Opioid Epidemic

Tips for Surviving the Latest Opioid Prescription Guidelines

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Health care providers are now faced with stricter guidelines for prescribing opioid medications. People with chronic pain who rely on opioids to function may have a more difficult time receiving the proper care for their condition. Here are some tips to help individuals with chronic pain if they no longer have access to their pain-relieving medication.

1. Don’t panic.

For anyone who relies on their medication to get through the day, it can be distressing when their physician is no longer able or willing to prescribe opioids. However, it is important not to panic. Choosing a new medication, therapy or procedure out of desperation can lead to severe consequences. Discussing any concerns with a health care professional is important.

2. Spend money wisely.

When opioids are no longer available to treat chronic pain, many individuals turn to alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic or massage. But these methods can be expensive, and many insurance companies do not cover them so that you will be paying for a majority of these sessions out of pocket. Some of them might not even work for you. Talk to a doctor about what forms of alternative therapy could benefit your condition before spending the money on it.

3. Ask a health care professional about medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is a program designed for people who have been on opioids for a long time and are not prepared to discontinue them. The program uses medication assistance rather than detox to help individuals taper off prescription opioids.

4. Do your homework.

Unfortunately, chronic pain is not entirely understood, and many health care professionals have a hard time identifying its cause. If an individual has been using opioids to treat tight muscles, stress, panic attacks or stiff joints, there may be room for improvement by simply identifying triggers and avoiding them.

5. Think outside of the box.

Many treatments for chronic pain are available. Maintaining an active lifestyle (as much as physically possible) and eating anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce pain. Certain foods are naturally pain-relieving. A consultation with a nutritionist is a good first step. Relaxation exercises, such as meditation, can also help.

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