By Paul Gileno – President/US Pain Foundation
Hearing of more deaths today from medication overdose saddens me. When will these tragedies stop? Lives are ended too soon because of the improper use of medications. As the founder and president of U.S. Pain Foundation, I want to stress the importance of pain medicine education. With more information on proper storage and use, we can diminish the staggering statistic that 46 Americans die every day due to prescription overdose.
While these medications help millions living with debilitating pain have quality of life, they are extremely strong, and can be dangerous if not used appropriately or for the right reasons. It is imperative that a person with pain and a health care provider have open communication about the use and misuse of such medicines. When taken correctly, pain medicine can be an extremely effective treatment option, in conjunction with other modalities, to manage pain.
It would be a travesty for the recent events involving overdoses to impact legitimate pain patients who responsibly store and take medications. That is why, at a time like this, there are difficult yet important lessons to be learned as well as conversations to be had. There must be a further discussion on how to store these prescriptions. For many, these medications allow them to live their life. We cannot take that from them because someone misuses. A person seeking relief from chronic, unrelenting pain is not the same as a person who abuses medication.
The disease of addiction and pain are two separate entities; both of which are wildly stigmatized, misunderstood and undertreated. This must change. We must work together to fix this. We cannot let the sudden, terrible deaths of celebrities deter us from treating people who need help; people who are suffering needlessly because they do not have access to appropriate pain care.
To all those who have lost a loved one from an unintentional prescription overdose, my heartfelt condolences and thoughts are with you. No one should have to feel that pain and heartbreak. To those who fear their pain medication will be restricted due to deaths from misusing and abusing medicine, know that U.S. Pain will continue to advocate and educate for proper pain care. As terrible as addiction is, we have to remember that people with pain matter. And 100 million Americans are courageously battling to end the stigma associated with these medications and fight for proper health care and treatment options every day.
For more information, please visit U.S. Pain Foundation’s initiative, Pain Medicine 411 – www.painmedicine411.org. You must be informed and educated.