Treating Pain Without Opioids

A program in Colorado is testing new strategies for dealing with chronic pain without the heavy use of opioids.

The opioid crisis is causing concern around the country and several doctors are looking at ways to fight it.

A program in Colorado is testing new strategies for dealing with chronic pain without the heavy use of opioids.

Barkin says, “It was a huge reduction, and you know it was a comprehensive effort.”

Researchers hoped to see a fifteen percent drop in the number of opioids prescribed in emergency rooms; instead, they saw a thirty six percent decline.

Last year ten Colorado hospitals started a six month test case and now the results are in.

Dr. Adam Barkin of Sky Ridge Medical Center, one of the participating ER’s, says they not only worked to cut the number of opiates patients are using “but also the opiates that are out there, that are in medicine cabinets, that kids and other people can gain access to.”

They did it by writing fewer opioid prescriptions, treating pain without narcotics, and getting addicted patients on therapy medication.

Treating pain at the source point, by not sending narcotics through the bloodstream was critical.

Another big part was changing the communication, letting the patient know “we’re going to treat your pain; we’re just going to treat it with a different approach.”

Of course participants acknowledge times when alternatives simply don’t work, and the traditional route must be taken.

This is the country’s first large-scale opioid research effort focused on emergency departments and it cost very little.

Doctors say many people who become addicted do not start with their own prescriptions, but rather unused leftover drugs that are in the home.

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