Thursday, April 20, 2017

Opioid Addiction and Pain Management

pain management
Rough estimates indicate that some two million Americans are dependent on prescription opioids, though many experts believe that approximation is low. Between painkillers and other forms of opioid abuse, the problem has gained epidemic status. Those who become addicted to this class of drugs are at great risk of overdose and everyday nearly 100 people succumb to the side effects of opioid toxicity.

People who get hooked on powerful painkillers are in a tight spot, especially those who started using opioids as the result of experiencing chronic pain. Such people usually require detoxification and the assistance of an addiction treatment center, followed by working a program of recovery. While such programs are effective at addressing the addiction aspect, it is not as if one’s chronic pain is going to magically disappear. Unabated pain symptoms can, and do, steer individuals back into the cycle of addiction.

To be sure, there are in fact alternatives to opioids. They may not be addictive, but they are hardly as effective. Ibuprofen and the like can only do so much, a lot of people do not respond to acupuncture and holistic treatments. Which is why finding effective measures of pain mitigation could be argued as being just as important as ensuring access to addiction treatment services. Rest assured, researchers are working hard to find non-addictive medical alternatives that mirror the efficacy of opioids.


Complex Pain

One of the reasons treating pain effectively and safely, is that it is hard to measure the adequacy of a drug or procedure, because pain and one’s response to it is subjective. Big pharma has had limited success at developing opioid alternatives for decades, CBS News reports. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, pointed out that drug companies pumped a lot of money into the quest years ago, but “failed miserably.”

Tanezumab is one drug that has proven to be quite effective at treating pain caused by arthritis and bad backs, by targeting outlying nerves, according to the report. The drug blocks pain signals from reaching the spinal cord and brain that originate in the muscles, skin and organs. Unfortunately, tanezumab, pronounced tah-NAZE-uh-mab, has been plagued by setbacks which have kept it from market, even though trial participants experienced great results.

The drug blocks what is known as nerve growth factor—a protein made in response to pain—which might affect joint repair and regeneration in patients needing knee or hip replacements, the article reports. As a result, studies were put on hold in 2010 but have resumed again, results are expected sometime next year.


The Future of Pain Management

Cell therapies, stem Cells and sodium channel blockers are being researched by drug companies. Researchers are considering medicines that can be injected into joints to relieve pain, or grow cartilage. Drugs like Embrel for instance do not act directly on the brain rather targeting the pain pathways and specific types of pain caused by arthritis. There has also been much interest in developing cannabinoid medications that lack the euphoric or addictive properties. For the time being, opioid narcotics will still be the “go-to” painkillers, but it is a good sign that scientists are working hard to stem the tide.

It’s important to keep in mind that there may never be a cure-all pain medication that lacks addictive properties. What’s more, relying on less effective measures of pain management are likely the lesser of two evils when compared to the insidious nature of dependence and addiction. Better to live in some pain, as opposed to putting one’s life at risk of peril.

If you have become addicted to your opioid painkillers, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program can help you with the withdrawal process and begin you on the road of recovery. Under the guidance of our medical director, an alternative pain management treatment strategy will be developed. We have helped a significant number of people who have been in the position you find yourself.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Depression: Let's Talk

Addiction is a chronic disease. A form of mental illness that cannot be cured, like all mental health disorders, only treated. It's worth pointing out, before the article proceeds, that people with any form of mental illness are far more likely to experience a substance use disorder, than those without a history of conditions like depression or bipolar disorder. Spun in a different way, it is extremely common for people who meet the criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder to also have a co-occurring mental illness.

With that in mind, organizations dedicated to treating addiction have a more difficult task when it comes co-occurring cases—also known as a “dual diagnosis.” If treatment is to be successful, that is, resulting in a continued program of recovery, it is paramount that both the addiction and the other form of mental illness is treated at the same time. Treating one without addressing the other, almost always results in relapse.

Recovering from addiction and a co-occurring disorder is not easy, but it is possible with the help of experienced professionals employing the use of science-based methods. It is of utmost importance that people living with a dual diagnosis understand the risks associated with failing to work a continuous program of recovery and keeping the symptoms of other forms of mental illness at bay with the use of medication and/or therapy.


The Prevalence of Depression

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: let’s talk”. The goal, as you could probably guess, it to open discussion about the disorder, encourage people suffering from depression to seek help and to ensure that they have access to such assistance. The organization points out that, with more than 300 million people worldwide living with depression, the condition is believed to be the leading cause of poor health and disability on the planet. In that light, depression could be considered a pandemic.

“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. 

WHO has made the disorder the main focus of World Health Day this Friday, April 7, 2017. The organization defines depression as having persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities (anhedonia). As a result of which, people are unable to manage daily activities, for 14 days or longer. It is vital that people with depression feel able and safe to talk about what they are experiencing. An inability to do so means that such individuals will be disinclined to seek help, and without help, self-medication with drugs and alcohol typically ensues. People with depression are not only at greater risk of substance abuse, but suicide as well.

“The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk,” said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”


Treatment is the Answer

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we are committed to helping break the stigma attached to any form of mental illness. Our experienced, professional staff fully grasps the need for treating the whole patient, both substance use and any other form of mental illness that may accompany the insidious disorder. Please reach out to HVRC today, to begin the journey of recovery.

Naturally, people working in the field of mental health can only do so much for the cause. Encouraging people to open up about their mental illness in order to get help can only be accomplished if we, as a society, are committed to ending the stigma of mental health disorders.