A recent Portland Press Herald had an article that I found very disturbing. It was about a Narcan distribution service started by MaineGeneral Health for patients with chronic pain (“MaineGeneral Health’s new Narcan program aims to stop overdose deaths,” Feb. 6).

The article slid back and forth between addiction-related overdoses (a similar Narcan program for illegal users was vetoed by Gov. LePage – he plans to continue cutting back on treatment programs as well and step up law enforcement instead), with the emphasis of the article really on people with addiction.

Figures quoted on overdoses did not separate out people taking opioids legally but did include heroin overdoses.

What was disturbing, upsetting and disappointing and made me angry was this comment by Dr. Mark Bucksbaum, head of rehabilitation services for MaineGeneral Health: “The populations are not entirely different,” referring to addicts and people with chronic pain.

People with persistent pain suffer from prejudice and false beliefs by many health professionals and certainly much of the public. Is it any wonder many think of people with persistent pain as addicts when statements like this are made?

The 2011 Institute of Medicine report on chronic pain cited more than 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. They laid out a blueprint for education and research that has not come to pass.


No two people are alike in how they experience pain and respond to treatments. Opioids are an invaluable part of many pain plans.

Insurance rarely pays for nonpharmacological or complementary treatments that might reduce or eliminate the need for opioids, leaving medication as the only option.

The Narcan kit distribution idea is good (although people with persistent pain rarely overdose, even one is too many). The need is with those using opiates illegally. Let us not have articles confusing the two entirely different populations.

Janice Reynolds, R.N., B.C., C.H.P.N.



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