According to the most recent census figures, there are nearly 400,000 military veterans living in Colorado, and that figure continues to grow. Many veterans cope with chronic pain as a result of injuries received in battle or from other reasons. It is challenging to treat chronic pain, especially without using opioids, but there are strategies that can accomplish pain management without addictive and possibly deadly opioids.
Study Shows Non-Opioid Methods More Effective For Chronic Pain
A recent VA study conducted in Minneapolis found that non-opioid methods were more effective at treating veterans’ pain than opioids. Furthermore, opioids had far more severe side effects than the non-opioid methods. This study showed that chronic pain can be managed without opioids; in fact, it can be managed better without opioids in many cases.
There are various non-opioid methods for managing chronic pain, including the following:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprophen (Advil) in conjunction with other methods
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to learn how to modify triggers of chronic pain, whether they be physical or psychological
- Physical therapy, including exercise
- Depression or seizure medications, which can interfere with pain receptors to block pain signals
- Acupuncture and/or massage
- Exercise and weight loss
The VA study also used monitoring by a pharmacy care manager, who was able to adjust medication levels as needed and monitor the success of the non-opioid method(s) being used. Monitoring may be an essential component for successful non-opioid pain management.
Advantages of Non-Opioid Treatments
Using non-opioid methods to relieve chronic pain can benefit veterans and prevent them from becoming addicted to opioids or suffering other side effects of long-term opioid use like dizziness, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression.
The Centers for Disease Control has also begun to recommend that non-opioid treatments for chronic pain be preferred to opioids as pain management methods because of studies like this one that have shown that pain can be effectively managed without opioids.
Veterans may be understandably skeptical that non-opioid treatments can treat their chronic pain, but seeing evidence like the Minneapolis study may convince them that opioids are not the only way chronic, severe pain can be treated. Currently, many veterans with chronic pain have become addicted to opioids in the process of trying to manage and relieve their pain.
For veterans who find that they have become physically or psychologically dependent on opioids, Colorado drug rehab programs like those at Recovery Village at Palmer Lake can offer opioid abuse treatment that can help them recover from their addiction.
Chronic pain from ongoing injury or PTSD is considered a co-occurring disorder that treatment programs can address while also treating opioid abuse. Veterans can avoid becoming an overdose statistic by both getting treatment for their opioid addiction and learning to manage their chronic pain without opioids.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake provides treatment for co-occurring disorders and customizes treatment plans for each person’s individual needs. Learn about admissions to our programs and all the options we offer to treat opioid addiction before a person in need becomes an opioid overdose statistic.