a helping hand
One cannot turn on the television or enjoy any sort of multimedia these days without becoming painfully aware about the epidemic of opioid abuse, addiction and dependence. Unfortunately many of those affected by drug abuse started with a simple visit to a doctors office or hospital. Many well-meaning physicians in an attempt to treat and comfort their patients began a prescription of opioid pain medicine. Because of the chemistry of these medicines and their interaction with the brain, this sometimes produces a vicious cycle that makes certain patients unable to wean from the medicine even after their initial injury has healed.
In light of the many stories of prescription drug addiction and overdose deaths from prescription medicine, many patients wish that they had a safe and effective way to eliminate these medications from their lives. This may arise because of concerns about their own personal health, or fear that their medications could be stolen or misused by a stranger or even by a family member. Whatever your reasons for wanting to discontinue opioid pain medicine, it usually is the right choice. In fact, most medical research suggests that there is no advantage to long term opioid pain medicine above more conservative treatments that do not involve narcotic prescription medicine.
Luckily, you don't have to do this alone. Abruptly stopping pain medicine or attempting your own withdrawal may be more than just uncomfortable, it could actually be dangerous. Eliminating these medications requires a four pronged approach. The first step is to fully investigate the source of pain and determine whether there is a readily available treatment which can eliminate this pain on a permanent basis. Some patients get started on pain medicine without fully having this process evaluated and there may be a simple cure. The second process is to evaluate all possible alternative and conservative treatments that can offer pain relief that is similar to, or even better than narcotic pain medicine. The third stage is to begin a careful medically supervised weaning program that may occur over many, many months, or sometimes up to a year depending on your current dose of these medications. The next phase is to evaluate any psycho-social factors that may contribute to the pain syndrome and/ or may prevent an individual from adequately coping with their pain. This can be accomplished with biofeedback, counselling, or psychiatric treatment in extreme cases. Finally, a careful monitoring process for signs and symptoms of withdrawal, coupled with appropriate treatment for these symptoms can greatly ease the long process of opioid weaning.
Whatever your reasons for opioid weaning, we applaud you for taking your first step in seeking more information. Please know that you do not have to do this alone, there are scientifically proven medical treatment options to help you avoid the dangers of chronic opioid use. We're here to help you in your journey.
If you'd like an evaluation for our opioid weaning program, please contact us to schedule an initial appointment with one of our providers.
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