The Veterans Administration (VA) study is a game changer by making providers more accountable for treating persons with acute and chronic pain. Yes, this is a hard sell to patients! But, I have been somewhat successful in reducing the amount and dosage of opioids used for persons with sickle cell anemia and other chronic pain disorders. Explaining that long-term use of opioids can sometimes make chronic pain worse is not easy. Opioid Induced Hyper-Analgesia means that pain receptors in the brain have a hyperexcited response to painful stimuli from the opioids. Working with a doctor with expertise in treating chronic pain and Opioid Misuse is important. Slowly weaning down the meds takes time and is best done when working with a team of providers such as a physical therapist, mental health providers and etc. Fear and anxiety of withdrawal are a normal response that can be overcome with support and working with your doctor to put together a treatment plan. Most patients who follow through actually report less mood swings, feel better and have improved overall health. Again, it’s all about Harm Reduction.
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