SLATE – What “Addiction” Really Means ~ The reporting on Prince’s death reveals how much we don’t understand about chronic pain management.
By Jerrold C. Winter (Jerrold C. Winter is a professor of pharmacology and therapeutics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University at Buffalo and the author of Optimal Aging)
MAY 3 2016
” … But a rational discussion of the death of Prince—and of so many others—should not be guided by notions of “doctor-shopping,” an opioid “epidemic,” or vague images of those in pain enslaved by drugs. Instead, we should seek an understanding of the drugs of concern: how they work to relieve pain, how they kill in overdose, how deaths might be prevented, and how we should respond as a society both to their risks and to their benefits…”
“Partly owing to the stigma around painkillers, those who suffer chronic pain that is effectively treated with opiates may be reduced to “doctor shopping” in an endless quest for adequate treatment. They may find a skilled professional schooled in pain management; more likely, they will find a “scrip doctor,” an unscrupulous physician who makes his living writing opiate prescriptions. Even worse, they may be driven into the illicit market where heroin and fentanyl, a particularly dangerous opiate, are available, often for less than the cost of prescription drugs.