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Educate Yourself on America's Worst Man-Made Epidemic: Opioid Abuse

 

The United States is facing the worst “man-made epidemic” in history: Prescription Opioid abuse or more commonly known as pain killer abuse, and it is the direct result of poor research and outdated teaching practices. Opioids are an easily prescribed medication known to relieve pain, yet can create unnecessary dependences in those to whom they’ve been prescribed. Our team of highly trained doctors and nurses feel it important to let the Central Florida community know what harm opioids can cause, and what other treatment options available to those dealing with chronic pain.

As stated above, opioids are a type of medication that relieve pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids “reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.”

What many do not know about Opioids is that their negative effects greatly outweigh their capacity to treat symptoms. In a statement made by the American Academy of Neurologists, “patients taking opioid painkillers for chronic pain not associated with cancer -- conditions such as headaches, fibromyalgia and low-back pain -- are more likely to risk overdose, addiction and a range of debilitating side effects than they are to improve their ability to function”. 

Gary Franklin, MD, MPH, vice president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing stated that "there's been over 200,000 deaths from prescription opioids and many more hundreds of thousands of overdose admissions, and millions are addicted or dependent on prescription opioids”. Franklin continues that these patients are getting lost in healthcare systems, being prescribed pain killers for symptoms that should last only a few months, and ending up being dependent for years. 

Dr. Franklin states that when your doctor is tracking your pain and function, they must also make sure there is clinically meaningful improvement in pain and function specifically, not just the ability to cope with symptoms. Your physician needs to track those specific areas at each visit, to as quickly as possible eliminate opioid use and prevent it’s dependence.

If you suffer from chronic pain, discuss different treatment options with your doctor. Exercise, efficient sleep habits, cognitive behavioral therapy and stress reduction techniques are all well established treatment methods for patients dealing with chronic pain.

And if patients are not improving on opioid therapy, "the ongoing risk from continued treatment outweighs the benefit," Dr Franklin said, "And opioids in these patients should be tapered to zero.”

At Medical Research Group of Central Florida, patient safety and improving their condition is our top priority. Currently, we are conducting a research study to test the efficacy of novel treatment methods in persons diagnosed with fibromyalgia. If you would like to know more, call or click today!

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