A recent study of patients taking prescription narcotics for chronic pain conditions focused on reducing the amount of drugs they were using. The research team, headed by Dr. Beth Darnall, was able to successfully cut down the amount of medication being taken without increasing the intensity of their pain.
Dr. Darnall is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University. She is the author of the book Less Pain, Fewer Pills and is focused on the psychology of pain. Her work is important not just for the help of individual patients to reduce their symptoms, but it can also hold the key to helping to eliminate some of the opioid dependency in our country that starts with chronic pain.
Typically, patients believe that if they take less medication that they will experience more pain, but this research has thus far shown positive results. “A lot of people falsely assume that if you taper off opioids your pain will spike, your depression and anxiety will increase and you will fall apart,” said Dr. Darnall. “They think opioids are holding them together. Our data suggests otherwise.”
The psychology of pain shows that people have different reactions to their pain and can help control their symptoms based o their mindset. Dr. Darnall works with patients to “harness the power of their mind-body connection to reduce suffering, pain and need for medications.”
With overdose deaths reaching new heights around the country, there has been considerable focus of late on reducing the influence and damage that opioids can cause. The CDC recently issued new prescribing recommendations, which included finding non-opioid treatments for mild to moderate chronic pain.
Helping to cut the overall number of pain pills being taken can have a dramatic effect on improving the quality of life for potentially millions of people as well as help save thousands more from addiction.