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Are Chronic Pain Patients Unfairly Suffering Due to Stricter Opioid Laws?

Are Chronic Pain Patients Unfairly Suffering Due to Opioid Laws?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The opioid epidemic continues to worsen year after year. In 2015, painkillers and heroin killed more than 33,000 people, according to the CDC. About half of those overdoses involved prescription pain medication.

New policies and laws introduced in recent years aim to prevent the number of opioid prescriptions distributed. However, these stricter policies come riddled with negative consequences.  For example, chronic pain sufferers are finding it more and more difficult to manage their pain with opioids now that some of these laws have been implemented.

An article in The Tennessean references a woman named Bridget Rewick. Rewick has experienced pain for all of her adult life. At 56 years old, she is on disability. She does not work and worries about the strain on her body from being out. Pain swells through her body causing her to need a cane to walk.

She has avascular necrosis, which means her bone tissues are dying faster than her body can repair it. Rewick uses opioid painkillers to manage her pain.  However, these days, when she goes to the pharmacist, she says she gets looks. She admits she feels judged by the increasingly conscious medical community.

“I am almost afraid to go to the doctor sometimes to say I have pain,” Rewick says. “Because I don’t want be seen as a pill seeker.”

Unfortunately for Rewick, she has more than judgment to worry about.  The recent federal crackdowns on drug abuse have resulted in stricter guidelines on the use of opioids to address chronic pain.

Opioid Limits State by State

In Tennessee, there is now a limit set by the Department of Health on how many daily doses of opioids doctors may prescribe.  New guidelines spell out protocols for giving drugs to women of child-bearing age and establish certification requirements for pain medicine specialist.

Tennessee is not the only state seeing these types of policies. Across the country, new legislatures limit the amount of opioids and range of opioids that can be prescribed. Therefore, chronic pain patients are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their pain, without having to overcome assumptions and red tape.

In fact, some doctors have opted to stop prescribing opioids completely.

This leaves those with legitimate chronic pain with fewer places to turn to. While most chronic pain patients agree that it is absolutely necessary to tackle opioid addiction issues, they still believe there are legitimate pain sufferers who struggle to find relief.

“This epidemic has destroyed people’s lives, and I think the motivation (to regulate) is appropriate,” Rewick says. “But they don’t understand the ramifications of how pain affects people every day. … I am not expecting to be completely without pain, but I have the right to have quality of life.”

In the United States, at least 100 million adults suffer from common chronic pain conditions. Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 90 days. Chronic pain can range from disease to injury. Sometimes the cause of chronic pain is unknown.

Sadly, chronic pain reduces quality of life and productivity. It disturbs sleep and can lead to anxiety and depression. Chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability.

Building Relationships and Trust

Furthermore, it is difficult for doctors to know if a patient is authentic. No one can look a patient and know for sure if their claim of pain is insecure.

Dr. John Guenst, an internal medicine doctor with Saint Thomas Medical Group, sees chronic pain patients all the time. He believes the relationship is the most important factor.

“You have to listen to their story; you have to examine them, you have to start from scratch without your bias and turn over every stone that is reasonable,” he said. “You are giving patients the benefit of the doubt.”

Guenst said his opioid prescription rate “is very low compared to my peers, but I am not afraid to use them.”

Clinics Say No to Opioid Prescriptions?

Still, some medical professionals have decided not to prescribe all-together. Last year, Tennova, one of the largest health systems in Tennessee, decided to no longer prescribe long-term opioid pain medications to patients at two pain management clinics.

This was a response to recent CDC guidelines. Although the guidelines set by the CDC are voluntary, many doctors around the country are adopting them and are weaning patients off opioids or choosing not to prescribe them at all.

These sudden changes come with good intentions; however, it remains a tricky manner. Untreated chronic pain is connected to depression, mental illness, financial problems, and even further substance abuse.

What is the solution to this? Time will tell. However, it is clear this is a serious problem with an even more complicated solution. If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, please call now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Could Pain Management Devices Be the New Alternative to Opioids?

Could Pain Management Devices Be the New Alternative to Opioids?

Author: Shernide Delva

Pain management devices can drastically reduce, or eliminate, the need for opioid pain medication, according to a recent report.  Could this be the shift we’ve been looking for?

I’ll be honest.

The first time I heard about pain management devices is when I skimmed through my Facebook and saw a fundraising campaign regarding a product claiming to help women with extremely painful menstrual cramps. It was touted as “The off Switch for Menstrual Pain” and claimed to be “the new solution for instant pain relief from your period – no more pills, no more nonsense.”

