On ITV Tonight Britain on Painkillers: The Silent Epidemic.
A quarter of a million people are struggling with opioids in the UK. There are many risks involved with taking them for long-term use. They say they are of no use for long-term pain and they think that exercise, meditation and tai chi are a good option or soothing alternative to get through your pain.
Over the past decade in Britain, prescriptions for these drugs have gone through the roof – up 80% in England alone. We’re now among the biggest consumers of opioids in Europe.
And the tragedy and irony is that while the drugs are super-effective for acute emergency pain, in 90% of long-term chronic pain cases, they don’t even work.
Pain specialists are also trying to get to grips with the fact we’ve practically sleepwalked into a public health crisis: GPs under pressure to help their patients deal with pain and patients sometimes too in distress to find other strategies rather than popping the pills.
According to the British Pain Society, approximately 8 million adults in the UK report chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling. Back pain alone accounts for 40% of sickness absence in the NHS and overall it costs £10 billion for the UK economy. The UK has some of the best pain services in the world and the multidisciplinary British Pain Society is at the forefront of informing the public and professionals of what is available.
However, the British Pain Society believes more research is essential to allow pain services to offer the latest effective and safest treatments. Unfortunately, pain research is not a priority for major UK funders.
So how have we got here and how do we step back from the brink?
Is it time to radically rethink how we manage pain?
I’ve been on Tramadol for over 15 years so a rethink of how I can cope with my pain would be amazing.