One of the most elusive drugs in the world is the so-called perfect painkiller. While the goal seems very straightforward, it might be one of the very few things that will always evade modern science.
Without question, the biggest hurdle in developing a perfect painkiller is how addictive that medication is. When the risk of addiction goes up, so too does the effectiveness of the medication. While many of us have had a headache that was “killing us,” is there really a time where we would actively risk death over a headache? There is clearly a large gap between the choices of “die or deal with it,” and somewhere in that middle ground is that perfect painkiller—if one even theoretically exists at all.
While most addicts certainly do not mind, most normal people do not want to take a Vicodin for their headache. For some, the reason is the risk of addiction, but for others, it can be the upset stomach, the drowsiness, or any of the other multitudes of side effects from painkillers we have access to today.
That is a problem. Doctors need to know whom the painkiller is for and what is causing the pain before they can attempt to treat it. For those who have a non-life-threatening injury, the same side effects may or may not be tolerable for those suffering from a terminal illness. However, when both patients are being treated with the same medication for very different reasons, this can lead to some significant problems.
Lets face it: today, cost rules decisions. The expense of developing a new medication is incredibly high. As such, a failure in developing such a medication is not an option. It must—without question—treat the problem for which it was designed.
This, however, raises the issue of how intense a patient’s pain may be. Doctors can ill-afford to have the same patients coming back for the same problem. There are simply too many people to see in a given period of time. Unfortunately, that also means most people are given medications meant for far more severe pain, given that it is a subjective scale.
However, as mentioned earlier, the risk for addiction goes up with the effectiveness of treating pain. That puts the doctor in an unenviable position: does the doctor prescribe something that may or may not work? Or does the doctor prescribe something he or she knows is over-the-top in terms of pain management, but also puts the patient at greater risk for addiction?
Compound these issues with the costs of healthcare for the patient, and more doctors are inclined to do the latter, rather than the former, simply for the financial benefit of the patient as well.
Is There A Perfect Painkiller?
No, and there likely never will be. As such, as recovering addicts and alcoholics, we have to remain ever-vigilant when it comes to protecting our recovery.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!