Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chronic Pain, Addiction & Encouragement


Ten percent of people who are prescribed opioid analgesic drugs to address chronic pain become addicted to them.
 
Please allow that to soak in for a moment. Ten may not sound like much in the broad scheme but couple that with the finding that 20-30% of those prescribed these drugs are misusing them. That comes out to 1.9 million Americans living with prescription opioid abuse or dependence. These types of drugs are commonly prescribed for chronic pain and bear familiar names:

•codeine (Atasol, Tylenol 2, 3 or 4)
•morphine
•methadone
•meperidine (Demerol)
•hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
•oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)

The CDC conducted a survey with the following as one of the findings...
"By 2010, enough OPR were sold to medicate every American adult with a typical dose of 5 mg of hydrocodone every 4 hours for 1 month."
 
 This has not improved despite efforts to more closely regulate and monitor, not only the drugs, but the patients themselves through adequate follow-ups.  Overdoses from opioid analgesics are frighteningly high and misuse is not decreasing despite widespread information of how damaging these drugs are.

The science and complexity of addiction are clearly a large body of information unto themselves. I keep learning about addiction and researching ways that massage is helpful as a tool in the treatment of addiction and there is so very much to learn; so much that makes me hopeful for the clients who need this kind of care. Which brings me to my point: Besides the obvious downsides of abused pharmaceuticals, are the reasons that people need them in the first place...pain.

Chronic pain cycles are often vicious and always exhausting. The symptoms can and do vary widely and what works to manage it during one pain cycle may not even touch it during the next. Opioid analgesics provide relief. They do not treat the problem but they do address the pain. There is nothing in the world wrong with accepting pain killers when you need them. There is no shame and no need for guilt because they are another tool and one with a definite place. Pain is underappreciated by those who have never really suffered with it long term.

What I would implore is that you...
1. Know the facts about the prescriptions that you take. Understand what it does. I mean, what it really does. Learn about the short and long term effects on the body. Learn about the addiction risks. Learn how to use them responsibly. Do not underestimate the power of brain chemistry and how it can change your behaviors. Research it a little. Even a few minutes spent researching is a few minutes that you have put toward being responsible for your well being. You'll know more than you did before and that is never a bad thing.

2. Explore your options for chronic pain control. Try a massage! Massage has a huge and proven success rate with c.p. sufferers. Make it part of your own wellness plan and don't let yourself be distracted from getting to those appointments. Engage your own self care and create the toolbox that you need to manage your pain. Talk to your massage therapist about protocols regarding prescriptions and getting a massage. There is a time period between when you have taken a prescription and receiving massage that must be respected and anything that you confide to your massage therapist remains private.  Try acupuncture! Try essential oils! Try meditating! Try Reiki! Blend holistic therapies into your standard medical care (with plenty of communication with your physician, of course.) to reap bigger and better results. You are mind, body and spirit. Address yourself as a whole.

3. Keep learning! Chronic pain syndromes are not curable as yet. It is diverse. Not all of them share a root cause and with many of these, there is yet to be a discernable cause at all. Hopefully you trust your doctor but, above all, I hope that you trust yourself as well. Be a responsible caregiver to yourself. Have your best interests at heart at all times because no one will care for you like you will! There is a world of knowledge out there and I hope that this will help lead you on the way to learning more about your prescriptions, more about why you are in a pain cycle, more about how to manage what you are going through.

Every day you hear of prescription drug abuses. "On the rise" is a phrase I regularly hear on the news when this topic comes up and, despite more and more public awareness, it is, indeed, increasing. Opioid analgesics are a current leading cause of death. Just be aware and know that there are options out there to aid you in pain relief and control. You are not alone. There are many health professionals out there who are devoted to healing pain and who will work with you earnestly to get you where you want to be as well as providing support. Believe me, pain treatment does not begin and end with pain killers. You have options.

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3328297/

http://www.wolterskluwer.com/Press/Latest-News/Pages/Press%20Releases/2015/pr30Mar2015c.aspx

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6043a4.htm

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