Over the past weeks, I have read a number of letters to the editor and longer opinion pieces about heroin addiction and associated issues. One op-ed in particular struck me: the piece by Dr. Christopher Pezzullo (“Commentary: Gov. LePage tackles opioid overprescribing with strong legislation,” March 15).

Many letters have gone over the problems; others, the need for treatment, particularly with regard to inmates. What I have not seen are suggestions for those who live in intractable pain every day. Dr. Pezzullo supports holding painkiller prescriptions to 15 days for chronic pain and three for acute.

Pain is an underreported phenomenon, particularly in the elder population. So is treatment for that pain. Recommendations like those above do not consider cancer patients, the elderly, those disabled because of chronic pain or people in pain from serious fractures or major, invasive surgeries. Shall we tell them “no more”?

Most have tried alternative methods of controlling pain, such as mindfulness meditation, physical therapy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, etc. Yes, these are useful adjunctive treatments, but they aren’t completely effective for many.

This proposed legislation might leave patients with no other alternative than acetaminophen, which doesn’t work for chronic pain patients and causes liver damage when taken in large doses.

Without the narcotic medications, many patients would no longer be able to walk or even get out of bed. What kind of quality of life does that provide?

The medical issues of causing a person to be confined to bed beget a host of medical issues, costing MaineCare and private insurers more money, not less.

What about these types of people? What alternatives does this legislation suggest for the aforementioned issues? None. Which then forces people to go to the streets to find pain relief, increasing heroin problems. Circular reasoning, at best.


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