National group says don’t punish those living with chronic pain in fight against opioid addiction

National group says don’t punish those living with chronic pain in fight against opioid addiction

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The national group, Don’t Punish Pain, is holding rallies across the country Wednesday, including in the capital city. Don’t Punish Pain advocates for the proper usage of prescription opioids for those suffering from chronic pain. They said they shouldn’t be punished in the fight against opioid addiction.

According to the group’s website, there are nearly 50 rallies planned in cities across the nation, Wednesday. Organizers said the rallies are in protest of some chronically ill patients being neglected due to recent CDC guidelines regarding opioid prescriptions.

Don’t Punish Pain members mostly include chronic pain patients and their supporters, who said it can be challenging to find physicians who will prescribe opioids or even pharmacists who will fill those prescriptions.

In 2016, the CDC urged doctors not to prescribe opioids to patients with chronic pain to avoid the risk of addiction and overdose, but just this month, the agency walked back those statements, warning against abruptly discontinuing a patient’s opioid prescription to reduce the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. That’s something one SC member of Don’t Punish Pain can relate to.

Tammy Harris said she was attacked by a dog in 2012 and now suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), but when her primary doctor moved out of town, her new doctor refused to prescribe her the opioids that she’d grown accustomed to using through legitimate prescriptions.

Harris describes a typical day without any medication.

“My pain is a 9/10,” she said. “Parts of my arm feel like it’s on fire. The thing with CRPS is you can have different types of pain in different areas. So, today I could have a fiery feeling here, and then a throbbing pain here, and then tomorrow it may be vice versa.”

CRPS has no cure, but Harris said that she was able to at least tolerate the pain on a low dosage prescription of opioids. She said having to go without them forces her to live in miserable conditions.

“We are not addicts. You can’t link us with addicts. Pain patients have to have the medication in order to have a quality of life. Without the pain medication, I spend 75% of my time in bed. I’m 47-years-old. I should not be spending my time in bed,” said Harris.

WIS-TV reached out to the state Attorney General’s Office and received the following response:

“The Attorney General fully supports the proper medical use of opioids and understands that they are necessary for many patients suffering from chronic pain and other conditions. He has never said we should ban opioids altogether or prevent people who truly need them from being able to get them. He is against the misuse and abuse of opioids, addicts who go to multiple doctors to get them, doctors who operate pill mills that provide prescriptions for patients who don’t have a legitimate need for them, and pharmaceutical companies that have unfairly marketed opioids and misrepresented the risk of addiction they pose.”

Wednesday’s Don’t Punish Pain Rally at the State House begins at 11:00 a.m.

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