An eye-opening look at the current status of those suffering from chronic pain.
Webster’s (Avoid Opioid Abuse While Managing Pain, 2007) first book was geared toward clinicians who prescribe opioids for otherwise intractable pain. Here, the author aims at a much broader readership as he discusses myriad topics involved in pain treatment, such as methadone versus opioid use, societal prejudice toward pain sufferers, the overreaching influence of big pharma, and the complex legal issues and medical conundrums associated with dispensing opioids. Along the way, he cites stupefying facts: “Around 100 to 111 million people in America have chronic pain,” he says, and “the national economic cost associated with chronic pain is estimated to be well north of half a trillion dollars per year.” The book includes compelling stories about several of his own patients, chronicling the path from the moment of injury through the trials and tribulations of various treatment plans. With unwavering compassion and sensitivity, he details some of the heartbreaking ways that chronic pain has affected his patients’ relationships, employment, education, and simple day-to-day living. In addition, he describes how such suffering can complicate family dynamics—often breaking them apart but sometimes drawing them closer. He advocates increased funding for research and providing adequate insurance coverage for those in need: “The fact that 50 percent of all people with chronic pain consider suicide at some point suggests that their pain is not being treated nearly well enough.” He also contends that attitudes toward sufferers must progress from prejudice and stigma to deeper understanding, pointing out that people often view those in pain as “lazy whiners, malingerers, and drug seekers” and that this attitude “is a root cause of the inadequacy of our present pain care system.” He even dramatically relates an incident in which Drug Enforcement Administration agents suddenly showed up at his clinic.
An intelligent, provocative, and inspiring call to arms for those who simply want relief and a return to normalcy.