As abuse of opioid prescription drugs runs rampant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on March 15, 2017, released new guidelines for prescribing narcotics for chronic pain. The guidelines are to serve as a suggestion for doctors writing scripts for opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, to help to curb overprescribing.
The opioid new guidelines seek to end abuse of drugs that have taken over the U.S. and the world. To be used as a reference tool, the CDC has detailed advice for doctors to follow. Specifically, the guidelines note that, other than for cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care, the use of prescription painkillers should only occur after other treatments have been exhausted.
Opioid Use vs. Nonopioid Drugs
To stop the abuse of the highly addictive medications, the CDC states that doctors should be using “nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy” for chronic pain. CDC research has found that ailments, such as osteoarthritis, back pain, and fibromyalgia, have all had success being somewhat alleviated with physical therapy.
It is important to note that the CDC has discovered no evidence that supports the long-term use of opioids will continue relieving one’s pain, and improve their quality of life. Amazingly, the center determined that exercise would reduce pain immediately, and continued to demonstrate a reduction in pain for another two to six months after treatments.
The release of the new guidelines comes as the government has witnessed rising use of the narcotics leading to overdose deaths. Accordingly, the CDC has also recommended other non-addictive prescriptions that doctors can give to patients to assist in relieving pain.
Along with physical therapy, doctors are advised to emphasize to patients with knee pain, the need for weight loss. Additionally, corticosteroid injections have been found to provide short-term pain relief for some ailments.
The CDC advocates the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, as a course of treatment that doctors should prescribe for pain instead of a narcotic. These are non-addictive and have been found to be effective for chronic pain. Respectively, many patients who deal with pain and have simultaneous depression, have been seen to benefit from antidepressants.
Surprisingly, even those without depression have seen relief from pain when given an antidepressant. Through their analysis, the center has determined that some antidepressants provide an efficient painkilling quality for several neuropathic pain conditions.
Working Together Can Diminish Opioid Use
Physicians are encouraged to work together, as an integrated pain management group, to help a patient in addressing all problems. Working as a team will help alleviate issues that have resulted in the past with over-prescribing of opioids. With a primary care physician, and a mental health care expert, along with specialists working as one, a patient can find a vast improvement in the quality of living.
The CDC acknowledges that opioids may still be needed in some chronic pain situations, even as opioid new guidelines seek to end abuse of drugs. In these cases, the center advises that opioids should be used along with nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid medications. In accordance, the CDC is recommending that treatment goals should be made between doctors and patients.
Opioid Addiction Can Happen in a Matter of Days
Following opioid new guidelines that seek to end abuse of drugs, the CDC released an updated report detailing how quickly narcotic addiction can happen. Undeniably, the report finds that those who do not have cancer and receive an opioid, have a sharp increase for chronic use beginning on the third day of taking the medication.
With every day of enduring narcotic medication, the likelihood of long-term use of one year or more continues. Researchers concluded that the biggest increase in chronic use abuse peaked after the fifth day of taking the medication, and then again after the first month. Accordingly, when a second prescription or refill was given, there will be even more of a likelihood that one will become addicted to opioid use.
Martin Bradley, a senior researcher from the division of pharmaceutical evaluation and policy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, specifically notes that long-acting opioids, such as Ultram, have more probability of promoting long time use, versus opioids like Vicodin or Oxycontin. As a result of the studies, it has been determined that physicians should allocate only three days at the most for an opioid prescription in order to curtail addiction.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Cathy Milne
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016
CBS News: New guidelines aim to reduce epidemic of opioid painkiller abuse
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Characteristics of Initial Prescription Episodes and Likelihood of Long-Term Opioid Use — United States, 2006–2015
CBS News: Opioid dependence can start within just a few days
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