As family practitioners, my colleagues and I are receiving more and more information from the DEA and other government agencies about prescribing opioid pain medications to patients.
It’s tricky because many people have relied on these types of medications for years, and for years we have felt that it was okay to prescribe them. But research continues to reveal that using narcotic pain medication is just not the best long-term choice for many people with chronic pain issues. This is anywhere from unnerving to terrifying for our patients, and I’m certain people all over the country who are getting pain medication must feel the same.
Indeed, people come to our clinic from around the country to get help with this. At TCI we do an Accelerated Opiate Detox (AOD), a safe and more comfortable form of rapid detox, to help people get off their pain meds by compressing and addressing their withdrawal symptoms. This will have most people off their opiates in about 3 days. Our patients receive a non-addictive opiate blocker, Naltrexone, rather than Suboxone® after the detox to help reduce physical cravings. (Unlike Methadone or forms of Buprenorphine like Suboxone®, Subutex®, or Bunavail®, Naltrexone does not create physical dependence.) You can find more information on our Naltrexone Therapy FAQ page.
A slow taper where the provider prescribes lower and lower doses of the opiate at each visit can also work, and that’s something patients can discuss with their prescriber.
Over the past 9 years at The Coleman Institute, I’ve treated thousands of patients who are dependent on opiates. They are often quite nervous about how they are going to feel when they have no more opiate medication—after all, they were put on it for pain in the first place. Remarkably, when queried in the months following our rapid detox procedure, our patients almost invariably describe pain levels that are manageable by simply using over-the-counter (OTC) medications or mind-body techniques such as yoga and meditation.
In fact, being more in touch with what their bodies are actually feeling becomes a source of confidence for these people to move more freely again. A colleague directed me to this video recently. I was so inspired by this man’s story and perhaps you will be as well.