Opioid addiction is a rare problem

Dr David Lussier, director of the external clinic in chronic pain management at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, has written a letter to the newspaper La Presse to demand a more balanced coverage of opioid prescriptions in their pages.  This letter was written in reaction to a series of articles published recently, and over the last three years, which highlight the risks of addiction to prescription opioids, and do not make a clear distinction between addiction and dependance, which is a normal reaction to narcotics and many other drugs, even in a therapeutic and controlled situation.  "Opioids are prescribed to treat severe pain, whether it is acute or chronic" says Dr. Lussier.  He wants more attention to be given to pain patients, which are rarely featured in the media. 

Dr. Lussier explains that it is essential to closely control opioid consumption, but that the risks of addiction should not be exagerated for these drugs that remain essential to treat many cases of chronic and acute pain.  Studies indicate less than 5% of patients are at risk of becoming addicted.  He notices in his own practice that media coverage increases the often unjustified fears of patients who would benefit from these drugs.  

In response to this letter, the journalist Katia Gagnon reminds readers that she concluded her series of articles by presenting the case of Mrs. Lise Lapierre, whose life was changed, for the better, by taking opioids, and the testimony of Dr. Aline Boulanger, who deplore that chronic pain patients are often under-diagnosed and under-treated.  

Read the letter by Dr. Lussier, and the response of Ms. Gagnon: La dépendance aux opiacés, un problème rare, in La Presse (French only)

Read the article by Katia Gagnon, which includes the testimony of Lise Lapierre: La morphine m'a sauvée (French only)