliance between a doctor and patient, but I addiction, I learned, distorts that alliance. The doctor shifts from healer to dealer. To the [person who is addicted], the doctor is contorting the truth; to the doctor, it’s [the person with an addiction] who is constantly inverting reality”.

This perspective is one of many in the medical field, as another doctor explained to NBC News their fear of contributing to the opioid epidemic. They stated,

The problem, of course, is that, in many ways, it is so much easier to over-medicate patients, especially those who struggle with pain that can interfere with emotional and physical recovery…but when I examined the available research on opioid-related deaths and addiction, it became clear that…many patients are better off without opioids, even if it means more discomfort”.

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.

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