Tag Archives: medication

How to find doctors still prescribing opioids

I received what I believe to be excellent advice from Richard A “Red” Lawhern for anyone looking for doctors still prescribing opioids:

I very often receive inquiries from patients who have been deserted by their doctors due to concerns for malicious persecution by DEA, DoJ, State Medical Boards or State drug enforcement authorities.

It is hard these days to find any doctor who is taking on new patients for the treatment of chronic pain. But a medical professional associated with the Alliance offered this insight: talk to your local independent pharmacist and ask which doctors they know who may be treating patients for pain.   Continue reading

A Key Truth About Avoiding Addiction

How a Famous IQ Study Revealed a Key Truth About Avoiding Addiction – Filterby Stanton Peele – Feb 2019

What makes you live longer? What makes life more satisfying? What enables people to resist addiction?

These three questions have an answer in common—a remarkably good piece of news about which we should continually remind ourselves.

The answer is certainly not simply to stop taking opioids for chronic pain, when no other treatments have been able to relieve your pain.  Continue reading

The medications that change who we are

The medications that change who we are – BBC FutureBy Zaria Gorvett – Jan 2020

Over the years, Golomb has collected reports from patients across the United States – tales of broken marriages, destroyed careers, and a surprising number of men who have come unnervingly close to murdering their wives.

In almost every case, the symptoms began when they started taking statins, then promptly returned to normal when they stopped; one man repeated this cycle five times before he realised what was going on.

We’re all familiar with the mind-bending properties of psychedelic drugs – but it turns out ordinary medications can be just as potent.   Continue reading

Some Patients Need Adrenaline for Pain Control

Patients with Arachnoiditis and Ehlers-Danlos Need Adrenaline for Pain Control — Pain News NetworkBy Dr. Forest Tennant, PNN Columnist – Feb 2020

In this era of opioid controversy and tragedy due to forced opioid reduction, the scientific information on adrenaline-type agents can help control constant, intractable pain and help reduce opioid use.

Overlooked in the opioid controversy is the key point that an adequate supply of adrenaline-related neurotransmitters – such as dopamine and norepinephrine – are necessary in the brain and spinal cord for pain relief.

Unfortunately, constant intractable pain depletes the natural supply of endorphin, dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenalin, and their levels must be replaced to adequately control pain.  

This is just a small part of the damage wrought by our chronic pain andyou can find many more posts here itemizing all the ways that untreated pain ravages a body.  Continue reading

Stanford finds personalized approach to opioids better

Opioids: Stanford researchers find personalized approach a better way to prescribe painkillersBy Denise Dador Dec 2019

This article demonstrates the importance of personalization for quality healthcare and shows that standards are inappropriate for medication choice and dosing.

Why do some people get addicted to opioid painkillers and others don’t?

Stanford School of Medicine researchers have developed an innovative program called the Humanwide Project. Through wearable technology, genetics, and other tools, it aims to personalize care and take the mystery out of how we work.

Debbie Spaizman was nearly sidelined by a health concern. Surgery was needed, but she hesitated due to how she reacted to pain medication.   Continue reading

Naproxen shows anti-viral activity against flu

Pain reliever shows anti-viral activity against flu — ScienceDaily Mar 2013Source: American Society for Microbiology

This was a total surprise to me and, considering the specter of a new coronavirus spreading across the globe, I thought this information could be very useful.

New influenza vaccines must be developed annually, because the surface proteins they target mutate rapidly. The researchers found a much more stable, reliable target for anti-influenza activity.

The so-called ribonucleoprotein complexes are necessary for replication, and the researchers realized they could target the nucleoprotein, preventing assembly of the complexes. Because of its vital function, the nucleoprotein is highly conserved, making it a good potential target for antiviral drugs.   Continue reading

World’s most Popular Painkiller is Hazardous to Health

World’s most popular painkiller poses risk with long-term use: study | CTV News – Mar 2015

I find it baffling that despite knowing for years how damaging this drug can be, I read about it being recommended for just about any pain, anywhere, any time.

Doctors may be under-estimating the risks to patients from long-term use of paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, the world’s most popular painkiller, researchers said Tuesday.

Chronic users of the drug — people who typically take large, daily doses over several years — may increase their risk of death, or kidney, intestinal and heart problems, they found.

