Before I picked up this book, I didn’t know what an opioid was. The extent of my knowledge was TV commercials talking about other medication interactions with opioids. Now I know enough that I want to shove this book into the hands of people who medicate with opioids on a regular schedule or who are considering that option. I completely understand chronic pain because I’ve been in that category for several years. I’ve chosen a different path for pain relief, which is why I can recommend this book. Many of the practices author Dr. Beth Darnall advise have proven sufficient for me.
This book is ultra-easy to read and what you read, you will understand because it’s not written it doctorese. It’s divided into sections so you can choose which chapters to read now and mark some for later. For example, I gravitated toward chapters 7 – Shift Your Thoughts and Emotions to Reduce Your Need for Prescription Opioids and 8 – Change Your Choices to Reduce Your Need for Pain Medication, before starting at the beginning. Dr. Darnall first discusses The Problem then moves on to Your Solution to Gain Control so let’s start with the problem.
Did you know that before the 1990s, opioid pain killers were prescribed only for short-term pain such as surgery or major injury? Since then, prescriptions have risen exponentially and according to the Centers for Disease Control, they have increased over 300% between 1999 and 2010. People are seeking relief from long-term pain and doctors help them find it in prescribing narcotics that were meant as a short-term solution. This is a Problem. Here are the truths that have been proven time and again.
Opioid pain-killers will never make a person pain-free over the long haul. The reduce severe pain, especially at the onset of treatment, but they don’t cure it.
Risks intensify the longer opioids are used to treat chronic pain. I wish I could copy the pages of this not-to-miss chapter of the book. Just knowing a few of the risks was an eye-opener. Opioids can change your brain chemistry, alter your sleep patterns, and cause imbalances of hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Here’s a case for when taking one medication necessitates taking counteracting medications – and the cycle begins. Are you a victim of migraines? Here’s a quote from Dr. Darnall’s research. “Clinical studies show that patients with episodic migraines who are given opioids are more likely to have their migraines become chronic.” – Dr. Sheena Aurora
This was subtle, but when I read it, my breath caught and I wondered how many times we have seen this come true, but nobody ever blamed prescription medication. I want to get this right, so I’m quoting the author. Opioids and benzodiazepine are both nervous system depressants. Even when taken as prescribed, the combination is potentially lethal. People fall asleep, stop breathing, and die. Just something to think about.
The author calls them pitfalls, but I call them wake-up calls. While Dr. Darnall cites eleven pitfalls to avoid, and you will benefit from reading about them, these are the few I selected to share in this book summary. Pitfall #5: Taking Opioids to Manage Anxiety leads to a vicious cycle. Whether anxiety leads to pain or pain leads to anxiety, taking opioids is not the answer. Finding ways to reduce anxiety and reduce pain without medication is critical to your mental, emotional, and physical health. Opioids for anxiety is like drawing a line to addiction. Pitfall #7: The Indefinite Use of Opioids should never happen. For every beginning use of opioids there should be a planned end. Treatment should be for a specific, acute, short-term pain with an alternate non-opioid medication to take when the opioid is no longer needed – and it’s usually earlier than you think. Pitfall #10: Being Overmedicated and Undertreated is common, thus the rise in prescriptions for opioids. To avoid this pitfall ask for a referral to a pain specialist, increase your knowledge of pain education, actively participate in pain management techniques. Develop a comprehensive pain care alternative to opioids and other pharmaceuticals.
Your body needs a solution to pain control and it begins with gaining control through attitude and life choices. It’s easy to see why we hate pain, desire comfort, and so easily grasp at an offer to be rid of pain. The issue becomes one of assurance that the medication prescribed is the one that matches symptoms and you have a treatment plan that prevents dependence or addiction.
The author, Dr. Beth Darnall, has a wealth of knowledge, experience, and wisdom that she shares in hopes that it will help victims of pain understand that there are options. These are areas she covers in detail in her book.
Define pain – know it, treat it
- Nervous system / reduce need for prescription opioids
- Thoughts and emotions / reduce need for prescription opioids
- Choices / reduce need for pain medication
- Taper off prescription opioids
Opioids might have a place in your medical program but your mind is a much better controller of pain than your prescription and learning how to use your thoughts to reduce your pain is a strong deterrent to reliance on pain medication.
Dr. Darnall’s hope is that pain sufferers will embrace new treatments beyond narcotic drugs and opioids. There are other long term solutions to pain that are not addictive, are sustaining and healthier options for pain remedy and pain prevention in the future.
This book comes with all this written advice and also includes a supplementary CD appropriately titled Enhanced Pain Management Binaural Relaxation. It can be purchased separately, but comes free with the book. Definitely a bonus and especially valuable for pain sufferers.