The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their opioid prescribing guidelines, recommending lower doses for patients with chronic pain. However, for many chronic pain patients, this change comes too late, as they have already been struggling to access the medication they need to manage their pain.
While the updated guidelines may help to curb the opioid epidemic, they also raise concerns for patients who rely on opioids to manage their chronic pain. Patients who have been on high-dose opioids for years may struggle to taper off the medication, and some may turn to illicit drugs if they can no longer access their prescription opioids.
Many chronic pain patients feel that their voices have not been heard in the national conversation about opioid prescribing. They argue that the focus on reducing opioid use has come at the expense of patients who legitimately need these medications to manage their pain.
There is also concern that the new guidelines may lead to stigmatization of chronic pain patients. The guidelines include a recommendation that doctors discuss the risks of opioids with their patients, including the risk of addiction. However, some chronic pain patients worry that this will lead doctors to view them as potential addicts, rather than as patients with legitimate medical needs.
While the CDC guidelines are not binding, they are likely to influence prescribing practices across the country. Patients with chronic pain are encouraged to have an open and honest conversation with their doctors about their pain management needs, and to work together to find a safe and effective treatment plan.
Overall, the updated CDC guidelines on opioid prescribing are a response to the opioid epidemic, but they may have unintended consequences for chronic pain patients. As policymakers and healthcare providers continue to address the opioid crisis, it is important to also consider the needs of patients with chronic pain and to ensure that they have access to the medication and support they need.