Pain, pills and policy

New rules will affect future chronic pain patients

Pain medication is a necessity for some chronic pain sufferers. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pain doesn’t discriminate, no matter your age. After swallowing a pain pill when I am in intense agony, I go through enough grief within myself without negative commentary from other people. 

Chronic pain is an extremely hard condition to navigate in college. Classes, deadlines, disturbed sleep schedules, friendships and routines put pressure on my body until I’m bone tired and headed to the emergency room. My skin flushes, joints tense, breath stutters and hair hurts—stress isn’t easy on your body when your body hates you. 

In response to recent opioid overdose trends, CVS Pharmacy announced in September that the company will be implementing policies to change how customers receive pain medications beginning next year. 

CVS’ new policy will demand a seven-day quantity limit on opioid prescriptions. Opioids are drugs that target the nervous system in the body to relieve pain. This will only apply to prescriptions written for temporary conditions, like minor surgeries or dental procedures. 

I can see where CVS is coming from. Our country is inadequately responding to a drug epidemic that is killing us. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. 

President Trump recently declared the issue a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic. He did not declare it a national emergency, so I’m skeptical of how these recent changes and declarations are going to gain traction to solve this problem. 

I don’t think that limiting the quantity of pain medication is the way to go. I worry what this new policy will mean for pain management in the future. Who knows what this policy change will alter later? Will I be able to access pain meds at all? 

College is demanding enough and I can’t imagine the toll it would take on me to go to the pharmacy four times a month in my already busy schedule. 

Chronic pain isn’t one-dimensional—it is a unique torture for anyone affected. I have had doctors and friends accuse me of faking the beating my body takes every day. I am extremely concerned that the start of this policy will evolve into a new issue in which patients cannot access the care they need and the relief they deserve. College students are affected by this policy because chronic illness lives in all campuses, residence halls and classrooms. There are other ways to address painkiller abuse. 

Over-prescribing pain medication is heavily contributing to the overdose epidemic. 

The medical profession is doing a sad job of appropriately prescribing opioid painkillers. We need to address medication distribution at the source. 

The way it is now, patients will be punished by inconvenience and skepticism. Just because you are in pain and take pain medication doesn’t mean you’re an addict.