The Stigma That Follows Opiate Users

The high increase of opiate use and abuse has caused problems for narcotic pain users that have no addictions with the utilization of the drugs, only relief. Because of the high rate of misuse by some, other suffers; suffer from the stigmatization of being addicts behind the use of opiates, on a regular basis.
Patients that were stable with their level of pain tolerance have faced the changes made through the CDC to help with the drug addictions. Now there is an increase in non-addictive patients being depressed and committing suicide because of the controlled regulations placed on the disbursement of narcotics, used for pain. Medications disbursed to pain patients are through a pain management facility, by a doctor that manages agonizing discomfort.

There are many different aspects of pain depending on the condition of what is causing the pain. Everyone does not opt only to try opiates; there are other alternative treatments that some try to find useful. These could be physical therapy, acupuncture, epidural steroid injections, nerve block injections, burning nerves and the last option is, surgery. There is the risk for these short-term solutions, and that is they do not work for all patients. All patients do not find relief with the alternative medicines, especially since everyone metabolizes drugs differently.

Info-graphic explains the different approaches to pain management for chronic pain.
Image: Cynthia Gladden

Everyone’s body is different, and it may not respond to the various treatments according to their metabolism and how it absorbs and breaks down the opiates in their body and how well the body accepts the minimally invasive procedures, described as alternative methods. Pain patients can try many methods including self-management; this is to be aware of the different things that could cause the body to a flare-up in pain. Know what your triggers are to help keep your body as pain-free as possible.

As a person attempts to self-manage their pain levels, many patients find that they still need the opiates to be able to function throughout the day. Even though there is a crisis among addictions, some people will take the meds as prescribed and try the alternative methods, and that does not make them an addict for wanting to be as free from pain as possible. The alternative methods work for some and not for others, and people that live in chronic pain still believe in full active life styles.


CONQUERING THE PAIN: The Alternative Methods of Pain Management

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic low back pain (LBP). Chronic low back pain is the number two, most claimed disability, in the United States. Recently there has been a high increase in opiate use and abuse among pain sufferers. Due to the rise of chronic pain, doctors are now offering alternative methods so that pain patients can live without limitations. Sometimes, doctors will even work with each other, so that the opiate-prescribing doctor can be involved in the alternative treatment.

The high rate of addiction has become a concern in the United States, because some of the addictions are from opiate use and abuse. Opiates include prescription medication, prescribed in doses, as part of a patient’s pain management regime. In order to control the amount of opiates prescribed to patients, the patient’s primary care physician will first recommend pain management methods that don’t involve medication. The pain management doctor will decide to what extent medication is needed to control the patient’s pain and suffering.

Many Hospitals are even working together to provide quality care for patients. Since there are millions of Americans that suffer from pain, pain management has become it’s own type of patient care.   Dr. Mahmoud Sabbagh, MD is a pain management physician at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM), in Detroit, MI, which is a part of the Detroit Medical Center Group. There is a six-month waiting period to see Dr. Sabbagh because of the rise in chronic pain patients.


IMAGE Source: Cynthia Gladden   Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan 261 Mack Blvd. Detroit, MI 48201

“Educating patients with more current treatment options, helps lower the need of opiates on a regular basis,” says Dr. Sabbagh “The purpose of trying the alternative methods is to give patients relief and hope of some healing says Dr. Sabbagh.”

Methods of weight loss, diet, and exercising are daily routines that can aid in the rehabilitation. When asked about other treatments, Dr. Sabbagh stated “that some patients, are faced with easing their pain with a minimal invasive approach such as epidural steroid injections, nerve burning and lastly, surgery for the relief of chronic pain suffering”. These are all temporary solutions, that may last three-months to two-years, “It’s not forever, but long enough for some patients to want to try to be pain free as long as possible,” says Dr. Sabbagh. These approaches can lead to lower doses of prescribed opiate use, and as it was explained to me, every patient is different so the outcome varies from patient to patient, allowing some form of healing physically and mentally.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Cynthia Gladden Signage from the Pain Management Outpatient Clinic

Dorie Fann-Purry of Detroit, MI is a chronic pain sufferer whose pain journey grew from a Fibromyalgia diagnosis into a Lupus diagnosis. Dorie states that, “even though I suffer from chronic pain daily, I finds relief in educating Lupus survivors on a daily basis, through my Facebook page” Dorie is a member of the Lupus Warriors.  Dorie finds self gratification in being an active participating member and encourages other lupus survivors to participate with Lupus Warriors events.

The alternative solutions at times just end up being a temporary relief but for some, a temporary relief is better than no relief to chronic pain and the usage of opiates. Overall, education is the key to learning new ways to cope with pain besides opiates.