An Alternative Approach to Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Expanding the Use of Non-Pharmacologic Techniques for Acute and Chronic Pain Management
Following the introduction of new guidelines for the management of acute perioperative pain and chronic non-cancer pain, the use and abuse of opioid analgesic drugs for the treatment of acute and chronic pain has increased at an alarming rate in the USA. Presently, millions of Americans are using prescription opioid analgesic for non-medical reasons. The pharmaceutical industry continues to promote newer opioid formulations for treating chronic pain, and the current pharmaceutical market for ‘add on’ drugs to treat opioid-related side effects actually exceeds the sales of opioid analgesics! More importantly, prescription opioids are a gateway to other more dangerous drugs of abuse (eg. heroin), leading to a rapidly rising number of deaths due to overdosing and increasing cost to the healthcare system for the emergency treatment of opioidrelated complications. Attempts to curb the current drug abuse crisis involving the use of even more drugs is a highly questionable practice. Clearly, practitioners need to consider alternative therapies for managing acute and chronic pain in the future.