With overdoses skyrocketing, Congress must consider non-opioid alternatives to pain management

Drug overdose deaths in older adults have skyrocketed in recent times, leaping 147%  over the past decade – the best improve in any age group within the nation. Amongst folks 65 and older, males are twice as possible as girls to endure overdoses, and Black Individuals are over 10% extra possible than different minority teams. Provided that seniors are extra weak to prescription drug overdoses, entry to non-drug options for ache administration is particularly essential. Decreasing opioid use begins with altering our strategy to power ache administration and growing entry to protected, efficient, non-addictive therapy choices.

Congress acknowledges the necessity for brand spanking new approaches to fight opioid misuse and drug habit. In late Could, the Senate handed a Decision calling on Congress to advance bipartisan options to deal with substance use dysfunction wants of older adults, noting that our seniors are extra vulnerable to substance use dysfunction for a number of causes. Final yr, the Home Power and Commerce Committee held a listening to the place members emphasised the necessity to higher promote non-addictive remedies and requested the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) to prioritize non-addictive options for ache administration.

Whereas it is a shift in the appropriate course, policymakers should additionally be mindful the worth of complementary and integrative healthcare (CIH) for seniors and power ache victims, to cut back opioid use and reliance. When CIH suppliers are utilized in ache administration from the beginning, analysis exhibits that prescriptions for opioids plummet, which is a a lot smarter preventative technique than managing habit on the again finish. The American Faculty of Physicians strongly recommends beginning with non-pharmacological therapy for each acute and power low again ache. Let’s comply with the proof and promote non-pharmacological ache administration approaches as first-line remedies.

CIH suppliers, together with chiropractic physicians, acupuncturists, and therapeutic massage therapists, present efficient and protected remedies for ache. But, they’re too typically missed by Congress and a healthcare system that tends to default to pharmacological remedies as step one in ache discount. Sufferers are more and more using complementary and integrative therapies and increasing entry to those care choices giving seniors extra decisions and management over managing their well being.

Nevertheless, important boundaries – along with an absence of will by policymakers – forestall entry to integrative care choices and suppliers. The economics of the healthcare system limits entry and fails to incentivize affected person alternative of high-value CIH providers. Somewhat, they favor prescribing pharmacological approaches – together with opioids – that don’t mirror greatest practices for power ache administration like these really helpful by the American Faculty of Physicians, the Joint Fee and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

Growing entry and reducing monetary boundaries to non-pharmacological remedies is crucial to making sure excessive worth care is incentivized and healthcare supply displays present greatest practices. Treating ache and associated situations with non-pharmacological choices first has the potential to cut back drug dependencies, unintended overdoses and deaths, and different severe antagonistic results, whereas stopping relapse of these fighting habit who could proceed affected by ache related to acute accidents.

Legislative measures to fight opioid misuse and drug habit must be accompanied by insurance policies offering viable therapy options for older adults. To do that, we should acknowledge CIH’s position in preventive care and guarantee insurance policies present entry to a full complement of healthcare professionals. Congress must prioritize entry to CIH over extra invasive and addictive remedies to change the trajectory of our lethal opioid epidemic. By stressing the advantages of integrative healthcare to higher assist well being creation over the lifespan, Congress can reform our nation’s strategy to power ache administration.

Well being Science training is coaching the following era of healthcare professionals to prioritize efficient, non-pharmacologic remedies for ache administration, getting ready the longer term workforce for evidence-based follow. It’s time for Congress to comply with go well with – Congress should advocate for and prioritize insurance policies that embrace complementary and integrative healthcare.

Photograph: MikeyLPT, Getty Pictures

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