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March 25, 2019
A holistic approach comprising a program offering acupuncture, gentle exercise, massage, and mindfulness may help prevent individuals taking prescription opioids from misusing these drugs, overdosing, and eventually losing their lives, suggested a study carried out at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF).
The study pursued the effects of a such a program on individuals belonging to low-income groups in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The study participants experienced constant pain and were seeking treatment at the Tom Waddell Urban Health Clinic and at a community health center, where medical students from UCSF were mentored and trained.
12 percent reduction in pain
According to the lead author, Dr. Maria T. Chao, PH, MPA, at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, opioids were usually given to individuals complaining of moderate to severe levels of pain owing to certain chronic health issues or due to pain following a surgery or an injury. Considering the potential hazards associated with using opioids, the researchers were keen to find out if a multi-modal, non-pharmacological program could help in decreasing the levels of pain and stabilizing the usage of prescription opioids particularly in individuals battling chronic pain.
To study the effectiveness of this approach, the researchers carried out a comparative analysis of 41 individuals taking prescription opioids like oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone for a period of three months. The study also took into consideration another lot of 20 participants keen to participate in this program. After their analysis, the researchers saw a 12 percent reduction in pain intensity in the participants administered the holistic program in comparison to those not administered the program.
Signs of improvement
According to Chao, the most remarkable improvement was a 22 percent increase in the ability of the patients to manage their day-to-day activities even with the pain. After the patients completed the program, they continued being a part of the weekly group offering similar services. During the program, while prescription opioids were used continually, the usage eventually dipped after a period of three months.
Chao said that by carrying out this research, they were not trying to claim that it was a one-stop solution for opioid crisis. They were just trying to increase the treatment options to manage pain more effectively and safely. She said that primary care physicians face a lot of pressure to cut down the prescription of opioids. However, the irony is that they have a restricted number of alternatives at their disposal to be able to do this and yet manage the pain their patients are facing effectively.
Factors responsible for chronic pain
Senior study author, Barbara Wismer, M.D., MPH, previously associated with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the UCSF Department of Family and Community Medicine, said that the framework for treatment for chronic pain is a biopsychosocial model. This suggests that although physical factors such as tissue injury, could be the reason behind experiencing constant pain, the psychological condition of the patient was also responsible for the feelings of pain. Some of the psychological attributes contributing to the pain and as observed in the study participants included conditions such as disability, post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), and transitional, unstable or room-rental accommodation. All of these 41 participants were earning less than $35,000 annually and a lot of them stated addiction to substances as one of the key reasons that led to these financial, legal, social, or health problems in their lives.
Chao further stated that alternative modes of treatment like massage and acupuncture were not at the disposal of the lower income groups. According to the researchers, patients with limited income and complex lives would be the ones reaping the maximum benefits of this approach, and thus they were keen to increase the scope of such treatment options for everyone.
Treatment for prescription drug abuse
Prescription drug abuse is a dangerous practice that leads to an individual losing control over themselves and gradually getting addicted. The prevalence of this practice is so widespread that an estimated 11.4 million people in the U.S. abused opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, in the past year, according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Of these, around 60 percent people reported that the last time they abused prescription drugs was to relieve physical discomfort and pain.
If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs, the Invictus Health Group can assist. Our specialized prescription drug abuse rehab centers make use of comprehensive programs that utilize prescription drugs detox treatment coupled with a number of other evidence-based procedures and experiential therapies, like yoga and meditation, to treat prescription drug abuse. Our experienced team of medical experts also help the individual combat the primary reason that led to prescription drug use. For more information call our 24/7 prescription drug abuse treatment helpline 866-548-0190 or chat online with a representative.