When I read the description of the product, I was intrigued by the idea. I figured it was a better alternative to me taking half a bottle of ibuprofen every month. Clearly, I was not the only intrigued person. The product has fundraised over 1.7 million dollars, raising 1339% of their target goal. Wow.

But how exactly do these pain management devices work?

Looking deeper into it, it turns out that menstrual pain device is basically a fancy version of a TENS device. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS machines operate by sending stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin and along the nerve strands. These pulses prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.

Every pain management device works in a slightly different way. Essentially, these pain management devices send small currents through the spinal cord where the pain is signaled.  Scientists believe these electrical currents interrupt pain signals sent to the brain. The fancy name for this is neuromodulation or neurostimulation.

These devices may work due to The Gate Control Theory.

The reality is that scientists are not completely sure how these devices work, but one theory is The Gate Control Theory. The Gate Control Theory is a theory that states that through closing the “gates” to painful input, you prevent pain sensations from traveling to the central nervous system. Large amounts of sensory information scramble the pain sensors we have and reduce our bodies ability to feel pain.

The device mentioned in the research regarding opioids is a device that is surgically implanted. While the results are promising, not everyone is comfortable with having a device surgically implanted in their body. Therefore, this solution is often seen as a last resort. This must change, according to Nagy Mekhail, a pain physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

Now, the medical community is looking to develop a device that provides the same sort of relief without the need for surgical implementation. One device developed is the Neuro-stim System Bridge which is placed behind a patient’s ear and gives off electrical pulses to certain areas of the brain.

The device has been very effective for helping people overcome the pain of opioid withdrawals, and is now used in 30 states. Patients wear the device for the first five days after they stop using opioids; the toughest part of the opioid withdrawal process.

“This could be a game changer in terms of treatment of addiction,” said Jeff Mathews, who runs the Union County Opiate Treatment Center in Indiana.

Still, not everyone is as excited.

Some are not quite convinced these devices will solve America’s chronic pain problem. Edward Michna, a pain management specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, states more research is needed to understand their long-term effectiveness.

“Have I seen patients do well on it? Yes. But I’ve also seen patients lose the relief over time,” he states.

However, despite the inconclusive research,  the potential for this to be an opioid alternative is a significant first step.

 “We need to stop thinking of pain control as just being about opioid medications,” Michael Leong, a pain specialist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told Technology Review.

More and more people are aware of the negative side effects of opioid painkillers. With that awareness comes more attention directed toward pain management devices without a risk of addiction.

 “People are afraid of opioids right now. There’s a stigma. Patients don’t want to be on opioids,” Leong said.

We will have to keep an eye out and see if more non-surgical pain management products hit the market in the near future.

Pain management is a controversial topic. People have different pain tolerances and needs. However, there is a serious need to come up with non-addictive alternatives to opioid painkillers.

We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic. There need to be other options available. If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, please call now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Could Yogurt Help Treat Depression?

Could Yogurt Help Treat Depression?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva


Could something as simple as yogurt help with treating depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting 16.1 million adults each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Now researchers at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine have made a discovery that they hope can change the way we treat depression and potentially help millions of people.

So what’s the answer, you ask? Well, it comes in a variety of flavors, is creamy and often fruit is added to the concoction. It’s yogurt, and the majority of us eat the stuff on a semi-regular basis.  If this study holds merit, I may have to head to the nearest grocery story and grab a couple of cups.

After all, depression is not an easy mental illness to have in any capacity. It can be debilitating preventing a person from participating in their normal routines. The findings could offer an alternative to depression treatment not thought of in the past.

It turns out, the bacteria in yogurt could play a role in fighting depression. Researchers have yet to prove the theory on humans, however, in the future, this may become possible. The researchers believe future clinical studies will confirm these results.

“The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the microbiome,” said Alban Gaultier, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the study.

“It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health – and your mood.”

Of course, researchers note that depression is a complex disorder with a variety of treatment options. Still, this is a simplistic take on a treatment for depressions and researchers have long been fascinated by the role of our gut microbiome on mental health. In fact, there have been theories on how gut impacts our mood that date back hundreds of years.

