Chronic pain refers to pain that a patient experiences and it lasts for a duration of six months and more (Lewis, Dana & Blevins, 2010). Chronic pain is caused by the malfunctions or failure of the nervous system due to disease. Several diseases can make a patient to experience chronic pain: cancer, HIV/AIDS, sciatia, arthritis, and spinal stenosis among others. The pain that these patients feel is their major reason for seeking medical treatment. Doctors usually prescribe various pain relievers and the most common are narcotics.
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Narcotics are the most prescribed pain relievers in the U.S (Lewis, Dana & Blevins, 2010). They are prescribed with other less-powerful pain relievers. Most narcotics are referred to as opiates because they contain derivatives of heroin or codeine, which occur in the opium poppy. Heroin is one of the most abused narcotics and the others are Demerol, morphine, fentanyl, and oxycodeine among others. Narcotic use produces immense pleasure and brings calm feelings to the patient. They feel well, sleepy and an impermanent feeling of euphoria or feel "high," but most significantly, the pain is relieved. Narcotic abuse impairs the daily life of the user since it leads to addiction and influences his or her habits.
A National Household Survey on Drug abuse that was conducted in 1999 revealed that about 15 million people in the U.S use narcotics (Lewis, Dana & Blevins, 2010). About 5% of the adults abuse them. People aged between 19-26 years were the most users with males being the majority. In urban areas, non-Caucasian users are the majority. This shows that narcotic abuse is a common and urgent problem that needs to be tackled efficiently. In 2000, 10% of emergency room visits were attributed to problems associated with morphine abuse. Today, this has doubled to a rate of 20%. In 2005 alone, the Unites States spent $470 billion to tackle the problems related with substance abuse and addiction key among them narcotic abuse (Beg & Gavilanes, 2009). These problems involve the effects of addiction like crime, prevention of addiction, research on better non-addictive pain relievers and regulation of narcotic use. This is about 11% of the total budget of the U.S. This implies that if programs to prevent narcotic abuse are put in place, then the state can save many resources.
Several programs can be put in place to help patients with chronic pain from abusing narcotics. The most effective program should be based on counseling (Lewis, Dana & Blevins, 2010). Before narcotic prescription, patients suffering from chronic illnesses should be counseled. They should be informed that narcotics only relieve the pain and do not cure the disease. One of the most significant points that patients should know is that narcotic addiction is a brain illness and it is a psychological, physiological and physical or behavioral problem. They should also be informed on the signs of abuse like reemergence of pain even after taking pain relievers, inability to carry out daily routines, intoxication, changes in weight, sleep patterns, and appearance. This will make a patient to be aware that they are vulnerable to narcotic abuse and therefore the need to use them effectively.
The patients who experience those symptoms should be advised to seek immediate help from a doctor. The doctor will help in designing a plan that will help the patient to handle addiction. The patient should give accurate information to the doctor because some symptoms could be associated with the disease and not narcotic abuse. Patients who abuse narcotics should be grouped so that they can offer each other support in fighting addiction. In the support groups, they will be informed of the dangerous effects of narcotic abuse like brain damage, poor health, family and marital problems and strained work relations, which can lead to job loss.
In those groups, the patients should be encouraged to use non-opiate pain relievers like Tylenol that is less addictive. The other way that narcotic addiction can be treated is by using Methadone. Methadone is an opioid that is synthetic and does not have the harmful effects of opiates (Doweiko, 2008). This drug is very effective and safe and can mitigate the withdrawal symptoms and dependence on drugs. Methadone treats the mind and the body through detoxification. It also reduces the risk factors and behaviors involved in narcotic use like poor perception of self, antisocial attitudes, family problems, misuse of finances in pursuit of narcotics and poverty. If a patient stops abusing narcotics, they tend to lead quality and healthy lives.
This drug is taken only once in every 24 hours. It stabilizes body processes that were already disturbed by narcotic abuse. It reduces psychological, physical, and chemical feelings that are attributed to drug intoxication. It makes a person to feel the presence of a narcotic while in reality no narcotic has been used. According to Doweiko (2008), methadone reduces the occurrence of relapse and does not make a person to feel high. It inhibits the use of narcotics and patients who are being treated for narcotic abuse should not be allowed to take narcotics. It is important to note that using narcotics with methadone renders the drug ineffective.
The groups of addicted patients should meet at least once a week to share and discuss their progress. This will help in monitoring problems associated with withdrawal like compulsive use after recovery. These groups will be used as platforms where people will be encouraged to break addiction habits because it is hard and requires a lot of input by the society, peers, and the family members. Lifestyle change, drug addiction therapy is a problem that needs to be recognized by all people because everyone is a victim. The kind of moral support that a patient gets greatly dictates if they will stop or continue with narcotic abuse. Sharing experiences on narcotic abuse, pain can to strengthen the emotions of other persons who are undergoing through the same pain (Lewis, Dana & Blevins, 2010). Patients suffering from chronic pain should be taught to relax and concentrate on their health and lives. Stress adds emotional problems to the body and mind leading to overwhelming pain.
Patients will also be advised on other ways of managing pain. One of them is acupuncture that has been in use for many centuries. Acupuncture relives chronic pain without necessarily using drugs (Doweiko, 2008). This method aids the release of endorphins or the natural painkillers thereby relieving pain. Breathing deeply helps a patient to gain control over his body. This gives someone a chance to divert attention from the feelings of pain. This method has proven effective especially in childbirth and it can be applied in patients with chronic pain without the use o narcotics. Epsom salt hot baths can be used as a pain reliever because it restores the normal functions of the body. Chiropractic care and muscle massage does help in relieving pain.
This solution or program can also be used to handle addiction to other drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. This program focuses on improving the quality of life of people who suffer from chronic diseases and the immense pain. Counseling, exercise can help the patients to enjoy life and have a positive outlook. Patients should be advised to get more information on dealing with pain. If a person understands his disease and body well, then the chances of managing the pain are very high. This program will reduce the deaths that are associated with drug addiction and overdose.