Letters: ‘Middle ground on narcotics’

Experts, in the face of addiction issues and deaths, have swung the pendulum in the opposite direction

Editor, The News:

Re: Pain of prescription change (The News, June 3).

Dennis Kulbaba’s front page story encapsulates the problem with the pendulum whose name is ‘medical standards.’

A decade ago, the experts were all touting the appropriateness of long-term narcotics in the control of chronic, non-malignant pain.

This medical jargon referred to treatment of patients who had painful conditions that were not expected to cause death.

It was felt that few of these patients would become addicted, and what did it matter if they did, as long as they were comfortable, able to function, not escalating their doses, and not selling their prescriptions on the street?

I’d like to think that last sentence would have described all of the small number of patients I maintained years ago as a general practitioner, on long-term narcotics.

I recall one elderly man who was taking a potent anti-inflammatory medication for severe back pain. Not a benign drug, it was worsening his blood pressure, his kidney function, and his tendency to stomach ulcers.

He was wary about narcotics (wariness is a reassuring trait in patients about to start narcotics), but after some educating, he agreed to try.

He did well, and possibly lived longer than he might have otherwise.

Now the experts, in the face of addiction issues and deaths, have swung the pendulum in the opposite direction.

Doctors are fearful of censure if they prescribe narcotic drugs.

We need a middle ground, where patients like Mr. Kulbaba can be treated and live in some degree of comfort.

Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of a  pharmacological alternative to narcotics for severe pain.

Pain clinics can aid some patients via non-pharmacological means.

Fortunately, our experts have not yet decided that cancer patients must do without these extremely useful drugs.

The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided.

It is sometimes better to abandon oneself to destiny.

– Napoleon Bonaparte.

Lorne Walton,

retired MD,

Maple Ridge


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge girl to represent at War Amps seminar

Julia Chiasson, 19, to be a junior counsellor coordinator

No public health risk: Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district on COVID-19 fears

Provincial health officer says communities and schools exposed will not be identified

Police searching for missing Maple Ridge boy

Daniel Gagnon, 12, has been missing since Feb. 23

Lift each other up, theme of Pink Shirt Day

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services don pink shirts

Pitt Meadows annual report wins again

Award given for fifth straight year

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Cypress Mountain offers free lift tickets March 13 in honour of snowboarding pioneer

Jake Burton Carpenter invented the sport of snowboarding

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read