Web Extra: Treating Pain
Physical dependence is not exactly the same as addiction.
Prescribers and the public have been misinformed about the risk of addiction when chronic pain is treated with opioids. This has led to overprescribing of opioids and the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history.
Despite low-quality evidence supporting practice change, use of opioids for chronic pain increased dramatically over the past two decades. Concurrently, there has been a sharp increase in opioid analgesic overdose deaths, addiction, misuse and diversion.
Lauren struggled for years with chronic pain flare ups which were managed well with occasional use of a low dose opioid. Things changed for Lauren when a pain specialist started her on round-the-clock use of an extended-release opioid (OxyContin).