Pubdate: Tue, 18 Dec 2007
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: June Dahl


Thanks for Sunday's article highlighting the importance of effective
pain control. Unrelieved pain has a devastating impact on individuals
and society. It can and should be treated.

As you reported, there are many therapies for chronic pain. But opioid
analgesics (narcotics) got a bad rap in your article. The emphasis was
on diversion and addiction, not on the fact that opioids can be
critical parts of a treatment regimen that gives quality of life and
function to persons with persistent pain.

It was disturbing to read the quote from the patient who "occasionally
takes Vicodin -- but only half a pill, for fear of becoming addicted."
It is a myth that addiction is common with these drugs, and tragic if
fear of addiction leads to suffering unnecessarily from pain. There
may be medical reasons for being cautious with Vicodin, but fear of
addiction should not be one of them.

And opioids are not for everyone. As Dr. Nathan Rudin of UW Health's
pain clinic stated in the article, "figuring out who is a candidate
for treatment with these drugs is a tough call." But some patients are
good candidates, and they should get the relief these drugs can provide.

June Dahl,

UW Medical School,

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