Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - 39

TRUE OR FALSE:

The chances of getting
addicted to an opioid pain
medication are low.

FALSE. Nearly a quarter of
Americans who are prescribed opioids
for chronic pain will become addicted,
according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
"The essence of the problem is
that people who take opioids often
develop a tolerance to the medication,
so they have to increase the dose,"
says Jianguo Cheng, MD, presidentelect of the American Academy of Pain
Medicine. "When the dose is increased,
adverse side effects also increase."
Those adverse effects include physical dependence, increased sensitivity
to pain, nausea, sleepiness, depression
and respiratory problems that can lead
to death.

TRUE OR FALSE:

Opioid painkillers can be
used safely.

TRUE. Despite their risks, opioid
analgesics do have a place in medicine.
"Using a relatively small dose for
a short time helps maintain function
and control acute pain so patients can
do their jobs and take care of their
families," Cheng says. "Those patients
are the ones who can benefit from
this therapy."
For example, opioids are commonly
prescribed for a specified time when
healing after surgery.

TRUE OR FALSE:

Opioid use among teenagers
is rising.

FALSE. Opioid use among teens
has ebbed and flowed over the past
several decades. Teen use rose in the

1980s, fell in the '90s and rose again in
the early 2000s. But since 2013, opioid
use among teens has dropped. Still,
Cheng encourages parents to be vigilant with teenagers and intervene when
necessary.
"Teens may gain access to opioids
through family members, peers and
others on the street," he says. "Parents
should be mindful."
Research has shown that teens usually use opioids they are prescribed,
for medical reasons, before they abuse
them through nonmedical use.

TRUE OR FALSE:

Most people who abuse opioids switch to heroin when
they can't get pills.

FALSE. Heroin is an opioid street
drug that is chemically very similar to
prescription opioids. It can even be
cheaper and easier to get in many communities. And it's true that heroin use
is almost always precipitated by prescription opioid abuse. In fact, about
80 percent of heroin users start with
opioid pain medications, according to
the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
But that doesn't mean all prescription
drug abusers will go on to use heroin.
Only about 4 percent of abusers make
that leap. ■

OPIOID
ALTERNATIVES
Not only can opioids be dangerous,
but research from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention
suggests long-term use yields "insufficient" benefits.
Jianguo Cheng, MD, presidentelect of the American Academy of
Pain Medicine, recommends providers use caution when prescribing.
"If patients do a trial treatment
and have clear expectations for the
[opioid] therapy, maybe they're
justified," Cheng says, but they
should not be a long-term solution.
Patients have to be willing to explore
other ways to alleviate the pain or
the underlying issue that's causing it.
"If patients aren't doing anything to
help themselves, like continuing to
smoke, not exercising, sitting on the
couch, they are not good candidates
for this therapy," Cheng adds.
Alternatives to opioids include:
* Nonopioid medication
* Physical activity
* Cognitive behavioral therapy
* Physical therapy
* Condition-specific treatments,
such as injections and surgery
* Nutrients that reduce inflammation, such as omega-3 fatty
acids, turmeric and ginger
* Acupuncture and acupressure
* Massage and reiki

VIDEO

See Stories of Hope
Opioid abuse doesn't have to end in overdose. Watch several personal
stories of survivors in videos from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention on YouTube using #RxProblem.

WINTE R 2017

39



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - 3
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - 4
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover4
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