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Treating Pain or Enabling Addiction?

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Treating Pain or Enabling Addiction?

painkiller use and addiction
Making a Difference or Making Addicts?
Painkiller use has skyrocketed in the past decade, but has it made a difference in pain? According to a new study, the number of office visits for pain hasn’t changed.  The government is trying to address the problem with new labeling rules. Can these changes make a difference for people who are either coping with legitimate pain or starting down the road of addiction? More Prescriptions, But Still Plenty of Pain The numbers from a Johns Hopkins study show us the results: During the decade from 2000-2010, about half of doctor visits for pain were treated with prescriptions. But during that time, the number of opioid pain relievers prescribed doubled. Despite that increase in use of opioids, the number of office visits for pain has not declined. “This suggests that efforts to improve the identification and treatment of pain have backfired,” G. Caleb Alexander, M.D., the co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, said in a press release. For some types of pain, prescriptions for non-opioid analgesics have even declined. Other treatments and even other prescriptions like non-opioid analgesics are there, but their use has either remained the same or even declined.

The FDA and Labeling

Recognizing the flood of opioid prescriptions and the increase in opioid addiction, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to curb abuse by changing the labeling requirements on pain medications.  The older labels for extended-release and long-acting opioids said the drugs were for moderate to severe pain. The new labels will indicate that they are for severe (not moderate), round-the-clock pain that cannot be managed with alternative treatments. They should not be used on an ‘as-needed’ basis. The labels should be a guide for physicians to investigate pain more thoughtfully and consider other treatments when possible. If opioids have become too big a part of your life and you are concerned about prescription painkiller abuse, Stepping Stone can help. Call us at 866-957-4960 and talk to one of our admission counselors about getting into drug rehab today.


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