Flip Side of Opioid Use

I lived and worked in Santa Barbara for over 60 years, but I recently moved to Ventura County because of the many places where I can live with my three very well-behaved dogs. I recently had to come to Santa Barbara to have my yearly physical with the doctor I’ve had for more than 20 years. I always look forward to reading the Independent when I come to town.

I have worked in the medical field for 20-plus years with doctors and in laboratories and physical therapy. I could not believe the biased news article your paper published on the “opioid crisis.” What a witch hunt. One-sided, misleading articles can hurt people.

For starters, where was the other side of this so-called opioid crisis, the people who suffer with debilitating chronic pain? CURES, or the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System that is part of California’s prescription drug monitoring program, literally stopped doctor-shopping dead in its tracks. Not to mention that the false-positive urine drug tests are not 100 percent fact. There is going to be a class-action lawsuit over the 10 to 20 percent false urine drug tests done every day of the week; they can hurt patients who are innocent. It can take up to three test to get a real picture.

The man I take care of must take more than eight different medicines just to stay alive. He suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction among other things. It took several doctors, including two pain management and two rheumatologists, before a correct diagnosis was reached. Patients with chronic pain who rely on a well-managed, consistent treatment plan that includes opiates are not addicts. Many need long-term pain medications to function, to stay out of the emergency room, to reduce the need for additional medical care, and, often, to avoid becoming more disabled.

Let’s put this in perspective: 32,000 people are killed, and 2 million injured, each year from motor vehicle crashes; one in three of these deaths involve drunk driving. Alcohol is sold in every supermarket on every corner and every neighborhood all over the country.

Please do fair reporting, Independent!

Editor’s Note: This letter was corrected on December 15 to reflect that it is a patient’s caretaker who wrote the letter. They both concur, however, in the opinion expressed.

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