Dozens rallied at the Idaho Statehouse Saturday with the attention focused on opioids. The protesters came out for the "Don't Punish Pain" rally that was being held in cities nationwide.While organizers realize there's an overwhelming uptick in opioid-related addiction and overdoses, they want lawmakers to keep in mind some people need their pain medication.
The opioid epidemic is a hot topic right now across the United States. The epidemic is costing the U.S. 78 billion dollars a year. This has left some in favor of more regulations and others hoping their medication needs will be left alone. Thursday The U.S Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, issued a public advisory, in the latest effort to combat the crisis.
" An estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. Struggle with an opioid use disorder," said Dr. Adams
Saturday, pain patients rallied armed with signs reading "D.E.A. destroying doctor-patient relationships" and "Pain equals patient veteran suicides."
They also left behind 140 pairs of shoes representing those too sick to attend.
Heather Vantress was in a car accident in 2014. The near-death experience left her paralyzed and taking medication for her constant pain.
"I actually have the ability to have some life back. I can get out of bed and give my kids a hug," said Vantress.
Carlene Hansen said she can feel Vantress's pain. She was born with a common immune deficiency and suffers from several ailments like arthritis.
"We have gone so much to the other side that we are forgetting that there are voices of pain that need to be heard," said Hansen.
Others argue something needs to change.
"There is a person dying every 12.5 minutes, and more than half other those are dying at home," said Adams.
Also this week the head of the Food and Drug Administration says he wants all doctors to undergo mandatory training on prescribing opioids to patients. Hansen says while she has great empathy for those suffering from addiction, she believes there are those who are sick and have a human right to receive medical attention.
"I've been on medications for 5-7 years and always take it as prescribed," said Hansen.
The protesters hope lawmakers consider their stories when drafting future regulations.