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Alternatives to Prescription Opioids

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Find alternatives to opioids for pain managementThe nation’s prescription opioid crisis has been exacerbated by the stress and anxiety generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adults take more prescriptions and over-the-counter medications than any other age group and are most vulnerable for medication misuse. 

NewBridge Services’ Tame the Pain* is helping older adults understand the risks of prescription opioids and learn alternative pain management options. Awareness efforts like Tame the Pain are working: deaths involving prescription opioids dropped 12% from 2017 to 2018, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Growing evidence shows that exercise, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, physical therapy, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and chiropractic care can help manage pain, often in combination with medications like acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Prescription Opioids

Opioids are used to relieve serious pain from surgery, injuries, and cancer. Opioids such as morphine, codeine and methadone bind to receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the body’s perception of pain. Consumers may know them by their brand names, including OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin and  Dilaudid.

Impact on Adults Age 65+

  • Opioid-related hospitalizations increased by 34% and emergency department visits increased by 74% between 2010 and 2015
  • Studies show an increased rate of falls and fractures associated with opioid use
  • Nearly 1 in 5 are affected by the combined misuse of alcohol and medication
  • Risk of adverse effects from opioids and other medication is increased due to age-related changes in metabolism and medication sensitivity

Alternatives to Opioids

Safe, effectively alternatives for managing chronic pain include:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage Therapy
  • Topical Medications
  • Steroid Injections
  • Yoga
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Heat/Cold
  • Aromatherapy
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • NSAIDs (Advid, Motrin)
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Guided imagery/Mindfulness
  • Herbs (you must ensure they won’t interfere with medication)

*Tame the Pain is free to Morris County residents age 60+. When NewBridge can resume the program, individual and group sessions will again be offered. The program is funded by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

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