Six years ago, in a small Florida city, an outraged crowd of concerned citizens demanded a reason for the high number of opioid deaths. A local Congressman and an FDA representative told the large and hurting crowd that restrictions couldn’t be put on the synthetic heroin, Oxycodone, and other powerful opioids that were killing people, because “the nurses tell us people are in pain.”
Oxycodone Wasn’t Designed For Chronic Pain
Oxycodone was approved in 2004 for sick and dying patients. After it was approved, it was widely distributed by physicians for all kinds of pain, and surgeries.
It was never supposed to be a first choice medication for either short term pain or chronic pain.
In fact, instead of mitigating chronic pain, powerful opioids can create their own dangerous cycle of drug craving and drug sick pain.
Back in 2010, the impact of opiates was already devastating in this small Florida city. Over three hundred young people had perished of overdoses within the last two years. No one but their mothers were speaking for for them, and the word of “nurses” turned out to be more powerful that the voices of mourning families. But chronic pain is not to be dismissed.
The Issue Of Chronic Pain Is A Real One
Thousands of people have chronic and debilitating pain. Because of the attitude that pain can only be treated with powerful drugs, other solutions for dealing with pain, especially pain in those recovering from addictions have not been explored enough.
A Pain Expert Explains
The incidences of opioid overdoses have not abated. We continue to see headlines reporting that over 60,000 people are dying each year. There are also between 80-110 million adults suffering from chronic pain in the United States. As more and more those with legitimate chronic pain conditions lose or receive a limited supply of their opioid medications, they overutilize emergency room visits (sometimes weekly) and run up medical costs.
These complex chronic pain patients make up 20% of the patient population, and consume 80% of medical services with little to no improvement in quality of life. Currently, individuals seeking treatment for addiction are billed through mental health services, and those seeking treatment for chronic pain are billed through the medical system. However, the high-utilizing complex chronic pain patients require a specialized, coordinated care model that combines mental health and medical treatment to address the coexisting biological, psychological, and social disorders that fuel chronic pain suffering and addictive behaviors.
What Is The Solution For Chronic Pain Sufferers
Unfortunately, insurers – to our knowledge – have not recognized nor do they have a system in place to bill for concurrent bio-psycho-social-spiritual treatment, even though research shows that it is the most effective way to lower costs and increase positive patient outcomes.
Treatment Providers Must To Offer More Options
We know that chronic pain is costing this country just under a trillion dollars every year. What are your thoughts about how to address this? I would love to inspire a dialog between stakeholders. Are these issues being discussed amongst treatment executives? What solutions would are being recommended for this very expensive population? Whose attention should this be brought to? CEOs? CFOs? Chief Medical Officers? Chief Clinical Officers? Segment Strategists? Network Contracting Executives? Now is the time to address this treatment necessity.