Painkiller Addictions Hindering Right to Proper Pain Relief

The growing problem with addictions to prescription painkillers has impacted the healthcare industry, resulting in the denial of adequate pain relief for patients truly suffering.

According to a Science Daily release, a number of cancer patients in Europe are being denied treatment with the necessary pain relief medications because of over-zealous regulations that restrict the availability and accessibility of opioid-based drugs such as morphine.

A Europe-wide study found that restricting access to painkilling drugs in this way actually breach’s a patients’ human rights. The authors of this study conclude that "there is an ethical and public health imperative to address these issues vigorously and urgently."

The study is a joint report on the availability and accessibility of opioids for the relief of caner pain by the European Society for Medical Oncology and European Association for Palliative Care. Authors collected data from 21 Eastern European countries and 20 Western European countries.

Researchers found that in some countries, access to proper pain relief was much more restricted. In some countries, such as Lithuania, Tajikistan, Belarus, Albania, Georgia and Ukraine, certain essential opioid medicines were completely unavailable.

The authors wrote in the report: "Preventing drug abuse is important, but it should not hinder patients’ ability to receive the care they need and deserve. This is the approach of the WHO [World Health Organization] and the INCB [International Narcotics Control Board] . . .Both recommend that opioids should be available for cancer patients at hospital and community levels and that physicians should be able to prescribe opioids according to the individual needs of each patient.

While most governments allow physicians to prescribe opioids for patients, regulations vary among nations and in many countries, regulations to reduce substance abuse and to restrict the diversion of medicinal opioids into illicit markets unduly interfere with medical availability for the relief of pain."

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.