Doctors must balance pain relief, fear of addiction

Some doctors won’t prescribe them.

But even for those who do, the decision to write a prescription for a potentially addictive, high-powered pain killer like oxycodone is never without some trepidation, according to several doctors who attended a lecture on “Addiction Risk Assessment” at Holyoke Medical Center Sept. 14.

While drugs like oxycodone, morphine or fentanyl are necessary to relieve very real chronic and acute pain in patients, law enforcement has found the potent medicines are also readily abused, particularly among the young. The 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found a 15-percent rise in prescription drug abuse by people 18 to 25.

“You are in a precarious situation,” she said. “You need to make sure that people do not suffer in pain as well as make sure the medicine does not get into the wrong hands … It is a challenge.”…

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