March 24, 2014

Chronic Pain and the Problem of Addiction

Pain is real and people want relief. The painkillers created over the last two decades are very effective in helping most people with chronic pain, but they are also fueling a prescription painkiller epidemic and an astounding overdose rate. One painkiller that can be prescribed is methadone, but leading doctors are warning against its use.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) has warned that methadone is not the safest drug to use in the treatment of chronic pain. One-third of all opioid drug deaths are associated with methadone, but methadone represents only two percent of opioid prescriptions.

Currently, 33 states designate a varying methadone formulation as a preferred analgesic in their state preferred drug lists (PDLs).

PDL’s are usually less expensive and easier to get than drugs not included on the list – which means that the poor are receiving what is arguably the most dangerous of the opioid drugs. The AAPM further recommends that those professionals that prescribe the drug should have prior experience in its use or received special training.  The Center for Disease Control agrees with this recommendation.

If methadone is not to be used for chronic pain, what other choices are there? Another highly addictive and controversial pain drug called Zohydro is soon to be available.

Zohydro, a high-potency prescription opioid from Zogenix Inc, is set to hit the U.S. market this month, despite objections from law enforcement officials, addiction experts, drug treatment providers and physicians.

Potent new drugs are not the best answer for most patients, especially for long-term pain solutions. Zohydro is believed to be highly habit forming and have substantial ability to be abused. It should only be considered for pain where other options have completely failed.

People who suffer daily with pain desperately need alternative, non-addictive treatments for pain management.  There are many holistic, effective treatments that when used concurrently with other practices can greatly reduce pain in many patients. Talk to your physician or a person with substance use disorderion specialist about alternatives to prescriptions such as meditation and relaxation techniques and acupuncture. Pain relief can be found and does not always require pharmaceutical intervention.

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