Meeting at the crossroads of pain and addiction: An ethical analysis of pain management with palliative care for individuals with substance use disorders
A growing number of individuals live with an opioid use disorder (OUD). While many go on to recover from such disorders, certainly, there will be individuals in palliative care (PC) at some point who still suffer with OUD. One of the major barriers to PC for individuals recovering and currently suffering from an OUD is the stigma related to having an OUD. Therefore, in the context of PC, it is important to understand the relationship that exists between PC, OUDs, and how stereo-types related to substance use disorders affect patient engagement in PC. For this paper, the focus will be on how stereotypes affect pain management in PC for persons with an OUD. A review of current literature regarding OUDs and pain management indicates a need for care specific to the needs of those in PC who formerly and/or currently suffer from an OUD in order to avoid relapse or worsening of their affliction while still managing their pain. The striking lack of knowledge and resources regarding OUDs and their treatment indicates a need to strengthen/increase resources for physicians to educate on treating OUDs as well as alternatives for pain management. This article presents dignity-enhancing care as a gateway to fairly treat individuals with an OUD and to get rid of the stigma associated with OUD patients.