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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Deprescribing Addictive Opioid Painkillers

People experiencing pain go to their doctor, which often results in the prescribing of opioid painkillers. So, why can’t patients also work with their doctors to get off addictive painkillers? People who are struggling with any form of a substance use disorder are always encouraged to seek assistance. When under the care of a treatment center, clients are weaned off of particular drugs or are given medications to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal.

prescription opioids
Medical care and the help of addiction specialists aid people living with use disorders stem the tide of one’s disease long enough for a program of recovery to take root. Those who attempt to abstain from drugs and alcohol on their own are often able to manage it for varying lengths of time, yet relapse is in many cases only a matter of time. Opioid use disorder cases are made complicated by the fact that many painkiller addicts are in legitimate physical pain. Without an effective means of coping with one’s discomfort, addiction treatment may not lead to favorable outcomes.

It may surprise some Americans to learn that prescription opioid addicts living with chronic pain would like a way out. Nobody would wish opioid use disorder on even their worst adversary. However, the thought of returning to a life of experiencing constant pain is too much for most people to contend with, and use continues. Prescription opioid addicts living with chronic pain must be introduced to alternative forms of pain management, if recovery is to have the desired effect on a person’s life.


Walking Off Opioid Use Disorder

In Santa Clara, CA, the Pain Management Rehabilitation, a pilot program at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, is helping people with chronic pain overcome opioid use disorder, NBC News reports. The clinic's doctors work with individuals like Marti Krow-Lucal, 67, who is living with neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that causes debilitating pain. Krow-Lucal became addicted to the methadone she used to treat her pain, according to the article. She attempted to quit but, like many in her same boat, the task proved too difficult to manage on her own. Fortunately, Marti met Kelly Gerughty, 40, a recovering opioid addict who is also living in pain.

"I tried to quit by myself. After a day and a half, I was in withdrawal, nose running, in pain, I couldn't do it alone," said Krow-Lucal. "I said, is it possible to get off them? And she [Gerughty] said, well I did. Hearing someone say yes, I did it, was so encouraging." 

Doctors at Pain Management Rehabilitation essentially “deprescribe” people who come to them for help, according to the article. In place of the opioids, the clinic teaches patients ways to combat pain that, in some cases, are more efficient than opioids. Such as meditation, physical therapy, pool therapy, and group walks. The “group” side of this program is essential, and its impact is reminiscent of why programs like AA and NA are successful.

"A lot of those can be used in place of opioids with even better coverage for pain," said Gerughty. "They hook you up with classes that you can attend with other members, so the fellowship is there, which I think is the most important thing for me because when you know that someone cares that spurred me on, that encouraged me." 

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Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

At Hope By The Sea, we have helped a significant number of chronic pain patients break the cycle of opioid use disorder. Such clients are given tools, are taught techniques for managing their pain in healthy ways, and are now living fulfilling and productive lives in recovery. Please contact us today if you or your loved one is struggling with opioid addiction.

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