Alternatives to Opiates

Whether you are in recovery or not, it is a good idea to know what types of alternatives are available when it comes to pain management. On average, 115 Americans are dying each day due to opioid related deaths. Opiates are highly addictive, in fact one in four people prescribed opiates for long-term pain management report struggling with addiction. Another huge risk with being prescribed opiates is that those who become addicted to pain killers are 40x more likely to become addicted to heroin.
Though the use of opiates does not sound promising for our health, there are plenty of alternatives that we can utilize, many of which you may use already for other types of ailments.

• Over-the-counter medications. Often times, OTC’s, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, will help with pain management just as well as an opiate/opioid might help. In fact, the American College of Rheumatology recommends acetaminophen as the first line of defense when it comes to managing pain. If acetaminophen is not doing the job, that is when switching over to an NSAID, like Aleve, would be beneficial. NSAIDs offer anti-inflammatory relief and are little bit more potent than acetaminophen.

• Physical Therapy. If your pain is due to an injury, seeing a physical therapist would be beneficial. A physical therapist would be able to better identify the source of pain, and provide exercises that would be able to provide strength to the areas of pain, and in turn reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.

• Acupuncture. Similar to physical therapy, acupuncture helps to increase blood flow to an inflamed region. There are very few side effects to getting acupuncture, also.

• Mindfulness meditation. Sometimes pain may feel worse because we are focused on it. By engaging in mindfulness meditation, we can begin to focus on other aspects of our lives, which can help to alleviate the pain.

These are just a few of the many alternatives that can get you through a painful situation, without putting you at risk of substance abuse. If the pain seems unbearable and you feel that an alternative will not help, just be aware of the side effects and be sure to talk to your doctor about the safest procedures when it comes to taking them.