Source: Tennessean, The [TN]
Author: Sharon Palmer)
Finally an editorial that addresses the cruelty of not treating chronic pain! Your editorial piece of March 24 (1999) regarding the use of marijuana as medicine was right on target, and cut straight to the chase when it comes to the failed "war on drugs."
Politicians care only about saving their own skin when they take a stand against issues such as this. They are afraid they will be labeled as being "soft on drugs." What they fail to realize is that the esteemed "war on drugs" is killing all the wrong people namely, the chronically ill.
Many patients with chronic intractable pain suffer needlessly, day in and day out, due to the ignorance of physicians and politicians. They are, they claim, afraid of creating a nation of addicts.
However, recent studies have proven that the incidence of addiction in those who suffer from excruciating chronic pain is less than 1%, while suicide and physician assisted suicide are on the rise as patients seek to end their pain the only way they can: by death.
Ohio has the right idea, as it recently passed a law to protect doctors who treat documented chronic pain with adequate medication and to provide recourse for patients who do not receive the pain relief needed to make their lives more bearable.
Physicians in Ohio used to fear being turned in for over-prescribing, but they now can be turned in to the State Medical Board for not following minimal standards.
This is a step in the right direction, and I hope the rest of the nation soon follows suit.
Physicians need to be re-educated according to current research. Politicians need the same type of education.
Not treating chronic, intractable pain is cruel, inhumane and an invitation to suicide.
I know; the "war on drugs" nearly killed me. Due to various types of "red tape" and other considerations, I am currently stuck in Tennessee (wording changed slightly from original copy to reflect my true feelings --SMP), but Ohio saved my life.