Opiates are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in opium poppy plants, and they are used or replicated in pain medications like morphine, opium, oxycodone, and hydrocodone and in illicit drugs like heroin. Doctors often prescribe opiate-based drugs as part of a pain management plan, and chronic back pain is a significant pain issue. In 2006, the National Institute of Health Statistics released national data on lower back pain, which included the following:
- Most commonly reported area of pain is in the lower back
- Second only to headaches as the most common neurological ailment
- Leading cause of job-related disability and missed work
- Surprisingly more common in women (29%) than men (25%)
Chronic pain usually means ongoing treatment, and long-term opiate use runs the risk of addiction and dependence. The risks are even greater for people who acquire opiates illicitly to self-medicate the pain.
Opiates and Back Pain
In a 2012 series on responsible opioid prescribing, the Pain Physician journal made several key observations, including the following:
- One-third of pain patients may not use opiate drugs as prescribed or abuse them
- Illicit opiate drug use rates are higher for patients with chronic pain problems
- 60% of pain medication-related fatalities originate from drugs properly prescribed
Likewise, the American Pain Foundation published a national study in 2006, and it included several related statistics, including the following:
- 96% of opiate-using chronic pain patients experience regular lower back pain
- 77% of such patients regularly suffer bouts of pain in the upper back
- 65% of the opiate-using patients reported severe pain levels in the lower back
- Opiate-using pain patients endured the condition for more than a decade on average
- The typical pain patient takes prescription medication 2.6 times per day
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The American Pain Foundation study also reported that 97% of opiate-using pain patients said the condition caused additional physical or social hardship, and 77% reported symptoms associated with depression.
Things to Consider
Opiate Addiction Treatment
Professional treatment is the safest and most effective way to address opiate addiction, and it includes several possible services, including the following:
- Detoxification in a medically supervised setting with tapered withdrawal options
- Integrated diagnosis and treatment for concurrent mood and personality disorders
- Strategies to identify, avoid, and resist cues that trigger opiate cravings
- Therapies that improve mental and emotional activity associated with behavior
- Group therapy to share experiences and offer mutual support
Most rehabilitation centers can also provide non-opiate pain management and work with pain specialists on a new treatment profile that no longer involves addictive drugs.
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Non-Addictive Pain Management
During and after addiction treatment, specialists can utilize a variety of possible non-addictive tools for managing pain, including the following:
- Local anesthesia injections in the back to ease pain and swelling
- Non-opioid pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Alternating heat and cold treatments on the pain area
- Specialized physical conditioning that improves core strength
- Massage and stretching that relieves muscular tension in the back
- Electrical stimulation that targets nerve fibers associated with the pain
- Hydrotherapies such as hot baths, aquatic exercises, and water massage
- Eastern practices like acupressure, acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga
Reoccurring pain flashes can potentially trigger an opiate relapse. For this reason, treatment centers work closely with pain specialists to make sure both conditions are effectively addressed.
Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day, and one of our admissions coordinators can explain your many options for recovery. This can include providing information on integrated pain and addiction treatment and checking health insurance policies for treatment coverage. If you need help, please call now.