What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that interact with opioid receptors in the brain and on nerves throughout the body. They include the illegal street-drug heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and prescription pain medications like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. When opioid pain medications were first introduced, scientists and doctors hailed them as a game-changer for pain relief. The belief was patients in pain would no longer have to suffer in silence, and their discomfort could be alleviated in a safe and nonaddictive manner.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.
The heavy marketing of these drugs combined with exaggerated claims about their safety led to the over prescribing of opioids medications for pain. Now the world and medical community know differently, but millions of people are still paying the price. Staggering amounts of opioid addiction and overdose have resulted from excessive prescribing of these drugs.
For patients recovering from recent traumatic injuries or surgery, or for people at the end of their lives, opioid pain medication may be the only way to alleviate the severe discomfort they feel, and pain management doctors often rely on these powerful painkillers for just those those kinds of uses. But for longer term management of chronic pain, the risk of addiction is just too significant.
Fortunately alternative treatments can be effective options and are generally preferable to the potentially addictive drugs. As the effectiveness of alternative treatments for pain gain recognition, many doctors are recommending these therapies for their patients.
Why Patients May Want to Avoid or Reduce Opioids for Pain Management
While in some cases, opioids may indeed be the best medicine for pain management, in others, patients would be well advised to avoid them. Opioids are powerful painkillers, but they can also have some serious side effects.
Among the more mild side effects of opioids are intestinal symptoms like constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain. These medications can interfere with the gut’s normal functioning, creating an uncomfortable situation for many patients. But it is the threat of addiction that looms large when it comes to opioids and this remains the greatest reason why alternative treatments are often a better approach.
Pain is a common underlying cause of drug addiction. Many people who start out with a prescription for their pain eventually turn to street drugs like heroin when they can no longer fill their prescriptions.
For people seeking treatment, a drug free alternative is required to get their pain under control and eliminate the need to self-medicate. At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we offer multiple types of holistic treatments and body work to help heal painful conditions at the root of substance abuse.
Opioid Alternatives for Pain Management
If your doctor has recommended opioids for your pain, you may want to ask some questions and inquire about alternative treatments that could relieve your pain without putting you at risk of addiction. There are many such alternatives that have few or no side effects.
Likewise, if you are in recovery and still dealing with pain, these alternative treatments may be able to provide the relief you’re looking for. Keep in mind that in addition to their pain relieving qualities, these therapies can also provide benefits like improved sleep and better mood.
Common Alternative Treatments for Pain
- Acupuncture – This form of therapy can be surprisingly effective for treating pain, often approaching similar results as opioids in short and long-term effectiveness. Ask your doctor and your insurance company about how acupuncture could relieve your pain and help you avoid the risk of addiction.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic adjustments can also be powerful treatments for pain relief, and the right treatment can make a world of difference. This alternative treatment program has been around for ages, and many former opioid patients are finding real relief with chiropractic care.
- Massage – Massage is not just an indulgence – it can rival opioids in terms of pain relief. Massage therapy improves circulation to old injuries, loosens muscle tension and can alleviate pressure on nerves. Best of all, this alternative treatment is one of the most pleasant paths to pain relief.
- Yoga – Practicing yoga has powerful effects on the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga improves flexibility, increases circulation, and relaxes the nervous system. These days it is easy to find classes online to try at home, and most cities and towns have yoga studios for in-person classes.
- Meditation and relaxation – Mindful exercises and other relaxation techniques can be great for pain relief, rivaling opioids in effectiveness. It may seem overly simple, but learning to calm your mind has powerful effects on the nervous system and how you perceive pain. Whether you join a meditation class or practice on your own, you can find real drug free relief from your chronic pain by learning to relax your mind and body.
Whether you’re hoping to avoid the need to start using opioids in the first place, or are seeking support in stopping using them, explore alternative treatments that can have significant benefits for pain. Contact WhiteSands Treatment to learn how we can assist your journey to overcome opioid addiction once and for all.
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.