By Ma’ayan Simon – Published by Bohemian

As opioid deaths have continued to rise at a staggering rate, the epidemic was declared a national emergency last month. However, what’s not being talked about are the millions of Americans in chronic pain desperate for relief, acknowledgment and understanding. September is National Pain Awareness Month and I urge our communities to step up.

As a 31-year-old woman with “invisible” musculoskeletal, autoimmune and pain diseases that have disabled me since my teens, I know all too well the misinformation and misunderstandings surrounding chronic pain. I nearly died of liver failure due to opioid overdose in 2007 after attempting suicide because the pain and the lack of effective treatments, combined with demoralizing judgments from family, friends and medical providers, was so excruciating.

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50 million Americans experience daily and severe disabling chronic pain; other studies put the estimate of Americans in chronic pain at over 100 million. But addressing the debilitating effects of chronic pain, a process that physiologically changes a person’s ability to modulate pain, continues to be sidelined.