Opioid Epidemic

What Is Opiophobia?


Opiophobia, also known as opioid phobia, is the fear of opioid pain medications. Opiophobia develops due to various factors, including news media coverage of opioid addiction and overdoses, the government’s “war on drugs,” and lack of education in both the medical field and the general public regarding pain and pain medications.

Physicians and opiophobia

Physicians can develop opiophobia, which can lead to them to completely refuse to prescribe opioids or to prescribe only very low doses, which may not effectively relieve an individual’s pain. A physician may be leery of prescribing opioids due to potential legal issues or the loss of their medical license if opioid misuse occurs. As a result, individuals with moderate to severe pain may have difficulty finding a physician who will prescribe necessary pain medication.

Patients and opiophobia

Individuals with opiophobia may not be open to opioid therapy even though it may reduce their pain. They may fear the side effects of opioids or the risks of addiction and overdose. A strong social stigma surrounds the use of opioid medications which may also be a factor in developing opiophobia.

The bottom line

Education about opioids is imperative for both physicians and patients. Information about proper dosing; facts about the prevalence of drug tolerance, addiction, and overdose; and ways to minimize opioid side effects can help reduce opiophobia and improve access to pain medications for those who need them.

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