Concerning the recent letter on opioid prescribing (“MaineCare opioid limits unjustifiable,” April 30): The writer fails to grasp the crucial importance of balancing the usefulness of opioids against the risk of addiction and abuse. Both sides of this equation are real and important, and to focus on one and not on both is a serious error, with real consequences for the individual and for society.

The writer says that “people in pain are not addicts.”

True, most people in pain are not addicts, but some are, and others become addicted as the result of long-term opioid prescribing. Every person needs to have their pain adequately addressed, but every person also needs to be protected from the risks of addiction.

The limits on opioids instituted by MaineCare are not absolute; the prescribing physician can request an exemption based on medical necessity, and this is not difficult to obtain. Appropriate prescribing should not be affected; the target is inappropriate or excessive prescribing.

I believe that MaineCare has made an effort to find the right balance between the need to alleviate pain, and the need to prevent addiction and abuse.

David Moltz, M.D.

Portland