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Support, don’t punish, those people who endure life in pain

To the editor,
On Jan. 29, chronic pain patients will be gathering for the Do Not Punish Pain Rally. This rally is going to be held at 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda, 75 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in St. Paul.
The rally is being held to protect the rights of 26 million Americans who require opiate pain medication to function and have quality of life. In an effort to curb illicit-opioid overdoses, our government has made it so people who truly need prescription opioids to manage real, unbearable pain are struggling to get them.
Statistics show that less than 5 percent of chronic-pain patients become addicted to prescription opioids. Our country’s drug crisis is currently being fed by heroin and illicit fentanyl use, not prescription pain medication. While the number of prescriptions for pain medication have actually gone down, the number of overdose deaths have gone up.
Recent reports from the AMA and Human Rights Watch recently stated that our government does not belong in our doctor’s office and shouldn’t meddle with our health care decisions or treatment. Both reports conceded that the CDC guidelines are being misapplied and weaponized by state and federal agencies, which are severely harming millions of patients across our country. The number of suicides due to chronic pain has also increased according to a study led by Dr. Emiko Petrosky from the U.S. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
As a chronic pain patient, I can attest to the difficulties we face. Many hospital ERs are no longer treating chronic pain flares with narcotic pain medication even though it might be the only thing that helps a particular patient. Even worse many doctors and clinics are refusing to take on new chronic pain patients. Medications are being cut back and often taken away. If you are taking pain medication your anxiety medication may be pulled. Patients have to choose between pain medication or anxiety medication. We are required to have frequent medical appointments to qualify for refills. Drug testing that makes us feel like prisoners is also required. I have written countless letters to our legislators that have gone unanswered or answered with a brief form letter. The laws keep getting stricter making our lives hell.
Please show your support by participating in this rally. We are asking our families, friends, and even medical providers to join in. The government is not listening to us and we need help. Opioid pain medication is effective for many of us. Please help us fight to survive and function.
Marcia Angell, American physician and author, wrote, "Few things a medical provider does are more important than relieving pain…pain is soul destroying. No patient should have to endure intense pain unnecessarily. The quality of mercy is essential to the practice of medicine; here, of all places, it should not be strained."
Michelle Buck,
Arlington