[OPINION] Knee-jerking on opioids at the expense of patients and doctors

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Marcopa, said he had a problem with the whole concept of imposing an entirely new regulatory scheme on all doctors./Capitol Media Services

If you’re a pain patient, the state is your second opinion

By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)

In just three days, the Arizona Legislature has passed a package of laws as a prescription for opioid abuse. Three days.

The extent of that abuse, given flaws in data collection and unintended consequences, including harming patients who do and will require constant high level pain relief are what concern me. When I’ve read the almost daily stories about the opioid “epidemic,” I question how officials determine the extent of abuse and overdoses that justify the outcry.

Despite recent reports China is flooding the U.S. with mail-order opiods and the extent of illicit drug use, doctors, it seems, are taking all the blame for the “epidemic.”

State Health Director Cara Crist wants daily reports of suspected cases of deaths from both prescription and non-legal forms of opiates to “allow for real-time tracking of the severity of the epidemic.”

Right there, she is saying the severity of the problem is really not known.

What about the epidemic that is alcoholism? Should the names of people treated for alcoholism be turned over to the government?

Whether the number of opioid cases is less or greater than any other medical or psychiatric illness, those afflicted must be treated, not tracked by government directive.

To turn the names of those afflicted to the government is, in my opinion, a violation of privacy and of doctor-private confidentiality.

I don’t doubt we have an opioid abuse problem, but let’s place it in perspective with other health problems. And let’s deal with it in ways that respect individual rights.

The latest plan to deal with opioids is just another case of the government practicing medicine.

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