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CDC guidelines aimed at curbing opioid addiction causing problems for chronic pain patients

"The people making these laws have probably never been in pain a day in their life much less 24/7 like I deal with,” said Kevin Brawley.

BLOOMSDALE, Mo. — It can sometimes be tough to talk about, but addiction is an issue that impacts every community across the country.

On a day when it’s 70 degrees and sunny outside, it's all Kevin Brawley can do to sit on his front porch.

"I'm treated like an addict,” said Brawley. “They say I'm medically dependent.”

A tree trimmer by trade Brawley was legally disabled after an accident that took place more than two decades ago.

"I broke my neck working for a tree company,” said Brawley. “The ladder came 50 feet out of the air and hit me straight in the top of the head. It broke my neck. It blew five discs in my upper back, two or three in my lower back, and it jammed my spine into my sacrum."

Over the years he's been prescribed opioids to manage the pain.

"I've dealt with it pretty well for the last 25 years because I had the medicine to do it,” said Brawley. “Nothing ever took it away, but it made it feasible for me to get out and do stuff. Now I've lost everything. I lay in bed or on the couch. I don't get out of the house unless I have to."

In 2016, the CDC revised prescription guidelines to try and avoid opioid abuse.

"The people making these laws have probably never been in pain a day in their life much less 24/7 like I deal with,” said Brawley.

"We do a really poor job as providers with managing chronic pain and with managing opioid use disorder,” said Dr. Kanika Cunningham.

Dr. Cunningham specializes in addiction and she said there were unintended consequences for those with chronic pain.

"It did cause a lot to either immediately cut people off the opioid in which people then turned to the black market and heroin,” said Dr. Cunningham. “People went into withdrawal symptoms. A lot took place."

"People are committing suicide every day because they can't take the pain no more,” said Brawley. “I think about it. I think about it every day."

While there are compassionate care clauses both Brawley and Dr. Cunningham agree it's time to eliminate the one-size-fits-all approach.

"We definitely need to make some changes in how we approach chronic pain,” said Dr. Cunningham.

"All we want to do is live a half normal life,” said Brawley.

This story idea came from a 5 On Your Side viewer. You can pitch a story by emailing Holden at hkurwicki1@ksdk.com or text us at 314-425-5355.


If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, there is help out there. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. Their number is 1-800-273-8255.

You can also call the Behavioral Health Response Crisis Hotline at 314-469-6644.


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