Opinion: Treating pain while discouraging addiction

The opioid epidemic is surging in the U.S. Shown here, OcyContin pills. (PHOTO by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

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The opioid epidemic is surging in the U.S. Shown here, OcyContin pills. (PHOTO by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

America’s, and Georgia’s, epidemic of opioid abuse presents challenges to health care providers, patients, families and communities.

The nation, and Georgia, continue to struggle with a crisis of abuse of the class of painkillers known as opioids.

It’s a sign of the severity of the problem that “opioids” is now a household name, even though many who’re aware of the moniker likely know little about them. Awareness, sadly, is likely increasing as more families and people come to be afflicted by this public health problem.

The New York Times reported last week that one in three of Medicare’s 43.6 million participants had been prescribed opioids at some point. That’s just one of many eye-catching numbers associated with this problem. Abuse of opioids or other potentially addictive drugs represents an equal-opportunity scourge in today’s America. It’s one that crosses boundaries of age, race, income, education and most any other demographic divider one can think of.

A Georgia pharmacy professor writing on this subject here today notes that opioid abuse kills four Georgians every day. That’s out of a total of 91 Americans who succumb every 24 hours to this problem.

Complicating matters is the legitimate need to ensure relief is available to those in chronic pain, while minimizing prospects of abuse — or correcting problems when they occur.

Today, we present a selection of viewpoints speaking to this national, and state, problem, and efforts to address it.

Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board.

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