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Toward Fair and Humane Pain Policy
Abstract: Pain policy is not drug policy. If we want to improve the lives of people in pain and compress the terrible inequalities in its diagnosis and treatment, we have to tailor policy to the root causes driving our problems in treating pain humanely and equitably. In the U.S., we do not. Instead, we have proceeded to conflate drug policy with pain policy, relying on arguably magical thinking for the conclusion that by addressing the drug overdose crisis, we are simultaneously addressing the pain crisis. This is a category error, decades of commitment to which have resulted mostly in a worsening of both public health problems to the present day. Disentangling our problems in treating pain fairly and equitably from our problems with drugs and substance use is the only path to humane and ethical policy for each.
Keywords: pain, policy, inequalities, drugs, substance misuse, overdose