To help shed light on the growing national problem with opioid drugs, Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist, lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.
(BPT) - While a decade ago you may not have heard much about opioids, today they make headlines daily. The nationwide epidemic crosses generations and socioeconomic lines, and it's affecting your family, friends and neighbors.
"Opioids have long been used clinically to treat pain, but prior to the 1990s they were primarily reserved for patients with a limited life expectancy, such as for someone with cancer or in a hospice setting," says Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist. "The potential problems associated with long-term use were secondary considerations."
To help shed light on this growing national problem, Dr. Hooten lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.
Opioids are prescribed for various reasons
Opioids are used to treat a variety of pain disorders. While they are commonly prescribed after an operation, opioids are also used to treat a host of chronic pain conditions including musculoskeletal, abdominal, pelvic, and neuropathic pain.
Length of use varies
"Following surgery, up to one in four patients may use opioids longer than anticipated," says Dr. Hooten. "How long, exactly, depends on several clinical factors."
He notes that after an operation, a patient might use opioids to manage acute pain for three to five days.
"When opioids are used for acute postoperative pain, patients should try to use the lowest possible dose." After this short time period, opioids should be replaced with non-opioid pain medicines including Tylenol scheduled to be taken every six hours."
There are alternatives for pain management
There are many alternative options for chronic pain. Dr. Hooten suggests talking with your doctor about:
* Non-opioid analgesics (non-opioid pain medications).
* Interventional treatments such as image-guided spine injections or nerve blocks. * Acupuncture.
* Low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates. Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a structured exercise program.
* For advanced pain treatment, spinal-cord stimulation can disrupt the pain stimuli and provide sustained pain relief.
* Work with a pain psychologist who can help teach individuals how to use specialized behavioral and cognitive techniques that could lead to improvements in daily functioning and quality of life.
Opioids can be deadly if misused
"Approximately 90 people per day die in the U.S. from a prescription opioid and/or an illicit opiate overdose," says Dr. Hooten. Many of those are accidental overdoses. “People who take prescription opioids will inadvertently mix them with benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium and Xanax). Dr. Hooten warns that these two drug classes should never be taken together, as the combination can suppress the central nervous system and put the individual at risk of an accidental overdose.
Addiction can happen to anyone
As Dr. Hooten notes, “No one plans to get addicted, but it happens. Using opioids requires a high level of vigilance for the signs and symptoms of addiction."
There are many signs of over-reliance or misuse that families should be aware of. These include an increased preoccupation with the drug, concern about the timing of the next dose or refill, hiding use of the drug, and signs of intoxication like slurred speech and excessive sleep.
If you notice these warning signs, alert your loved one about your concerns. "This might be enough to prompt a change," says Dr. Hooten. "Otherwise relay this information to the prescriber and tell them what’s going on. They can take the correct next steps."
For more information on pain medication and alternatives, or to make an appointment, visit www.mayoclinic.org.
America is in the midst of an ongoing opioid epidemic affecting families across the country. Reports show that there are almost 80 opioid-related overdoses a day, amounting to more than 28,000 deaths annually. Accordingly, it is increasingly important that responders understand how to prevent death from overdose, including knowing how to use naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication.
Overcoming the Opioid Epidemic
(Family Features) America is in the midst of an ongoing opioid epidemic affecting families across the country. Reports show that there are almost 80 opioid-related overdoses a day, amounting to more than 28,000 deaths annually.
This figure continues to climb as over 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Additionally, the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, W-18 and carfentanil are threats to those already using opiates as the epidemic worsens.
Where do opioid overdoses occur?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that 77 percent of opioid overdose related deaths occur outside of a medical setting and 56 percent occur in private homes, meaning family or friends must often be the first to take action in an emergency situation. Accordingly, it is increasingly important that responders understand how to prevent death from overdose, including knowing how to use naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication.
What does naloxone do?
Naloxone, the antidote that reverses an opioid overdose, works by neutralizing the opioid receptors in the brain, allowing an overdosed person to breathe again moments after it is administered. It’s been used in ambulances and hospital settings for decades and is now available for people to use in their homes or other remote areas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 reversals of overdoses with naloxone are conducted by non-medical bystanders. Without having a solution in the hands of those closest to opioid-related overdoses, lives are left hanging in the balance while waiting for emergency medical services. However, there is an FDA-approved naloxone nasal spray designed for use by laypeople, like friends and family, who are not medically trained. It’s needle-free and requires no training or assembly to use while providing a strong enough dose to help reverse opioid-related overdoses. Naloxone is only effective in opioid-related overdoses and does not affect a person without opioids in their body.
