With the opioid epidemic approaching the fourth wave of devastating overdose deaths, medical professionals have been adjusting to a new kind of patient across all medical fields. With millions of people in opioid use disorder recovery, the consideration of offering non-opioid pain relief has become a priority. However, there is still a ways to go to make it a reality.
No one should be deprived of medical care, especially in cases of traumatic and life-threatening accidents. Many people in recovery avoid seeing doctors and seeking emergency medical attention for fear they’ll be sedated with an opioid analgesic for their injuries. Some also fear that any necessary suggested surgery would compromise their recovery due to the use of anesthesia and post-op pain management. Long term, this could profoundly impact their health in negative ways, especially in cases of surgical intervention due to illness that could improve their quality of life.
Access to Non-Opioid Pain Management
With the most recent, stricter opioid prescribing guidelines for medical providers in 2016, the risk of a patient developing opioid use disorder due to over-prescribing has diminished slightly. Access to non-opioid pain medications and pain management plans are also becoming more prevalent in doctor offices. Patients are encouraged to have discussions with their doctors or surgeons about opioid alternatives before any procedures or treatment, including what they can expect before, during, and after anesthesia. Still, the accessibility to these non-opioid methods is limited due to insurance reimbursements and awareness of these options.
Why are Opioid Alternatives Important?
Non-opioid pain relief is essential for clinicians, caregivers, patients, families, and the recovery community as a whole. Anesthesiologists especially play a critical role in the techniques used in postoperative pain management as they’ve noted that patients who are given opioid alternative pain relief often rehabilitate faster than those given opioid painkillers. The main issue now is getting more access to these non-opioid approaches in more medical facilities across the U.S. Even when available, many aren’t covered by insurance and can come at quite a hefty cost.
Making Non-Opioid Pain Relief the Norm
Suppose non-opioid pain management becomes more commonplace and the methods are practiced on patients whether they have a history of opioid addiction or not. In that case, it can help shift the way Americans view medicating pain altogether. Multiple studies show that opioid pain management can actually make pain worse for patients recovering from an injury or surgery, often prolonging both the need for opioid medication and time before they can get back to their lives. Also, if these opioid alternative medications increase in demand, it will pressure insurance companies to reconsider their ability to extend prescription coverage to their customers.
The Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in America Act (NOPAIN Act) (H.R. 5172/S. 3067) is currently in legislation before Congress. It could change the reimbursement policy to ensure FDA-approved opioid alternative pain management approaches become more widely available in all outpatient surgical settings. This is vital for those in opioid use disorder recovery and works to prevent another generation from succumbing to opioid addiction due to prescription misuse after medical procedures. Voices for Non-Opioid Choices is an advocacy group championing this legislation that offers wonderful resources to those who want to learn more, including Shatterproof.org that educates people on non-opioid pain solutions.
If you or someone you know is battling opioid addiction due to opioid misuse that stems from an outdated or heavy-handed pain management program, reach out to Middlesex Recovery today to find out about our medication-assisted treatment programs that are currently changing thousands of lives every day. Recovery is possible; learn more today.