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Forming a Chemical Dependency to Pain Medications
There is a tightrope that physicians have to carefully navigate when prescribing medication to treat patients with chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as ongoing pain that lasts more than twelve weeks within the range of dull continuous pain to more severe pain. The Journal of Neuroscience states that over 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. Because chronic pain can become so debilitating that it can have a devastating impact on an individual’s quality of life, prescription opioids have become the go-to answer for most doctors who treat chronic pain patients.
In the late 90s drug manufacturers assured the medical field that the opioid pain medications, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine were not addictive. However, in recent years a spike in opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths has warranted a closer examination of the addictive nature of the drugs and the rates they are being prescribed. An alarming 200 million opioid prescriptions were being dispensed on an annual basis, in most cases to manage postoperative pain, pain from traumatic injuries, and chronic pain, and it is now known how powerfully addictive this class of drugs is.
As the alarm bells rang regarding chronic pain patients becoming addicted to the opioids such as hydrocodone, norco, fentanyl, morphine) meant to treat them, targeted drug rehab for chronic pain patients became part of the addiction and recovery milieu. These programs must find a way to wean the patient off the opioids as much as is reasonable, while introducing them to alternative pain management solutions.
What Does Drug Rehab for Chronic Pain Patients Entail?
What makes drug rehab for chronic pain patients so challenging is how to garner some control over the medication for pain while also continuing to provide relief for the pain. This creates a distinct difference in how rehab usually proceeds for other opioid addicts who do not have a medical condition. In those patients, detox and withdrawal is the first step in recovery, but with a chronic pain patient, that protocol would have potentially devastating effects.
Instead, rehab programs for addicted chronic pain patients involve a multi-pronged approach that includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), pharmacotherapy (as some pain medication will still be required), physical therapy, and group counseling. The goal of the rehab program is to find a satisfactory balance point that allows for addiction education and treatment with pain management that is controlled.
Alternative Pain Management Options
Although doctors have become accustomed to prescribing opioids for pain management, more evidence is emerging that other medications can be equally effective in controlling pain. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrated that the non-opioid, ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) used to treat severe pain in an ER setting was as effective in reducing pain levels as the three opioids used in the study.
Other non-opioid pain medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as naproxen and aspirin), acetaminophen, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs and SNRIs, coritcosteroids and anti-epileptics such as gabapentin and pregabalin. In addition to medications, non-drug treatments and holistic elements include as yoga, acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, CBT, relaxation techniques, and physical therapy can be effective for pain relief.
Seeking Help at a Drug Rehab for Chronic Pain Patients
The Treatment Specialist offers resources to high quality treatment programs that treat chronic pain and dependency to prescription narcotics. Treating chronic pain patients who have become dependent on the prescription medications is a specialty within the recovery field, so contact The Treatment Specialist to get the expert help you or your loved one deserves. Call to speak to a specialist today at (866) 644-7911.