For thousands of years, the range of drugs known as opioids has been used for the control of pain in countless cultures all over the world. In the modern world, opioids are one of the most effective methods of treating severe pain. Over the past several decades, they’ve been one of the most commonly prescribed medications for patients suffering from chronic pain. While undoubtedly effective, they come with a risk of potentially dangerous side-effects, including the life-destroying possibility of addiction. With this in mind, the question has been raised whether opioid use for pain control has done more harm than good.
Palliative: Pain Relief Without Dealing With The Underlying Cause
Treating The Symptom, Not The Disease
One common point brought up by opponents of prescribing opioids for the use of chronic pain is its use as a palliative. While medical professionals were careful about prescribing opioids in the beginning, it became disturbingly easy to obtain them for a staggering arrange of complaints. This has played a major role in what has become known as the Opioid Epidemic and continues to be a problem today. Among the potential risks of long-term opioid use are:
- Liver Disease
- Skin Abscesses
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Heart Attack
It doesn’t matter whether the opioids are being used medicinally or recreationally by those addicted to them. In the long run, these consequences will begin to appear with increasing severity depending on the frequency, dosage, and duration that the patient has been taking the drug. On a long enough timeline, using opioids for pain control is a sentence to a slow death with increasing complications.
While chronic pain patients often have conditions that are unable to be addressed with available medical options, the tradition of treating their pain with opioids can have an impact on their quality of life. Patients living on opioids often report that they live in a haze, often feeling disconnected from their family and the world around them. While their pain is controlled, they often aren’t able to meaningfully participate or do so through an opioid fog. This is the reason alternative methods are being sought for treating opioid pain, and additional efforts are being made to treat the underlying causes of chronic pain.
“Of pain, you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain, there are no heroes.” – George Orwell
Meaningful Alternatives To Opioids For Pain Control
As the status of opioids for chronic pain control continues to be examined and reevaluated, new alternatives are being discussed. One of the options rising in popularity is medical marijuana, though it can be difficult to obtain depending on your state and its local laws governing the substance. Other options can include physical therapy, acupuncture, nerve blocks and injections, and surgery.
More important than all of these options is the treatment of the actual underlying cause. As the years go by, new forms of pain control are being researched and applied, while understanding of conditions that cause chronic pain provides new options for treating the underlying cause. There is hope that one day all sources of chronic pain will be able to be treated in a way that provides the patient with a full life free from fog-inducing opioids.