Before I get into a long discussion regarding the hazards and issues of opioids, I'd like to mention that I realize they serve a very useful role. Physical discomfort is, of course, a very serious concern in the world. I also want to appreciate the effectiveness of opioids in addressing this issue. I'd had multiple surgeries, mostly due to trauma, and I was grateful that we could use them. I will also admit that, until recently, there was no good alternative to opioids for pain management.
I believe it is also necessary to state that we should not attempt to destroy them totally anytime soon since they are far too valuable to humanity. Opioids make life tolerable for millions of people every day, whether their problem is chronic pain or recent acute agony. Opioids do make the world a better place for certain people. This is what makes this path so difficult. People come to doctors in excruciating and often fatal pain. These people are appealing to us to act quickly or the patient may commit suicide.
These people frequently do not exaggerate when they say they do not want to live if the agony does not go away. People have killed themselves numerous times due to unbearable agony, therefore the threat of suicide is something doctors must deal with on a daily basis. Opioids enable doctors to say, "Yes, we do have something." So I don't want anyone to think I don't appreciate the necessity for, or the incredible capacity of, opioids to help.
I understand; my issue is that as doctors, we must consider the best outcome for the patient while offering options for assistance. Opioids were previously one of the few real options available to doctors. The flip side of the doctor's reasoning is that everything will have issues with it. Only time will tell what the problems are, and we've seen the ups and downs of opioids, so let's remain with them until we know what's good and bad about other possibilities. Many doctors do not have time to study, thus it is up to others to do it.
I wanted to make a brief explanation for why I am on this route to NOT remove, reject, or abolish opioids, but to provide an option to the medical community that may help relieve pain from trauma and life while also reducing the total harm caused by opioids. I also understand that most of us require overwhelming and convincing evidence that something is seriously wrong before we begin to shift course. As a result, I wanted to share some current facts about the challenges we are currently facing regarding opiate addiction and death, as well as its use from both a legal medical and an illicit recreational aspect.
The reason we must acknowledge both is that many recreational users began with prescriptions for pain medicine, became addicted, and then lost the prescription, forcing them to turn to the illegal form to deal with their addiction. Furthermore, we must recognize that the statistics I shall show are unaffected by whether or not you had a prescription; mortality and addiction statistics are only concerned with death and addiction, not prescriptions. To answer the issue of why this is my struggle, I suppose it's because I saw this problem and thought, wow, this is really horrible, someone should do something about it.
Then I looked around and saw that not many people were doing anything about it, so I concluded that I could either complain or do something, and I chose to do something. We will all have to make that decision at some point. When you see a huge problem, you can either say, "Wow, that's too bad," or you may take action and fix it. Even if it is only sharing these posts and videos.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
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