by Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D.
The National Pain Report coverage has prompted many recent discussions on the CDC revised standards for prescription of opioids to chronic pain patients. There are many reports that these standards — along with restrictive laws in several States — are causing doctors to reduce patient access to critically needed treatment. Many of us feel that some sort of “action plan” is needed to challenge the CDC, though there are differences of opinion on what might work most effectively. Eventually, patients may need to sue the government. For now, I offer some thoughts for those who wish to make their protesting voices heard in letters to media editors or legislators.
There are basic realities in trying to raise public consciousness on any subject. The most important is that if your words are to be published, then you must write from your own experience and you must write briefly, urging specific actions that other people who aren’t pain patients can get behind. No matter how outraged and injured you are, you cannot expect news outlets to print attacks on named individuals. Rambling narratives that start with “I’m being screwed by government bureaucrats” are also a non-starter.
So how might we be heard? The following is one example letter. You can fill in your own information before removing the brackets. If tens of thousands of copies flood news offices, then somebody is going to pay attention.
Dear Editor [name, if you can find it]
I have been a chronic pain patient for the past  years. After surgeries and various medications plus other pain management therapies that didn’t work, prescription opioids are the only treatment which has given me a partial quality of life. But these medications are now restricted by my doctor because of changes in CDC practice standards.
I am one of over 100 million chronic pain patients in the US. I am not an addict or a drug seeker. I depend on [drug name] for pain control, but my dose is stable and I take no more than I absolutely must. I get no “high” from these drugs. Like thousands of others, I’m being cut off. My pain levels are climbing. What am I to do?
Restrictive standards for prescribing opioid meds to people like me are condemning millions of pain patients to agony. Some will seek street drugs. Others will commit suicide. And the fictitious “epidemic” of death will go on.
I urge you to help the voices of chronic pain patients be heard. CDC practice standards must be withdrawn and revised. Stop the war on chronic pain patients!
Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D lives in Ft. Mill S.C. and. has authored many online articles and papers, advocating for chronic neuropathic face pain patients for 20 years.