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Understanding the Opioid Epidemic

_WB_BLOG3.OpioidUseOpioids have long been known for their powerful effects in minimizing and mitigating pain; indeed, many of the most potent prescription painkillers are opioids. Since opioids are also powerfully addictive, more and more researchers and clinicians are encouraging other, non-pharmaceutical approaches to pain management.

This much is evident from a recent National Institutes of Health report, which claims that mindfulness can help lower the intensity of chronic pain. Tellingly, these results are framed in the context of opioid use: “It is vital that we identify effective non-pharmacological treatment options for 25 million people who suffer from daily pain in the United States,” the report says. “The results from this research affirm that non-drug/non-opioid therapies, such as meditation, can help manage chronic low-back pain. Physicians and their patients can use this information to inform treatment decisions.”

This is good and timely, because opioid abuse continues to increase. According to a different National Institutes of Health report, as many as 36 million people in the world abuse opioids— with 2.1 million Americans struggling with opioid addiction due to prescription painkillers.

Indeed, though opioids is a class of drugs that also includes heroin, the growing level of opioid addiction in this country is much more frequently linked with prescription painkillers. While opioid painkillers can certainly get results, they all too easily lead into addiction and abuse, which is why many physicians have stopped prescribing them altogether.

Opioid addiction is a somber topic, to be sure, but there is good news. As these reports make plain, there are alternate ways to deal with pain. Second, recovery from opioid addiction is always possible. Diagnosis and treatment from WestBridge can provide the tools needed for ongoing, everyday pain management and coping.

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