People in chronic pain pay a high price. That price tag involves both money and human misery. Up until very recently people in this country had no idea how expensive and wide spread the “silent” epidemic of chronic pain really was. In 1999 I joined the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) to begin researching the true extent of the problem. In the Untied States alone it was estimated that over 83 million people were living and suffering with chronic pain. Other interesting statistics jumped out at me. For example the United States spent over $70 billion dollars between treatments for chronic pain and lost productivity because of it. Other research indicated the costs to be much higher.
As we fast forward to 2005 that cost rose to over $120 billion dollars for treatment and lost productivity – and that was for just four types of chronic pain: (1) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; (2) Low Back Pain; (3) Migraine; and (4) Osteoarthritis. As future research will no doubt demonstrate, the costs continue to rise. In 2008 many people with chronic pain will not receive adequate treatment and will develop secondary coexisting problems because of mismanaged or under treated chronic pain.
The “cost” for people with chronic pain is not only measured in lost productivity in the marketplace, or in lost salaries, but it also impacts families, friends, jobs, mental health and even their lives. People can become so depressed that they see no other alternative except suicide. Many significant others who become primary caregivers want to be helpful, but as the pain lingers they burn out and feel frustrated, and even hopeless.
About 10 percent of people taking mood-altering medication for chronic pain will develop substance use disorders including abuse, dependence, pseudoaddiction, and addiction. When they go into a pain management program the focus is on the physical pain, but those programs don’t know what to do when patients act out from an addiction and often discharge them. If a person goes into an addiction treatment program, the entire focus is on the addictive disorder and often the pain is not adequately addressed. Collaborative multidisciplinary treatment interventions are a must for this population.
I believe that anyone with chronic pain and other disorders deserves effective and compassionate treatment. It does not matter whether they have an addictive disorder or other psychological problems—they need and should get help. I’ve spent almost a quarter of a century studying and working with people with chronic pain and coexisting disorders and I’m here to tell you that effective, concurrent treatment is possible. That’s why I developed the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System, published books on the subject, and continue to train healthcare providers on effective ways to deliver a collaborative integrated pain management approach.
For a number of years the focus has been to blame the patient or the physician, as the expanding war on pain management prescription drugs attests to. If we start demanding effective, multidisciplinary pain management for people living with chronic pain, we can begin to lower the financial and human-misery price tag. We all know someone; a loved one, friend, colleague or an acquaintance who has had some kind of mismanaged chronic pain and suffered because of it.
Are you willing to join me in lobbying our representatives to push for better treatment and urge them to stop the war on pain management that the DEA is currently waging? Please write letters or make phone calls and let your voices be heard.
To learn more about the importance and prerogative of obtaining effective chronic pain management please check out my article The right to Quality Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are working with people undergoing chronic pain management and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing their chronic pain and coexisting psychological disorders including depression, addiction and other coexisting psychological disorders effectively please consider my book Managing Pain and Coexisting Disorders: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. To purchase this book please Click Here. Also, please check out my Addiction-Free Pain Management® Workbook. To purchase this workbook please Click Here.
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