In talking to many other chronic pain patients who are using legally prescribed opioids safely and responsibly, I have noticed many general practitioners (GPs) are not trained in chronic pain management. They may not know how to differentiate between the observable, destructive addiction behaviors displayed by people with substance abuse disorder and the requests of a chronic pain patient who requires a regular, stable dose of pain-relieving opioids.
This issue is magnified many times over if a chronic pain patient has to explain their condition to a new doctor — or worse still is required to present to a hospital emergency department due to the acute flare-up of a chronic condition. On such occasions, the patient may need to outline their often complex symptoms to a doctor or nurse who does not know their history and who then may incorrectly assume the patient has addiction because they are requesting temporary or additional opioid treatment to get through an acute treatment phase.
As a medically retired registered nurse, I understand that in this type of emergency environment, it is just not possible to know everything about the patient in such a short span of time when decisions must be made promptly. However, the terms “psychological addiction” and “physical dependence” cannot even be agreed upon by the world’s experts and international peak bodies, which doesn’t help.
In my personal experience, having to go up to my GP every four weeks and ask for opioid pain relief brings anxiety from being able to continue on my normal dose in the long term. Furthermore, having to justify why I need my medications every four weeks can be rather stressful, especially when I get told, “You know, you have to taper off these
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