What do Catholics believe about pain medication?

Proper medication to alleviate pain is appropriate because reducing pain is a service to the human person, an act of charity and love.

Pain relief is good—it protects a person from harm. Palliative medicine’s primary focus is to mitigate symptoms and keep patients comfortable after they cease aggressive curative treatment. If a patient experiences unbearable pain from a chronic illness, palliative doctors recommend treatment, which may include opioid medications.

Many people fear taking prescribed opioids for pain management, but it can help individuals suffering from some conditions. Palliative care professionals begin treatments at the lowest dose and carefully increase as needed until the patient receives adequate relief.

“We must not unreasonably deny patients the capacity to prepare their hearts for God and for the relationships that are important in their life.”

Doctors must never give medications (such as morphine or oxycodone) to hasten a patient's end of life. Doctors must likewise avoid over-medicating patients. Allowing the patient to be cognitively present, with the pain managed, gives individuals greater mental awareness to prepare for their face-to-face encounter with Christ.