Apr 23, 2014 – Pain and Addiction

April 23, 2014

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ANCHOR LEAD: SINCE PAIN WAS IDENTIFIED AS THE FIFTH VITAL SIGN, TOO MANY
PEOPLE ARE TAKING TOO MANY PAIN MEDICINES, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Prescription pain medicines now account for the majority of injury death in the United States, the FDA commissioner reiterated at a recent
conference on opioid addiction, and the agency is committed to changing that. Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, says this trend
got started when pain was identified and popularized as the fifth vital sign.

STRAIN: I think the pendulum swings back and forth in the medical field. Twenty years ago we weren’t adequately treating pain with drugs
like opiates that are good analgesics. The pendulum swung too far the other direction where we became very liberal I think in prescribing
opiates in this country, and we need to find that middle ground. There clearly are people who need to be on opioids, they have pain. But when
you look at where do people who misuse opioids get those opioids from? The most common place is family and friends. :29

Strain says limits must be placed on prescriptions to stem the tide of addiction, while balancing the need for pain relief. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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