So why is it still being pushed on patients at every turn?  Continue reading

ADD Distractability Seems Similar to EDS Hyper-Sensitivity

ADHD Brain: Unraveling Secrets of Your ADD Nervous SystemBy William Dodson, M.D. Medically reviewed by ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel on Oct 2019

My sensory over-sensitivity from EDS seems very similar to ADD and I’ve been diagnosed with both. I wonder how many other people with EDS also suffer from such mental effects.

Attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a confusing, contradictory, inconsistent, and frustrating condition. It is overwhelming to people who live with it every day.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has 18 criteria, and other symptom lists cite as many as 100 traits.

My work for the last decade suggests that we have been missing something important about the fundamental nature of the ADHD brain.  Continue reading

A Practical Approach to Opioid Weaning

A Practical Approach to Opioid Weaning in the Midst of an Opioid Crisis – Pain Medicine News – by Mary Milano Carter, MS, APRN-BC, RN-BC – Sep 2019

The expanse of chronic pain in the United States is incredible. According to U.S. government statistics, pain affects more people than diabetes, coronary heart disease or cancer.

Low back pain gets the gold medal here, affecting 27% of individuals with chronic pain, per the National Institutes of Health.

Approximately 26 million Americans between 20 and 64 years of age experience frequent episodes of low back pain, and it is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years of age, according to the AAPM.

As providers, we struggled to treat our patients’ complaints of debilitating pain, and sales of prescription opioids quadrupled between 1999 and 2014.

Treating benign pain with opioids became an accepted part of the treatment plan, keeping in mind the need to satisfy the Joint Commission’s standards for pain management.

In 2016, the “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain” stated that opioids should not be prescribed as first-line treatment for chronic pain, and that prescriptions should be kept to 90 mg of morphine or less daily, or the equivalent in another opioid

No, it did NOT say to keep rx at 90mg or less – it merely said to be more cautious.

Unfortunately, a guideline that was aimed at primary care providers became a standard of care to insurance companies. Providers had to comply with weaning patients on opioids to satisfy the CDC guideline

But the guideline never mentioned anything about weaning. In fact, it said nothing about patients already taking opioids.
It’s all the other people/agencies meddling with our meidcal care that unilaterally decided to wean current patients.

Pain management providers have been adept at weaning patients from opioids due to severe side effects, patient noncompliance with treatment, unsafe patient behaviors, lack of efficacy of the medication or just simply patient desire.

But most patient being weaned don’t exhibit these wigns of opioid use disorder. It seems Ms Carter is saying that while they’ve always had to wean people who had problems with using opioids or their efficacy, now they “had to” wean patients for no other reason than to satisfy bureacracy or managers they are working under.

The Process of Tapering

How long does it take for a patient to become opioid tolerant?

The FDA definition is a patient taking 60 mg of oral morphine daily, or the equivalent of that in another opioid, for at least one week.

If a patient discontinues abruptly or is tapered down rapidly, withdrawal symptoms can occur.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that the length of withdrawal symptoms is dependent on

  • how long the drug was taken,
  • the dosage of the drug,
  • the half-life of the drug,
  • the patient’s age and
  • comorbidities.

And NIDA (the agency with extensive history and expertise on drug abuse) helpfully explains the journey through withdrawal:

  • The typical onset of withdrawal is approximately 12 hours, starting with myalgias and excessive yawning.
  • By day 2, hyperhidrosis, anorexia, diarrhea, runny nose, and anxiety and panic attacks can occur.
  • By the third or fourth day, the patient can experience abdominal cramping and vomiting while the myalgias begin to subside.
  • By days 5 to 6, most of the physical symptoms will resolve, but the psychological symptoms can be long-lasting (Table).

Table. Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms 

When initiating an opioid taper, alert the patient that the process typically takes two weeks to six months—and sometimes up to 24 months, depending on opioid usage.

The total daily dose of opioids can be reduced 10% to 20% every one to two weeks, and reduced up to 50% at a time if the dosage is low or truly as needed.

Dies this mean opioids were used when they were *not* needed?

If the dose of a medication is taken truly “as needed”, this statement means the patient is suffering from symptoms that medication can ameliorate.

This seems a clear medical reason to continue the medication. Otherwise, a doctor is literally deprescribing a medicine that was medically needed.

When the total daily dose becomes very low, it should be reduced by 5% at a time.

It is important to monitor the patient closely for withdrawal symptoms, and individualize the plan of care.

