By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is no doubt that there is a problem with the abuse of prescription pain medications in our country. But for some people these medications are necessary.

When a person has cancer pain, it can be a crucial issue. It can be severe and literally make the last few days of life grueling. This is a time when it’s important to have pain medications, very strong pain medications.

To blunt the suffering is an important thing, yet many people don’t get the medicine because there is a hidden fear that it may cause addiction or somehow be perceived as running from a problem. Believe me, I’m not a big fan of narcotic medications. I’ve seen too many people with addictions that are almost impossible to break. But, in the case of severe pain at the end of life, it can be the only humane way to deal with it.

Don’t be afraid to have the pain managed. It’s critical.