Nonopioid therapies in the treatment of chronic pain and their abilities to reduce opioid prescriptions
Antonio, Shaun Craig
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INTRODUCTION: It is estimated that 100 million individuals suffer from chronic pain in the United States. Many of the options involved in chronic pain management have limited effectiveness come with risks of addiction, and/or have numerous side effects. The toll of chronic pain is even more substantial when complications with addiction arise. With an estimated 13.7% of adults having admitted to using pain relief medication for nonmedical purposes in the United States totaling a cost of approximately 55 billion dollars annually, the combined burden of chronic pain and addiction is considerable. To curb the sufferings created by chronic pain, it is essential to investigate its sources, the risks involved with current treatments, and alternative methods to alleviate chronic pain. PURPOSE: The objective of this study is to review the current literature on the topic of nonopioid therapies in the treatment of chronic pain, their ability to reduce opioid prescriptions, and assess their pros and cons. Three different forms of alternative treatments were chosen: 1) psychotherapeutic treatment Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 2) Eastern Medicine Acupuncture, and 3) pharmacological class cannabinoids. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The current literature on alterative therapies show that cannabinoids had the most potential to decrease pain, followed by CBT, and acupuncture showing the least consistent efficacy. The literature on CBT elucidate a great potential to decrease the use of prescribed opioids without increasing pain while cannabinoids showed a synergistic effect with opioids. The combined results for acupuncture were not consistent, with only one of the studies showing potential to reduce the use of opioids, while the others showed no difference between real and sham acupuncture.