Prescription Opioids vs Non-Narcotic Painkillers
March 8, 2018
Knowing that a substance carries the risk for addiction is not always able to deter initiation. Human beings excel at rationalizing behaviors, even when their choices could lead them down a dangerous path. Naturally, if a person dabbles in cocaine and heroin use and becomes addicted, there is little cause for surprise. After all, so-called hard drugs are illegal because they have no known medical value, or the risks of use outweigh potential benefits. Nobody takes cocaine to cure a health disorder, right? Of course, the lines get blurry when the conversation shifts to prescription opioids, like OxyContin or Percocet.
People who struggle with chronic pain, in many cases, know the risks of taking a prescription opioid for relief and still choose to fill their prescriptions. They make a choice driven by a need to be free from pain, so they can function; in such cases, they tell themselves that the benefits outweigh the cons. A vast number of people living with chronic pain can rationalize opioids by saying to themselves, ‘anything is better than existing in severe pain.’ It’s a judgment call that is personal, and we could probably spend hours debating whether or not a lifelong mental health disorder is worth being pain-free?
Americans have a tenuous relationship with pain management and maybe, as a result, have become far too reliant on prescription opioids for any level of pain. Patients rarely question why doctors would prescribe dangerous narcotics if they didn’t show efficacy—if the pain relief wasn’t worth the risk. However, these are the hard questions we find ourselves needing to ask today. Please keep in mind that over half of all overdose deaths involve prescription painkillers.
Are Prescription Opioids Effective?
The American opioid addiction epidemic is alive and well. Despite the fact that people from practically every demographic are perishing at disturbing rates, most primary care physicians don’t shy from treating pain with these harmful medications. A reality that might cause some people to think that opioids aren’t as dangerous as the media would have us believe. Some may even discern that painkillers are a necessary evil in a nationwide effort to end all things pain. So, let’s look into the efficacy of opioids for treating chronic pain.
New research that appears in JAMA is concerning. A team of researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial involving a head-to-head comparison between opioids and non-narcotic pain meds, The Los Angeles Time reports. The study reveals that patients who rely on prescription opioids did not experience a higher level of pain relief over a year-long period. What’s more, the data sets indicate that in some cases patients taking over-the-counter medications like Tylenol saw relief; although, such cases are not exactly statistically significant. Perhaps the most crucial takeaway from the research is that both groups saw similar levels of pain relief, begging the question—why are doctors not prescribing more Motrin to their patients?
“Overall, opioids did not demonstrate any advantage over non-opioid medications that could potentially outweigh their greater risk of harms,” writes lead researcher Dr. Erin Krebs, of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System’s Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research. Krebs adds, “Results do not support initiation of opioid therapy for moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain.”
Opioid Addiction Treatment
Are you or a loved one struggling with an opioid use disorder resulting from chronic pain treatment? If so, Christians Drug Rehab can help you stem the tide of opioid addiction, develop a non-narcotic pain management program, and give you the tools to lead a life in recovery. Please contact us today for free consultation.