Reduction of opioid prescriptions causing concern for patients


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Despite new laws on the way next year, doctors and medical clinics are already reducing the amount of pain-killers an individual can buy.

That’s causing great concern among patients who say they can not survive without a high level of drugs.

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One local man discusses how he feels opioids have become necessary for him to live his life.

He is employed, but he has been taking a strong dose of pain-killer for 14 years because of a spinal injury. His provider posted a message this week warning of an across the board cut in his medication next year.

He responded, “It’ll ruin my life.. There’s no way I can conduct life as I know it.. I’m going to lose everything I’ve got… I’m not going to be able to work.”

The current president of the Tennessee Medical Association says there are no simple answers to the opioid epidemic, but something must be done about what she calls “a perfect storm”.

Dr. Nita Shumaker states, “My stance is we’ve got to stop the first prescription. We’ve got to stop using opioids and addicting people. You double your risk of addiction if you take more than 3-5 days worth of medication.”

But what about serious back pain?

Dr. Shumaker says, “With back pain, he’s just going to go have the surgery, or he’s going to have to do some alternative methods to handle the pain. But he can’t stay at these high doses because he’s going to end up accidentally overdosing and dying.”

The local man explains that an apology on the part of the medical community doesn’t help him.

He says, “They’re not going to help pay my bills. They’re not going to help take care of my family. You’re right the doctors that that got me hooked on this. I wish that I wouldn’t have took it the first time if this was going to be the outcome.”

The man says his doctor told him to put off surgery as long as he could. This leads him to question what his next move is.

One thing is certain – the rules for dealing with opioid addiction, and keeping others from following on that path are forever changed.