Greater Portland’s Response to the Opioid Crisis

Sketch of a translucent handshake with a red heart i the background.

 

Our communities continue to struggle with an epidemic of opioid misuse and abuse. This epidemic has many causes. One contributing factor is our healthcare systems’ overreliance on pain medications to treat a large number of patients with chronic pain. Unfortunately, our current workforce does not include an inadequate array of behavioral and non-opioid options for the large populations of patients with chronic pain. Alternative treatments and models of care needed now, not later.

We are excited to introduce you to an innovative and important project in our community. We have organized a consortium of independent practitioners from various disciplines to participate in a project to respond to the needs cited above. The consortium includes skilled psychologists and other experienced clinicians as well as others who are interested in gaining such experience. Continue reading “Greater Portland’s Response to the Opioid Crisis”

Chronic Pain

Staying home is not the best option.

Silhouette of a seated person inside a bubble.

As we said in the last blog a positive attitude and self-management skills can make it much easier to live with chronic pain. And as we said in the last blog, beliefs, circumstances, your mood, and the attention paid to the pain symptoms will determine in good part how difficult it is to manage.

Here is the situation people often face when dealing with chronic pain. The pain causes you to stay home alone, a lot. Your friends say, “Get out. Do something. Stop thinking about your pain all of the time.” They just don’t get it. If you hear it just one more time the outcome won’t be pretty. It’s easier to stay away from people than to risk arguing with them about the way you’re managing the pain or not managing it. Continue reading “Chronic Pain”

Addiction to Pain Medications

Alternatives to Managing Pain.

Circled Dr's appointment on a calendar.

The problems with pain medications are not new ones. The epidemic that many talk of in terms of opioid addiction is real. Many states in response to this problem have created new guidelines and requirements for the prescription of these medications. Some physicians have simply stopped prescribing them because they may not agree with or want to work with the new guidelines. This has left some patients without a prescriber.

A few months ago I posted a blog about non-pharmaceutical interventions for the treatment of chronic pain. The response to that blog was in general positive, but I got a number of angry responses from people who felt I was saying that pain medication should be replaced with these non-pharmaceutical interventions. That is not what I was saying. Unfortunately, people can become so dependent upon these medications they firmly believe there is no way they could manage without them. And for some that may be true. Continue reading “Addiction to Pain Medications”

Chronic Pain

How the skills and attitudes of resilience can help manage chronic pain.

Blue-eyed man looks at his reflection in a broken mirror.

 

Attitude alone cannot cure chronic illness or chronic pain. Positive attitude and certain self-management skills can make it much easier to live with. In previous blogs, we have discussed chronic pain and its relationship to the opioid epidemic. In the next couple of blog posts, we are going to be discussing situations that people find themselves frequently when they experience chronic pain. And we will discuss the ways in which the skills and attitudes of resilience can help you manage the pain.

There is a great deal of research that shows that the experience of pain can be modified by circumstances, beliefs, mood, and the attention we pay to the pain symptoms. For example with arthritis of the knee, how depressed the person is better predicts how disabled, limited and uncomfortable they will be. What goes on in a person’s mind is often more important than what is going on in their body.

Continue reading “Chronic Pain”

Living in Pain

Exploring Non-pharmaceutical Interventions

Pain rating scale showing images reflecting a corresponding level of pain from 0 (being none) and 10 (being the worst pain ever).

In the past few posts, I discussed a number of pharmaceuticals that can be used in treating pain. Most recently, CBD has received a great deal of attention and press, but there is still a lack of consistent research findings to support many of the claims being made. I also discussed the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions to treat pain. But before we talk more about these, we will talk about what pain is.

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” Acute pain is usually transitory and resolves quickly. Pain that lasts a long time, usually 3 to 6 months, is called chronic or persistent. Continue reading “Living in Pain”