Managing Pain Without Opioids

Opioids should not be the first-line therapy for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. Evidence suggests that nonopioid treatments, including nonopioid medications and nonpharmacological therapies can provide relief to those suffering from chronic pain, and are safer.

Know your options

Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your pain that do not involve prescription opioids. Some of these options may actually work better and have fewer risks and side effects. Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing, options may include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – a psychological, goal-directed approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress
  • Exercise therapy, including physical therapy
  • Medications for depression or for seizures
  • Interventional therapies (injections)
  • Exercise and weight loss
  • Other therapies such as acupuncture and massage

Every year, 3.75 million or 9.2% of patients go on to long-term opioid use after a low-risk surgery (e.g. inguinal hernia repair, knee arthroscopy.)

80 Pills is the average number of opioid pills prescribed to patients after orthopedic surgery, whether they need them or not.

Of the 9.7 million people who misused pain relievers in 2019, 37.5% received the pills from a health care provider, and 50% obtained them from a friend.

80 percent of heroin users began by abusing prescription pain medications.

Non-opioid choices project

At the beginning of 2020, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America recruited coalitions from across the country with expertise in healthcare collaborations and opioid prevention to participate in on-going training and focused technical assistance with the vision of increasing awareness and access to non-opioid treatments for acute pain management related to surgery and injury.

About the nopain act

The Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation Act (“NOPAIN Act”) (S. 586/H.R. 3259) was reintroduced in Congress by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL), David McKinley (R-WV), Ann Kuster (D-NH), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). This bipartisan legislation is designed to increase utilization of non-opioid pain management approaches by addressing outdated federal reimbursement policies

This bill would ensure safe, non-addictive therapies are widely available to the tens of millions of Americans who undergo an outpatient surgical procedure every year. This policy change aims to reduce unnecessary exposure to opioids and the likelihood of opioid misuse or addiction following an acute pain incident.

Drug-related overdoses and deaths skyrocketed during the pandemic resulting in the highest rates ever recorded. Congress can act now to prevent addiction before it starts and ensuring those who need non-addictive pain therapies can access them. This bill would:

  • Expand patient and provider access to FDA approved non-opioid pain management approaches in all outpatient surgical settings for the next five years; and
  • Require a report to Congress on limitations, gaps, barriers to access, or deficits in Medicare coverage or reimbursement for therapeutic services.

YOUth Positively Speaking about Actions to Avoid Opioid Addiction

Listen to the podcast to learn more about alternatives to opioids, safe medicine use and disposal and learn about national legislative efforts.