When performing an opioid taper without a medical reason, only because of outside influences, how can that be individualized? When a patient needs a medication, treating them as an individual would mean continuing to prescribe the needed medication.

If the patient is reporting withdrawal symptoms, you can use the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale.

Eleven symptoms are graded and tallied, and total score will indicate mild to severe opioid withdrawal (Figure).

Figure. Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale.
Based on J Psychoactive Drugs. 2003;35(2):253-259.

Medication therapies to assist with weaning and withdrawing opioids include:

  • lonidine (physical withdrawal symptoms, decreases sympathetic activity)
    – mg po bid; Catapres TTS1 patch
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/acetaminophen (pain)
  • loperamide (diarrhea)
  • melatonin or trazodone (sleep)
  • prochlorperazine (nausea and vomiting)
  • hydroxyzine (anxiety)
  • oxybutynin (sweats)
  • antidepressants
  • antiepileptics

The patient should be reassessed every three to seven days. It is not recommended to treat withdrawal symptoms with other opioids or benzodiazepines.

How is a patient, crippled by pain, going to get to the doctor every 3 to 7 days? How can a disabled patient afford so many appointments?

Most of the suggested drugs have already been prescribed to pain patients to lower the dose of opioids needed.

There are also adjuvant therapies to assist with opioid weaning.

Nondrug management can include

  • support groups and counseling,

What if your pain doesn’t respond to talk therapy because it has a physical cause?

  • Referrals to detox/addiction medicine/psychiatry, 

No matter how prettily they dress it up we see here that they think we’re all more addicted than in pain.

  • nutrition and hydration counseling, 

So now our disabling chronic pain might be due to not drinking enough water? To not eating the right food?

  • good sleep hygiene, 

What if your sleep is horrible *because of* your pain? What if you can’t sleep because you’re no longer given proper pain relief?

  • relaxation and meditation, 

The modern “cure-all”: you’re hurting because you’re stressed and if you’d just learn to relax, you wouldn’t be having so much pain. Condescending, minimizing, 

  • Reiki therapy, 

Now a medically trained doctor is expected to promote “mystical” alternative therapies? Seriously?

  • aromatherapy, 

If a patient has pain severe enough to need opioids, aromatherapy will not be effective.

  • an exercise regimen. 

What if you can’t exercise *because of* your pain? What if tapering causes your pain to increase, and then you can no longer exercise? (that’s my case: the less opioid, the more pain, the less exercise – I doubt I’m unique in that aspect.)

Also, most of these non-opioid therapies are already being used on pain patients in addition to their opioids.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine also has guidelines for opioid withdrawal. 

Again, patients are assumed to be addicted.

Recommendations include the use of:

  • clonidine to support opioid withdrawal;
  • methadone for patients who may benefit from daily dosing;
  • oral buprenorphine, initiated after withdrawal, although it has poor medication adherence;
  • oral buprenorphine-naloxone, initiated until 12 to 18 hours after the last dose of a short-acting agonist; and
  • naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension (Vivitrol, Alkermes) for those with difficulty adhering to oral daily doses.

In conclusion, clinicians should be aware that there are many options for safely weaning patients from chronic opioid therapy.

I wish they’d explain more about the basic assumption that all patients on opioids MUST be tapered. 

There are many patients who use opioids responsibly and only use them as needed for pain, but they are never mentioned. It’s as though it’s no longer legal to treat legitimate pain with effective medication.

Author: Ms. Carter is a member of the Pain Medicine News editorial advisory board.
Director of Nursing Education, Chronic Pain Service/Anesthesiology, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.

More Teens using OTC drugs (Tylenol) to overdose

More Canadian teens using over-the-counter drugs to overdose, data show – The Globe and Mail – by Erin Anderssen – Nov 2019

The number of intentional overdoses involving common over-the-counter and prescription drugs has increased steeply among young people in the last decade, according to new data provided to The Globe and Mail by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The number of cases roughly doubled for children and teenagers in Alberta and Ontario, the two provinces for which data were available, in two categories of drugs that include over-the-counter painkiller medications and prescriptions for drugs such as antidepressants and sedatives, according to the CIHI data, which tracked emergency-department visits.

So now Tylenol, that “safe” drug handed out like candy in hospitals, is being used to commit suicide by overdose in young people.  Continue reading