Doctors ‘gun shy’ to prescribe opioids hurting those in pain, say experts – Windsor

A Windsor, Ont. woman who relies on prescribed narcotics to help with chronic pain believes “responsible” opioid users are being unfairly victimized in the government crackdown on drugs like Fentanyl. 

Jennifer Butcher has been unable to find a physician who will refill her prescriptions ever since her family doctor retired last month. She’s not alone, according to medical professionals and other patients in Windsor who say a spike in deaths across the region and province has doctors reluctant to prescribe opioids.

“I don’t feel like a functioning, productive member of society anymore,” said Butcher. “I am looked down upon by 90 per cent of the people I talk to, including doctors and pharmacists, because of the types of drugs I’ve been prescribed.”

Jennifer Butcher struggles to stand on her own without her pain medication. (Aadel Haleem/CBC)

Butcher, 46, suffers from fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. She has neck and back pain from a car accident when she was a teen and has difficulty standing for long periods of time.

She relies on her walker to get around and has been using pain medication for more than 20 years. Her pain has been compounded in recent weeks by the gnawing pangs of withdrawal.

“People like me are slipping through the cracks. I’ve talked to a few people in my situation that really feel there’s going to be an uprise in suicides because of this,” she said. “People don’t want to live in pain and suffering every day — it’s no way to live. If I had cancer, they wouldn’t say, ‘We’re not going to give you chemo because it might kill you.'”

‘Distinct shift’

Angela Lambing has seen a “distinct shift” in how pain management is being addressed. The nurse practitioner believes physicians have become “gun shy” when it comes to prescribing opioids. She’d like to see medical professionals receive more pain management training.

“It’s like anything else, you have one patient that misused, you worry that another…

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