With numerous countries utilizing alternative therapies for pain management, many experts place more emphasis on non-medicinal methods over traditional painkillers for chronic pain treatment.
However, that doesn’t justify the total erasure of legal pain medications. While the aim is to decrease opioid dependency, many chronic pain cases benefit from a mix of pharmacological therapies, psychological counselling and integrated health services.
Yet, Canada fall behind in managing chronic pain.
Canada’s life expectancy stalled last May for the first time in four decades, due to the opioid overdoses.
And here lies the problem. Some Canadian health professionals fail to wean patients off legal opioids, often leading to more pain.
Many link the increase of opioid-related deaths with legal painkillers. But Oxycontin isn’t the real culprit—it’s Fentanyl found on the streets.
Often mixed with cocaine or heroine to create a recreational drug, many resort to Fentanyl to anesthetize their pain. Because of the crackdown on opioid prescriptions, doctors end up cutting patients off medications abruptly. With limited access to proper pain care, people turn to illegal substances.
In a study conducted by Health Canada, some patients reported improved quality of life when weaned off medications with consent. Others suffered from more pain and serious withdrawal symptoms with doctors aggressively cutting them off without consent.
The study implicates that eliminating opioids altogether is not the solution to the opioid epidemic. A one-size-fits-all solution does not exist when it comes to chronic pain management. Thus, health professionals in Canada require access to education on properly dealing with prescribed opioids and chronic pain.