How did the opioid crisis begin? One common theory among scientists is that the opioid crisis began in the 1990s because health care providers overprescribed opioid medications to treat pain. “Over the course of 20 years, opioid addiction became more and more prominent,” Dr. Collins says. “As people became dependent on opioid drugs, they needed to continue taking them to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and needed higher doses to achieve the feelings they were seeking.” Meanwhile, the supply of heroin, a type of opioid that’s illegal in the U.S., became more accessible and affordable. Because of this, some people started using heroin instead of things like prescription opioids, because it is cheaper and easier to get. “Tragically, synthetic opioids that are 100 times more potent than heroin have entered the mix, and people nationwide are putting themselves at risk,” says Dr. Collins. Heroin is naturally derived from opioid plants, but now there are synthetic opioids that are more common—and more fatal.
“We want to address the needs of patients suffering from pain and do it responsibly,” says Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at NIH. “Currently, the way we measure pain is on a scale of one to 10 with smiley faces. That may tell us how intense your pain is, but it is not predictive of success.”
Dr. Volkow is researching new types of drugs that address pain and studies aimed at improving access to high-quality, evidence-based addiction treatment programs. The programs will be tested across several community-based systems such as health care, mental health, and criminal justice systems to test the effect of medication-assisted treatment, long-term treatment, and more access to recovery support services.
Notice that the actual treatment of pain gets 1/2 of a sentence in the 2nd paragraph while the remaining points are about addiction. Does anyone really believe they give a flip about treating pain? And still these clowns are unable to separate the two issues as unique and different from each other, instead all the money get poured into these combined research efforts. And when you read these final reports, what you find out is the majority of the time, all the effort was put into addiction with little or none put into treating pain.
The NIH will put up posts such as this on opioid addiction, to underscore their commitment to doing good things, yet in the ten years I’ve monitored these post, not once have I seen the NIH put up a leading article on the impact their policies have on chronic pain suffers.
As someone who follows NIH’s efforts, I remain skeptical that anything has changed and reports like this are about nothing more than giving the appearance of doing something while maintaining the status quo.