Chronic pain is a severe problem in the USA that progresses rapidly in modern society. Opioid treatment is one of the most well-known methods to reduce the ache and make the life of the patient more comfortable and pleasant. However, the risks of this type of drug were not investigated for an extended period. Nowadays, it is claimed that they are dangerous for human beings as they cause serious addiction and may result in crucial problems with health. Since 1999 165,000 deaths from overdose were registered among American citizens (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). It is important to mention that this is only the data from the official reports, and the real amount is hard to be found out. Non-opioid and alternative methods have to be implemented in the process of treatment of patients with chronic pain to reduce the negative consequences. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the impact of opioid drugs on the well-being of people and describe diverse options for replacing them.
Despite the severity of the problem, there is no universal system of control of the transportation and distribution of opioids. This issue causes overdoses among ordinary people who become addicted to this method of treatment after experiencing chronic pain. To ameliorate the existing situation, it is necessary to take several steps. First of all, it is crucial to create a governmental department that would collaborate with healthcare organizations and control the distribution of drugs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). What is more, possible negative effects and advantages of the medicaments should be discussed with the patient in a detailed way (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). It is possible to assume that creating a company that would control people after using opioids in the hospital can be the best solution for reducing the level of addiction among American citizens.
Scientists aim to introduce new ways of treating patients with chronic pain that would replace opioids. White, Elvir-Lazo, and Hernandez (2017) maintain that as an alternative method, it is possible to use a cold laser that does not cause a severe negative effect and is as efficient as opioid drugs. Nevertheless, this method is innovative and requires more clinical studies before implementing it into the process of treatment. In general, the researchers point out that any non-opioid drug or approach would be better than the opioid one (White, Elvir-Lazo, & Hernandez, 2017). In a long-term period, it would be beneficial for the patient from the point of view of the quality of life and mental state.
Alternative methods have many advantages in comparison with opioids. Häuser and his colleagues (2020) support the position of other professionals in this sphere: according to the results of their research, opioids are much more often the reason for death in comparison with other medicaments. Moreover, the specialists concluded that the investigated type of drugs leads to heart failure and psychological problems (Häuser et al., 2020). Alternative methods of overcoming chronic pain have to be an essential part of the treatment. Nonetheless, the issue about opioids was raised only in recent times, and the majority of innovative medical supplies require clinical tests and a lengthy procedure of verification.
Another probable solution to the problem is the investigation of the nature of the processes in the organism after complicated operations that cause severe pain. Woolf (2020) proposes the hypothesis that the opioid crisis may be solved by understanding the nature of ache. What is more, he maintains that the diversion of drugs is a significant issue that cannot be underestimated (Woolf, 2020). If the opioids were hard to be found in the local pharmacy or the control was more effective, the problem of addiction could be solved in the nearest future (Woolf, 2020). It is also necessary to investigate the opioid-related harms, including the psychological state of the patients (Matthias, Donaldson, Jensen, & Krebs, 2018). According to the conclusions presented in this article, there is no evidence of the unique long-term positive effects of opioids in comparison with other methods of treatment (Matthias et al., 2018). Among the indisputable benefits of opioid therapy are its effectiveness and high results in a short period. However, its cost is noticeable and includes the risk of serious heart diseases in the future.
The question of doses and mitigation strategies is widely discussed in professional medical society. For example, some of the researchers claim that it is better to use more aggressive non-opioid treatment than giving the patient opioids (White, 2017). What is more, it is crucial to monitor the existing situation not only on the governmental level but also on the global one because illegal transportation is often realized by the distribution of medical supplies from other countries (Lin, Wang, Simoni-Wastila, Boyd, & Buu, 2019). In diverse situations, it is a challenging problem to understand the real level of pain that the patient experiences. This situation becomes the reason for overdose that, in a long-term period, leads to addiction to opioids. It is necessary to examine the nature of pain and create a system of its evaluation to provide the required treatment.
The majority of the specialists in this sphere are against using opioids for reducing the level of chronic pain. They put forward the idea that alternative methods are the best option for the patients (Kaye et al., 2020). Furthermore, the researchers concluded that there is no significant difference in using opioid and non-opioid medical supplies (Elsesser & Cegla, 2017). In the long-term, the first group of medicaments leads to a decrease in quality of life and functional disability (Elsesser & Cegla, 2017). As an alternative method, it can be suggested to use the specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs), which do not have such a negative effect on human health as opioids (Fattori, Zaninelli, Rasquel-Oliveira, Casagrande, & Verri, 2020). Alternative methods are better in the long-lasting period and are as effective as opioids for decreasing the level of pain.
Understanding the benefits and the risks of opioids is crucial for establishing trusting relationships with the patient. It is necessary to keep the human informed about all potential consequences of the treatment and allow him to decide which method of treatment is preferable. Moreover, nurses and healthcare workers have to be honest with the ill person and provide support during the process of recovery. Emotional intimacy would help to reduce the risk of addiction. Communication with the patient is a significant part of successful and efficient treatment.
The opioid crisis is a problem that cannot be solved immediately as it requires the creation and testing of alternative methods of reducing chronic pain. However, understanding the risks and consequences of this approach both by healthcare workers and patients lowers the risk of addiction. The adverse effects of opioids have to be investigated in a detailed way to find the means of supplementary support of the patient in the future. Moreover, the control of distribution and transportation of drugs has to be organized.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). CDC guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain [PowerPoint slides].
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