Treat the Pain / Life before Death

In Collaboration with

International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

4. Opiophobia

About this Video

Opiate medications, such as morphine, are derived from opium. The World Health Organization endorses them as the gold standard to treat moderate to severe pain. Global leaders Dr Henry Ddungu (Uganda), Dr David Morrison (Canada), Dr Charles von Gunten (USA), Dr Betty Ferrell (USA), Dr Kathleen Foley (USA) and patient Carmen (Australia) provide notable quotes:

Dr Henry Ddungu (Uganda) and Dr David Morrison (Canada) explain why these fears are unfounded and reiterate that opiates are used safely by health professionals all over the world.

Criminal intent to divert important legal medicines by black market drug traffickers is identified as one of the contributing factors to opiophobia. This fear is reiterated by the testimony of late stage breast cancer patient Carmen (Australia), who at first resisted the opiate medicines that ultimately treated her pain effectively and gave her back her quality of life.

Dr Kathleen Foley (USA) reflects on the real statements of other patients saying they’d rather die of cancer than become an addict. Sadly many patients and doctors still fail to recognize that this is not an either/or situation and that pain can be effectively treated without the fear of addiction.

Dr Charles von Gunten (USA) and Dr Betty Ferrell (USA) explain that pharmacists also fear opiates for other reasons. Their anxiety is generated by robberies targeting essential painkillers for illegal sale.

The resounding message is that patients and doctors fears are uncalled for and that the positive aspects of drugs like morphine deserve far more attention. Dr Charles von Gunten underscores this point with a powerful anecdote and the clear message that, “The drug does not have the power to change people in that way.”

Call to Action

  • Tell a physician, nurse and a pharmacist you know to watch this video
  • Facilitate a discussion with them about the fears associated with the use of opioids in your community
  • Share your experiences in the comments section below…

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