Gut Microbiome and Bacteria

A while back, we even wrote an article about how gut bacteria could treat eating disorders. There is a project that allows people to send in their bowel movements (yes, poop!) for gut bacteria research. For quite some time, fecal transplants treated a variety of bowel irregularities. Fecal transplants are exactly what they sound like. They involve putting one person’s feces (yes, poop!) inside the colon of someone else.  The bacteria in the feces eventually aids in rebalancing the gut.

Obviously, eating yogurt sounds like a simpler alternative than a fecal transplant. Scientists believe that microbes in the gut produce neuroactive compounds which influence mental health.

“The question that we wanted to ask is, does the microbiome participate in depression?” said Gaultier.

Through the study with mice, researchers examined the gut bacteria in mice before and after exposure to stress. They discovered that the loss of the bacteria Lactobacillus triggered depression symptoms, which researchers defined as lethargy-type symptoms.

“A single strain of Lactobacillus is able to influence mood,” said Gaultier.

Researchers only looked at one strain of the microbe, but they believe other strains with similar properties could also have a similar effect.

Still, if eating yogurt can ward off depression, why is it that so many people who may still struggle with depression? The answer Is simple:

“There are many mechanisms involved in driving depression. We have found one that is clearly important, but there are also other contributors to this complex condition,” explains Gaultier.

Overall, these findings are a step in the right direction when it comes to potential depression treatments. In the meantime, those with depression should continue to follow the advice of their doctor before switching to yogurt as a treatment for depression.

Depression is a complex disorder; therefore a study like this will remain inconclusive for quite some time. What do you think? Does this hold any merit? Could yogurt help with depression? Regardless, if you are struggling with this debilitating illness, please call now. We want to help you get on track. Do not wait. Call today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Could the Cannabis Transdermal Patch Be Abused?

Could the Cannabis Transdermal Patch Be Abused?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

The growth of medical marijuana reform in America continues to make headway. Some new states are beginning the process of establishing new regulations and policies concerning medical marijuana, and others have already begun to debate fringe issues like drugged driving or workplace drug tests. Medical marijuana is no longer as taboo as it once was, and now innovations are beginning to reinvent the way marijuana is used medically. Something else you may not know about medical marijuana technology is the cannabis transdermal patch.

A few months ago there was the story of the new cannabis inhaler, utilizing the same kind of device that people use for asthma. This unique method of administration has nothing else like it so far. There is enthusiasm about how this could change how people utilize medicinal marijuana to fight cancer and other serious diseases. It may even change how some people view the use of cannabis for medical reasons. So looking at the concept of cannabis transdermal patch, it sparks some curiosity.

Cannabis Transdermal Patch: How Patches Work

To explain, a transdermal patch is basically an adhesive attached to the skin which allows medication to be absorbed through the skin. Of course, transdermal patches already exist for all types of other medications. The nicotine patch is probably one of the most popular forms of transdermal medication. The extremely potent and potentially lethal drug Fentanyl has also been used in the patch form before.

The cannabis transdermal patch would release certain chemicals over time to combat the neurological nerve pain for many patients. According to initial reports from one company, Cannabis Science, so far the research has shown no notable negative side effects.

Cannabis Transdermal Patch: Mary’s Medicinals

This actually isn’t a brand new concept. Since 2013, Mary’s Medicinals is a company that has been focused on medical cannabis. The company was the first to ever offer a cannabis transdermal patch as a method of delivery.

The cannabis transdermal patch from Mary’s has actually won numerous awards at the CannAwards in 2015. In defense of their intentions with the product, they have even said,

“We don’t cater towards the recreational market”

One report says that 80% of the companies products don’t even contain THC. THC is the chemical in marijuana responsible for the “high” people experience.

Cannabis Transdermal Patch: Cannabis Science

The cannabis transdermal patch was created by a company called Cannabis Science. According to one statement from the company about the cannabis transdermal patch,

“An advantage of a transdermal drug delivery route over other types of medication delivery, such as oral, topical, intravenous, intramuscular, etc. is that the patch provides a controlled release of the medication into the patient, usually through body heat melting thin layers of medication embedded in the adhesive which will be containing high potency cannabinoid (CBD) extract that slowly enters into the bloodstream and then penetrates the central nervous system of the patient delivering the pain relief sought.”

So essentially the idea is to create a controlled dosage system for medical cannabis extract that can eliminate other complications of administration. The CEO of Cannabis Science also states,

“The development of these two new pharmaceutical medicinal applications are just the tip of the iceberg,” then later adding, “We are also busy researching more potential needs for cannabis related medical applications and developing the methods for delivery of these medications.”

