Chronic pain from old injuries or wounds is a very real thing; one that many Americans deal with on a daily basis by treating it with the use of prescription opioids. These prescription medications are not a bad thing by any means, rather, they are a tool to be used on the road to recovery. More importantly, nearly 60% of adults that are prescribed opioids do not use their whole prescription and as a result, share it with others. According the American Physical Therapy Association:
Prescription opioid deaths have quadrupled since 1999, yet even as the heartbreaking effect of the opioid epidemic increases, Americans are holding on to—and sharing—their pills.
A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health survey found that 60% of American adults prescribed opioids keep leftover pills, and 1 in 5 reported sharing their medication with someone else.
“Until recently, we have treated these medications like they’re not dangerous,” said the study’s senior author Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, in ScienceDaily (“Six in ten adults prescribed opioid painkillers have leftover pills” – June 13, 2016). “But the public, the medical community, and policymakers are now beginning to understand that these are dangerous medications and need to be treated as such. If we don’t change our approach, we are going to continue to see the epidemic grow.”
Barry told Kaiser Health News (“By Sharing Painkillers, Friends And Family Members Can Fuel Opioid Epidemic: Study” – June 13, 2016) that prescribers and the public need to rememeber that prescription opioids “are not like Tylenol — these are highly addictive meds.”
One alternative that reduces the need for prescription opioids is quality physical therapy and rehabilitation to reduce long term pain and increase mobility. The APTA has launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the danger of using these medications in the wrong way. More importantly, the campaign aims to promote physical therapy as a viable alternative. Their campaign is called #ChoosePT and you can find out more about it here.
For local resources on long-term pain management and physical therapy you can contact Roanoke Therapy Services via our contact page!