Opioid crisis coupled with doctor shortage leaves chronic pain patients desperate

Some doctors are reluctant to accept new patients taking painkillers.

Tracy has suffered from chronic back and neck pain since she had a workplace injury 17 years ago.

Back then, in the early 2000s, before most people had even heard of fentanyl, the drug in time-release patches was a common way to treat pain. Tracy, whose last name CBC News has agreed to withhold because of the stigma she faces as an opioid user, was on prescription fentanyl for years before she asked her family doctor to wean her off, afraid of the harm the powerful drug could cause.

It took two years — and agonizing withdrawal symptoms, as Tracy refused to take methadone to help prevent them — but her doctor was able to move her onto a different painkiller: percocets.

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