How to prevent opioid addiction is the focus of numerous government and community organizations.
With the opioid crisis in full swing, the U.S. government and a growing number of private and non-profit organizations are turning their focus to the question of how to prevent opioid addiction. Educational and outreach programs in high schools, colleges, and communities are becoming more prevalent, but there’s one demographic that seems to be overlooked: Chronic pain sufferers.
Living with chronic pain isn’t easy. It affects your body, mind, and spirit and reduces your quality of life and sense of wellbeing. Opioid prescription painkillers are powerful pain relievers that can bring much-needed respite from chronic pain, but these medications are highly addictive, leading many to wonder how to prevent opioid addiction in chronic pain sufferers.
The Prevalence of Pain and Opioid Addiction in America
Chronic pain that’s not caused by cancer is one of the most common–and debilitating–medical conditions, but it’s very difficult to manage. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 30 percent of Americans–and more than 40 percent of older Americans–suffer from chronic pain, and opioids are highly effective for treating it. But at what cost?
Research shows that opioids are deeply over-prescribed. In 2014, 245 million precriptions were written for opioid painkillers. In 2016, post-surgery patients were given an average of 85 pills, according to new research funded by Pacira Pharmaceuticals. This resulted in around 3.3 billion unused pills, many of which will eventually find their way to the streets.
Of the 44,000 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2013, more than a third were attributed to opioid prescription painkillers. In 2014, 2.5 million adults in America were addiction to opioids.
How to Prevent Opioid Addiction
The answer to the question of how to prevent opioid addiction isn’t simple. Preventing prescription drug abuse will require attacking the problem on many fronts. The solutions to prevent prescription drug abuse involve a number of essential approaches:
- Reducing the transfer of opioid pain medications from the person for whom they were prescribed to others, such as friends or family members who use them to self-medicate their own pain or to get high.
- Improving the prescribing process and providing more oversight for physicians prescribing opioids.
- Assessing an individual’s addiction risk before prescribing opioids.
- Educating patients about opioid addiction and dependence as well as teaching young people about the dangers of opioid abuse.
- Making opioid abuse and addiction treatment more accessible to people who need it.
Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction Among Pain Sufferers
For those suffering from acute or chronic pain, opioids can be a godsend. But they can also lead down a dark path of addiction and dependence. Educating pain patients about the risks and dangers of opioid painkillers is one of the most important solutions to prevent prescription drug abuse. Careful monitoring of pain patients’ medication is another essential task.
In cases where a pain patient has a high risk of opioid addiction, looking for alternative pain medications and other pain treatments can help prevent addiction. Combining alternative therapies like acupuncture, meditation, massage, and yoga with opioid medications at lower doses is another possibiity for preventing opioid abuse, addiction, and dependence among chronic pain sufferers.
If you suffer from chronic pain and are addicted or dependent on opioid painkillers, a high quality treatment program can help you beat the dependence or addiction alongside a pain treatment team who can help you find an alternative treatment plan that works for you.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.