Opioid policy compromises doctor-patient relationship

BRATTLEBORO — I don't know how many lives will be saved by the official response to the opioid crisis. In the past, government reactions to illegal drugs have been expensive, heavy-handed, and ineffective. Vermont and the nation have never been able to reconcile themselves to the fact that it is normal for people to actually want to use drugs.

In the case of opioids, the crackdown is already having collateral damage to patients legitimately in need of the relief these drugs provide from pain that other medicines cannot adequately control.

Doctors are more reluctant to prescribe - and even censured for prescribing - opioids, and patients who really need them are suffering because of the few who abuse the dispensing and usage.

When you factor in the insidious pushers in corporate Big Pharma who abuse distribution because of the almighty quest for profitability, people who are outside of the range of legitimate patient need suffer and die.

The problem is that the doctor-patient relationship suffers because officialdom throws a blanket of severe measures over all uses of opioids. And, the weight of consideration should fall to doctors who are trained to do their job, not officials.

The challenge is to separate the opioid abuse regulations from the doctor-patient relationship so that doctors and their patients can know the opioid prescriptions will match the needs of the patients.

Last but not least, we must decriminalize all opioid personal use and possession so that opioid use, not as prescribed by doctors or on the black market, will be treated solely as a medical problem, not criminal.

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