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In the United States, prescriptions for opioids increased fourfold between 1999 and 2018. There has also been an increase of overdose and death due to opioids. It is estimated that 60% of the deaths caused by non-cancer opioid use happens when the drugs are taken as prescribed.

Risks of Opioid Therapy in Managing Chronic Pain

Recovering addicts are at higher risk of overdose when using opioids. Many physicians will not prescribe opioids for chronic pain management if the patient has a history of substance abuse. Along with the risk of abusing the medication, opioids have other risks that should be considered before use.

  1. Tolerance to the drugs builds rendering the drugs less effective.
  2. Like heroin, the street counterpart, opioids produce euphoria that addicts crave.
  3. Opioids suppress hormones.
  4. Opioids increase abdominal pain and sensitivity.
  5. Opioids can cause chronic constipation.

What is Non-Opioid Therapy?

When a patient is in rehab, her assigned therapist will offer treatment recommendations and a continuing care plan that details activities and support needed to manage chronic pain and avoid relapse. For those with a history of drug abuse, non-opioid therapy is preferred. This plan will include medication and other treatments.

Medications Used in Non-Opioid Therapy

Opioids are a class of drugs used for pain management. It is common for opioid users to become dependent on the drugs, leading to addiction. Opioids, synthetic narcotics, include Oxycontin, Demerol, Methadone, Percoset (oxycodone), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), and Duragesic (fentanyl).

Instead of using these potent drugs, physicians will prescribe non-narcotic medications to those at risk for substance abuse.  These medications are available over-the-counter and have fewer side-effects.

  1. Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  2. Aspirin (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)  
  3. Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen)
  4. Aleve or Naprosyn (naproxen sodium)

Treatments to Replace Opioid Therapy

Instead of prescribing opioids for chronic pain management, physicians may opt to prescribe alternative treatments.

  1. Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Medicine whereby thin needles are inserted into the skin at precise locations. It is believed that the needles reestablish proper energy flow in the body and can relieve illnesses, including pain.
  2. Mindfulness: The practice of living in the moment, staying in touch with one’s emotions and sensations in the body. By focusing on pain when it occurs, one can help to diminish the effects of the pain.
  3. Writing Therapy: Writing about pain can help in recovery. Document when the pain occurs, events leading up the pain, and thoughts and feelings during the pain event to help decide how to handle future events.
  4. Gentle exercise: Increased flexibility decreases pain. Gentle exercises like swimming, biking, yoga, and light aerobic workouts will help increase flexibility.

Want Non-Opioid Therapy While i  n Rehab?

Chronic pain management can be done without opioids. For those who want to get off the opioids and manage their chronic pain, there’s help. Contact Northlake Recovery in Southern Florida at (561)-770-6616. An intake specialist is waiting to help you now.

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