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Know The Risks of Prescription Opioids for Pain Management

Monday, May 13, 2019

Woman looking at a prescription pill bottle. Learn about the risk of prescription opioids during National Prevention Week, May 12-18.

Addiction to prescription opioids has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased five-fold between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During National Prevention Week, NewBridge Services is joining with the CDC and the American Hospital Association to raise awareness about the risks of prescription opioids and to highlight other options available for pain management.

“Changes to pain treatment are necessary to prevent abuse, addiction, and overdose before they start,” NewBridge Chief Operating Officer Michelle Borden said.

NewBridge will launch Tame The Pain: Opioid-Free Pain Management for Older Adults next month with a grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Services. NewBridge will conduct free group workshops as well as one-on-one sessions for adults age 60 and older in Morris County. 

Participants will learn about the risks of prescription painkillers, and the array of evidence-based pain management options that don’t involve opioids. While workshops are open to people of all ages, they are geared for seniors and their caregivers, families, and service providers.

Prescription opioids carry serious risks of addiction and overdose, especially with prolonged use. The following is information from the CDC:

If you are prescribed opioids for pain:
  • Never take more than prescribed
  • Work with your physician to create a pain management plan that incorporates  alternative approaches
  • Never sell or share prescription opioids, or use another person’s medication
  • Store prescription opioids in a secure place
  • Safely dispose of unused medication
Even when taken as directed, prescription opioids can have side effects: 
  • Tolerance (you might need to take more of the medication for the same pain relief)
  • Physical dependence (symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped)
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Constipation
  • Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Low levels of testosterone that can result in lower sex drive, energy, and strength
  • Itching and sweating

Two-thirds of the 70,200 deaths caused by drug overdoses in 2017 involved opioids, according to the CDC. An opioid overdose, often marked by slowed breathing, can cause sudden death.

There is growing evidence 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).

NewBridge has been helping seniors maximize their independence since 1987 through NewBridge Senior Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL). NewBridge@Home provides in-home counseling for homebound seniors and respite for caregivers.

NewBridge has a decades-long track record of educating the community about various health and wellness topics. Call NewBridge COO Michelle Borden, a licensed clinical social worker, at 973-686-2225 for more information.


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