The possibility of addiction is a danger when opioids are incorporated into a long-term pain treatment plan. The result can be an urgent need for opioid detoxification. Dr. Steven Moskowitz, senior director of Paradigm Outcomes’ pain program, and Dr. Fernando Branco, medical director of Midwest Employers Casualty Company, recently shared some insights into which injured workers most need opioid detoxification and treatment options, and why it’s important to pay close attention to chronic-pain sufferers taking opioids.
The Basics of Opioids as Pain Medications
Opioid detoxification is sometimes needed in severe acute workers’ compensation claims as a result of long-term opioid use stemming from chronic injury pain. Ideally, medications such as oxycodone, codeine and hydrocodone should be used sparingly and for the shortest treatment time possible: three to seven days. These powerful pain medications are dangerous when taken regularly.
Those who use these medications for extended periods risk becoming addicted to them, meaning an increased chance of side effects, an increase in treatment cost and a reduction in treatment efficacy.
Opioid Detoxification: Weaning Off
Injured workers deciding to wean off opioid treatment have options. A successful weaning strategy has a long-term pain rehabilitation plan in place, which seeks to restore function, reduce or eliminate pain, and improve quality of life while eliminating harmful and highly addictive medications.
Whether an inpatient or an outpatient rehabilitation plan is in place for opioid weaning, a non-opioid treatment plan must include:
• Safe, non-addictive alternatives to opioids.
• A multidisciplinary, holistic approach to treatment.
• Both physical and psychological rehabilitation.
Weaning off opioids can be difficult, and those affected need all the guidance and help they can get to succeed and move on to non-addictive, safe treatment plans that are more suited for long-term care.