Meditation Dramatically Reduced Patient Pain

meditationChronic pain affects millions of Americans. Left untreated, one’s quality of life can be severely diminished. In the United States, doctors treating chronic pain almost always turn to prescription opioids for pain management. While there is little question as to whether drugs like oxycodone are effective, the price of pain relief often leads to dependence, addiction and overdose.

The United States has been in the grips of an opioid epidemic for over a decade, a crisis driven primarily by prescription opioids. Government crackdowns and the tightening of prescribing restrictions have resulted in a number of prescription painkiller addicts turning to heroin to fill the gap. Heroin is cheaper and stronger than the majority of prescription opioids, and arguably more deadly for the fact that users are not always aware of what they are using.

Pain Management Alternatives

It may be harder to acquire opioid medications, but that does not mean that they are not being prescribed at alarming rates – still contributing to the problem. It is crucial that pain management experts turn to alternative forms of treatment, methods that do not involve dangerous narcotics.

New research suggests that meditation may be an effective alternative to opioids for treating pain, Medical Daily reports. A research team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that meditation dramatically reduced patient pain, without the assistance of their body’s “pain-blocking process and opioid receptors.” The research was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Meditation On Pain

The study involved 78 volunteers who were injected with either a saline placebo solution or naloxone, according to the article. The participants were separated in four groups; each group had a different variation of treatment, such as:

  • The first group received naloxone and meditated.
  • The second practiced meditation without naloxone.
  • The third group meditated and had a saline placebo.
  • The fourth group received the placebo and didn’t meditate.

The volunteers in the meditation groups saw pain reductions by over 20 percent, the article reports. However, the participants who did not meditate saw an increase in pain.

“Our finding was surprising and could be important for the millions of chronic pain sufferers who are seeking a fast-acting, non-opiate-based therapy to alleviate their pain,” said Dr. Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in a statement. “Our team has demonstrated across four separate studies that meditation, after a short training period, can reduce experimentally induced pain. And now this study shows that meditation doesn’t work through the body’s opioid system.”

About Holistic Treatment

We, too, understand the importance of using a holistic treatment approach which includes meditation. Prayer or relaxation exercises are proven to lower anxiety and reduce tension by increasing an individual’s spiritual awareness and sense of wellbeing. When volatile emotions are managed, there is less chance of relapse or binging. Over time, a meditation practice can be a long-term tool for achieving and maintaining sobriety and finding joy in life.

New Bills to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

opioidThe United States has been in the grips of prescription opioid crisis of epidemic proportions for over a decade. While state and federal governments have worked hard to address the problem which claims thousands of lives every year, there is no question that more can be done – especially now that heroin has sunk its hooks into addicts who struggle to get their hands on prescription narcotics.

The eastern states have been hit especially hard by prescription drug abuse, and the subsequent rise in heroin use. As a result, politicians from both parties in Massachusetts and Kentucky have come together to advance a number of bills to combat the crisis facing America, MassLive reports. The new legislative measures address:

  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
  • Opioid Overdoses
  • FDA Accountability
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Protect Our Infants Act

NAS is a condition which can occur when newborns are exposed to opioids in utero. Babies born with the condition exhibit signs of withdrawal and require extra attention and extended stays in the hospital. The Protect Our Infants Act was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass. and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the article.

Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would be required to conduct research and coordinate efforts, helping state agencies collect data on NAS.

Opioid Overdose Reduction Act

Over the last few years, first responders have been granted greater access to the opioid overdose antidote drug naloxone. If administered in a timely manner, the drug has the power to reverse the life threatening effects of opioid overdoses. In some states and municipalities, addicts and their loved ones can acquire naloxone without a prescription.

The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act was brought forward by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the article reports. If passed, the bill would protect doctors, first responders, and others trained to administer naloxone from civil liability.

“No one should be afraid to save a life because of a lawsuit,” U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. said in a statement.

FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pure-hydrocodone drug Zohydro, despite an advisory panel voting against the approval. A number of lawmakers and experts in the field of addiction were outraged by the approval, believing the drug was counter public safety. The FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act seeks to limit the FDA’s ability to approve opioid drugs against the recommendations of experts on advisory committees, according to the article.

National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Reauthorization

In the fight against doctor shopping, PDMPs have proven vital for informing doctors when patients are receiving opioids from other physicians. However, many state programs, including Massachusetts, have been operating without funding. With bipartisan support, a bill has been put forward to reauthorize NASPER. If passed, it would provide states with the crucial funding needed to maintain, improve, and expand PDMPs.

This program “will empower states and advocates on the front lines of this crisis to build successful (prescription drug monitoring programs) that can communicate across state lines and help identify at-risk behavior—a key first step in fending off addiction before it starts,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.

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If you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help show you how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Movement

prescription-opioidsThe Epidemic

The prescription opioid epidemic in the United States has led to a rise in addiction and premature deaths resulting from opioid overdoses. After years of over prescribing, these highly addictive narcotics have flooded American communities, crippling individuals and devastating families.

Solutions

Nationwide efforts have been made to combat this deadly crisis, such as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), the closing of “pill mills,” and the creation of prescription drug take-back programs. Collectively these methods have proven effective; PDMPs have diminished the ability to doctor shop – the act of going to multiple doctors for the same type of drugs. Prescription take-back programs have made it more difficult for these types of drugs to fall into the wrong hands.

Curbing the problem comes at a cost. Individual states are spending millions of dollars on programs such as these. Three years ago, Alameda County, CA, created an ordinance requiring big pharma to offset the costs of prescription drug take-back programs. The county prevailed, but the pharmaceutical companies were not going to lose without a fight.

The Fear

The pharmaceutical industry feared, and they were right in doing so, that other parts of the country would follow the Alameda County initiative. After two previous attempts to get the ordinance overturned, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an industry request to review the lawsuit over the Alameda County prescription drug take-back program ordinance, The New York Times reports.

Three industry trade groups claimed the ordinance was unconstitutional. They believed that the law violates interstate commerce and discriminates against out-of-state companies through the shifting costs to drug makers.

Joining the Fight

Since the Alameda County ordinance passed, others have followed suit. Two more counties in California and one in Washington have adopted similar laws, according to the article. Scott Cassel, chief executive at the Product Stewardship Institute non-profit which supports take-back programs, found that at least a dozen other local governments around the country are considering similar ordinances.

“I think we’ll see a groundswell of both local and state governments,” says Cassel.

Facing Addiction Head On

Efforts which force the hand of pharmaceutical companies to share some of the burden of an epidemic they helped to create is a step in the right direction. However, simply making it more difficult for addicts to get their hands on prescription opioids is not enough. Many addicts will turn to the cheaper, stronger alternative – heroin.

Creating greater access to substance use disorder treatment facilities is of the utmost priority. Educating the public about the nature of prescription drug abuse, and the options available for recovering from addiction, will go a long way in the fight against this insidious issue.

Recovery

Recovery is difficult process, but one that is well worth it. There are a number of different avenues to take on the road to recovery. At Next Step Intervention, we provide a variety of treatment options to choose from if you are looking for a new way of life – one free from addiction. If you are struggling with prescription opioids or any other mind altering substance, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

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