Pain patients are being cut off from their drugs. Pain management doctors are refusing to fill their patients prescriptions and cutting them off cold turkey.
WHY ARE DOCTORS CUTTING PATIENTS OFF OF THEIR LEGALLY PRESCRIBED DRUGS?
Many people experience severe pain related to a surgery or from an injury. Patients who are suffering can be prescribed a vast spectrum of pharmaceutical aids (opioids/opiates) including hydrocodone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone (Morphine) by their doctors, surgeons, or pain management clinics.
Unfortunately, even patients who have never had any substance abuse or addiction problems can become physically dependent on opioids in as few as 5 days, while managing their pain.
In 2016 things became much worse for patients with severe pain. The CDC developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in response to the the unanticipated consequences of years of doctors over-prescribing addictive pain medications. The new guidelines included lower dosage recommendations.
As a result of the new recommendations, many medical providers were found to be non-compliant with the new regulations and many doctors lost their privileges to prescribe opioids. This caused many medical offices to close down and many patients had nowhere to turn for their next prescription. Other doctors were implementing the recommendations on discontinuing opioids
(when risks and harms outweighed the benefits) and the result was that they were discharging patients from their care - again, patients in this situation had nowhere to turn.
While the 2016 guidelines, were designed to protect the public, they did leave a patient population with a serious problem that exists still today. Patients who are suddenly cut-off from their long-term prescriptions can experience terrible withdrawal symptoms after their last dose. These symptoms can be so severe that many people turn to friends and family for prescription leftovers or even dangerous street drugs, to avoid feeling the withdrawals. Street drugs are more dangerous today then they have ever been. Fentanyl is now prevalent everywhere and it is deadly.
So while pain management is still necessary for treating chronic pain, pain management doctors rarely provide guidance to their patients about how to detox from pain meds. Many doctors are still stopping their patient's prescriptions with little or no warning and no instructions on how to handle the withdrawals.
It can be thought that the biggest problem is that physicians have not been trained in how to appropriately withdraw patients from medications.
If they do offer guidance, a faster than optimum dose reduction schedule is often recommended so that patients develop withdrawal symptoms that are only relieved by going back on the drug, “proving” they need it. Self-taper protocols are simply ineffective and painful.
SO WHAT SHOULD PATIENTS DO IF THEY ARE CUT OFF?
The answer to this growing problem is simple; Patients need to medically detox from the opioids. Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. It is a simple process that few people know is necessary when stopping opioids.