Published by The Morning Call

Dr. Kenneth Choquette knows the kind of chronic pain his patients endure every day. Without opioid pills, some cannot work, sleep or do simple chores like wash the dishes.

“If I take pain medication away from a patient who is properly taking it for the right reasons, it means they hurt more,” said Choquette, a Coordinated Health pain management specialist and a physician for three decades.

“So, are they dependent on the medication?” he said. “Absolutely.”

But are they addicted to opioids?

That’s the question facing many medical professionals in the United States, a country grappling with an opioid epidemic resulting in a death toll that outpaces car crashes. Their job is to balance patients’ needs with the possibility that opioids will be abused.