PHOENIX (Cronkite) – Debra Hickey, who has lived with chronic pain for two decades, recently went to her medical specialist for her regular dose of 30 milligrams of oxycodone. The doctor told her she had to reduce the dosage because of the state regulations to reduce the number and dosage in patients' opioid prescriptions.
Hickey, 63, of Phoenix, was appalled. And scared
"You know that horrific pain that takes about a minute or so to go away?" Hickey said Tuesday at a Do not Punish Pain rally at the State Capitol. "Can you imagine if you were in this type of pain 24/7 with no opioids? That's the pain I'm in. "
Hickey, lamenting the restriction of an opioid that has been one of the few pain relievers she's not allergic to, has joined about 40 people at the rally. Many cigarette smoked cigarettes, some pushed walkers or used wheelchairs, and some carried signs, such as #PatientsNotAddicts and Afflicted Not Addicted
They have been characterized as victims in the fight against opioid addiction
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 47,600 deaths in 2017, and opioid overdose deaths were six times higher in 2017 than in 1999.
[RELATED: Gov. Ducey highlights success in opioid fight as deaths increase (Aug. 13, 2018)]  In 2016, the CDC changed its guidelines in response to the epidemic, telling doctors to start patients on small dosages and increase the amount of slow or prescribe high doses of ibuprofen instead of managing pain [RELATED: Nation’s first opioid helpline goes live in Arizona (Oct. 9, 2018)] ]
The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act includes a so-called five-day rule, limiting the initial prescription fill to five days, along with a maximum dosage limit of 90 morphine milligram equivalents for patients