painkiller addiction

Unique New Approaches to Painkiller Addiction Treatment

Nearly 75% of all prescription drug abuse stems from painkillers. So, whatever approaches we’re using for chronic pain management need to be updated. Thanks to continued medical research and scientific advancement, we are always finding incredible new ways to treat chronic pain. And, by replacing painkillers, we can properly address painkiller addiction on a large scale.

Here are four of the most promising new approaches to painkiller addictions that have developed in recent years.

1. Alternative Medication

If you suffer from a chronic pain condition, then alternative medications may be the best way to treat it. Doctors and pharmacists are finding new ways to address chronic pain without the need for addictive painkillers like opioids. While these medications might not have the same potency as opioids, they provide relief without the risk of addiction development.

Doctors are recommending over-the-counter acetaminophen as an alternative to painkillers. According to the American College of Rheumatology, more powerful versions of branded Tylenol provide powerful help. According to doctors, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can provide more efficient and powerful pain relief than oral opioids alone.

NSAIDs or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs provide something more potent than acetaminophen. These over-the-counter medications can lower fevers, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation. For some older patients, they can even help with GI problems, cardiovascular issues, and even prevent the risk of blood clotting.

Serotonin and reuptake inhibitors are also effective. Anti-depressants can help with nerve, muscular, and skeletal pain as well as to improve mood.

By using these and similar medications for chronic pain, people can avoid using painkillers entirely, and, therefore, avoid the risk of painkiller addiction.

2. Electronic Dispensers

If someone needs treatment for chronic pain during or after addiction rehab, it can be a challenge to find a solution that doesn’t risk their health.

When addiction is already part of past issues or family history, it can feel like there are very few solutions for chronic pain treatment. Moreover, some people need help managing their pain at home while they wait to get into an addiction treatment program.

Thankfully, buprenorphine can help manage both chronic pain and cravings for addictive painkillers. In fact, buprenorphine helps ease painkiller withdrawal symptoms and blocks the high when painkillers are consumed, effectively preventing relapse.

Under the supervision of a doctor, patients can manage their buprenorphine doses through tamper-resistant electronic pill dispensers.

So far, this solution has shown overwhelmingly positive results. People in recovery are able to manage their own cravings without jeopardizing their health. If these devices become more widely available and easier to obtain, surely more people will be able to recover from painkiller addiction while still treating their chronic pain.

3. Non-Opioid Treatment

In recent years, some treatments have sought to offer something other than opioids or painkillers to patients. Non-opioid medications, like some of the anti-inflammatory options listed above, can be an effective solution. Still, there are treatments that avoid using drugs or pills at all.

Physical therapy for chronic pain is one of the best of all possible solutions. With the help of a doctor that specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, those who struggle with chronic pain can get the help they need without the need for prescription drugs.

Physical therapy as a whole won’t reduce cravings in those already struggling with painkiller addiction. However, deep-tissue massages and other forms of physical therapy can greatly reduce the pain that necessitated prescription drugs in the first place.

For instance, acupuncture offers a lot of relief to people who are suffering from pain. This centuries-old form of non-opioid treatment for chronic pain helps by stimulating nerves and interrupting the pain signals that your body sends.

Surgery is another type of treatment that very few people think of as a solution for chronic pain (and, by extension, painkiller addiction). When someone is taking painkillers for chronic pain, correcting the issues that cause the pain— right at the source— might be a solution. While it’s a much more extreme form of treatment, it can put an end to the need for painkillers.

4. High-Tech Methods

So far, the methods of treating painkiller addiction have stemmed from addressing chronic pain conditions to prevent painkiller use at all. High-tech methods, for the most part, do the same thing. In fact, like physical therapy and alternative medicines, technology can relieve chronic pain and keep it from returning— all while eliminating the need for painkillers.

Radiofrequency ablation is a newly implemented way of dealing with pain by treating nerves. Inserting a needle next to the nerve responsible for pain and then burning the nerve with radio waves can change the pain signal. This short-circuits the pain for up to a year. So, people struggling with painkiller addiction can heal without the need to “replace” their painkillers with other medications.

Plus, with the help of X-ray imaging, medication can be injected directly into the body to block pain. This method might even prevent chronic pain from further developing.

If you’re looking for a solution that has a permanent impact, this is one that can help serious pain in limbs, the face, or the neck.

Painkiller Addiction Can Be Treated By Eliminating The Need for Drugs

Rather than seeing painkillers as the first and only course of chronic pain treatment, we need to think outside the box. If we can eliminate painkillers as part of the course of treatment for chronic pain, we can eliminate the potential for painkiller addiction.

For more information about the factors behind painkiller addiction, check out our guide for more.

References

7 Safe Alternatives to Opiates for Those in Recovery. (2019, July 01). Retrieved from https://www.smartrecovery.org/7-safe-alternatives-to-opiates-for-those-in-recovery/

A novel approach: Fighting painkiller addiction at home. (2016, December 22). Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2016/12/22/painkiller-addiction-suboxone/

Non-Opioid Treatment for Chronic Pain – When Seconds Count. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/non-opioid-treatment/

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.