The Opioid Summit 2018: Attempting to Curb the Crisis
The Crisis Continues
The opioid epidemic remains a hot-button topic as it continues to claim lives and disrupt communities across the nation. As families lose loved ones to overdoses, bustling cities and rural towns alike struggle to shut down cheap, tainted heroin, and pain patients are left with little to no direction on how to manage their pain as more doctors reduce or eliminate opioid prescriptions. The latest amplifier of overdose deaths is heroin laced with fentanyl.
However, it seems as though we may be moving in the right direction. Increased publicity of the crisis has helped educate millions on the lethal nature of these drugs, especially Fentanyl and Carfentanil. Additionally, more pain patients are understanding the problematic paradox of relying on opioids for long-term chronic pain management. Unfortunately, this issue remains divisive due to the fact that many pain patients, who have used their medication as directed and believe they are effective, are losing access to them nonetheless.
One of the biggest leaps forward came just recently as OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, announced they will no longer be marketing their opioid painkillers to doctors and their practices . Many hope this announcement will influence physicians to prescribe opiates only when absolutely necessary, and limit prescription quantity to reduce overexposure and dependence to the drugs. Here at A Healing Place – The Estates, we too are doing everything in our power to make an impact on this crisis, and to guide our pain patients to a life free from suffering without reliance on opioid medications.
Opioid Summit 2018
Earlier this month, A Healing Place – The Estates and fellow treatment professionals gathered together with public-health stakeholders and the DEA to discuss the state of the opioid epidemic at this year’s Opioid Summit in Tempe, Arizona. Marketing and Clinical Outreach Associate, Scott McCutchan, tabled our booth at the event and was happy to introduce our program to attendees. He also answered many questions about how we address addictive behaviors and chronic pain management concurrently. One of the most frequently asked questions was: “Do you take away everyone’s medications when they arrive at your program?” We thought it would be best to share this answer with our readers as well.
A Healing Place – The Estates maintains the position that abstinence is always the goal in addiction recovery. However, since we are also dealing with patients suffering with chronic pain we assess each patient and customize their treatment plan to optimize success. In some cases, an individual can manage their pain and suffering through the tools and education offered here at A Healing Place – The Estates. Click here for a list of treatment modalities patients may have access to at our treatment facilities. In other cases, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) may be an appropriate component of an individual’s treatment plan.
What is Medication Assisted Treatment?
In other more complex cases, an individual may benefit from a reduction of their problematic high-dose opioid medications, with a transition to recovery-friendly medications. This practice is known as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). As patients become more educated on their conditions and medications, they understand that the use of opioids to manage chronic pain can cause an increase in pain sensitivity. This is referred to Opioid Induced Hyperalgesia (OIH). Learn more about OIH here. Knowing this, patients become more willing to titrate off their problematic high dose opioids to a recovery friendly medication that both helps ease their cravings, and offers some symptom relief.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to Medication Assisted Treatment. One of the most commonly cited is that the medications are simply a replacement for an individual’s substance of choice. This is not the case, and these medications can play a crucial role in an individual’s journey to recovery.
Proper MAT includes relapse prevention planning and education, as well as developing healthy medication management skills while in treatment. One of the key goals of this process is to help patients identify their new baseline pain thresholds and teach them how to manage their suffering with non-pharmacological tools.
Opioid Summit Presentations
At this year’s Opioid Summit, Dr. Stephen Grinstead and Dr. Joseph Cabaret held a session regarding these non-pharmacological tools titled Self-Directed Holistic Modalities in Chronic Pain Management: Stepping Away from the Biomedical Model. For many chronic pain patients, the bio-medical model of passive pain management no longer effectively manages their suffering. Here at A Healing Place – The Estates, we help patients shift from passive symptom management (pills, shots, and medical interventions), to becoming an active participants in managing their chronic pain.
Here is a small clip from their presentation addressing this very topic.
As noted by Drs. Grinstead and Cabaret in the presentation, in order to effectively manage chronic pain we must also address the trauma and suffering attached to the primary medical condition. Dr. Cabaret mentions pulling away from the biomedical model and refocusing efforts on the psychological, social, and spiritual suffering.
Many of the complex chronic pain patients treated at A Healing Place – The Estates have significant grief and loss attached to prior levels of functioning. Additionally, their conditions have isolated them from their friends, families, and social communities. In some cases, it is as if a their condition has driven a wedge between them and their former lives. Furthermore, they feel as if they have lost their purpose in life, but still feel a sense of calling to make an impact or difference in the world.
Each of these feelings adds fuel to suffering, and has the potential to significantly influence an individual’s perception of their pain. We must process, work through, and rise above this trauma in order to create a healthy relationship with one’s pain. Doing so eases the emotional response associated with one’s condition, and empowers an individual to better understand, prepare, and respond to their pain. We actually encourage our patients to make peace with their pain – a very tough sell sometimes, but nevertheless crucial for positive treatment outcomes.
A Special Opportunity
A Healing Place – The Estates’ CEO John Stenzel had the lovely opportunity to introduce a visionary in the treatment industry, Claudia Black, PhD. Dr. Black is best known for her research and publication of her work pertaining to family systems and addictive disorders. Many of the contemporary approaches to dealing with such cases are rooted in her work over the last 40 years. To learn more about Dr. Black and to purchase her latest book titled Unspoken Legacy: Addressing the Impact of Trauma and Addiction Within the Family please visit her web page here.
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