What can you do?
A majority of states have issued standing orders for FDA-approved naloxone products, which permit pharmacies to dispense the nasal spray without a physician’s prescription. If you or someone you know is susceptible to an opioid-related overdose, whether caused by illicit drugs, like heroin, or prescription painkillers, it is important to prepare for an emergency overdose situation. By having naloxone on hand, you can save a life when every second matters.
Learn more about naloxone at getnaloxonenow.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
With concerns mounting about the prevalence of opioid use and abuse in the U.S., a new study validates the effectiveness of acupuncture and other non-drug health therapies for pain. The National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health compiled evidence on how complementary health therapies – including acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy and relaxation techniques – are effective in treating chronic pain.
Effective, Opioid-Free Pain Management Options
(Family Features) New research is giving pain sufferers a dose of good news. With concerns mounting about the prevalence of opioid use and abuse in the U.S., a new study validates the effectiveness of acupuncture and other non-drug health therapies for pain.
The National Institute of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health compiled evidence on how complementary health therapies - including acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy and relaxation techniques - are effective in treating chronic pain.
The top five pain conditions commonly treated in primary care settings - back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, severe headaches and migraine, and fibromyalgia - were evaluated. The study showed that acupuncture in combination with yoga is the most effective therapy for back pain and acupuncture with tai chi is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis pain in the knee.
"As addictions to, and deaths from prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone continue to rise, raising awareness on complementary and alternative pain therapies like acupuncture is more important than ever," said Kory Ward-Cook, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). "The research from National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health brings greater attention to the use of acupuncture to treat and relieve chronic pain."
Experts in the field are pointing to the study, which was published in the "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" journal, as a pivotal opportunity in shifting how patients explore treatment for their pain management. The findings support the benefits of non-drug approaches to help those with chronic pain more safely manage their conditions without the harmful side effects of opioids.
The study explored seven widely-used non-drug treatments:
Acupuncture: Using practices derived from traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. Nationally Board-Certified practitioners, whose credentials can be verified through the NCCAOM, are affirmed to have the education and training necessary to competently deliver acupuncture therapy. To learn more or find a NCCAOM board-certified practitioner in your area, visit nccaom.org.
Spinal manipulation or osteopathic manipulation: This approach involves applying controlled force from hands or a device to move a joint past its normal range of operation with the goal of improving health.
Massage therapy: Using hands (or sometimes forearms or elbows), therapists manipulate muscles and soft tissue to relieve tension and pain.
Tai chi: These mind and body practices involve a series of postures and movements integrated with mental focus, breathing and relaxation techniques.
Yoga: A generally low-impact approach to physical well-being, yoga spans physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Practicing certain sets of yoga poses may help reduce pain.
Relaxation techniques: There are several types of relaxation techniques, including meditation, that strive to bring the body to its natural state with slower breathing, lower blood pressure and a feeling of increased well-being.
Natural product supplements: Certain dietary supplements such as chondroitin, glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) and omega-3 fatty acids are commonly used to help treat inflammation often associated with pain.
"Opioids are dangerous, highly addictive and do not treat chronic pain - only mask it," said Bill Reddy, Director of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium and a NCCAOM-certified and licensed acupuncturist. "To solve the opioid epidemic, we must apply the most powerful, innovative approaches to address the root cause of pain within the human body."
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Football players face more than just concussion worries, little-known neurologic condition also prevalent
(BPT) - There’s been a lot of attention recently on the effects of sports-related brain injuries. However, PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA), a neurologic condition that causes uncontrollable, sudden outbursts of crying and/or laughing in people with brain injuries or certain neurologic conditions, is absent from the dialogue. An estimated 7 million Americans suffer from PBA, but awareness is low and many people don’t know they have it.
A recent survey from the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund assessed the prevalence and impact of PBA symptoms in former professional football players. Ninety-nine percent of all players had experienced head trauma or injury during their football career. And more concerning is that a third of these players admit to experiencing symptoms consistent with PBA; and most were unaware that PBA symptoms may result from head injury. PBA is not limited to sports-related brain injury; it can also occur in people with brain injuries from other causes like car accidents or falls, or certain other neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or multiple sclerosis.
