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Addiction is awful, but opiates can also do good

As I read Kevin Cullen’s column “Addiction is the quiet killer on our streets” (Metro, Feb. 11), I am reminded how sad and heartbreaking the consequences of addiction can be. But the column seems to depict everyone who takes prescription opioids to manage pain as addicts. It only tells one side of the story.

Most studies show that fewer than 4 percent of people who take the medications for pain control become addicted. The statement “Carrie Ann Walton came to be an addict in a sad but shockingly common way” is actually not common, and does great harm to people struggling with cancer, diabetic neuropathy, arthritis, migraine, severe back pain, carpal tunnel, sickle cell, RSD, shingles and many other painful chronic conditions.

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Statements like this have led to a climate where doctors are now afraid to prescribe medications and pharmacists are afraid to dispense them for chronic pain sufferers who have been taking them successfully and responsibly for years.

Opioids do not help everyone with pain, but they are an important treatment option for many. These people deserve empathy, understanding, and to have the full story told.

Cindy Steinberg


The writer is national director of policy and advocacy for the US Pain Foundation.

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