So it would seem that this team believes the future of medical marijuana could very well be in finding new ways to apply the substance and administer it in a medicinal capacity.

Cannabis Transdermal Patch: Can it be Abused?

So as an individual in recovery and when looking at news in the field of drug abuse, medication and addiction treatment, of course my question is could these patches be abused. As with most people, when you hear anything to do with marijuana you have the stigma attached to it that has become so standard. But in reality, we have seen science support that there are uses for the substance medically.

Same can be said for Xanax or OxyContin, but these are still powerful drugs and with the nation facing an opioid crisis it is probably safe to say that even legal medicine with good intention has the capacity to destroy lives.

So, can the cannabis transdermal patch be abused?

Surely some could be. Depending on the chemical make-up the patch could probably be used as a sneaky way for people to get high. Surely there will be people who go out of their way to figure out how to misuse the cannabis transdermal patch. Still, for most companies the idea behind them has been to specifically develop a method of administering medical marijuana extracts without the “high” side effects.

Regardless of the legal standing of a medication, marijuana or otherwise, the dangers of substance abuse are very real. So perhaps as the use of the cannabis transdermal patch becomes more relevant more research about abuse.

Any substance can be abused and develop into an addiction, even marijuana. If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, do not hesitate to get help today. You are not alone! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Could a New Phone App Combat Human Trafficking?

 

Slavery - Human Trafficking

Author: Shernide Delva

There are an estimated 21 million people in forced or coerced human trafficking worldwide. That number is just an estimate. Human trafficking can happen anywhere at anytime.  It is going on in our backyards, and most of us are unaware of it. Because we are unaware of it, it becomes an unspoken problem. Now, a newly released app plans to combat this epidemic. All it requires is users take photos of their hotel room.

Just by taking pictures of your next hotel room, you can take a small step in helping victims of sex trafficking around the world. The new app is called TraffickCam and allows those traveling to upload photos of their hotel room around the world.

“You just enter your hotel room and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said at a Human Trafficking Town Hall. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”

The hotel room photos go into a database that over time will help law enforcement locate where human trafficking is occurring. Pictures of Hotel rooms are matched against a police database.

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” she said.

Stylianou says the idea sparked from the times authorities have asked the public to identify a hotel room where human trafficking took place. Often, someone was able to identify the hotel room from the photo.

Now, this app aims to collect hotel room photos in advance. So the next time you check into a hotel room, take pictures of your room and upload them using the app. After all, it is only one extra thing to do on top of your Snapchats and fancy food Instagram pictures. The app is free and available for both iOS and Android devices.

Human Trafficking and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and human trafficking, unfortunately, go hand and hand. Estimates indicate that between 40 and 85 percent of all prostitutes are drug users. What the media often does not portray is the fact that many victims are not addicts before being traffic. However, when found, these victims are left with drug addictions and dependencies.

There a few ways that substance abuse and human trafficking intertwine. It can be a product of recruitment, control or coping:

  • Recruitment: Victims will sometimes end up in human trafficking before any drug abuse. This scenario is very common in the sex industry. Men and women turn to prostitution to support their drug dependencies. Traffickers use this as leverage to obtain workers.
  • Control: Traffickers will force drug use on victims as a mean of control, so they get what they want.
    “In some cases, a prostitute will be forced by a pimp or other person to take drugs to ensure that they do as they are told… This is particularly true in the case of young people and children” (DARA).
    Sadly, this method of control is even used on children as well. Children are sometimes forced to take drugs or drink alcohol, so they are more manipulated into having sex or performing sexual acts without consent. Trafficking victims are often forced to take drugs like heroin or meth because they eventually become dependent on these substances. Traffickers gain control of their victims this way because soon the victims will feel they need to fund their addiction. Now, their addiction binds them to their exploitation.
  • Coping: Drugs can be a method of coping for victims. Victims of human trafficking may use drugs as a way to numb their pain. Day after day, abusing substances allow victims to deal with the reality of their life and work. Substance Abuse is used “as a way to be able to continue to do the degrading and often violent work” (DARA). Some victims also use drugs in the aftermath to reduce their post-traumatic emotional distress.

As you can see, human trafficking is a major problem across the board. The fact that an app like this could help law enforcement find the location these horrible acts are taking place is a step in the right direction. If you or someone you know has gone through a similar traumatic experience and is struggling with any form of dependency, the time is now to call for help. Do not try to do this alone.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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