Chronic pain patients against opioid guidelines

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The cost of treating opioid addiction is soaring.

A report from the Kaiser family foundation shows large employers spent $2.6 billion on treating opioid addictions and overdoses in 2016. That's up from $273 million in 2004.

Even with the rising costs some argue recent guidelines meant to curb opioid abuse are hurting chronic pain sufferers.

In 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for "prescribing opioids for chronic pain."

Those suffering say since those guidelines were released, their doctors would no longer treat the pain or prescribe smaller doses.

“I have pain every day, it is pain that never goes away,” said Karlyn Beavers who has dealt with pain associated with Crohn’s Disease for over three decades.

Several pain management techniques help Beavers, sometimes there is no choice but prescription opioids.

“A lot of patients that have chronic pain,” said Beavers. “We don't just rely on the pain medication but it usually our last resort and when they are taking our last resort away then you have the major suffering going on.”

Following the CDC's recent guidelines Beavers says her doctor has since cut down on prescriptions, some even in half which is leaving her in pain.

“I believe it was a good reason and a good cause for what they did but I really don't feel they took into account the other side where you have your chronic pain patients,” said Beavers.

The 2016 guidelines were released in response to the country's opioid epidemic.

Many states, including Michigan, are adopting some of the guidelines if not all of them into law.

“I think one of the things that got us into the situation we are in is really the lack of really clear guidelines or clear community standard,” said local family medicine doctor Dr. Peter Graham. “When I trained the notion was you really had to treat all pain aggressively so this is really kind of a counterweight.”

A “Don’t Punish Pain” rally is scheduled on April 7 on the east Capitol steps in Lansing. Organizers hope to raise awareness about why chronic pain suffers need opioids to function.

The rally starts at noon and ends at 2 p.m.

Local organizers say similar rallies will be held in all 48 states at the same time.

The group is expecting about 50 to 60 people to show up.