The case for and against prescription painkillers

Oftentimes, prescription pain killers are demonized. Opponents of painkiller are likely to cite statistics like this:

The annual number of opioid painkiller prescriptions is now at more than 200 million. In hand with that, overdose deaths have shot up from over 4,000 in 1999 to more than 16,000 in 2013, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, painkillers do have a key benefit; they decrease patient pain. About 100 million US patients suffer from chronic pain. And patients are asking for these painkillers. According to Vox:

“[My patients] are not saying, ‘Hey, can you take away all my pain? I can’t handle any pain,'” [Sean] Mackey said. “For the most part, what they want is control of their lives back. They want to be able to get back to doing the things they were doing that they can no longer do because pain has robbed them of that.”

How much do you value individual freedom of choice compared to paternalistic policies to help avoid addiction? Your answer to that question likely will determine where you fall in the painkiller debate.

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