Opioid abuse is a serious and growing threat, inhibiting true healing. Each year, opioid abuse and addiction progressively plagues Americans suffering from chronic pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines which recommend non-drug approaches, such as physical therapy, over long-term or high-dosage use of addictive prescription painkillers. Physical therapists know that educating patients is core to staying ahead, and many times, remedying the overuse of prescription opioids. The primary goal is reducing and eliminating the patient’s need for opioids.

According to the CDC, people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. Combating this epidemic is an everyday battle. Keeping patients with long-term chronic pain off this addiction path is core to the treatment plan physical therapists practice.

Physical therapists and physicians are working more and more together to recommend physical therapy over prescription opioids. However, there are still many patients who are being over-prescribed pain medications as a remedy for potential long-term chronic pain. Once a patient starts down that path of opioid use for pain management, it becomes increasingly more difficult to switch their treatment to a more sustainable remedy like physical therapy.

The medical field, as a whole, is continually struggling with over prescribing opioids for pain management. Sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and in 2012 alone, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills. Physical therapists strive to not only educate the patient and the community, but also physicians to keep them abreast of all current treatment options available. Physical therapists also educate patients on the long term effects of opioid overuse.

Did You Know? As many as 1 in 4 people that are prescribed opioids for long term non-cancer pain struggle with addiction.

Physical therapists are working hard to continue to educate the public on preventative measures for opioid overuse. As a resource for patients, physical therapists bring awareness to alternatives for alleviating reliance on pain medication and develop a self-management plan for their long-term pain.

Before you agree to a prescription for opioids, ask if physical therapy might be right for you.

#ChoosePT today, and #makePThappen for you!

To see how physical therapists here is Ohio combat Opioid addiction, watch this video: