Drug Wars

14Mar06

ABC World News Tonight ran a 3 day segment about migraines last week. I chose not to watch it. I was wary because of past experience with network television specials about migraine. They usually fall very short, to say the very least. I just didn’t want to put myself through the anguish should the same thing happen again with the ABC segments.

Lo and behold, I didn’t even have to watch it. I am a member of an online migraine support community. As soon as this particular segment aired, members of the community began complaining about it. I finally was able to read the print article today via The Daily Headache

Warning About Using Narcotics To Treat Migraines There are conflicting messages in the article. First the writer informs us that “many pain-management specialists insisted there were many headache patients who , if carefully selected, will do well on narcotics — patients for whom no other drugs worked.” However the entirety of the article is a campaign to destroy that message using inflammatory language and misleading data.

I find that in general, common use of the word “narcotic” occurrs overwhelmingly with a negative connotation and I think the same is true in this piece. I don’t know about other migraine or chronic pain patients, but none of my Doctors have ever said to me “I am going to prescribe you some narcotics.” Nowhere in this article is the word “opioid” to be found. I think that’s very deliberate and the effect is quite dramatic.

Migraineurs are told they should exhaust all other options before turning to “narcotics”. I think that most, if not all neurologists and pain-management specialists would agree. I know that was certainly my neurologist’s viewpoint. I was tried on all of the “promising treatment options”, but none of them worked for me either (a) well or (b) for very long. After a trial of Botox had failed, my neurologist started me on long-acting opioid therapy last year which thankfully has brought my quality of life back to a level where I am able to enjoy many of my days again. I was missing that for so very long. He’s having me see a pain specialist soon to optimize my treatment. I count myself quite fortunate to have a Doctor who is willing to treat my pain.

For further information on long-acting opioid treatment: Use of opioid analgesics for the treatment of chronic noncancer pain–A concensus statement and guidelines from the Canadian Pain Society this copy from 2002, information is current however Unfortunately as well, the ABC article does not discuss the difference between short and long-acting opioids, even though the perfect chance arose.

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