In the United States, chronic pain is a prevalent health issue that affects a significant proportion of the population, and is a common reason for seeking medical attention. It is estimated that around 20% of people in the country suffer from chronic pain, and opioids are one of the most commonly prescribed medications for these patients. Of course, this has been a major contributor to the country’s ongoing opioid crisis.
Patients who suffer from chronic pain often rely on opioid-based pharmacological interventions to help them manage their symptoms. However, many of these patients become addicted to opioids, even when taking their medications as prescribed. In addition, some patients may abuse their prescriptions, leading to addiction, and contributing to the growing number of deaths caused by opioid overdose. Shockingly, recent data indicates that approximately 185 people died every day due to opioid overdoses.
These alarming statistics have left clinicians and policymakers searching for safe and effective solutions for individuals suffering from chronic pain.
Why opioids are inherently risky in long-term care situations
Endorphins are the brain’s natural painkillers and mood boosters, and opioids work by stimulating their release. They help to reduce pain perception and increase pleasure. However, repeated use of opioids can cause a decrease in the body’s endorphin production, leading to tolerance. This often results in higher doses being prescribed or taken, eventually leading to addiction. High doses can have serious side effects, including respiratory depression, a slower heart rate, confusion, mental disturbances, and even death.
Chronic pain, mental health and opioid prescriptions
It is concerning that 50% of all opioid prescriptions are given to adults with mental illness each year. A more cautious approach to pain management is appropriate for this group, as they are at a higher risk of abuse, addiction, and overdose. However, research has shown that individuals with mental health disorders are more likely to receive higher daily doses of long-term opioids, despite their vulnerability to these medications.
Ketamine as an alternative
As chronic pain and opioid usage remain hot topics, ketamine is quickly being recognized as a safe, non-addictive alternative or supplement for chronic pain relief. Ketamine acts differently than opioids to stop pain and provide quick, powerful relief. Ketamine can also help patients reduce their dosage of opioids, or even improve the efficacy of other pain management medications for certain chronic therapy patients.
At Spring Center of Hope, we provide ketamine infusions to patients struggling with chronic pain conditions and mental health disorders alike. Not every chronic pain sufferer is a candidate for ketamine infusions, nor is every clinically depressed person. Our team assesses the physical and mental symptoms of each patient, working with the entire care team to develop a personalized care plan.
If you or a loved one suffers from chronic pain or a debilitating psychiatric disorder, please contact us to learn more about how ketamine infusions could help.