Don’t demonise prescription opioidsBMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4727 (Published 19 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4727
- Bob Roehr, biomedical journalist
- Washington, DC, USA
I use an opioid drug, hydrocodone, every six hours, and have done so for about a decade. I have a lot of company. The latest research, a large government survey with over 50 000 respondents, shows that 92 million Americans used a prescription opioid in 2015, 38% of the adult population, few of whom were being treated for terminal cancer. A tiny proportion, just 0.8%, had a drug use disorder.1
The paper received scant attention because it did not fit the current framing of the US’s overdose epidemic as a “crisis,” with its hysteria redolent of “reefer madness.” It has been blown out of proportion by those promoting a war on drugs mentality.
I have chronic pain associated with knee replacement and spinal surgeries. Each incident was accompanied by nerve damage and, while the surgeries helped, there are limits to how much a damaged nerve will recover. As a result, I experience …