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Chronic pain patients concerned about proposed federal law

Posted: 9:45 PM, Jan 13, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-13 22:41:13-05

PUNTA GORDA, FLA. — For Debra Alleig, this is the best way she can describe the chronic pain she's lived with for 17 years.

"It's like for me a huge toothache. Like a dull, burning, constant, gnawing, nerve-ending root pain kind of," said Alleig, "If I want to make soup, let's say I'll come out, cut an onion. If it's real bad, I will go back to bed and lay down for half an hour."

It started with back pain and then hip pain.

One spinal fusion and a hip replacement later and the aching is still there.

Over the years she been prescribed different treatments and has found that opioids work best to give her some quality of life.

But she says recent crackdowns on opioids have left chronic pain sufferers like her dealing with random drug tests, decreasing doses and sometimes being mislabeled as addicted.

"Am I dependent on my medication? Yes. Because otherwise, I would be in bed crying," said Alleig.

She says that's why proposed federal laws, like the NOPAIN Act gives her pause.

Those who back the bill say if passed, it would make it easier for doctors to prescribe non-opioid pain management to patients dealing with acute pain.

"This legislation is in now way shape or form intended to impact those patients ability to get access to these needed medications. The only thing that this legislation does is that it says that we think providers and patients deserve choices like they do in many other healthcare decisions and we think that pain should be no different," said Chris Fox, the Executive Director of Voices for Non-Opioid Choices.

Still, some living with chronic pain say they'd rather keep the government out of their medical decisions.

"You go back to regular doctors treating patients. They diagnose and treat. Not our legislators. Not the government. But our doctors," said Alleig.