Opiates and prescription pain killers have been seen in the media often involving stories of dangerous addictions and treatments for abusers of the drug. It is important to understand that addictions to these medications can become an issue for anyone.
Commonly misconstrued, pain management doctors are thought of as “drug pushers,” in that they overextend their ability to prescribe opiates as a form of treatment for their patients. It is time to clear the air about this sensitive topic.
Opiates can be an effective way of treating pain and have shown to work immediately to help decrease pain. At the same time, opiates are also a cautionary drug as they can be habit forming. Because of this, we do look to remedy a patient’s pain with other treatments before pain killers are prescribed. Common alternatives include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, acupuncture, epidural steroid injections, and chiropractic care. Since I am very conservative when considering opiates as the solution, I exhaust all other options first.
If my initial recommended form of treatment proves ineffective, we will look towards using opiates as a secondary option of pain management. We require that every patient sign an opiate contract as a precautionary measure to help them avoid potential abuse. We monitor each patient once they begin their treatment and continually assess their progress and behavior for any signs of misuse.
There are several indications that show a patient may be abusing their medication. When a patient forms a pattern of calling the office for an early refill or tells us that their medication is “stolen” or “lost”, they are exhibiting the most noticeable signs of a growing problem. As an added safeguard to help prevent the dangers associated with patient’s maltreatment of the medication, our office randomly conducts drug screens on medicated patients.
If you or someone you know is being treated with opiates, be sure to look for signs of a growing addiction and promptly inform a medical professional.
About Dr. Scott Gottlieb:
Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a pain management expert and the founder of Gramercy Pain Management. He is the director of Pain Management at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) and has treated over 3,000 patients. Dr. Gottlieb is board certified in both pain management and anesthesiology. He has offices in both Manhattan and Montebello, N.Y. in Rockland County.