Opioid addiction for chronic pain

Misuse and addiction of opioids for pain management pose to be a national change in the U.S with more than 130 Americans dying due to overdose of opioids. The presence of illegal substances like heroin, prescription pain relievers, synthetic opioids, etc. hinders both the social and economic welfare of the country.

The opioid misuse in the U.S accounts for $78.5 billion per year which is taking a toll on healthcare, productivity, addiction treatment, criminal justice involvement, as cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Misusing prescription painkillers is a serious concern that leads to eventual addiction and overdose. These might be effective in relieving short-term chronic pain, but long-term use can develop a tolerance to the medication, and you end up experiencing withdrawals.

Thus, to overcome these issues, it is important to understand opioid use disorder before you start with the medications. It is advisable to talk with your doctor regarding the safe use and consult him right away even if you experience a slight change in your behavior.

Definition of Opioids

It is a group of pain-relieving drugs consisting of heroin, morphine or synthetic opioids, to help reduce pain caused due to injuries or surgeries. These drugs work by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain that are activated by the neurons. The brain cells release signals that cover your perception of pain, giving you a pleasant feeling.

Opioids are not safe if not taken under the doctor’s guidance. People with obesity, sleep apnea, depression, and fibromyalgia should avoid taking opioid medication. Inform your doctor about your medical history and family medical history before adopting opioids.

Before adhering to opioid addiction for chronic pain, speak to your doctor!

Opioid Addiction

Opioid Addiction

It is known as abusing and misusing opioids to get high or get rid of withdrawals. I have listed down some signs that people undergoing opioid medication may show:

  • Taking medication more than the prescribed dose 
  • Thinking of taking other opioid medications without consultation
  • Taking medications for other reasons
  • Accepting the fact that opioids are affecting your day-to-day activities
  • Giving more priority to medicines than participating in day-to-day life activities
  • Running out of medicines before the next refill
  • Stealing money to obtain opioids
  • Continuing with the medications even while suffering from physical and psychological disorders
  • Prioritizing opioid medication over the family
  • Trying to trade medications

In such cases, there are numerous treatment options to overcome opioid addiction for chronic pain. If you face such issues, then make sure you adhere to any of these treatments. Many of them might be time-consuming, but they are highly effective and recommended by doctors.

Disclaimer: Irrespective of the anti-opioid claims emerging online, opioids are known to be effective for long-term pain if taken under professional guidance.

Treatments available to cope up with opioid addiction

Medication-assisted treatment:

Medication-assisted treatment

Medical professionals will give you three common medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. This will help to reduce withdrawals, cravings, and overdose. Many might have to be taken for a longer period, while some can be short-term (depending on the patient’s situation).

In-patient treatments:

In-patient treatments

Based on your condition, your doctor suggests for hospital-based programs or comprehensive programs. Some hospitals will ask you to go through a detoxification process, or you will have to go to extensive rehabilitation programs that include proper counseling and stay for a few months. 

Group therapy:

Group therapy - opioid addiction

This approach can be truly effective for patients suffering from chronic pain. Opting for psychologist-run group therapy helps in making you feel that your problems are smaller as compared to others. Here, all patients sit together to address their concerns and get counseling to change one’s life positively. Thus, ask your doctor for recommendations for psychologists, specialists, and experts that use evidence-based strategies. 

Individual psychotherapy:

Individual psychotherapy

Meeting a professional psychologist is a great way to learn effective problem solving and coping skills. This can be through talk therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and likewise. They lend you an ear to listen and give you lessons on facing challenges, life issues, and mental health problems. 

Going to a psychologist can help you a lot. I have jotted down some reasons based on the treatment I have been giving to my patients:

  • Living with chronic pain can be mentally and physically exhausting. Attending psychologists can help in developing strategies to manage chronic pain, improve sleeping habits, and attain a better quality of life.
  • People misusing drugs have many other health problems like depression, anxiety, and Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychologists are real angels who will help in overcome drug habits and impart good virtues to live a better way.
  • Psychologists will help patients to understand the reasons why we need drugs and identify common triggers. They cater to develop strategies to avoid places and situations that can act as a trigger to incorporate the habit again. In the end, you leave with skills to control one’s lives and decisions in the future.

Techniques used by psychologists to overcome opioid use disorder:

There are several approaches undertaken by psychologists to help patients suffering from drug misuse and chronic pain. Head down to know some of the commonly used techniques. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)- opioid addiction

This is a short-term goal-oriented treatment that aims at changing patterns of thinking and behavior. It is useful for a wide range of health problems like mental health, depression, drug abuse, alcohol, relationship, sleeping difficulties, and likewise. 

Herein, the patient and psychologist try to understand the problem and develop principles that can be applied to tackle the problem. This is effective opioid pain management that takes approximately 5-10 months to recover. 

It is a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy that emphasizes the importance of personal space keeping close attention to the relationship between our problems, behavior, and thoughts. 

The patient will be able to identify negative thoughts, inaccurate beliefs, unhelpful behavior, and find ways to be happy through socializing.

Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing

Psychologists conduct a non-judgemental and non-aggressive interview to understand the patients’ inner pain by sniffing through the past and giving them the motivation to start their lives on good terms. The main focus is given to change them mentally and emotionally. 

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

This is a short period of an evidence-based program that offers intensive mindfulness training to help people with anxiety, stress, depression, and chronic pain. This therapeutic intervention aids in educating people about the principles of mindfulness and generates the ability to tune the body’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior into the present moment.

It stresses on creating awareness about how the unconscious mind and behavior can negatively affect the emotional and physical health of the body. After a few weeks of the interview, strategies are planned to address the needs of a specific patient. 

Psychologists work hand in hand with the patient to find solutions that can help in the long run. On the other hand, the patient needs to be a bit more patient and complete the entire counseling sessions with full dedication. 

These are some of the interventional procedures for a meaningful quality of life for the patient. Take action before the opioid speaks for itself!

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