Statement by the California Chronic Care Coalition:

Posted by Kassy Perry

Bipartisan Coalition of Assemblymembers Announce Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

(Sacramento, CA) – The California Chronic Care Coalition, comprised of more than 30 member organizations representing 16 million Californians with one or more chronic diseases, applauds the initiative of the Legislature to reasonably regulate opioid medications to curtail abuse and the ensuing life-altering complications, including overdose and death.

However, the Legislature and stakeholders must be mindful of the millions of Californians in legitimate need of pain relief in order to cope with debilitating, agonizing conditions. Pain relief isn’t just a relief from suffering which must otherwise be endured. Untreated chronic pain causes tangible damage. Unrelieved pain results in physiological stress which manifests in harmful multisystem effects.

Recently it has been discovered that unrelieved chronic pain can lead to brain damage.

Adequate and appropriate pain relief allows people to function in their lives. Withholding of adequate relief can be devastating for people who live with chronic pain, as well as their families. People that were otherwise able to function at a level of independence including holding a job become incapacitated without appropriate relief, such as the case of Petra McDaniel.

“I was in a wheel chair and unable to walk until my pain was managed,” states Ms. McDaniel, who suffers from Dysautonomia. “Had my physician not been able to prescribe medications to treat my pain, I could still be totally disabled and unable to walk.”

Stigmatizing opioid use further harms the patient by interfering with their ability to obtain medical care. Physicians are intimidated by increased scrutiny and become reluctant to prescribe appropriately. Once they are pigeonholed as “drug seekers,” patients find physicians ignore their symptoms and complaints, instead, attributing any complaints to drug seeking.

At worst, labeling of patients may cause physicians to dismiss real complaints, failing to further work to diagnose the cause of the pain. They may fail to work with the patient to find supplementary or alternative pain relief. This attitude ignores the fact that the majority of abuse involves illicitly obtained drugs from other countries.

We fear some desperate patients, if unable to obtain prescription relief, will turn to illicit, unsafe drugs.

We urge the Legislature to keep a balance in their efforts, and to recognize that millions of Californians lives could be devastated by overzealous limitations on access to appropriate pain medication.

Liz Helms is the President and CEO of the California Chronic Care Coalition. She can be reached at (916) 444-1985 or lizhelms@chroniccareca.org







About The California Chronic Care Coalition

The California Chronic Care Coalition (CCCC) is a unique alliance of more than 30 leading consumer health organizations and provider groups that engage policy makers, industry leaders, providers and consumers to improve the health of Californians with chronic conditions. We envision a system of care that is accessible, affordable and of a high quality that emphasizes prevention, coordinated care and the patient’s wellness and longevity. http://www.chroniccareca.org