In what has been called the “opioid epidemic,” we talk a lot about two groups of people:
1. Patients who try to con their physician to get an opioid prescription, and
2. Physicians who capitalize on these patients by creating “pill-mill” clinics (that dispense opioids generously).
This narrative results in top-down regulations that restrict the relationship between physicians and patients everywhere.
Doctors are often blamed for the problem, so new guidelines target them. They must implement policy that may or may not be relevant for their unique circumstances.
Then, patients with acute or chronic pain are treated like drug-seeking criminals rather than people who need compassionate help.
I don’t know what will solve the problem with addiction and opioids in this country, but I know instilling power back into the physician-patient relationship would be a great way to start.
Jamie Katuna is a medical student. She can be reached on Facebook.