Drugs like Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin can lead to addiction and then many other problems.
So one local hospital has a new effort underway to reign in the use of these drugs.
How to manage pain, relying less on opioid medications, is a conversation pain specialist Dr. Anita Gupta is having almost daily with colleagues at Hahnemann University Hospital.
This spring, Hahnemann launched the Comfort Care campaign designed to educate doctors, nurses, therapists, and even patients, about the other options to control pain.
"We use IV acetaminophen, IV ibuprofen. We give them ketamine infusions. We do nerve blocks," Gupta said. "There are nerve blocks that we can administer 30 minutes before the actual surgical procedure."
And some can last for 24 hours or more after an operation.
Doctors can also put a local anesthetic into the surgical site.
But Dr. Gupta says these methods are underutilized.
Kathleen Callahan has struggled with chronic pelvic pain for years.
She went to Dr. Gupta, stuck in what she calls the "rollercoaster" of painkillers, feeling she needed them, although they didn't work well.
"You're almost a slave to these pills," Callahan said.
Now, a combination approach keeps pain to a minimum.
"I exercise, I meditate, I rest when my body tells me to," Callahan said.
And Kathleen says well before any surgery, she talks to all her doctors about pain control. She urges everyone to do the same.
About what you should expect after. How long the surgeon expects you to be on an opioid. How long you should feel like you need it. And if you need more than that, what are your options," Callahan said.
Hahnemann University Hospital's new effort against opioid addiction
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