PBA episodes may occur several times a day and last from seconds to minutes, can be exaggerated or don’t usually match what a person is feeling on the inside, and can occur spontaneously, often with no clear trigger.
Additional findings from the survey include:
* The majority of the former players surveyed were aware of symptoms like memory loss (73 percent), difficulty thinking (60 percent), and headache (60 percent) as a result of brain injury. However, few were aware of PBA-like symptoms.
* Among former players surveyed with PBA-like symptoms, the greatest impact of these symptoms appears to be on spending time with family, maintaining a marriage, working and being able to participate in social activities.
* Only 16 percent of former players reporting any PBA-like symptoms had discussed their symptoms with a health care professional, and just over half of them received any diagnosis or explanation for their symptoms.
* Common reasons for not reporting crying or laughing episodes to a physician were “thought it was just depression” (29 percent) or “too embarrassed to mention” (25 percent).
“People who suffer from PBA may find their symptoms challenging, and suffer an emotional toll. PBA can negatively impact social interactions, and sometimes these crying or laughing episodes are so interpersonally disruptive for people that they may interfere with their normal activities,” says Dr. Greg O’Shanick, National Medical Director Emeritus of the Brain Injury Association of America. “The good news is PBA is treatable. People who have, or think they may have PBA should talk to their doctor about ways to manage their symptoms.”
For more information about PBA and the survey visit www.TacklePBA.org or talk to your doctor.
(BPT) - Drug and alcohol addiction can destroy careers, tear apart families and ruin lives. With 43,982 total drug-induced deaths each year, addiction continues to be a problem in the United States.
“Experiencing or watching a loved one battle an addiction is heartbreaking,” says JJ Bush, Executive Director of Behavior Rehabilitation Services. “But there is always hope. Years of research in the field has provided insight into the most effective treatment options. The treatments for addiction recovery are now more effective than ever.”
If you or someone in your life is struggling with addiction, here are some facts you need to know:
Prescription drug addiction is no different than illicit drug addiction.
When you think of drug addiction, prescription drugs are probably not the first substance that comes to mind. This is because many believe getting high on legal drugs holds a lesser stigma than using illegal street drugs, but prescription drugs can be just as dangerous. For example, painkillers and anti-anxiety medication can be safe and effective when used as prescribed, but they are no safer than illicit drugs. Many addiction recovery centers offer programs that specialize in prescription drug addiction as people who abuse these drugs often require treatment.
Anyone can recover from addiction, just like anyone can become addicted.
An addicted person might believe he or she can get off drugs without help and achieve a permanent drug free status, but the CDC cites these as common myths. “If patterns of addiction occur for many years, it’s not easy to break the habitual cycle,” says Bush. “Breaking an addiction is an extremely difficult process. Everyone who faces this challenge needs to know it is possible to get help and recover. But prying the grip of alcohol and drugs away from a life requires inpatient treatment.”
Addiction can occur anywhere, in any demographic.
Addiction affects people everywhere without discrimination. Race, ethnicity and gender don’t have any say when it comes to who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction groups, meetings and recovery centers host people from various walks of life, some who may have nothing in common but their addiction.
It’s common to be addicted to more than one substance.
While you might assume every addicted person has a favorite drug and sticks to it, cases of polysubstance abuse — when a person uses multiple classes of substances — are not uncommon. Some examples of this include “speedballing,” a known practice which combines the effects of heroin and cocaine and the mixing of alcohol with stimulants. Many addicts in recovery rationalize using another substance with the thought that it isn’t their “drug of choice,” leading them to fall back into addiction process. Cases like this are often more difficult to treat, but a professional rehabilitation program can offer effective recovery results.
Untreated addiction can lead to death.
In 2013, drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in the United States, CDC data reports. When addiction to drugs or alcohol becomes a pervasive problem — affecting relationships, employment, physical and emotional health — the addicted person needs to get help before it’s too late. Assistance from a professional inpatient treatment program becomes the solution to gaining lasting recovery.
If you or anyone in your life is struggling with addiction, take the first step towards recovery. For more information, visit behavioralrehabilitationservices.com or call (866) 413-3785.
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